15) I Made a Strop #NewThingEveryDay

Leather belt

When I was cutting out the Decepticon Logo for my Bleached Logo Shirt, my X-Acto knife blade started to get dull and rip the paper. Of course I couldn’t find any of my spare blades so I just had to make due. It got me to thinking, maybe some company made a tool for sharpening X-Acto knife blades.

Fairly quickly I started coming across people saying they just ran the blade over a strop a few times and it was sharper than new. There were even pages devoted to making your own strop. That seems a little overkill since a strop couldn’t be simpler — a piece of flat leather impregnated with some white buffing compound.

So a few days ago I went looking for a used leather belt at Savers, a thrift store chain, and had a hard time finding a belt that was flat. Every genuine leather belt I looked at had some sort of ornate leather work, or worse, things glued or woven into it.  I finally found a black women’s belt that was just a strip of dyed leather.

Buffing Compound

So today I used my shop shears to cut a 6″ strip of leather from the belt. Then I roughed up the back of the belt with some 100 grit sandpaper so it would hold the buffing compound. Finally I rubbed some white buffing compound into the rough leather. It’s just that easy.

Knife blade before stropping Knife blade after stropping

So I tried sharpening one of my dull X-Acto knife blades. I pulled the blades backward against the strop about 10 times using my index finger to hold the angle. Then flipped it over and did it anther 10 strokes. I ran the blade down the strop, first one side then the other for 5, then 3, then 2, then 1 pass. To test the blade’s sharpness, I tried it against a piece of paper I held in the air to see if the blade would slice the paper. It didn’t the first time, so I repeated the process again. This time it sliced the paper like a sharp blade should.

In the photos above, I tried to show the blade before and after, but I couldn’t get the lighting to match. You can definitely tell that the edge is shinier just by looking at it, though.

I also tried the strop on our kitchen paring knife, but I think it is too dull for the strop to work.

Everything is ruined.
Our good bellows, our stereopticon.
[GASPS] Homer, your strop.
Your strop.

– Marge Simpson after their house went over a waterfall in the Helter Shelter Episode.

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