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  1. #1
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    Default Sharpening Question - strop leather

    I share a large shop with an old friend who's a general contractor. We were both sharpening some tools today, and got into a discussion about stropping. We both have (slightly different) 2-sided leather stropping surfaces. I've always used one side, charged with honing compound, for initial stropping... and the other side uncharged. Just leather.

    He does the same. Except I strop on the smooth face of the leather... he on the rough face.

    Anyone have opinions? Does it make any difference?
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    https://www.facebook.com/HarborWoodworks/

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post
    I share a large shop with an old friend who's a general contractor. We were both sharpening some tools today, and got into a discussion about stropping. We both have (slightly different) 2-sided leather stropping surfaces. I've always used one side, charged with honing compound, for initial stropping... and the other side uncharged. Just leather.

    He does the same. Except I strop on the smooth face of the leather... he on the rough face.

    Anyone have opinions? Does it make any difference?
    Why don’t you test them and let us know yourself? I’m thinking that it doesn’t.
    Larks

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    Quote Originally Posted by Larks View Post
    Why don’t you test them and let us know yourself? I’m thinking that it doesn’t.
    I was thinking maybe someone already know.

    But that would be my guess also... though he swears rough is better.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    https://www.facebook.com/HarborWoodworks/

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    I just use a chunk of pigskin glued to a block of wood. I treat it with a fine compound a friend gave me that seems to work well. For pocket knives and such I've just used the inside of my belt...but I'm just doing this stuff for a hobby, not making a living at it.

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    I have a very old barbers strop (had? - I can’t find it now that I’ve gone looking for it) but that is two bits of fine grained leather stitched back to back with their smooth side out - it used to have a second canvas strop attached but that went walkabout somewhere a while back .......(I may have taken it iff with plans to replace it at some stage... )
    Larks

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    I don’t strop. Tried Veritas 0.5 micron (10,000 grit) honing bar on leather and it added nothing to the finish, but I go up 6000 King (flattened with a 800 diamond plate) wetstone with a Veritas jig (2 micron I think that is) and sometimes polish off with some autosol on a rag. I find hand sharpening and stropping limits to at best quite sharp and it lacks the absoluteness to set precise bevel angles wether its a mortise, paring, bench chisel etc or bevel up / down plane depending on what i want. It doesn’t really matter, but my brain wants the exactness.

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    The proof is going to be if you get an edge that you can shave with it doesn't really matter how . butchers typically use two knives, my mum used the back door step, ok not surgical scalpel sharp, but good enough for the kitchen . I use a shop bought 'knife sharpener' , various types because they wear out pretty quickly, and they tend to eat the blade.... I have a few craft knives and kitchen or general purpose knives that are now concave so they arent much good for dicing and chopping. When I have a knife or tool blade , even disposable surgical scalpels like Swann Mortons, I find you can give them a lick on almost anything smooth,....a piece of paper on a smooth surface , yes, a belt or leather off cut. shoe tongue leather or thin skiver is pretty good.
    Most sharpening leaves an almost invisible bead along the apex of the blade. stropping or honing removes that, leaving the edge going to almost molecular infinity in theory.

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    the heck you doin with these blades ?
    quitting wood and cuttin whiskers ?
    I have a constant "bare" spot on my left forearm, from testing my FILE sharpened knives....
    goin to Japan for a wood shavin competition ?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    the heck you doin with these blades ?
    quitting wood and cuttin whiskers ?
    I have a constant "bare" spot on my left forearm, from testing my FILE sharpened knives....
    goin to Japan for a wood shavin competition ?
    There are times when the sharpest chisel is precisely the right tool.

    But mostly what gets stropped is the turning tools. Because the wood is moving fast, and you're removing a lot of material fast, the tools go dull quickly. So starting with very sharp tools helps. And giving them frequent licks with the strop slows down the edge degradation.
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
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    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    Quote Originally Posted by wizbang 13 View Post
    the heck you doin with these blades ?
    quitting wood and cuttin whiskers ?
    I have a constant "bare" spot on my left forearm, from testing my FILE sharpened knives....
    goin to Japan for a wood shavin competition ?

