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Thread: Leather Strops - are they a sham?

  1. #11
    Senior Member Speedster's Avatar
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    An apples to oranges comparison as other members have already pointed out.

    However, even a local, longtime custom boot maker uses leather strops to keep their cutting tools super sharp for producing their boots. They were even kind enough to supply me with some prime leather 'scraps' so that Glen could make us some bench strops (probably helped them get a boot sale as well). They knew exactly how and why these strops were necessary for maintaining a superior edge on a razor.
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    Senior Member sqzbxr's Avatar
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    Sounds like you've got honing issues. The chromium oxide on your paddle strop is removing metal and sharpening the edge, the plain leather straightens the existing edge without removing metal. You do not need chromium oxide to strop a properly honed edge. Apples and oranges.
    "Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." -H. L. Mencken

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  4. #13
    Senior Member Speedster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bang0Bang00 View Post
    I ask because I find I get a significantly sharper straight razor edge off of Chromium Oxide on my rough suede paddle strop than I do off of the flawless leather side of the same strop. Sometimes I find if I go to leather after the CrOx on suede, the edge gets duller.

    No one else has experienced this?
    If you are stropping with proper technique, the edge of your razor should not be dulling whatsoever. However, using a CrOx strop will definitely impart a level of sharpening to a somewhat dull blade. Many here use them instead of finishing hones to bring back an edge to shave ready condition.
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    Senior Member blabbermouth RezDog's Avatar
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    If you get a better shave from your CrOx stropped razor that you do your plain leather stropped razor, I have to wonder about the apex of your edge. A well honed straight razor has a perfect apex, and a plain leather strop will condition the edge and leave it feeling smooth, a CrOx strop will make it toothy and leave it feeling prickly. I have no personal experience repeatedly stropping an incomplete apex with CrOx and leather. For reference a perfect apex is a 'V' and an incomplete apex is a 'U' either in full length or in sections. People around here can be a little obsessive about honing and stropping, but they are the foundations of a great shave.
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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Well, I'll admit to doing laps on a hanging felt strop sprayed with Crox after my Naniwa 12K finisher. Then I'll do my linen and leather routine before shaving. If I've done everything right all the way through I'll get a smooth comfortable shave. I can't see linen and leather after Crox dulling the edge if the stropping is done correctly.

    Bob
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    Good point Bob. I had been going on the presumption that the stropping was being done effectively. However poor stropping deteriorates a blade rather rapidly.
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    Senior Member sqzbxr's Avatar
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    I'm reading the original post as attempting to blame the tools for what is most likely poor technique - either at the hones or at the strop.
    "Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." -H. L. Mencken

  11. #18
    Senior Member Butzy's Avatar
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    Definitely agree with most of what people are saying here. Apples and Oranges. two different tools for two very different uses. might be a more interesting debate if you were to ask the fine woodworking and chiseling community what they think, as that is somewhat of a middle ground for the types of tools we're talking about. as for straight razors, i'd say that a strop is almost required.

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    Senior Member blabbermouth niftyshaving's Avatar
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    Not a sham unless you use "Chamois leather".
    FWIW: Genuine chamois leather has almost no abrasive properties, and can be used as a very absorbent drying material.

    Lot of reasons to strop.
    After shaving the razor does have some soap film and by the next day
    a thin layer of oxidation. The combination of canvas and leather clean
    and thanks to strop dressing, oil the steel surface ever so slightly. Clean
    steel will glide nicely over a face and lather, crufty surfaces are not so smooth.

    Iron oxides are quite abrasive and will polish steel. After a while a strop will pick up
    a grey coating of oxides that are finer than any hone most of us can buy.

    The alternating flip of a leather strop will work harden the thin edge and
    the drag will pull the thin edge straighter. Burrs and wire edges tend to
    cut skin and a strop will clean most if not all from the working edge.

    A hanging strop presents a round surface and can even produce a convex
    micro micro micro beveled edge to the whisker.

    Slightly off topic: Work hardening when honing is under rated in the modern world of abrasives.
    Some of the old hones did an excellent job of inducing plastic flow and work hardening of the
    steel edge and surface. This may be part of why burnished finishing hones work so well and
    may also be why the pyramid method works so well.

    Work hardening at the edge itself is 'invisible' but in my opinion important.
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    Hi Nifty, thanks! That's some good info.

    I love it when people bring up that straight razors are different than knives and that abrasives are different than surfaces. Yes, they are different to a point (pun fully intended). And at that point, I believe the physics are the same. I'm only questioning what gets the finest, pointiest, smoothest, cutting edge in the context of a strop. Maybe it's leather, maybe it's not?

    All the other stuff aside, knives or razors, unless they can shave hairs smoothly, I'm not happy. If a 600 grit stone gets your knife where you want it, all the power to you.

    More specifically, I'm questioning if leather is irreplaceable.

    Based on this (electron imaging of the apex)
    https://scienceofsharp.wordpress.com...-stropping-do/

    And this (polishing at 800x magnification using Cubic Boron Nitride or "CBN")
    https://youtu.be/PRMu-WEaFNE

    Along with my own anecdotal experiences,

    I'm not so sure leather is the only material that can straighten an edge, polish and clean, and yet it's everyone's go to. Why? Because it's always been that way? Ok...

    Hopefully I'm missing something or my technique is horrible. , . Yes it has it's pros/cons/cost, and maybe I'll come to terms with that. Right now I'm just a little disgruntled after dropping $40 on some shoulder leather from Tandy only to find a better edge off of my old torn jeans and CrOx.

    I mean, if I could wear the raw shoulder leather to work for months,without looking like Tarzan, and then eventually turn it into 20+ mini strops, maybe I wouldn't be so bothered. Right now; it looks like that's something a pair of denim jeans can do and raw leather can't.

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