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Wrinkled strop

So I was looking for a travel strop and decided to dip my toes into eBay for a used strop purchase. Unfortunately not so lucky on the first try. Some significant wrinkles in this one.
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Based on reading related threads my first thought was that the strop got its wrinkles in shipment, as it was coiled pretty tightly in the box shown in the photo. But it was coiled leather out, which I understand is better. And the wrinkly pattern is exactly in the middle of the strop which makes me think that the reality was that the strop was probably stored folded smooth side in for some period of time in the past. I went back to the listing to see if I missed something in the photos. In fact only 1 of the 8 or so photos showed this portion of the strop at all, and in that photo the strop was completely within the frame and on its edge with a slight bend in the middle (the wrinkles disappear when you bend the strop at this point). So now I’m thinking that the vendor knew about the issue and staged the photos to minimize exposing the damage. Caveat Emptor - I guess shopping the Bay for vintage strops requires the same knowledge as shopping for vintage razors.

So already did some searching of past B&B threads. My understanding is that these are the steps I would want to follow in order:
1) Steaming - wrap the strop in a towel for protection and then steam with an iron (short bursts to avoid scorching).
2) Sanding it down - if I do this likely end up with very different surface so may need to do the entire length to keep the draw consistent.
3) wash with saddle soap or shaving soap (a few different products had been recommended, I am thinking about using my Trumper’s soap, which I find pretty poor as a shaving soap)
4) apply a small amount of neatsfoot oil.

Is the above in the right order? Should I try saddle soap and neatsfoot oil before sanding, or should I wait until after the wrinkles are removed to worry about that. Other than the wrinkles and a few minor scrapes and stains the leather and linen are both in good shape. The hardware is in excellent condition.
 
The new Illinois strops are prone to wrinkles like that, but yeah, it certainly looks like it was rolled or folded incorrectly at some point. Also, there is a worn area where a cut is located. Perhaps they tried to sand out the cut there? I would stay away from neatsfoot oil and saddle soap. Using lather from a shaving soap is an old-timer's method for cleaning them. I would try this. I like Stirling as it has tallow. Make a lather, remove the hardware and cloth element from the strop, place the strop face up on a flat surface and paint the lather on, leaving it laid out to dry for a few hours. Afterwards, brush off the excess lather with your hand and start conditioning it by rubbing the strop surface with your palm.

Not sure much can be done for the wrinkling. Perhaps rubbing it over with the thick shank of a large Phillips screwdriver would help (just make sure the shank doesn't have any burrs that will scratch the leather--I learned that one the hard way.) Beyond this, I would just try stropping with it to see if that helps. Start with a beater blade to see how it goes as a nice edge may be negatively impacted if the wrinkles are really raised. You could also use short strokes, avoiding the area.
 
Wrinkles are pretty much permanent.
It has been folding in the wrong direction.
AFAIK the only way to be rid of them is to sand them out which will probably ruin the strop.
 

Tony Miller

Vendor
Folded back on itself for sure. Really no way to fix wrinkles that bad. Once the skin lifts or "breaks" from the fibers underneath there is no going back to what it was. You may be able to burnish it flatter and use it but any sag or bend backwards will lift that section again and you will feel it with each pass. Won't harm the edge but not the best situation
 
Good news is that I was able to return it. Happily the 827 Imperial Russian vintage that I picked up at the same time was in much better shape. It had a few scratches but I used some shaving soap to clean and neatsfoot oil and the scratches basically disappeared. So now I have a backup strop that I won’t get upset if I lose while traveling.
 
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