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Thread: Lathering a strop

  1. #11
    Mack mackie's Avatar
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    OK here is the procedure. I don't know if cream will work. I used soap. I made a lather and used the brush to coat the strop thick. Then I held the end of the strop and used the bottle just like it was a razor. I simply put it on the strop and ran it back and forth. The soap dripped onto the floor so I had to clean it up. Brown gunk came off the strop. After about fifty swipes I cleaned the strop off with a rag and I was supprised. The strop looked almost new and was softer. Even the scratches seemed to be gone. I had been using neatsfoot oil but never again. The barber told me you have to use a GLASS bottle or jar of some sort. When the strop dried overnight it looked great and it feels so much better when I strop, and the razor seems sharper. I would not have believed it if I hadn't seen it. I don't know what that soap and bottle ,but it sure revived my old strop. I am going to take it off the wall and lay it on some newspaper and do the other side. Also there is about six inches that didn't get done where I was holding it. Mack
    By the way, It did turn the strop a little darker.
    Last edited by mackie; 12-17-2009 at 09:29 AM.

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  3. #12
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Saddle-soap works well - the primary reason to use it firstly to clean, secondly to remove excess oil, thirdly to condition. It does, however, already contain oils such as neatsfoot and sometimes lanolin. If the soap didn't contain a softener/oil component, the strop would dry hard - the oil prevents this from happening.

    If the strop is not oily to begin with and the soap has no softening/conditioning qualities. it may be advisable to put a little neatsfoot oil on a balled-up cloth and rub a light application over the surface of the strop before it has fully dried - helps to avoid turning the strop into a piece of stiff leather.

    Williams mug soap (many people use it for this purpose) contains sodium tallowate - as the name suggests, it is rendered animal fat (tallow) as well as sodium cocoate - saponified coconut oil, as well glycerin (saddle soaps contain glycerine, too).

    Some people useone or two fairly quick applications of (really stiff) lather, some leave the lather on the strop for ages.

    The bottle is used to flatten the surface, making it smoother. You may not need it, or you may like to roll/push the lather in with it. However, if you have used a pumice stone on the strop (it abrades small imperfections, flattens, but raises a velvety nap) you may want to use the bottle to flatten the fine nap. Or not - its up to you and depends on whether the strops surface is meant to have a fine nap or was originally smooth. The pumicing step isn't necessary either.

    Most modern strops will not need any of the above. Latigo and other oiled/waxed leathers may have unpredictable results when treated as above. I expect old-time barbers got used to their products and knew what worked best on each one.

    Regards,
    Neil.

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  5. #13
    Mack mackie's Avatar
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    I'm not advising anyone either way but I cleaned my strop with saddle soap and it was nice but then I put a very light coat of neatsfoot oil on it with a rag and it became sticky. I really didn't like the results. I ended up cleaning it off with saddle soap. I have used neatsfoot oil on my sheaths and boots before and it was ok but they will not take a polish well after that. Like I said I am not advising anyone to do it, I am just stating what my results were. Like you said, It might depend on the type of leather. I have an old latigo strop I made and I am going to try the lather out on that today.

  6. #14
    Българин
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    Do you lather before stropping? I heard from my father that my great grandfather used to lather the strop and then strop.
    Last edited by petkouzunski; 12-17-2009 at 12:28 PM.

  7. #15
    Mack mackie's Avatar
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    I don't. I'm not sure what the results would be, long term, on a strop for it to be wet every day like that. I would think it would eventually mould I don't know.

  8. #16
    Senior Moderator JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    The only thing that gives me pause on this is JimR's post here on care and maintenance of the Kanayama strop. Pertinent portion of which is quoted below;

    "Naomi-san's advice for maintenance is simple:
    Whenever you feel it necessary (once or twice a year at most, or if the surface feels "off"--maybe more often in drier areas), lay the strop flat on a table, face-up.
    Get a smooth, lint free cloth (like an old t-shirt, no terrycloth) and wet it with lukewarm water. Wring it out REALLY WELL, as in, it should really only be slightly damp.
    Run the cloth ONCE over the face of the strop quickly, making sure not to stop and that no water touches the back or sides of the strop, where it will harden the leather. Remember, ONE TIME only. Be careful not to let any drops gather, or they will stain the leather.
    Let the strop dry thoroughly.
    If you still feel that the surface doesn't feel right, then repeat.

    This should refresh a slightly hardened or aging strop.

    Naomi-san does not recommend any oil, as over time the oil will start to oxidize and break down, damaging the conditioning of the strop."

    Seems contradictory for sure so I'm going to try the lather on an old one I have that is like a sheet of plywood and report back. BTW, IIRC the barber who told me or the thing I read suggested doing it on a counter top.
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  10. #17
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    Here's a good recipe for strop lathering.

    Even talks about using alum afterwards to help bring out the draw!

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  12. #18
    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    Here's the old method for breaking in a leather strop using lather and a glass bottle:

    First, separate the leather from the canvas strop. If you have the IRS Co type strop this is easy to do. Just unscrew the nut holding the strops together. Place the leather strop on a flat surface. A flat board with a nail at one end to secure the strop works well.

    Using a smooth glass bottle (An empty beer bottle with the label removed works very well. Be sure to use the side without the mold seam) -

    Rub thick shaving lather into the leather for approximately 20-30 minutes. I use Williams' since that was most likely the shave soap available to barbers when this method of breaking in was developed. Keep the strop coated with lather the entire time. 20-30 minutes is the old time method. I've found you can get away with 10-15 minutes of rubbing. Just rub the bottle back and forth the entire length of the strop. Use enough pressure to work the lather into the leather.

    Wipe all lather from the strop with a moist cloth. Apply a small amount of strop DRESSING (not paste!!) to cover the strop. Rub the dressing into the leather with the bottle for about 15 minutes (5-10 min if you are trying the abbreviated version).

    Next, following the strop dressing application, apply thick lather and rub into leather as in the first step for about 15 min.

    Using a moist cloth, wipe all excess lather from the strop. Wipe down with a dry cloth, then dust with shave talc evenly (I use Pinauds). Let the strop dry on a flat surface for 24 hours then reassemble your strop.

    The strop becomes much more pliable after this treatment.

    Periodically (once a week - once a month) it is also helpful to make up some rich (thick) lather and coat the leather (canvas removed) leaving to dry over night. In the AM just rub the dried lather off of the strop. This will condition the leather and improve draw.

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  14. #19
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    The only issue I have with that, is that the modern Williams is nothing at all like the Wiliams of old.

  15. #20
    Senior Moderator JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by honedright View Post
    Here's the old method for breaking in a leather strop using lather and a glass bottle:

    .
    Thanks for the detailed account. I had definitely read of that method long ago but didn't remember it in detail until your post. Now I know why I never tried it. Rubbing lather into a strop for fifteen or twenty minutes is more work than I am prepared to do for softening a strop. Call me lazy.
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