Leather strop


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Established Member
5 Jun 2019
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Wellington, New Zealand
Today I bought a piece of scrap leather from a material shop that my wife frequents.

It is sky blue and would have made a beautiful handbag had it been a bit larger :)

I have sufficient leather to cut and glue onto a flat board to make a couple of blade sharpening strops.

My question is, which side/surface do I use?

The shiny treated outer side or the duller underneath side?
If it's shiny and coloured then it is chrome tan leather and only the flesh side is suitable for a strop. Veg tan is better really then you can use the skin side but it's better than nothing.

After advice on here I mostly use MDF these days, only use the leather strop for knives.
Color side down. Skin side up as said above if the leather type allows. As you use the flesh side, it will become smoother, anyway.
Have I definitely got this right, that the fluffy side is what is known as the skin side?
I would have guessed, it was the other way round.
Thanks fellas.
ZippityNZ":3le1evmk said:
My question is, which side/surface do I use?
You can use either. If you read some past threads that mention strops you'll see members have made theirs using either side up and that's something that's fairly common elsewhere too.

Depending on the type of leather you may specifically want to use the smooth side because you'll be using the strop bare, as yours is a fetching blue it's not that type :D

If you're using a loaded strop it matters less which side of the leather is uppermost (it's the compound/metal polish etc. doing the work) but the rough side holds more polishing agent. But if you are using a polishing agent of some kind you don't need leather at all, you can face the strop with a tough fabric (I used denim) or nothing, just apply the compound or polish to the bare MDF or wood.
Ttrees":2j5vshni said:
Have I definitely got this right, that the fluffy side is what is known as the skin side?
The two sides are I think most commonly called the flesh side and the hair side. Calling one side the skin side I think is much more likely to cause confusion.

And a Google concordance search confirms that use of the term hair side greatly outweighs that of skin side, by nearly a factor of six. So there's that.
smooth side is the hairy skin side....

suede is leather with the flesh side out as the show side.

With indeterminate tanning, I'd use the flesh side. The tan is not guaranteed to be edge smooth like we think of it (especially if it's got skin wrinkles in it), and sanding it off can introduce contaminants into the leather. The flesh side will be worked smooth over time if you use it. If it's uncontaminated but black from metal, that's not necessarily a bad thing (contaminants being things like abrasive particles, settled dust, wood, etc, or wire edge fragments). fine stone iron filing swarf in the leather (as discoloration) probably works in your favor if it's controlled.
I no longer use leather for a strop. Instead, I scribble green compound on planed hardwood, and strop on that. Hardwood does not dub the edge.

Regards from Perth