    If the thin irons in Leonard Bailey (and it's derivatives) type planes are not kept real sharp they can chatter/ vibrate/ resonate over the wood and leave marks. Doesn't happen with the thicker 3mm+ irons used in Woodies, Lie Nielsen/ Veritas, old Norris and new Stanleys and doesn't happen if the Stanley's are kept sharp to be fair to Leonard. You just got to be more on your toes with them. I'm not anti old Stanleys. I have a quiver and they're among my favourites. Back in shape, after a weeks work, they're as good as any premium modern brand.

    But the softer 'older school' type O1 blades or an old school laminated blade can go really sharp. A bit sharper than the 'modern' A2 will but the softness means you loose the edge quicker. That's the modern plane buyers choice when you're treating yourself to a new Lie Nielsen or Veritas for example. "O1, A2 or PM sir"? The newest super fine grain powdered metal blades supposed to combine the advantages of both...

    So the old school master craftsman are likely to have older softer O1 blades preferring the ultimate sharpness (by default when they bought their planes or choice) and will thus be able to rehone/ polish them a bit with a strop. And so be advocating stropping to get through he day. This would also avoid water needed for a wetstone and is a mobile solution.

    The new schooler with a modern plane (with less sharpening gear and experience) going with a super durable hard A2 blade is going to get less joy from a strop: the steel's physically harder to 'polish', and it needs to be properly resharpened (and to a slightly bigger 30-33 secondary bevel angle to avoid chip out due to the big carbamate particles) but less often, and accepting less ultimate sharpness after he does. Different strokes for different folks.

    When I started I bought a Veritas low angle small bevel up smoothing plane (think low angle block plane size of a 3 with proper handles). It's a joy to use with any small boat plywood end grain. You can take it out of my cold dead hands, but in my naivety I bought the A2 steel iron version. Works fine, but for end grain work where you really do want ultimate sharpness (unless you're terminally lazy about sharpening) It would actually have been ultimately better to buy the O1 blade for this low angle slicing application, it would respond more to a quick strop and the bevel up angle can be lower for slicing fibres: 25 degrees as apposed to 30 ish for an A2. Thankfully now in a better position of knowledge I can fix the 1st world problems of Edward Pearson with a new O1 blade from those nice folk at Veritas.

    I've found the standard O1 steel blade in my cheap (£15) Amazon low angle block plane actually works better than the A2 in my bronze Lie Nielsen 102 for the same reason. As experience grows, and the sharpening equipment develops, alot of amateurs seem to drift from their A2 back to O1 steel for it's sharpness and quick (but necessary) resharpening. Preferring that deal. Similarly for a hand tooler preferring a scrub plane for roughing down to thickness/ initial surface prep, an A2 blade that's ultimately durable would be the preferable option: it doesn't have to be the last word in sharp for what it's doing. Its also why genuine scrub planes have super thick blades. Helps to stop chatter if they're a bit blunt.

    So I think with stropping, it depends on what blade you've got (thickness and steel type) and what plane your holding in your hand as to where and if stropping fits (I'm taking stropping as final polishing with a polishing compound 'charged' leather strop as well as removing the burr instead of taking it super polished with wetstones).
    Last edited by Edward Pearson; 05-20-2021 at 12:57 PM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    Quote Originally Posted by Edward Pearson View Post
    If the thin irons in Leonard Bailey (and it's derivatives) type planes are not kept real sharp they can chatter/ vibrate/ resonate over the wood and leave marks. Doesn't happen with the thicker 3mm+ irons used in Woodies, Lie Nielsen/ Veritas, old Norris and new Stanleys and doesn't happen if the Stanley's are kept sharp to be fair to Leonard. You just got to be more on your toes with them. I'm not anti old Stanleys. I have a quiver and they're among my favourites. Back in shape, after a weeks work, they're as good as any premium modern brand.

    But the softer 'older school' type O1 blades or an old school laminated blade can go really sharp. A bit sharper than the 'modern' A2 will but the softness means you loose the edge quicker. That's the modern plane buyers choice when you're treating yourself to a new Lie Nielsen or Veritas for example. "O1, A2 or PM sir"? The newest super fine grain powdered metal blades supposed to combine the advantages of both...

    So the old school master craftsman are likely to have older softer O1 blades preferring the ultimate sharpness (by default when they bought their planes or choice) and will thus be able to rehone/ polish them a bit with a strop. And so be advocating stropping to get through he day. This would also avoid water needed for a wetstone and is a mobile solution.

