Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [medieval-leather] Re: Stroppy!

Expand Messages
  • rmhowe
    Razors date back to the bronze age, unless archaeologists are misinterpreting some stone tools. I ve never yet heard of a caveman s razor . But I have
    Message 1 of 19 , May 28, 2001
    • 0 Attachment
      Razors date back to the bronze age, unless archaeologists
      are misinterpreting some stone tools. I've never yet heard
      of a caveman's 'razor'. But I have pictures of bronze razors
      and tweezers dating back pretty far. Many of them have a
      flat blade with a rat tail handle curving back and forth
      above the blade.

      My understanding is that obsidian (volcanic glass) blades may be
      five times sharper than any steel blade and that very tiny ones
      are used for the most delicate surgeries nowadays. Pressure flaking
      blades and arrowheads is having a revival and there are a number
      of videos and books out on it now, generally found in primitive
      archery and knifemaking magazines for sale. (I read a lot of these.)

      Strops frequently have treated and untreated sides.
      I have seen both slack strops and those with wood handles.
      Those of wood with leather straps nailed to them may
      have up to four sides, but usually two. Grain side is usually
      out if I'm not too mistaken. This comes of thirty-some years
      of frequenting several large flea markets here.

      Stropping usually involves the addition of rouge or some other
      cutting agent to at least one of the leathers. In the case of
      jeweller's rouge, it's traditionally made up of iron oxide
      (rust) and tallow (rendered sheep fat). So this is not an
      irreproducable technology.

      If you want some iron oxide, stick some fine steel wool in a
      piece of stove pipe or other wide pipe and light it. It burns
      quite nicely to a powder. The pipe contains it and makes for
      a chimney to promote rapid burning by airflow.

      Those too primitive to have ever seen steel wool are condemned
      to scraping rusty things to obtain it. Or go to your local
      hobby or chemical store and buy it in little bottles, sometimes
      sold with magnets to amuse other children.

      You must, of course, pilfer and melt down your own sheep.
      Ian Bigboots or certain SCA Dukes from the immediate vicinity of
      the Barony of Storvik (Washington, D.C., USA) can instruct you on
      that. There are simply some places such practices are more
      traditional than others.

      I buy my abrasives in cakes myself. I think I have about seven
      different types of the stuff. Rouge cakes are usually a dark
      reddish brown and may be obtained cheaply, with about three
      other abrasives in the same pack, from your nearest Sears. ;)

      Some of the sharpest edges in the woodworking community are
      obtained by clamping/double stick taping fine wet-dry sandpaper
      down to plate glass and using that to sharpen with. (This is also
      a method for flattening plane bases.) The clamp is frequently
      one taken from a clipboard, and there may be two at either end
      of the paper/glass on a board. Usually tempered or float glass
      in rather thick sections is used for this. Mine is about 3/8"
      (9.5mm) thick. You can order such made fairly cheaply at PP&G
      outlets. (Pittsburg Paint and Glass) I used to have them make
      custom glass shelves/tops for some display cabinets/tables I
      built professionally.

      I imagine that historically bronze edges may have been hammered thin,
      to compact the metal grain in the edges (and not waste it either),
      then honed/stropped, much as the Japanese still do some of their
      chisels and plane irons now. They even have a special hammer just
      for this.

      Scythe users had a special little stake anvil and hammer they
      sometimes took with them to hammer the edge thin again,
      and many of them carried horns filled with grease and fine sand
      and stones to sharpen the blades with.

      I have two of these horns, one plain with a hook, one tapering
      octagonally in cross section (shorter on every other corner),
      with a matching hone stone of diamond shape. These grease horns
      were carried generally at the back of the belt. The octagonal
      one has a rectangular copper strap hook. Obviously heated and
      stuck over a wooden former and drawknifed / filed to shape.
      Only one I've seen like it. The hook and strap are riveted on
      both of the horns.

      Somewhere in my older metalworking books there was a reference
      to bronze tempering being as yet un-rediscovered, and that bronze
      chisels had been found that could actually cut iron. (Since I
      have about fifty of the early ones I'm not going bookdiving for
      an obscure reference. I rather suspect it is in a history of
      metalworking, and possibly his reference might have been from
      the (General) Pitt-Rivers Museum or similar early source.)

      In the last twenty years the collaboration of a bladesmith
      and a metallurgist has led to the rediscovery of both how to make
      and work real Damascus (Wootz) steel. This process is nothing like
      most blacksmithing or steelmaking practices. Wootz is worked below
      red hot. So maybe one day someone will figure out how to temper
      bronze again. Rediscovering Damascus only took western bladesmiths
      150 or so years in modern times. Lots of imitations though since
      the middle ages after the Crusades. Cakes of wootz steel were
      generally obtained over the trade routes from India to the Near East.

