Sharpening methods #5: Old Danish honing strop and making a copy...

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Blog entry by mafe posted 11-30-2016 09:48 PM 4659 reads 4 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Stropping (honing on a leather strop) Part 5 of Sharpening methods series no next part

Old Danish honing strop
and making a copy…

My dear friend Flemming came by the shop as he often do, this time I had invited him for a cafe latte, since I bought my self a new Rancilio Silvia espresso machine (just like the old one), the old one was fourteen years now and needed repair. In fact I just had a friend of a friend picking up the old one few minutes ago, I saw on Facebook that he needed one and had no money, like this life goes in wonderful circles (his friend will repair it for him).

Back to the story MaFe!
Flemming often bring stuff, today to show what he bought and ask advice. He came with a beautiful old Danish strop, that he had bought with some woodworking stuff.

Here it is.
Wonderful old leather on wood strop, plenty of wear and soul.

The strop have had it’s days, now stiff and loose.

So before Flemming left, I made him a new strop and mounted it for him.
The leather has smooth side up as the original (Andy).
So he went home with a smile.

As often old tools are not made from fancy materials, just a plane piece of wood, knots and all.

After Flemming left, I went to the tablesaw.
Cut a old piece of wood from a trashed furniture.
Medium hardwood, with visible sap.

I made a quick sketch of the old strops shape when it was apart.
So the measures and shape were transferred to the block of wood.

As the lazy anti gallot person I am, I use a motor powered saw.
Just quick rough shaping on the bandsaw. ;-)
After that some sanding.

I decide to give it a wee ornamentation, even the old one have none and I usually like it simple.
Hmmm, I must have smoked to little tobacco, perhaps just in a romantic mood.

Then dye, oil, polish, wax.
Ok MaFe, I guess you are a little over the top today!

Cutting a leather strip for the strop.

Predrilling a few holes.

Then three copper nails to hold the strop in place.

Rounding them a wee, while I hammer them in.

At the other end, I pull the strop tight with a pliers, before putting the nails in place.

That’s it, the strop is a reality.

Fine size and nice to hold.

Time to load the strop.
Since the leather is quite ‘shiny’, I take a blade and rough it a wee by, just running the blade vertically down the leather, don’t cut, just a careful roughing. (Try on another piece first).
Then time to load it, this time with Flexcut Gold Polishing Compound, this because our friend Druid here on LJ wrote me that I should try this out, so I bought some online and it arrived today, perfect timing.
Just rub it in, plenty, don’t be cheap, the stick will last forever.

Finally the strop is at work, honing a knife and testing it out.
I agree, this is really an effective compound, for me it seems to be more effective and make a better polish to that mirror we like, when I have used it for a while I will get back on the subject (if I remember it).

Hope it could inspire or keep you sharp.

Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

13 comments so far

View Brit's profile


8334 posts in 4004 days

#1 posted 11-30-2016 10:36 PM

Oh no Mads! I can feel a rough/smooth side up debate approaching. LOL.

Lovely little project and I like the decoration on the sides too. Is there any advantage to suspending the leather over thin air rather than sticking it to wood? Was it designed for razors and knives and not so much for chisels?

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View Alexey Khasyanov's profile

Alexey Khasyanov

221 posts in 4034 days

#2 posted 11-30-2016 10:36 PM


-- @alexey_Khasyanov

View mafe's profile


13204 posts in 4251 days

#3 posted 11-30-2016 10:47 PM

Laugh Andy thanks, I have no comments on that. (I like the smooth side up).
I like the hanging or suspended strop for knifes, I will always used a flat base version for chisels and plane irons.
But you can use what ever, just as long as you keep the strop tight, otherwise it will round the sharp edge you just made.

Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.
Lao Tzu

Alexey, thanks.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

View blackcherry's profile


3347 posts in 4985 days

#4 posted 11-30-2016 10:47 PM

oh yea will put in fav’s for those long winter nights. Great idea and project, happy holiday my friend.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10963 posts in 5214 days

#5 posted 11-30-2016 11:47 PM

Very nice project!

You even carved some scrolling on the sides! COOL touch!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View lew's profile


13385 posts in 4917 days

#6 posted 12-01-2016 12:08 AM

Nicely done, Mads!

I remember as a youngster, my Dad had a leather razor strop/strap he used to hone his straight razor (and to remind me to listen to my Mom).

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View flintbone's profile


213 posts in 4318 days

#7 posted 12-01-2016 12:31 AM

Good job Mads. There is something about stropping a blade on a good piece of leather
that will never grow old. Keep up the good work.

-- If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. - Albert Einstein

View Woodfix's profile


354 posts in 4461 days

#8 posted 12-01-2016 08:03 AM

Well done another beautiful thing in the world

-- I would rather have the most memories, than the most money.

View Combo Prof's profile

Combo Prof

4670 posts in 2439 days

#9 posted 12-01-2016 10:53 AM

Nice Mads. I recently made a hand held “flat base version” that I like for, but I have some good stiff leather left to try your open air strop.

-- Don K, (Holland, Michigan)

View Roger's profile


21054 posts in 3966 days

#10 posted 12-01-2016 12:37 PM

Very good Mads. I like that little belly in the middle. Gives it a bit of play. Should make some super sharp edges

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

View Druid's profile


2205 posts in 3957 days

#11 posted 12-01-2016 09:02 PM

Hi Mads, Yet another well done tutorial, and I’m glad to see that you found the Flexcut Gold gives you the mirror finish that I had mentioned to you. I like the way that you are showing many of us a good variety of “older style” tools, and how they can still be very useful to us today.
Thanks for sharing.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View CFrye's profile


11329 posts in 3001 days

#12 posted 12-03-2016 03:44 PM

Restore, copy, inspire! I’m sure you have inspired your copy to be copied, Mads. How thick/thin is the leather you used? I have read that the really thick leather is not desirable? Thanks for sharing.

-- God bless, Candy

View mafe's profile


13204 posts in 4251 days

#13 posted 12-04-2016 01:18 AM

Hi LJ’s,
CFrye, circa 2,8mm hard pressed leather. I use this also for sheaths and so, bought half a cow front piece some years back. ;-) Yes that’s a MaFe song: Restore, copy, inspire… Laugh.
Druid, yes that gold polish is good stuff, also bought one for my friend, look forward to hear his comments also.
Roger, I like the feel of this play, it gives a nice feel when running the knife down.
Combo Prof, let me know what you think.
Woodfix, if we leave some beauty behind when we one day have to go, then we have left a good impact.
flintbone, yes there sure are, it’s a special feel, something basic.
lew, I like the first part, not the second, my father used only his hands and I did not like that either.
Joe Lyddon, yes it’s unusual for me, I like ‘less is more’ but this time, it was just asking for it.
blackcherry, and the same to yo.
Thanks for the fine words.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect.

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