    The new schooler with a modern plane (with less sharpening gear and experience) going with a super durable hard A2 blade is going to get less joy from a strop: the steel's physically harder to 'polish', and it needs to be properly resharpened (and to a slightly bigger 30-33 secondary bevel angle to avoid chip out due to the big carbamate particles) but less often, and accepting less ultimate sharpness after he does. Different strokes for different folks.

    When I started I bought a Veritas low angle small bevel up smoothing plane (think low angle block plane size of a 3 with proper handles). It's a joy to use with any small boat plywood end grain. You can take it out of my cold dead hands, but in my naivety I bought the A2 steel iron version. Works fine, but for end grain work where you really do want ultimate sharpness (unless you're terminally lazy about sharpening) It would actually have been ultimately better to buy the O1 blade for this low angle slicing application, it would respond more to a quick strop and the bevel up angle can be lower for slicing fibres: 25 degrees as apposed to 30 ish for an A2. Thankfully now in a better position of knowledge I can fix the 1st world problems of Edward Pearson with a new O1 blade from those nice folk at Veritas.

    I've found the standard O1 steel blade in my cheap (£15) Amazon low angle block plane actually works better than the A2 in my bronze Lie Nielsen 102 for the same reason. As experience grows, and the sharpening equipment develops, alot of amateurs seem to drift from their A2 back to O1 steel for it's sharpness and quick (but necessary) resharpening. Preferring that deal. Similarly for a hand tooler preferring a scrub plane for roughing down to thickness/ initial surface prep, an A2 blade that's ultimately durable would be the preferable option: it doesn't have to be the last word in sharp for what it's doing. Its also why genuine scrub planes have super thick blades. Helps to stop chatter if they're a bit blunt.

    So I think with stropping, it depends on what blade you've got (thickness and steel type) and what plane your holding in your hand as to where and if stropping fits (I'm taking stropping as final polishing with a polishing compound 'charged' leather strop as well as removing the burr instead of taking it super polished with wetstones).
    Handplanes are in the same box as lathes fer me I guess. I own one small one, it's on the boat.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    I have recently started using the slurry from my finest stone on the lapping block to do my hone.

    My pocketknives I always strop up on the cheek of my palm.

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    Thanks David, I've never used a lathe, so ...real answer for a cracker quastion !

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    There's no point stropping more than once. The object is to remove the wire edge that forms when sharpening on the stone. Once the wire edge is gone there's no more to be gained by additional stropping. Strop too much and that nice sharp edge starts to round over.

    For turning tools I just bring them back to the grinder, which is already set up from last time.

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ledger View Post
    There's no point stropping more than once. The object is to remove the wire edge that forms when sharpening on the stone. Once the wire edge is gone there's no more to be gained by additional stropping. Strop too much and that nice sharp edge starts to round over.

    For turning tools I just bring them back to the grinder, which is already set up from last time.
    I tend to agree with this. I use the smooth side of the leather just because it seems to make more sense. Turning tools, excluding skew chisels, are just fine used straight off the wheel. I have a hard felt wheel, charged with grey compound, in case I want to give a tool just a bit more attention. It's quick to do, effective, and doesn't hurt anything.

    Jeff

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ledger View Post
    There's no point stropping more than once. The object is to remove the wire edge that forms when sharpening on the stone. Once the wire edge is gone there's no more to be gained by additional stropping. Strop too much and that nice sharp edge starts to round over.

    For turning tools I just bring them back to the grinder, which is already set up from last time.
    Exactly Jim, the mystique imparted to sharpening amazes me.
    I never sharpened the tool to get the "rough" off when turning, the sharpening came for the finishing.
    As I've said before too much time spent farting about sharpening and you got sacked in my early days.
    As for sharpening turning tools on oil stones Jesus!

    Next one up will be plane irons and jigs for sharpening. Why buy jigs when the plane manufacturer builds one into the product or is that a Trade Secret?

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    Quote Originally Posted by Chippie View Post
    Exactly Jim, the mystique imparted to sharpening amazes me.
    I never sharpened the tool to get the "rough" off when turning, the sharpening came for the finishing.
    As I've said before too much time spent farting about sharpening and you got sacked in my early days.
    As for sharpening turning tools on oil stones Jesus!

