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How to Restore a Strop


There are many ways to restore an item and keep in mind that each item might require a slightly different method. Also, proceed with care as the last thing that anyone would want is to ruin their item. If you are unsure, ask some questions on the forum or send it to a professional to restore the item. The bottom line, this technique worked for the item presented in the article, it might not work for your item. Make sure that you read the tutorial completely before you launch yourself into restoring your first strop.

The Restoration

Some of us will buy a strop off eBay eventually just like any straight razor. The strop can be in good/average/bad condition depending on how it was taken care of. Some of them are very old and might need a conditioner to restore the leather.

Before you start

The first thing that you need to make sure is that you don't have any nicks or cut that can catch the blade while stropping. Run the palm of your hand on the leather for a few laps. Use the tip of your fingers specially on each border of the strop to make sure that the leather is completely flat. If the leather has bits and pieces that can cause problems(feel sharp, tiny piece of leather comes up, etc) while stropping, use a piece of high grit sand paper to sand out the nick. Start with 1000 and go lower only if the nick is not coming out. Keep in mind, the lower the sand paper, the more scratches.

Each restoration is somehow unique by itself as not all second hand products are in the same condition. This should guide you toward the right way.

Let's get started

Again, this is not necessarily the best method but it worked for the item in this guide.

The restoration will be done on a vintage Russian strop in good condition and has a few minor nicks. Those nicks and issues where sanded out before the restoration. The leather feels like Horsehide, however, it's a bit stiff. Good thing, it's not cupping and the leather is not cracked. The strop was used for a few days but the leather is very hard and compared to the pictured Kanayama strop, the leather should be more malleable.

What do you need?

From a country to another, the basic products will not be the same, however, you can probably find a product to wash/clean the leather and then condition it. It is advised to use saddle soap to clean and neatsfoot oil is best to condition leather. For this tutorial, neatsfoot oil was unavailable. The local leather man shop around the corner had some leather conditioner to restore and protect the leather. This product was already used on shoes before and the results were good as the leather was softer, easier to bend and looked nicer. This is the reason why this product was used in this tutorial.

Items required:
  • A strop that needs restoration
  • A clean piece of cloth (this is from the cleaning section of the supermarket, an old t-shirt would also be acceptable)
  • Saddle soap with neatsfoot oil specifically made to clean leather
  • Leather Conditioner (Fromm is another brand that could be used)

A bit more on those products

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The leather conditioner is from a company in Australia named Minit

The Saddle soap comes with instructions. The instructions are: Apply with a soft damp cloth, rub gently to develop lather and remove dirt. Avoid hard rubbing but wipe all the surface. Rinse cloth and wipe down. When dry, polish with a clean cloth. I'm missing the last line because of the glare.

The Steps

The cleaning process with the saddle soap was repeated 3 times on both sides of the leather piece.

The conditioner procedure was repeated 3 times on both sides of the leather piece.

TIP - Hanging the strop is the best way to let it dry.

It's not as malleable as the Japanese strop but it's much better!

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