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Thread: What makes a strop shiny ?

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    Senior Member Jnatcat's Avatar
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    Default What makes a strop shiny ?

    As the title says I am curious what makes the leather shiny on several of my strops, I have a Spanish Bridle that has a high glassy reflexion just like my Kanayma 70 but my oil tanned ones look kinda flat then my Fast Bridle has what I would call a satin sheen, the Spanish Bridle did not start out this way , the only thing I have done to it was add a small amount of Fromm Strop treatment to it after it looked like needing some moisture
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    Senior Member blabbermouth tcrideshd's Avatar
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    I don't know squat about tanning processes, but I do know a strop that is well used and kept hydrated, will develop a nice smooth, slick surface. that's on all the leather types I have, I think a couple million laps really shines them up Tc
    Ever wonder why you never see a motorcycle in front of a Shrinks office? ,,,,, then you have never ridden one "

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    Senior Member tintin's Avatar
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    Use will definitely burnish a strop. I remember reading about people in barbers school being challenged to burnish the backside of their strop to make it usable as well. Different kinds of leather are also smoother by nature and the tanning process also makes a difference.

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    Strop is leather...Leather is animal skin...animal skin has multiple layers...technicly there are 3 major layers that are further subdivided.

    Let's keep it to 3.

    Epidermis is the thin superficial celular layer on the surface of the hide that is the thinest responsible for protection...cells is this layer have high silica content in green eating animals....silica means abrasive propertyes.
    That's why leather has a slight abrasion/polishing effect on metal.

    Dermis is the second layer that holds the glands...and hair roots...it has a rich colagen weave that gives the leather it's elasticity.

    Hipodermis is usualy fatty cells in a fibrous tissue...it separes the skin from the underlying structures.

    The only reason i mentioned the fat layer is that is has an important role to play after they tan the leather.

    When tanning, only the epidermis and dermis are kept.
    the fatty layer is scraped off on the back side.
    The superficial layer is also cleaned and scraped but it is more resistant and the process is gentler.
    The leather looses fat if the tanning is to agressive...
    No fat between the colagen fibers in the second layer means theyeither stick or rub on eachoter like ropes...eventualy they break...
    Oils are important in leather...

    So if you look at a piece of cut leather at the side you will notice 2 Layers...
    The dense superficial layer you strop on and the underlying weave of colagen fibers.

    The superficial layer is made up of 2 types of cells Keratocites and Melanocites....the first protect form moisture and mecanical injury...the second protect you from UV light.... the are lined with sebum from the glands underneath...

    Sebum is a mixture of Wax and oils...

    So to answer your question...the Wax in the sebum is what actualy makess the leather shine once you use it...it rubs on the tiny hairs on the leather and flatens them into a smooth surface that reflects light.

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    Senior Member Jnatcat's Avatar
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    ovidiucotiga thanks so much for such a detailed answer, so I am guessing "Shiny" is good and does not hurt anything, I was thinking it needed to be roughed up a bit but wanted to ask before I did any damage so will do what I have been doing and just rub briskly before use and maybe once a year give it some strop conditioner but just a little.
    "A Honer's adage "Hone-Shave-Repeat"

    ~William~

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    i depends on preferences....

    Shiny is not good or bad...it is just an option.

    It depends on the grade of leather used to make the strop.

    Some manufactures use Full Grained vegetable tanned leather...
    That means the top is not sanded or buffed or scraped...only high quality hides can make this kind of leather.
    The superficial layer is a bit thicker and more reistant to ware...also has a higher wax content...tanning method used usualy affects the residual wax and oil concentration....veg tanned and full grain should yeald a longer lasting leather...
    One example of these strops are the russian strops and japanese strops like Kanoyama and many more.



    Some manufacturers use Top Grain leather that is scraped or sanded for imperfections.
    It is the most used and comercialy available grade...
    It can ve veg tanned or chemicaly tanned... usualy chemical tanning is a more agressive method that yelds a bit dryer leather...with a lower wax and oil content.


    Also sanding / scraping the top layer to make it perfectly flat ruines the pores and berathability of the leather...the stropping surface exibits a higher draw because the superficial layer of cells becomes shreded... like a rug...or welvet material...it exibits tiny hairs/shreads of the superficial layer that actualy increase metal drag while stropping.
    Also wax and oil contact beeing lower the hairs dont get flatened down and waxed into a shiny surface...

    One example of this type of leather is the Dovo strops

    Both types of leather do theyr job as long as they are free of impuriyyes...
    They both get the silica in the cell membrane in touch with the metal...that's what stropping does.

    Now there are many things to talk about like ..
    - The kind of animal the skin came from...
    - How old was the animal...and
    - What part of the skin was used.
    - How was it tanned.
    etc...but i think i answered your question already

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    Senior Member Jnatcat's Avatar
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    ovidiucotiga the strop in question is Soanish Bridle and it came from Tony Miller, here is his description:

    The Spanish bridle is also from a higher grade of hide to reduce flaws, veg tanned and then "stuffed" with waxes during tanning.
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    JP5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jnatcat View Post
    As the title says I am curious what makes the leather shiny on several of my strops, I have a Spanish Bridle that has a high glassy reflexion just like my Kanayma 70 but my oil tanned ones look kinda flat then my Fast Bridle has what I would call a satin sheen, the Spanish Bridle did not start out this way , the only thing I have done to it was add a small amount of Fromm Strop treatment to it after it looked like needing some moisture
    I know what you mean. The first piece or leather I used to make a strop from a leather worker has a firm slick/shiny surface. Another piece of leather I bought seems much more supple and oily in texture.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jnatcat View Post
    ovidiucotiga the strop in question is Soanish Bridle and it came from Tony Miller, here is his description:

    The Spanish bridle is also from a higher grade of hide to reduce flaws, veg tanned and then "stuffed" with waxes during tanning.
    There are a wide variety of tanning options...it all depends on what kind of drag you like...the shiny finished ones that actualy have a higher wax content tend to be finer and have less drag. The amount of burnishing on the bevels is also less in the sense that the waxes reduce friction/abrasion propertyes of the silicates in the leather.

    The ones with more drag tend to be more effective in reviving an edge and also exibit a more pronounced edge rounding over long use...

    This is why certain users prefere a strop progression...
    Starting with something with a bit more drag and finishing on something with a bit more shine
    sharptonn and Jnatcat like this.

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    Senior Member Jnatcat's Avatar
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    Never really gave any thought to a strop progression have just been grabbing one of the ones hanging and strop but I can see the validity in a progression.
    "A Honer's adage "Hone-Shave-Repeat"

    ~William~

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