    Next one up will be plane irons and jigs for sharpening. Why buy jigs when the plane manufacturer builds one into the product or is that a Trade Secret?

    If the jigs get enough favourable reviews,the hobbyists will fall for it.It seems they do,and in enough numbers to help the retailers earn a living.

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    Quote Originally Posted by Chippie View Post
    Exactly Jim, the mystique imparted to sharpening amazes me.
    I never sharpened the tool to get the "rough" off when turning, the sharpening came for the finishing.
    As I've said before too much time spent farting about sharpening and you got sacked in my early days.
    As for sharpening turning tools on oil stones Jesus!

    Next one up will be plane irons and jigs for sharpening. Why buy jigs when the plane manufacturer builds one into the product or is that a Trade Secret?
    i used to be a sharpening geek
    then one day standing at the lathe
    i happened a glance away and my eyes fell upon my belt sander
    f*** me
    pulled that thing over next to the lathe
    turned ninety degree facing me
    that day the scales fell from my eyes
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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    When I shaved and continued using the straight razor for beard trimming, I really enjoyed stropping the blade. A few passes on the cloth to clean the blade and then perhaps a dozen on the leather to shape the edge. The process got my hands ready.

    Other cutting tools don't get stropped by me. I just make sure that as I finish honing I take one pass edge first on the side with the curl.

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    Interesting discussion. And I guess the answer to my question is that Ol' Don's belief in the 'rough' side for stropping is religious in nature...
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
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    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    Heute ist so ein schöne Tag...

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    I put white compound on the flesh side and the finer green compound on the grain side.
    The strop doesn't seem to affect my CPM-20CV steel pocket knife much but definitely helps my other steel tools.
    Last edited by Autonomous; 05-20-2021 at 12:56 PM.
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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    Quote Originally Posted by David G View Post
    I share a large shop with an old friend who's a general contractor. We were both sharpening some tools today, and got into a discussion about stropping. We both have (slightly different) 2-sided leather stropping surfaces. I've always used one side, charged with honing compound, for initial stropping... and the other side uncharged. Just leather.

    He does the same. Except I strop on the smooth face of the leather... he on the rough face.

    Anyone have opinions? Does it make any difference?
    I use the rough side, it holds the paste a lot better.

    John Welsford
    An expert is but a beginner with experience.

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    Hey Bruce...watch this. Sharpening and stropping a new carpenters axe with a bench mounted angle grinder...it's like a cheap Worksharp 3000. Never thought to bolt one down.

    Last edited by Edward Pearson; 05-21-2021 at 11:59 AM.

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    It works for the straight razor guys and gals. I have no idea what kind of steel the razors are made of though.
    ​​♦ During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act
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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    As to that, I'm a straight razor guy, when I use a razor at all. My barber strop is smooth - I charged it with some green chromium crayon, but they say that a horsehide strop has enough silica in it that you don't need dressing, except to keep it supple.

    I've a modern (well, early 1990s) razor which is some kind of stainless, and a few century old carbon steel razors bought for no more than $15 each from junk stores and flea markets. If anything, they give a better shave. Sharpness is the whole thing with a straight razor, including keeping the edge geometry from getting a bit blunt.
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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    It occurs to me, germaine to stropping, that the idea that stropping more than the one stroke necessary to remove the wire edge after honing on a stone is pointless, is wrong.

    When you sharpen by hand, water stones or oil stones, or dry for that matter, the abrasiveness of the surface the blade rubs against wears off fine particles of steel. No matter how fine or coarse, the rubbing leaves a smear of black, which is the accumulated particles and whatever lube. Stropping is just yet another finer step in the process of increasingly finer abrasiveness. If it isn't, then where do the particles that make the black smear come from?

    I suggest, according to my experience, that the traditional leather razor strop, with an abrasive compound like chromium oxide, removes enough fine particles to enhance the honing enough that a difference may be felt, for instance, in the course of a shave and in the result. Your minute observation over time of your own sharpening process and it's results will inform your choice without resorting to some industrial measuring process. If you're getting the black smear it's because some small bit of blade steel is left behind in the compound on the leather, which is why it becomes blackened over time, just like the felt wheel similarly charged.
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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    Stropping with compound does remove metal, however, you don't need compound on the leather t remove the wire edge. The action of bending the wire edge back and forth will break it off.

