Above: The Art of Preserving the Hair, On Philosophical Principals. By the Author of the Art of Improving the Voice. (London: Septimous Prowett, 1825), 250-251.
Before you try this, think of the way your strop gets to torn up in use! I have tried hand stropping—very carefully—but didn’t notice much difference in the sharpness of the blade as compared to stropping on an undressed vegetable tanned hair side skin, to be honest. Hand oils may give the steel a bit more resistance to rusting. Needless to say, hand stropping is performed slowly. I still prefer a Horse butt strop, available here.
Hand stropping lives on in various guises, however. Shaving enthusiasts have a thread titled Hand Stropping Really WORKS!. A youtube video demonstrates the stropping of a single edge razor blade. Bill Carter, a plane maker from the UK hand strops a plane blades. To be clear, he is pulling the blade away from his hand.
Below: The tough hands of Bill Carter.
One Reply to “Hand Stropping”
Jeff, in the interest of the health of one of my favorite tool makers – please consider the possible downsides of this! BTW, just spent the most wonderful week in NH at the Windsor Chair Institute making a Continuous Arm Windsor Chair. Had a ball and of course had to buy a lot of the hand tools necessary. The school is all about making these classical models of chairs pretty much from scratch with the authentic hand tools. I think you’d love it. Also spent a week in the Sierras in CA making “book jewels”, am totally hooked on metalsmithing now! Sorry for the lack of focus on second picture, it’s a scan so uneven levels make some of it less easy to see. Anyway, bought your book on conservation labs and brought it back to Italy with me, can’t wait to read it. Kath Thomas