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Thread: My New Strops.

  1. #31
    Senior Member blabbermouth tcrideshd's Avatar
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    my old barber who has a shell strop on his chair that was used daily for 50 years, is still in great shape, I,m pretty sure that shell is not fragile. my Neil Miller isn't showing any wear either. so I,m not sure where that's coming from. and there is no confusion, shell is not the horsehide or butt, its the membrane under the rear haunches. period. so one of the toughest strops you can get, and that's why quality shoes are made from it. in the old days there was thicker shells because the draft horses that worked built up a lot of muscle and membranes in their body, just not too many work horses today. Tc
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  2. #32
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebigspendur View Post
    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.
    It was hard enough just to get the standard cordovan color. I think I waited about two months, but they made no guarantees. when I talked to the guy at the retail office who took my order, he said that they will allocate to large orders (as in, you don't necessarily get a hard and fast place in line - if allen edmonds orders a whole bunch of shells, you go back to the back again, and I think that's fair). Two months was faster than it was suggested, so I was pretty happy with that.

    If you start ordering off colors (and none of the strop makers would be seen as serious customers), then it gets a lot harder. I ordered the color that I got because it was suggested that's the one that I'd be able to get soonest (green would've been cool looking, though).

    This discussion makes me want to do a little trial and error with a hard clean buff and some kind of fat. I wonder if I can get the surface uniform - certainly it will cost the finish that's on there - but I wonder if I can drive some fats into the leather at high heat and get a uniform burnish on it. It's been sitting in a bin in the bottom of my dresser for years because I was so mad when some of the surface treatment came off, but it's a shame to let it completely go to waste, and I don't have the heart to throw it on a piece of wood and let it accumulate wandering grit and metal particles in the wood shop.

    Solid brass fixtures was a bad idea unless you use a strop hanging from over head (which is what I do). Otherwise, it's so heavy that you fight it - we learn by making mistakes, I guess!! I had the scrap brass, so it was free to make other than time spent.

  3. #33
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcrideshd View Post
    my old barber who has a shell strop on his chair that was used daily for 50 years, is still in great shape, I,m pretty sure that shell is not fragile. my Neil Miller isn't showing any wear either. so I,m not sure where that's coming from. and there is no confusion, shell is not the horsehide or butt, its the membrane under the rear haunches. period. so one of the toughest strops you can get, and that's why quality shoes are made from it. in the old days there was thicker shells because the draft horses that worked built up a lot of muscle and membranes in their body, just not too many work horses today. Tc
    Who makes the shell that was in your strop? I don't understand why you guys don't stick your necks out a little and make some of your own strops. It only takes a marking knife and a good quality straight edge.

    I'm sure the shell on your barber's chair is a lot more like the french shell the japanese strop users are using than the horween treatment. I've probably got a dozen vintage shell strops, and none of them are like horween - there is a lot less treatment on the surface and the leather is more uniform front to back.

  4. #34
    Senior Member ScoutHikerDad's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the clarifications DaveW, TC, TBS and others. I'm loving the vintage shells more and more for some of the reasons Dave outlined above (i.e.: they probably represent the pinnacle of the craft along with the undeniable vintage vibe), not to mention the sometimes seriously great deals you can get once you know what to look for.

    But all of the terms and definitions can get confusing (and sometimes hours perusing the forums only adds to the confusion!). For instance, I had no idea about the fragile nature of the Horween surface treatment for certain rough stropping applications. I know I've seen at least a couple of makers advertising high-end shell strops proudly rolled around to show that exclusive Horween label. None of my vintage shells (even the very shiny ones) seem to have a surface treatment that one can strop away. They obviously just get more burnished with use.

    Maybe their shell (Horween's) is better for watchbands, wallets, and shoes. There's an almost $400 black shell wallet hand-made by a guy on Etsy (out of a workshop in Asia somewhere IIRC) that just blows me away it is so gorgeous-I just can't justify that much for a wallet no matter how many lifetimes' use it will get.

    Interesting and informative discussion all the way around! aaron
    Last edited by ScoutHikerDad; 09-23-2017 at 06:07 PM.

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  6. #35
    Senior Member blabbermouth tcrideshd's Avatar
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    why should I stick my neck out and build what I can just buy? I don't build my own Tv or cars. its a strop. I will get no more satisfaction from one I made or one I bought. for the guys who like messing with it, that's great. I just have more important things to do than make a strop. have fun with it, Tc
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  7. #36
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    I'm in a different boat. For me, using something that someone else made is an exercise in appreciation, sort of a 2D experience. Using something that I made, supposing I make it well, is far more satisfying, and more of a 3D type of experience. I don't know how to explain it more so than that, it's mentally more involved and satisfying, plus you always have the feeling that no matter what you break, you can make another. I could order another horween shell.