    There is a fundamental difference between straight razors and chisels, and that is their thickness. You can just about lay a razor flat to strop it, and do so with very little pressure. A chisel, in comparison, because of its thickness has to be elevated, say, twenty-five degrees to strop the bevel side. The thick blade depresses the leather to an extent and the rebounding leather, loaded with abrasive, will round off the edge rather than polish it.

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    [Q)UOTE=Jim Ledger;6460516]Stropping with compound does remove metal, however, you don't need compound on the leather 5t remove the wire edge. The action of bending the wire edge back and forth will break it off.

    There is a fundamental difference between straight razors and chisels, and that is their thickness. You can just about lay a raz for flat to strop it, and do so with very little pressure. A chisel, in comparison, because of its thickness has to be elevated, say, twenty-five degrees to strop the bevel side. The thick blade depresses the leather to an extent and the rebounding leather, loaded with abrasive, will round off the edge rather than polish it.[/QUOTE]


    "There is a fundamental difference between straight razors and chisels, and that is their thickness. You can just about lay a razor for flat to strop it, and do so with very little pressure."

    Again, Jim is right.

    I often lay my "dulled" safety razor blade flat against the curved section of the bathroom bowl to sharpen it.
    Slight pressure of your finger on the centre ensures that the edges only are in contact with the curved surface and ""Hey Presto" you're ready to go.
    Last edited by Chippie; 06-22-2021 at 02:55 AM.

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    A real conversation from the early 2000s. The supplier mentioned here is one of the many that are no longer in business.


    Woodworking Gear Supplier No. 2 (WGS2): “I absolutely cannot wait for the new Shapton 30,000-grit stone to come out.”


    Editor: “Yeah? What’s so great about it?”


    WGS2: “It will complete an essential kit of four stones that every woodworker needs. Woodworkers with only three Shapton stones will want to complete their set. And – here’s the great part – it’s going to cost about $400 to $500. The margin on this stone is incredible.”


    Editor: “What kind of edge do you get with it?”


    WGS2: “No idea. I haven’t used one yet. But I’m sure it’s great.”

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    Sharpening Gear Supplier (SGS): “I haven’t been sleeping well. And it’s because I have this amazing idea I want to talk to you about. What if sharpening was the new golf?”
    Editor: “New golf?”
    SGS: “Golf is pointless. You do it simply to get better at it. But there’s all this nice and expensive gear that helps you get better at it. There are classes, experts and competitions. And it’s all for the love of developing this one very refined skill.”
    Editor: “You think people will take up sharpening and then not make furniture?”
    SGS: “Exactly. You don’t need a shop, machines or even a workbench. You can do it in an apartment.”
    Editor: “Huh.”
    SGS: “Do you know how many golf magazines are out there? Think of it. A magazine all about the latest gear, comparing all the different methods, articles on steel, interviews with experts. I think there needs to be a magazine just about sharpening.”
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    The only thing a strop did for my chisels and plane irons was dull them.

    A wood lathe has velocity going for it

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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoeyawl View Post
    The only thing a strop did for my chisels and plane irons was dull them.

    A wood lathe has velocity going for it

    Jim Ledger @ 12.
    "Once the wire edge is gone there's no more to be gained by additional stropping. Strop too much and that nice sharp edge starts to round over."



    That is what Jim is referring to.

    i'm sorry but to what exactly is the speed of the lathe's involvement?

  34. #34
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Between Bourgeoisie and Proletariat - Australia
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    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    I have two pieces of leather glued to a board - rough out and fine out.
    I - for absolutely no scientific reason - strop my chisels on the rough first (with compound) and then the smoother side (with compound - green). Simply because of the practice of working from coarser to ever finer grains seems intuitive....

    For knives i use a felt polishing wheel on the bench grinder - with green compound. If the knives are still somewhat sharp, i only sharpen with that - does perfectly well.

    Found this recently;
    It's all fun and games until Darth Vader comes.

  35. #35
    Join Date
    Jun 2021
    Location
    new york
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    3

    Default Re: Sharpening Question - strop leather

    Interesting discussion!
    I just reading all thread and I knew this !

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