      Back when I learned how to grind plane irons in college, we then
      honed them a bit on a stone with oil and then stropped them on
      our open palms. This is a very old woodworking practice.
      It helps tremendously if you remember to flip the blade while
      doing this in different directions.

      It is possible to just see yourself in unfinished maple and cherry
      if you scrape the surface smoothly enough. We used to hand plane
      square and then scrape to finish with the same plane blades and
      a try square. This was a requirement when I learned woodworking.

      I had a pain-in-the-ass grad-student teacher for Wood Technology -
      who'd learned from his father using limited tools at home originally.
      He used to drive even the other teachers nuts as well with his
      odd stuff. Always gave everyone the same project, meaning
      everyone was vying for use of certain tools at the same time.
      The exception to the rule was (of course) the head of the
      department's darling adult daughter, who spent days using
      the lathe, when we were doing octagonally topped candlestands
      and all needed to use it for the column.

      At the end of our second year when we'd all boned up for another
      horrible test (like his previous final of a -couple hundred-
      questions) he changed the final entirely and instead gave teams
      of us four hours to complete a clock case from scratch. Most of
      us actually made it. Terry Leeper had a terrible sense of humor.
      Turned us all against one another in competition for tools/machines -
      then made us work together desperately in competition against
      other teams for our final grade. (May he spend eternity with used
      car salesmen or 'politically correct' debaters. I really hope
      Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich are there too.)

      Magnus the diversely chatty at the moment.
      (Has not picked on an SCA Duke or Englishman for a whole month.)

      "Dave Hewitt (Will Styles)" wrote:
      >
      > You mention stropping in order to sharpen tools. When did this become
      > a specific process? Specifically when did razore begion to be
      > stropped?
      >
      > Best wishes
      > Will Styles
      > Barber Surgeon
      >
      > --- In medieval-leather@y..., "Peter Adams" <AdamsPF@e...> wrote:
      > > Ok here are a couple of butt stupid questions.
      > >
      > > When preparing an awl, do you sharpen the edges like a knife?
      > > If so, all the way down or just at the point?
      > >
      > >
      > > When you strop your awl to polish it, do you strop on the flesh
      > > or grain of the leather?
    • Ron Charlotte
      ... Is this a medieval or renaissance practice? I dunno, but it keeps my blades happy. al Thaalibi -- An Crosaire, Trimaris Ron Charlotte -- Gainesville, FL
      Message 2 of 19 , May 28, 2001
      • 0 Attachment
        >I have a pair of double sided strops that I use for my leather work and
        >carving knives (and sometimes my kitchen knives). One has emory and
        >tripoli on flesh sided leather on a wooden slat, the other has white rouge
        >and and plain leather on grain side leather also mounted on a slat. For
        >my awls, I frequently dress light cardstock with white rouge to give them
        >a quick strop when they start sticking in the stitch lines. The
        >historical equal would likely have been a parchment scrap.

        Is this a medieval or renaissance practice? I dunno, but it keeps my
        blades happy.


        al Thaalibi -- An Crosaire, Trimaris
        Ron Charlotte -- Gainesville, FL
        ronch2@... OR afn03234@...
      • Jack C. Thompson
        I put a mirror finish on my leather paring knives, and the final polish happens on the flesh side of a goat skin sharpening wallet which I make. However,
        Message 3 of 19 , May 29, 2001
        • 0 Attachment
          I put a mirror finish on my leather paring knives, and the
          final polish happens on the flesh side of a goat skin sharpening
          wallet which I make.

          However, looking at an old slack strop in my collection, the
          following information is stamped on some cloth stitched to the
          leather at the bottom (i.e. the part one holds when stropping
          a blade):
          "GENUINE SHELL Finish on this side" I don't know when 'Tokio'
          became 'Tokyo' but this particular strop is 'part' number 230,
          manufactured by 'Tokyo Shioda.'

          'Shell' is a term used in the leather trade to refer to horse
          butt. It is the same leather used for making the best blacksmith's
          aprons.

          There is no grain on either side of this piece of leather, but there
          are layers of leather, and leather is hardest/densest on the grain side
          and softer on the flesh side.

          The flesh side would hold more stropping compound; the grain side
          (with the grain removed) would hold less compound, but would work
          fine 'smoothing' out the blade.

          Jack

          --- In medieval-leather@y..., rmhowe <mmagnusm@b...> wrote:
          (snip)
          > Strops frequently have treated and untreated sides.
          > I have seen both slack strops and those with wood handles.
          > Those of wood with leather straps nailed to them may
          > have up to four sides, but usually two. Grain side is usually
          > out if I'm not too mistaken. This comes of thirty-some years
          > of frequenting several large flea markets here.