    The only reason I don't suppose I'm just all wet with a single strop-eating razor is that I used the razor on my horse butt strop. It did very minor scuffing that was basically controlled by continuing to strop other razors. Then on the kanayama, the same razor marked that strop, too, but the marks disappeared with some hand rubbing. No such chance. So making instead of buying saved me about 150 bucks, and now I also feel like I can "waste" it by trying to repair the surface treatment.

    If I hadn't seen Jared's strop also blown out at the top, I probably would've not said anything about it. I think it's worth noting, though, because every other type of leather I've used gets better rather than worse. Horween starts out *spectacular*. It's like honing on hard greased ice, but it's so expensive given that it doesn't have an indefinite lifetime and I'd guess more people have probably not found its limited lifetime because they haven't gotten to the thousands in hones of regular razors.

    here's a picture of the current bismarck - the grooves on the spine now terminate and don't go to the edge of the spine or the top, which is, I'm sure, where they were tearing up strops. This would be more difficult to machine, but I'll bet I wasn't the only person complaining about them tearing up strops.

    https://www.amazon.com/Dovo-Bismarck.../dp/B008JAGNLS

    At any rate, the experience making is why, and secondarily the cost if that matters. I have enough strops that other people made that I can't really claim i'm saving anything. The best leather I've ever felt new on a strop is on a Japanese marked "jumbo". Much slicker than kanayama and as thick or thicker than the 80k that I had. I haven't used it yet. I like to make things, but I do appreciate having that one made by someone else (it wasn't expensive, but it wasn't necessarily cheap, either. Maybe $100? I can't remember).

    It's not necessarily an issue of having more important things to do. It takes about 20 minutes to make a strop. One of the reasons I have time to screw with so much of this stuff is that I've completely stopped watching TV about four years ago. I wish I could kick the internet habit, too!!

    There is one other side effect of making. Making literally makes you better at buying other peoples' things. I'd love to make razors at some point, but the finest razors I've ever used are tanifuji's better examples. I'll never make anything like them. I still might give razors a shot, though - but not until my kids are older and I have more time. Making things other than razors, and talking to some of the best makers in the world has really helped me appreciate the things that are really well made (by that, I mean like comparing a good effort from tanifuji to a later Filarmonica. The latter will often bring more money, but there's no sensible reason why - it's inferior in every way to the former). The horween strop I showed here was a couple of minutes of time to mark and cut. Making the brass was probably an hour (because I don't have machine tools other than a drill press - or didn't at the time), but that could've been avoided easily as the japanese strop hardware is available for about $12. I'd have been smarter to do that, I guess.
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  9. #37
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    If I dig a little deeper in memory, I recall a Friedrich Dennert razor also damaging the horween, and the spinework isn't particularly brash or sharp. It may have been just digging at the damage that the other razor did.

    It's notable, though, because none of the other strops I have took any significant damage from the same razors, and the horse butt doesn't even begin to show anything from the dennert spinework.

  10. #38
    Senior Member WILDMAN1's Avatar
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    The haunches IS THE BUTT, the ass, the rump (ok, not the top skin?) of the horse. Go to Horweens to see the illustration of the place of different leathers.

    Quote Originally Posted by tcrideshd View Post
    my old barber who has a shell strop on his chair that was used daily for 50 years, is still in great shape, I,m pretty sure that shell is not fragile. my Neil Miller isn't showing any wear either. so I,m not sure where that's coming from. and there is no confusion, shell is not the horsehide or butt, its the membrane under the rear haunches. period. so one of the toughest strops you can get, and that's why quality shoes are made from it. in the old days there was thicker shells because the draft horses that worked built up a lot of muscle and membranes in their body, just not too many work horses today. Tc

  11. #39
    Senior Member blabbermouth tcrideshd's Avatar
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    ok Wildman, I guess theres a lack of communication here, are you asking the same question or just not getting it again, its not the hide that shell is made of, its under the skin Tc
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    Senior Member Mrchick's Avatar
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    “Cordovan – leather made from the shell of a horse butt, viz. from a kidney-shaped, very compact layer occurring in the butt of equine animals only, and isolated by removing the skin layer above and below it. It is vegetable tanned and curried.”

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