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What is this Strops Problem?

I cleaned my strop for the 1st time this weekend... I wanted to clean off excess white paste that I felt was causing my blade to skip but I also used saddle soap on the leather. After, I used shoe conditioned but when it dried and I bent it (slightly) I see these faint white lines. It also feels drier when I pull a razor over it. I did some more leather conditioner then some ballistol. I'm also running my hands over it but it still doesn't feel as nice as before. I'm concerned I can't use it to strop until I figure this out.
 

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I’m no expert but I have heard it said from at least two people that would fairly be described as experts that anytime you apply oils, conditioners or what have you that you will permanently change the leather. But for full disclosure this was said in the context of horsehide.
 
First off, white paste is for fabric not leather. I assume that we're talking leather?

When you clean a strop using water, it will raise a nap. This nap will wear off or you can sand the strop with 1-2k sandpaper with a sanding block to smooth it.

I’ve never put anything on my Kanoyama or Tony Miller strops that I bought new. I want the blade hitting clean, dry leather. A coat of wax is going to keep the steel away from the leather and oil isn’t needed unless it’s a dried-out eBay beater that you're trying to rejuvenate.

Our strops don't need to be protected from anything but us. They’re not exposed to water and they don’t get bent and flexed like a shoe or glove. If I were you, I’d wash it thoroughly with regular soap and water, dry it between two flat boards as Iwasaki recommends, then block sand it with 1-2k sandpaper laying on a flat surface. Then don’t put anything on it.
 
First off, white paste is for fabric not leather. I assume that we're talking leather?

When you clean a strop using water, it will raise a nap. This nap will wear off or you can sand the strop with 1-2k sandpaper with a sanding block to smooth it.

I’ve never put anything on my Kanoyama or Tony Miller strops that I bought new. I want the blade hitting clean, dry leather. A coat of wax is going to keep the steel away from the leather and oil isn’t needed unless it’s a dried-out eBay beater that you're trying to rejuvenate.

Our strops don't need to be protected from anything but us. They’re not exposed to water and they don’t get bent and flexed like a shoe or glove. If I were you, I’d wash it thoroughly with regular soap and water, dry it between two flat boards as Iwasaki recommends, then block sand it with 1-2k sandpaper laying on a flat surface. Then don’t put anything on it.
Thanks for the great insight... I was concerned if ruined it!

To be clear, I was cleaning the paste off the linen side and figured I'd do the whole thing so I hit the leather with saddle soap. I've got these weird dark stains on it that I thought were water stains or something and figured I'd be proactive in caring for it.

I'll give that a shot!
 
Water can make dark spots on a leather strop. They don’t hurt anything, but you can just wipe the whole leather strop down with a damp rag and let it dry naturally and it will return to it’s former complexion overnight.
 
I've tried your advice and I'm still not getting the complexion I expect. The leather seems very smooth, unlike the soft leather before I washed it. I admit I havent sanded it yet because I'm scared to. In addition, the strop seems to be cupping on the sides so when I use it I'm not touching the middle. I'm drying it between two boards, and I just cut one board down so that it only contacts the leather and not the material on the ends that retains the hardware.

Any advice on how to fix these issues?
 
If I'm not mistaken, saddle soap and most conditioners contain wax in suspension. So I'm thinking that it's the wax that is causing the change. If that's a Tony Miller strop, maybe you should contact him for advice. Otherwise, I would suggest whipping up some lather from your favorite soap, applying this to the leather surface with a shaving brush, and then leaving the lather to dry on the strop overnight. Perhaps this might cut through the wax and raise the nap towards where it was before.
 
I think that makes sense. When you say whip up a larger from my favorite soap- do you mean shaving soap or any soap?
 
Shaving soap. Preferably with tallow in it. Make a lather as if you were going to shave with it and apply it to the leather surface resting on a surface plane like a counter or table. I find Sterling's line works well for this.
 
When leather is wet and dries it often shrinks some and dries hard. It will stay hard unless you work the leather by flexing and it working with it to relax the leather and soften back up. Leather in general, not speaking to strop specifically even though it does apply. Your leather being now hard and cupping sounds just like this. I would start flexing and working the leather. I do not mean creasing and bending in sharp angles. Ever have leather gloves or a belt that was wet and dried stiff? Same thing.
 

Tony Miller

Vendor
Not one of mine, looks like a different top cap design. Wetting and drying can cause cupping as well as the white streaking. On some waxed or oiled leathers some of those treatments can leach out of the leather causing discoloration as well.

I know some guys have great results with saddle soap, oils, etc.... but I have always been a leave it alone type when it comes to strops. I will treat other leathers exposed to the outdoors but not my strops.
 
Not one of mine, looks like a different top cap design. Wetting and drying can cause cupping as well as the white streaking. On some waxed or oiled leathers some of those treatments can leach out of the leather causing discoloration as well.

