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Thread: My New Strops.

  1. #21
    Forum mogwai thebigspendur's Avatar
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    You have to convince me that wearing a pair of shoes and jamming them into concrete curbs and scuffing them all day long against all kinds of media with force is way gentler than minimal pressure with a worked back spine while honing. I know my cordovan strop don't look like that no matter the spines I use.

    Though some time ago we had a strop discussion about using worked back spines and some members said they can mar many types of strops and the discussion centered on some very light sanding of the spine which eliminated that problem. This wasn't all such spines but some with very sharp patterns. I think it had to do with the Kanayama strops. But even then it wasn't the kind of damage you have there.

    I think if Jimmy happens by he might remember the discussion.
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  2. #22
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    I'd guess this was probably 2012? Maybe before that? The dovo bismarcks had crappy spine work that was basically just a slit/groove perpendicular to the length of the spine. I may have gotten a little bit of the damage with a dennert razor with spinework, also, but that spinework isn't particularly harsh and it looks like it was from a die forge.

    Jared's strop on that video looks like this one, except that it's the entire area and it only doesn't look as bad because the strop is already black. If his strop was made of the same cordovan as mine, it would be dark red with huge light colored blotches. Until the surface started coming off, it felt great and slick.

    The horse butt that I made for a tiny fraction of the cost has had no issue with any razors. Instead of becoming less burnished as time goes on, it's gone the other way.

    I have allen edmonds shoes, pretty much the only thing I wear. When I scuff them against a curb, the leather gets marked up pretty badly. Unlike strops, I can use polish to hide the scuff. Maybe that's what I should do with this one, actually? Maybe it would slick those spots. If this strop cost $140 net to make, it still owes me about $139 worth of use. Anyway, scuffs on shoes, no problem. If you slice leather on a shoe, entirely different - and this stuff does slice very easily (I remember it cutting VERY easily with a japanese marking knife).
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  3. #23
    Forum mogwai thebigspendur's Avatar
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    The Black Cordovan from Imperial Shave I don't think they have sold for quite some time. I know when I ordered mine I waited around 7 months until they found the hide. It is difficult to source especially in that size.
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    Dave, as you've seen from that TSS video, the softer more supple leathers don't resist scuffing as well as the Latigo's and other bovine leathers. The popular view is that all strops do the same thing, so whether you own a Horween strop or dare I say it, a Kkkkkkanayama, they will all get your razors in shape for the bathroom. In all seriousness though, thebigspendur has a vast amount of experience and his views are always worthy of note. I wonder if the leather used by Westholme have had any issues with scuffing, I've not heard bad things about them, but I don't have direct experience with them.
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    I think people are confused as to what part of the horse the shell is made from. I got onto a website (it may have been Horween's) and it showed the areas of the horse the different leathers came from and the shell comes from the butt of the horse. No mention which layer of skin it comes from. Who knows.

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    Senior Member WILDMAN1's Avatar
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    I have a fancy spine coming I the mail today(I thought it was going to be here yesterday). I have an older Peter J. Michels shell strop. I accidentally put some streaks on it from a razor that had a burr or something and it marred the surface a little. It should still be ok to use, right? About that fancy spine razor, does it matter what leather your strop is made out of to use for a worked spine?

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    Senior Member WILDMAN1's Avatar
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    What is the word on Latigo cordovan? Is it considered the 2nd best type of leather for strops? For those of you who are going to say something, I saw it listed as Latigo Cordovan. I guess cordovan is referring to the type of brown called cordovan? I know that was a color option on '63 Impalas!

  8. #28
    Forum mogwai thebigspendur's Avatar
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    This thing is constantly getting confused and folks keep further confusing it.

    The term cordovan refers to a color and nothing more. If you are talking the high end "leather" it's "Horse Shell Cordovan" which to my knowledge is only made by 2 outfits in this country. Horween is the 600lb Gorilla and there is or was a smaller outfit somewhere here that made it too. This is different from regular Horsehide leather strops. Of course there are a very few international outfits making it and their process is probably yielding a different looking product.

    The horween stuff is very distinctive by their finish a shiny almost patent leather finish and all their leather is stamped on the back. I have Horween Watch straps and even they are stamped individually.

    Actually most of what Horween produces is regular leather.

    Then of course there is the never ending discussion of what the kanayama Strops are made of. I've seen sites and folks refer to them as Horse, Horse Shell, Cow, you name it and I still don't think we know for sure.

    You can check out their site but a excerpt from a discussion on their site about Horse Shell:

    How are the grades of shell cordovan rated? Aren’t there different grades based on size quality?

    Shell cordovan is graded 1, X, 2, 3, 4, 5, or chip. The sizes are all equal quality but are different sizes.

    What industry uses the most shell cordovan?

    Footwear by a great majority.

    Is there any tanning process more arduous than tanning shell cordovan?

    No. This is as good as it gets.

    Does the supply of shell cordovan vary much? Is it ever in short supply?

    Shell cordovan is always in short supply. This is due to the limited amount of suitable horsehides available, and also the long tanning process. It varies quite a bit as well. Currently we are only able to produce about half as much as we were producing 2 years ago.

    How do I justify the expense of $500+ shoes, $200+ wallets, $100+ watch straps, etc? Will these products last longer then less expensive calfskin products.

