Ah, the heartwarming task of sharpening blades! Once you've learned how and developed a bit of a technique, it really is rewarding. There's nothing like using a freshly sharpened blade, and aren't we all here because we love that I-did-it-myself feeling? Yes, yes we are.
So why a strop? A strop can help you keep an edge sharp longer, helps to straighten thin blade edges, and polishes the blade. After years of sharpening without a strop, mainly because (a) I rarely thought about it except when jealously watching others use one, (b) no scraps of leather came my way, (c) and I'm too cheap to buy one. So, finally, I decided to make a quick and easy strop block for polishing my chisels. (Not so much for keeping an edge as making them pretty and shiny!)
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
To make this strop block, or one like it, you'll need the following items:
Scrap wood block
Strip of canvas (at least as wide as the wood block)
Heavy duty stapler
thin cork sheet (mine was 1/16" thick)
a clamp or weight for pressure
Step 2: Cut Your Canvas Strip
Cut a strip of canvas a little wider than your block of wood, and fairly long. Because you will want to fold it up a few times, make sure the strip is several times longer than your block. I didn't measure mine when I cut it, but the block is about 6" long, and the canvas strip is about 36", just to give you an idea of the length you'll need -roughly 5-6 times longer.
Step 3: Glue the Cork to the Wood Block
First, glue the cork to the wood. Make sure you spread the glue over the entire surface of the board, so the cork doesn't lift off at the edges, or bubble up in the middle. Lay the board, glue face down, onto the cork and apply even pressure. Follow your glue's instructions for clamping duration.
I used clamps and and another scrap of wood, but you can use practically anything. I included a couple of examples of alternative clamping solutions
Pro tip: Don't use your coffee. Oh sure, it'll work, but you won't be able to drink it while you're waiting for the glue to dry.
Step 4: Trim the Cork and Attach the Canvas
Once the glue has set, take your sharp knife and trim the cork flush to the edge of the block
Then take your folded canvas strip, making sure there are no wrinkles, and staple it to the board, first one side, and then -pulling it tightly- the other side.
Step 5: Use It!
And you did it! Honestly, it's that easy.
1. Hold the bevel against the surface of the strop with light pressure and move the blade away from the cutting edge. Turn the blade over and do the same on the other side. The process is the same on any stropping surface, with or without a honing compound.
2. Never move the blade toward the cutting edge as it will cut into the strop, resulting in dulling of the edge and damage to the strop. A few strokes is usually sufficient.