I know some guys have great results with saddle soap, oils, etc.... but I have always been a leave it alone type when it comes to strops. I will treat other leathers exposed to the outdoors but not my strops.
What is your recommendation to treat the cupping? This is my only strop and I feel like I can't use it because of this particular issue. I've been trying to work the leather by running it over my leg as if I were buffing a shoe for a couple days now but I don't see much change.
 

Tony Miller

Vendor
You need to force it into and actually a bit beyond the shape you want. Most materials will spring back so you need to sort of force a bow, rather than a cup into it. I grab the leather by the sides, thumb on one side, fingers on the other. Squeeze them together till the strop bows up along the centerline then slowly run my hand down the length of the strop until you force it flat or slightly convex. This could take some real pressure and several passes.
 
You need to force it into and actually a bit beyond the shape you want. Most materials will spring back so you need to sort of force a bow, rather than a cup into it. I grab the leather by the sides, thumb on one side, fingers on the other. Squeeze them together till the strop bows up along the centerline then slowly run my hand down the length of the strop until you force it flat or slightly convex. This could take some real pressure and several passes.
This seems to have worked! I cant believe I didn't think of that... However, I still have a smooth complexion to the leather... The saddle soap I used has wax in it. What is the best way to remove the wax to restore the complexion? Soap as mentioned above? I tried this previously but didn't seem to do much.
 

Tony Miller

Vendor
This seems to have worked! I cant believe I didn't think of that... However, I still have a smooth complexion to the leather... The saddle soap I used has wax in it. What is the best way to remove the wax to restore the complexion? Soap as mentioned above? I tried this previously but didn't seem to do much.
No idea on how to get wax out. In most cases once you apply something like and oil or wax to leather you have it for good. Not easily undone if at all.
 
By coincidence, I have a dilemma regarding wax on some wooden frames I am making for an exhibition. I've oiled the frames, and I am debating whether or not to apply a paste wax afterwards, the difficulty of reversal afterwards being an issue. In the case with wood, the use of mineral spirits (paint thinner) is recommended to reverse the wax effect. Now, please bear in mind that I am not recommending doing this with wax-laden leather as I don't know what the effect is, but it might be worth investigation to see if someone has tried it and what was the result. Once I postulated that someone might wick off the wax with a heated iron, but the response was that one should never heat leather that way. (I don't recall if I mentioned having blotter paper, the kind used in printmaking, between the leather surface and the iron, and keeping the iron temperature as low as possible to melt the wax. Again, I am not recommending this as I don't know what the result would be.)
 
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By coincidence, I have a dilemma regarding wax on some wooden frames I am making for an exhibition. I've oiled the frames, and I am debating whether or not to apply a paste wax afterwards, the difficulty of reversal afterwards being an issue. In the case with wood, the use of mineral spirits (paint thinner) is recommended to reverse the wax effect. Now, please bear in mind that I am not recommending doing this with wax-laden leather as I don't know what the effect is, but it might be worth investigation to see if someone has tried it and what was the result. Once I postulated that someone might wick off the wax with a heated iron, but the response was that one should never heat leather that way. (I don't recall if I mentioned having blotter paper, the kind used in printmaking, between the leather surface and the iron, and keeping the iron temperature as low as possible to melt the wax. Again, I am not recommending this as I don't know what the result would be.)

Yes Alan, thinner will remove surface wax from wood.
As far as removal from a strop I can only suggest what a local barber once told me. To clean the strop "Use the back of your shears to scrape the strop". I had never heard that before and you may end up with minor surface scratches. I eventually seen it in print , (page20) Essay on barbers' razors, razor hones, razor strops and razor honing .. - https://archive.org/stream/essayonbarbersra00lebl#page/20/mode/2up
 
Yes Alan, thinner will remove surface wax from wood.
As far as removal from a strop I can only suggest what a local barber once told me. To clean the strop "Use the back of your shears to scrape the strop". I had never heard that before and you may end up with minor surface scratches. I eventually seen it in print , (page20) Essay on barbers' razors, razor hones, razor strops and razor honing .. - https://archive.org/stream/essayonbarbersra00lebl#page/20/mode/2up
Very interesting reading Paul, and thanks for the wood-working comment. It says that one should scrape the strop with shears like that once a week or every ten days. That time frame would be for barbers with many clients, not individual users.
 
Very interesting reading Paul, and thanks for the wood-working comment. It says that one should scrape the strop with shears like that once a week or every ten days. That time frame would be for barbers with many clients, not individual users.

Yes that seems to be frequent but like you say when shaving many perhaps it is needed.
The local barber that told me that has since passed but he showed me on a strop. I was shocked.
He was generous with his time and knowledge.
 
I use Tanner’s Preserve leather cleaner and conditioner during strop cleaning, with a flexi drywall scraper to remove the waxed rouge from my strops, with careful application of warm air from a blow dryer.
 
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