Shaving with a Straight Razor can be intimidating at first, especially with the initial cost of the equipment. Strops are important for keeping your razor from snagging and giving you nicks. While strops can be bought for upwards of 80$, you can make one at home for less than 40$, with just as much usefulness and quality as the brand name strops.
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Step 1: Decide What Type of Strop to Make
Paddle strops are easier to make, and easier for travel, since they can be held in one hand, making them portable, but give you less usable leather. Hanging strops are harder to make, and are not portable, since they must be attached to something sturdy from one end, but give you more usable leather. Hanging strops are more visually appealing to most. For this instructable, I will be making a hanging strop.
Step 2: Decide Which Type of Leather to Use
High end strops are made from shell cordovan, which is one of the most expensive types of horsehide available. Since I don't have the budget to justify spending 150$ on leather, I will be using latigo calfskin. You want your leather to be as smooth as possible and fairly supple. Look for 8-10 ounce leather, which is fairly ideal for strops. Width is up to personal preference, but I tend to prefer 2 1/2 inch strops.
Step 3: Screws or Rivets
You'll need a way to fasten your leather pieces together. While most strops use rivets, high end strops use some form of Chicago screws. Chicago screws are preferable as they allow you to replace worn out leather easily. However, rivets are somewhat more visually appearing and symmetrical.
Step 4: Design Your Strop
Use pictures of hanging strops on google to get an idea of how they are built and what shape and handle you want. Handles can be as simple as a D-Ring or more complicated, like a solid wood or leather handle. Keep in mind you'll have to attach one end of your strop to something sturdy to use it. It's helpful to make a template of your parts for when you cut them out. In order to attach the D RIngs you'll need to make bolsters. Im using a 3 inch rectangle with notches cut in the center of each side, to allow the smaller 2 inch D Rings to fit. For my handle I will sandwich a piece of leather between a folded piece of leather, making a loop for the D Ring. It sounds weird, but you'll see what I mean in the next step.
Step 5: Gather Your Tools and Materials
You'll need a leather punch, a ruler, a pen, a knife or sharp scissors, sandpaper, and a screwdriver or a rivet setter, depending on if you use Chicago screws or rivets.
Step 6: Cut Out Your Leather Pieces
Use your templates to trace your pieces onto the leather. Then, cut them out as cleanly as you can using your scissors or knife. For curves be very, very patient, and take your time. Measure and punch holes for your rivets/screws.The bolsters have two holes punched a half inch from the bottom and the side. Punch matching holes on the ends of the main strop piece. Sand the edges of your leather pieces with 320 grit, and then 1000 grit sandpaper.
Step 7: Assemble Everything
Use your Chicago screws or rivets to attach the D Ring, swivel snap, and the handle to the main strip of leather. Make sure you screw the Chicago screws as tight as you can. Using threadlocker won't hurt.
Step 8: Wonder at Your Work, and Strop Your Razor!
Now you've (hopefully) made a beautiful strop you'll enjoy for years to come. Remember to always strop with the edge facing away from the direction you are stropping in. Unlike honing, you don't want to cut into the strop. There are a lot of helpful instructions at www.StraightRazorPlace.com. A lot of strops have a canvas or linen side, but this one doesn't (yet), so make sure your razor is clean before you strop it. I will be updating this instructable when I get my hands on some fire hose for the linen side.