Strop Making

It takes only a few minutes, even with dadoes and such. You can still clamp it in the vise if you want/need to. Strops work best in a side-swipe fashion and not well front to back or pulling towards you standing in front of the bench.

I have always made strop making simple by using double-sided tape to fix the leather to the strop block. It works fine but with the pressure of stopping long term the leather starts to loosen at the corners and it does get gouged from time to time which results in bumps in the surface.

The sizes are of course variable according to space you have but this one works very well for me. Square up, surface plane the edges and use solid wood or plywood according to preference. The dado is about 5/16″ deep but I went to a particular strata. Also, the plywood splits all the way across at one level when you push in with the chisel. That’s what makes it quick.

Pre-drill the stop block with 3/16″ holes 3/4″ in from the ends and countersink.

Attach to the end of the strop piece using PVA glue and screws.

Use the square and knife to establish the first knifewall 1″ from one end…

…and then make a second one 3/16″ from that one, so 1 3/16″ from the same end.

Space 10″ to establish the knifewall at the opposite end…

…and then a second one, 3/16″ from that one.

Use a dovetail guide for the 1:7 ratio angle, or use a sliding bevel.

Saw down, inside the knifewalls across the grain.

Remove the waste between the knifewalls down to the 5/16″ depth.

Cover the surface of the strop, between the dadoes, with two-sided tape.

Stretch the leather across the surface. Starts in the middle and stretch towards the dadoes.

Press the leather down into the dadoes.

Cut off the excess in the bottom of the dadoes with a sharp knife,

Fit strips of wood to suit the grooves. It should be snug but not too tight.

Establish the height of the retainer strips and mark with a knife.

Rip to width.

Drive the inserts into the groove and tighten down with a hammer.

Flip the strop over onto a scrap of wood and trim the leather to width.

Apply a coat of finish such as waterborne clear varnish. This will keep the strop clean.

18 thoughts on “Strop Making”

  1. Hi
    If we strop fore and aft rather than up and down, would it be better to have the stop running along the strop base rather than across it?

    I made the sharpening base like yours, it was the first time I had used a router plane and it was an excellent first use exercise. This blog is perfect timing.

      1. I guess the stop is used to hook the strop at the left end of the workbench (if one is right handed.)
        I was surprised to see it as usually you put everything in the vise and, visibly, it was not a cleat to be tightened in the vise.
        Until now I have put my strop in the vise which means I have to first take the bloc with diamond plates out of it.
        And as I am not always satisfied of the end result, I have to redo the all dance again. So with a stop bloc I could leave the diamond plate holder in the vise before testing.
        Now of course, one day, I will achieve the desired result at first try…

      2. Not sure but I think it’s what I do which is to put a 1″ square longitudinal strip under the centreline of the strop so you can tighten the vice onto it. The strop is then running parallel to the vice jaws (?)

  2. I Love it! Something easy to make that looks good and is functional. I really have no excuse now to not make a proper strop.

  3. Michael michalofsky

    Very nice pix but
    What does it look like completely finished?

  4. Try animal Hyde glue to glue leather to wood. You can use either the ready to use or make your own kind of glue. Veg tan leather is best for vice jaws, but chrome tan (upholstery) also works, and either is good for strops. The glue really holds well, better than PVA.
    BTW don’t ever use chrome tan leather to store tools. It will rust your tools, use veg tan leather only.

  5. I made my workbench from the 2012 video and blog posts.
    So just an idea for those concerned.
    I see some de-lamination at the front edge of your plywood one where a saw did catch it. (Mine is also chewed there)
    Would it counteract de-lamination if the edge of the front board was soaked with instant glue or some very fluid resin?
    Or do you plan, one day, to make a solid wood insert as you did on the old demonstration workbench.

  6. I should have said that i saw you use this impregnation technique in one of your video to avoid blow out (the cornice one maybe).

  7. I attached the leather on my strop using contact adhesive. Contact adhesive seems to work fine, it’s not coming loose at the corners nor developing bumps after several years of use. Mine is basically just a strip of plywood but with rebates along the length at both edges on the underside so it’s easier to clamp it in the woodworking vise. Both the plywood and leather were pre-used. Zero cost to make but with incredible value in daily use. Probably the single tool I have with the greatest return-on-investment.

    1. Forget to mention: I’ve also screwed in a hook at one of the ends to hang it on the wall so it’s out of the way when not needed.

      The leather of mine came from an old, worn-out TIG welding glove (white leather ones, with fingers, not welding mittens for stick welding). The fingertips were completely worn through (and unusable anyway since too small and thin) but the sleeves of the gloves are a different sort of leather, thicker and large enough to use for a leather strop, and were in as-new condition on my otherwise totally worn-out gloves.

  8. Looks interesting, but could quite do with you panning out – I wasn’t very sure what the end result was going to be.

  9. I cut up an old leather handbag of the wife’s for this. She doesn’t mind. I don’t tell her!

    1. Great idea! I have an old handbag I just could not throw away…. would be perfect for this! I have a strop already I ordered from some guy in TX… I should add a hook and I like the other idea (above) of the rebate underneath…. yay! 8))

  10. Robert Brunston

    Very good Paul!
    I just glue my leather down with contact cement it never comes loose.
    Thank you.

  11. Amos Bullington

    Hello Paul,

    Hope you and your family and crew are all safely housed and well. Going to be an interesting few months I think.
    My Grandfather told me about going through the 1918-19 Pandemic after WWI when he returned from France.

    Best wishes,


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