Feb 27 2011

A Sharpening “Horse-Butt” Strop for the Workbench.

Published by at 1:06 pm under Hand Tools,Jigs,Sharpening,Woodworks Store

We have introduced a new leather strop sharpening system, that uses genuine horse butt leather, for helping maintain the finest edges on edge tools while they work.

Maintaining an edge during the woodworking process provides higher levels of working sharpness from edge tools, promoting accurate cuts and joinery, smoother wood surface finish quality, and saves woodworkers an enormous amount of wasted time regrinding, by avoiding dullness, affordably.

It comes down to convenience. This is very important, because when sharpening isn’t convenient or is too messy, we tend to allow tools to become so dull, that restoring sharpness is a lot of hard work. Dullness is avoidable if we maintain sharpness as we work. Maintaining edge tools should be easy.

Why would we want a strop optimized for our workbench? Most strops on the market today are not optimized for honing woodworking tools well. Some come closer than others, but overall they don’t offer the right combination of leather types, flatness, length or ergonomics all at once. Woodworkers want some options and ease when they maintain their edge tools. Our strop is capable of maintaining tool sharpness, reducing or eliminating the mess, while fixturing itself on the bench where the tools are working.

Enter the ‘Bench Strop’ from Evenfall Studios.

The Bench Strop is a multi piece interchangeable stropping surface, sharpening tool. It is optimized for bench work with a Strop Base that supports the Strop Top 2-1/4 inches above the bench top. This boost in height allows clearances for the hands to hold handled tools and plane irons while stropping both the bevel and the backs.

The Strop Base also has three 3/4-inch deep, 3/4-inch diameter Dog Holes bored in the underside for fixturing the Bench Strop over any Round Bench Dog. It is quick and easy to fixture the strop wherever there is space and an available dog. Need to move the strop? Use one hand and pick it up. It is that simple and easy. Need to fixture it again, place it over the bench dog using one of the three provided holes and that’s it! If there is no dog, or the strop will be used away from the bench, we offer an optional non-skid foot kit that can be installed to the base. This will not impede the use of the bench dog fixturing system at all, and adds stability on other surfaces.

The top of the Strop Base is the mounting point for interchangeable Strop Tops. A hex key holder is integrally built into the right side of the base so the tool for interchanging ‘Strop Tops’ is always at hand.

The Strop Tops are made from dead flat MDF and mount to the Strop Base with two 1/4-20 flat head cap screws. The stropping surface area measures 3 x 10-1/4 inches. The optional stropping surfaces are made from Hard Rolled, Genuine Horse Butt, Cowhide Split Suede, which are the two most popular leather stropping surfaces available, and we offer a bare MDF base for use with diamond paste or polishing compounds. Choose one, choose three, or choose multiple Strop Tops for use with the many different compounds available. It is a system you configure to work your way.

The size of this surface area is over two inches longer than most bench stones and wide enough to easily accommodate the #8 jointer plane iron. Stropping free hand or with a roller jig is equally easy and there is plenty of space for each method. There is a lot to be said about interchangeable stropping materials that are the best available, mounted on a flat surface that stays where you put it and allows space enough for the hands to hold the edge tool as required. Our ‘Bench Strop’ provides all this.

Stropping is super easy! It is performed by dragging the bevel edge of the tool backward on the strop. We recommend preparing the edge tool with your finest stone prior to stropping. Never push the tool on the stropping surface or it will damage the strop! There is no need to press down hard, just register the steel against the strop fully with light pressure only and pull. There is no need for speed or rushing. The surface you choose loaded with the compound you prefer (or not) will do the work. This not only takes the honing of your tools beyond the range of many stones, but also can assure that the wire edge is fully removed from the bevel before returning to the work.

A few other benefits of the Bench Strop are that it’s a clean system at the bench. No water, no oil, no mess. It won’t freeze in the wintertime; it’s just the stropping surface and compound. It’s Dry! If the tool is feeling a little dull, harder to push, simply strop it! Sharpening is quick, easy and at hand!

We want to emphasize here, this kind of maintenance honing will prevent the need to completely rebuild edge tool sharpness. Regrinding will be kept to a minimum through stropping while woodworking.

Stropping chisels and carving gouges is easy. Take the tool to the strop directly. The fixturing capability and strop height above the bench allows you room to pivot skew chisels, carving gouges or contoured irons used in hollows and rounds ergonomically. Straight blade chisels from Butt to Paring length are easy, cranked necked and fish tail chisels are just as easy.

Bench Plane irons are removed from the plane, and If chip breakers are involved, no problem; simply leave them attached to the iron and strop the bevel side. Radiused irons are similarly no problem. Rock the iron from right side to left side alternatively as you pull it on the Bench Strop. Strop squared Irons for the shooting plane or smoother with the roller guide on if you prefer. There is no mess to clean up. Reassemble the iron set onto the frog, replace the lever cap, adjust the iron for backlash and depth and it is back to work. It’s fast, easy and the edge tool sharpness is maintained. You won’t miss grinding steel a bit if edges are kept sharp as you work.

As mentioned earlier, multiple ‘Strop Tops’ can be used on the ‘Strop Base’, allowing flexibility. Configure your stropping system to suit your steel’s needs. Use Horse Butt with different compounds, or Cowhide Split Suede with others. Mix and match. Damage a strop or wear it out? No worries, replacements are available and are quick change. Need more than one base to accommodate the way you work? Add a base. Want fancy or fancier? We deliver. Available woods for bases are Ash, Hard Maple, Cherry and Walnut.


“I like stropping a blade but not everyone does. If you polish with a very fine abrasive, say an 8000-grit stone, you’ll have an edge that’s hard to improve. But something about a gentle swipe on a green chrome-oxide-charged leather strop makes me feel like I’ve done all I can.”

Excerpted with permission, page 110 of the “The Perfect Edge”.
Ron Hock. Owner, Hock Tools, Author, “The Perfect Edge”.


“I cannot imagine working on the bench without my strop handy — right there on the bench, between paring or bench chisel cuts — I can renew the edge. The main benefit with my paring chisels, in my experience, is not taking an edge to a point of failure. If edge failure happens, I need to actually go through my sharpening regimen in order to continue having clean cuts.

The benefit for my other edge tools, such as my smoother, is that I can pop out a blade, strop it, and get back to work quickly and cleanly. With a strop, I can maintain a clean working bench, no water or oil to accidentally spoil the bench or my work.”

Mike Wenzloff, Owner, Wenzloff and Sons Sawmakers.


The strop is an invaluable tool to many woodworkers, aiding the ability to keep the workbench workflow agile and easy, and edge tools sharply working at peak efficiency. We think our ‘Bench Strop’ incorporates the best of all these strengths together into a tool that makes keeping edge tools sharp as easy as it can be.

The ‘Bench Strop’ is available for purchase now from the Evenfall Studios Woodworks Store. Please see the ‘Bench Strop’ Product Page for affordable pricing and configurability.

We enjoy your comments! Please Contact Us.

Happy Woodworking!

© Copyright 2011 by Rob Hanson for evenfallstudios.com All Rights Reserved.

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