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Neatsfoot oil on leather strops?

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    Samuel Gabriel
    • Topics: 3
    • Replies: 20

    I’ve previously gotten into straight razors, and sharpened, honed, and stropped those. In the world of straight razors, it’s common to use neatsfoot oil on the leather of a strop to condition it and prep it for stropping.
    Has anyone used neatsfoot oil on their WEPS leather strops, and if so, would you care to share your feedback and results?
    I’m considering putting some neatsfoot oil on one side of my leather strops to see how it works out. I believe it could be better for the longevity of the leather than using alcohol, which I imagine would lead to drying the leather out and making it brittle in the long term, whereas neatsfoot oil has been used on leather for hundreds of years, for saddles and other horse tack, and for stropping straight razors and butcher’s knives etc.
    It also gives the leather a nice effect on the bevel if applied correctly, so the leather has a soft, grippy feel on the bevel.

    Phil Pasteur
    • Topics: 10
    • Replies: 943

    This is another of the things that I have become obsessed with over the years. My first question would be, are you using pure neatsfoot oil… or a compound.
    If a compound there can be many othe oils, such as mineral oil which is really a ptroleun based compound. More than that, modern products labled as Neatsfoot oil is commonly LARD. Not at all the same thing.

    Real Neatsfoot oil is not lard.

    “Neatsfoot oil is a yellow oil rendered and purified from the shin bones and feet (but not the hooves) of cattle.”

    The reaon I looked it up is because I have had some major problems with modern “lard + Petrochemical preservatives labled as neatsfoot oil. Lard will turn rancid and oxidize. It is, on its own, a solid at room temperature. It causes leather to become less pliable, because it is a solid.
    I have sheaths and holsters that I used it on many years ago that became brittle and caused corrosion on carbon steel blades that came into contact with them.

    If you get pure neatsfoot oil, you are better off, but it is still an animal fat and can become rancid, as well as contibute to oxidation of the leather.

    Maybe we don’t care about this with strops so much. Their lifespan is probably not that great. I would worry a bit about corrosion… a little bit.

    This is what I have been using for leather preservation over the last 8 years or so… I have had real good luck with it on boots, sheaths, gloves, and holsters. I have never tried it on strops. I apply it and put the items in the oven at about 110 degrees. It is pretty much completely absorbed. I do this two to three times. Items become very soft and somewhat water repellent. Lasts a long time..Good stuff.

    Not sure about what it would do for strops… especially WEPS strops.

    Would love to hear about your results if you go with Neatsfoot Oil… and what you actually have…

    I have some horsebutt bench strops that I have made and not yet charged with abrasives. I might just try the Picard’s on a couple of them and see what I see.

    I also am close to replacing the leather on some of my weps strops… hmmm More work ๐Ÿ˜† ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Thanks for making me think about it!


    Samuel Gabriel
    • Topics: 3
    • Replies: 20

    This is what I use, and I believe it to be genuine traditional pure neatsfoot oil, not Lard:

    It is old fashioned, and I got it from an equestrian store that is the kind of place to only get the real thing. Also, I used to deal with real gelatin, the real unflavoured, unscented stuff that is used in some types of cooking, that smells with that distinctive cattle feet smell, and there is a similar whiff when I open the lid on this oil. It also states that it is natural and “entirely free from chemicals or additives”.
    So I’ve rubbed some into the sides of my WEPS strops that have the finer abrasive paste (3.5ร‚ยต), and I’ll see how that side feels in comparison to the untreated side, after a day or so for it to absorb properly.

    Phil Pasteur
    • Topics: 10
    • Replies: 943

    I will be interested to hear what the result is.
    Were you able to apply it without removing any of the abrasive?
    How much did you put on?

    • Topics: 179
    • Replies: 2760

    Interesting topic! I also wondered about this and whether there is a difference between what people do in the straight razor world and in the world of “other knife sharpening”.

    My barber uses a hanging leather strop which he lubricates from time to time with some oil (not sure which – I’ll ask him). He also uses the other side of the strop which is canvas. According to some people this provides a little bit of abrasion, others say it’s just for cleaning off foam and other stuff from the razor.

    Other barbers I know use two strops: one hanging stop which remains clean (other than some oil sometimes) and another strop with an abrasive stropping compound. They don’t use oil on this latter strop. So maybe it’s a matter of whether you use an abrasive stropping compound. (Or, as was suggested in another topic, you might like the effect of a harder strop that’s a bit dried out.)

    One thing the barbers don’t seem to agree on is whether the second strop (with compound) should be a hanging strop or a straight strop. I myself use a straight strop mounted on a piece of wood.

    It’s complex… in the “other knife sharpening world” we generally do not seem to use hanging strops at all. So I wonder what the use of a hanging strop is. Most people say it sets the bevel straight again. But then, why do we in the “other knife sharpening world” usually use straight strops for this?

    Molecule Polishing: my blog about sharpening with the Wicked Edge

    Ken Schwartz
    • Topics: 4
    • Replies: 90

    As I mentioned in another thread, my new emulsion formulation products absorb quickly into the leather ready for immediate use AND condition the leather – best of both worlds for the conditioner and the grit to be the same formula. Therefore when you add new compound to refresh the strop you recondition the leather ๐Ÿ™‚


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