    A product made of shell cordovan will last multiple lifetimes. Because of the unique, non-creasing characteristics of shell cordovan, footwear can last a very long time by replacing the soles as needed – bottoms can be replaced many times, depending on the construction of the shoe. The best part of using shell cordovan in a wallet or watch strap is the natural rubbing a wear placed on the shell which starts developing an amazing patina that develops with each use. It is similar to having a fine wine that you can drink every day and keeps getting better.

    Is there any other tannery that produces shell cordovan leather?

    There are a few tanneries in the world that tan horsehides for their shells. None of the tanneries have been doing it as long as Horween. Our processes are very traditional and our experience gives us an edge. We like to think that the market prefers our product, and we’re very proud of the time and care we put into our shell cordovan.
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  10. #29
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Shell (but without a fragile surface treatment) is the best leather for strops. The stuff labeled "french shell" on japanese certifyd strops is fantastic.

    Horse butt strip is second best for strops, but best in durability. It is harder to get in perfectly clear run, hard and needs hand conditioning to make a nice strop (though I'm sure you could devise a machine). It can be abrasive at first until it settles in. The longer you use it, the better it gets. The horween is opposite - it is fantastic the first time you use it, but the surface treatment doesn't last forever and it is certainly the best feel (the leather under it isn't as slick and hard).

    Kanayama and other french shell leathers that come from japan can be a bit soft at first, but they burnish. They're also less expensive than Horween if you just get a decent thinner lower-cost strop. I didn't find the really thick higher-dollar Kanayamas to be any better than the thinner vintage certifyd strops (from japan), actually liked the latter better.

    Latigo is a cow leather. It's durable, but it doesn't finish a razor as well as cordovan or broken in horse butt. The only thing I've never used is a russia finished cow leather, but I'd be willing to bet those were second-rate strops in the days when shell strops were the norm (a look at an old barber catalog would line that out pretty quickly).

    Before the government got out of control with regulations, all of these were available in volume in the states and less-finished than horween shell was the norm for the high dollar strops. We are unlikely to have hobbyist strop makers or semi professional strop makers improving on something that was widely done commercially and consumed mostly by professionals. If it would've been easy to just make something better, that would've been done back then.

    A good linen and shell leather will stretch out a razor for several hundred shaves with no need for abrasives or crox or anything like that and still pass the hanging hair test when you go to refresh it on the hones. The same type will also step up the comfortable natural stones (coticules and thuris) that were commonly used by barbers.

    Since "what's cordovan or shell" keeps coming up, here's the definition from wiki (it's horse parts only, which is problematic in the states because we have government that's been bent by a bunch of people to make it legally difficult to process horses - so they get sent to canada - at least that was the case, I understand that it's been at least technically legal in the US at some points between then and now, but there's a bunch of controversy. Apparently it feels different to the horse if they're rendered in Canada or France - at any rate, the definition:

    Shell cordovan (or cordovan) is a type of leather commonly used in high-end shoemaking. Cordovan is an equine leather made from the fibrous flat muscle (or shell) beneath the hide on the rump of the horse.

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  12. #30
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Oops, TBS beat me to it.

    Anyone who has tried the japanese european shell vs. our horween is probably already aware of how different the surface is on the two.

    I've got an old certifyd 2000 strop that has ultra thin shell and had a kanayama 80k (and sold it for fear of nicking it when it really didn't do a better job than my horse butt and needed to be used a bit).

    The horween is very hard and slick feeling until the surface gets breached. The japanese shell is more supple but very smooth. The result at the edge of thin vs. thin feels about the same to me, but the japanese leather shouldn't change much as it gets burnished whereas the horween does. If you're likely to never use a strop more than a couple of hundred times, maybe it doesn't matter much, but my opinion is still the same - your dollar goes further if there is less difference between the very surface and what's right behind it, and the japanese strops are much more uniform.

    I think the inexpensive certifyd 2k that i have has shell that's so thin that it's offputting at first, but it actually does a better job new strop vs. new strop than the kayanama 80K did, and it's older and was NOS and has a linen that you can actually use vs the new harsh brown linens that need some care before they can be used willy nilly on a razor.

    if you ever get the chance to use an old strop that's still supple, the linens on them are not matched by much that's sold these days. They are a marvel of keeping an edge in shape without wearing it, and I'm convinced you could shave every day, hone with a finish hone for two minutes every 200 shaves, hardly wear the edge and have a razor that looks almost unused over many decades. You don't have to do it that way, but you can.

    I've used my favorite fried dennert razor for probably about 1200-1500 shaves and it looks unchanged. After 185 shaves it was still passing HHT the last time I rehoned it and I only did so to test a hone (it went backwards a little bit on a WOA - but two more trips on the linen after that and it was back up to what it had been. It makes for a fantastically consistent edge - something you wish you could get on a disposable blade - feels the same at 5 months as it did at 2 weeks (the linen improves it a little bit the first couple of times you use it after a honing, which is something that I only do weekly - the linen use).

    These counts were done with broken in butt strip, a $25 strip yielded two nice strops and a bunch of extra leather for use in the shop (for woodworking). Practically speaking, that strop has been as good as anything I've ever used, and I've used a lot of strops just out of curiosity, and more durable than most of the high end strops I've gotten, but it did take about 30 stropping sessions to get the "tooth" off of the initial leather. It was mildy abrasive and scratchy - no clue what that would've been, but it felt like silica and left scratches like silica would've - cosmetically ugly, but not too damaging.

    Here is the back of my house-made strop - I didn't show this at first because I wanted to see if anyone would troll and tell me that it wasn't horween

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    Last edited by DaveW; 09-23-2017 at 05:57 PM.

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