          (snip)

          > "Dave Hewitt (Will Styles)" wrote:
          > >
          > > You mention stropping in order to sharpen tools. When did this become
          > > a specific process? Specifically when did razore begion to be
          > > stropped?
          > >
          > > Best wishes
          > > Will Styles
          > > Barber Surgeon
          > >
          > > --- In medieval-leather@y..., "Peter Adams" <AdamsPF@e...> wrote:
          > > > Ok here are a couple of butt stupid questions.
          > > >
          > > > When preparing an awl, do you sharpen the edges like a knife?
          > > > If so, all the way down or just at the point?
          > > >
          > > >
          > > > When you strop your awl to polish it, do you strop on the flesh
          > > > or grain of the leather?
        • Maggie Allen
          ... Chat on, Magnus!! Where can one read of this? My own attempts have garnered me a pair of knife blanks that have the same fatal flaw: carbon inclusions! One
          Message 4 of 19 , May 30, 2001
          • 0 Attachment
            >Subject: Re: Re: Stroppy!
            >
            >In the last twenty years the collaboration of a bladesmith
            >and a metallurgist has led to the rediscovery of both how to make
            >and work real Damascus (Wootz) steel. This process is nothing like
            >most blacksmithing or steelmaking practices. Wootz is worked below
            >red hot. So maybe one day someone will figure out how to temper
            >bronze again. Rediscovering Damascus only took western bladesmiths
            >150 or so years in modern times.
            >
            >Magnus the diversely chatty at the moment.


            Chat on, Magnus!!
            Where can one read of this? My own attempts have garnered me a pair of
            knife blanks that have the same fatal flaw: carbon inclusions! One is so
            severe I am afraid to try to grind it to final shape. Filing to shape is an
            option, but one I'm not yet ready to go to.
            Anyway, working at the lower temp. you describe might make for fewer
            problems in that regard in my coal forge. Another option is a friend's
            propane forge, but he's beyond convenient range. Sigh.. It's always
            something! ( ;>{)}}}

            Mark/Yvan Wolvesbane
            Pacifist.....with occasional lapses!
          • Robert Huff
            ... A number of people have tried; the most prominent recent attempt was written up in _Scientific American_ within the last six (I think) months. Diego Mundoz
            Message 5 of 19 , May 30, 2001
            • 0 Attachment
              Maggie Allen writes:

              > Where can one read of this?

              A number of people have tried; the most prominent recent
              attempt was written up in _Scientific American_ within the last six
              (I think) months.


              Diego Mundoz
            • Grooby, Peter
              ... Wootz isn t something to have-a-go at. It is made in a large crucible, the molten metal forming the classic damascus pattern within itself. The metal
              Message 6 of 19 , May 30, 2001
              • 0 Attachment
                > Chat on, Magnus!!
                > Where can one read of this? My own attempts have garnered me a pair
                > of
                > knife blanks that have the same fatal flaw: carbon inclusions! One is so
                > severe I am afraid to try to grind it to final shape. Filing to shape is
                > an
                > option, but one I'm not yet ready to go to.
                > Anyway, working at the lower temp. you describe might make for fewer
                > problems in that regard in my coal forge. Another option is a friend's
                > propane forge, but he's beyond convenient range. Sigh.. It's always
                > something! ( ;>{)}}}
                >
                Wootz isn't something to 'have-a-go" at.

                It is made in a large crucible, the molten metal forming the classic
                'damascus' pattern within itself.

                The metal is then cooled and worked to shape below red hot. If it is
                heated too much them the molecular structure gained in the crucable would be
                lost.

                Rest assured that it is possible to make pattern welded steel using
                the popular fold and weld method. Although it is much easier using the
                controlled enviroment of a gas forge.

                Vitale
              • The_redman@compuserve.com
                In a message dated 5/30/01 8:04:14 PM, maggiea@empireone.net writes:
                Message 7 of 19 , May 31, 2001
                • 0 Attachment
                  In a message dated 5/30/01 8:04:14 PM, maggiea@... writes:

                  << Anyway, working at the lower temp. you describe might make for fewer
                  problems in that regard in my coal forge. >>
                • The_redman@compuserve.com
                  In a message dated 5/30/01 8:04:14 PM, maggiea@empireone.net writes:
                  Message 8 of 19 , May 31, 2001
                  • 0 Attachment
                    In a message dated 5/30/01 8:04:14 PM, maggiea@... writes:

                    << Anyway, working at the lower temp. you describe might make for fewer
                    problems in that regard in my coal forge. >>

                    Jim Hrisoulas (Master Atar in the SCA) is one of the premier bladesmiths
                    around, and has been making pattern welded damascus blades for several years.
                    He has a couple of books out on the subject, which describe the process well.
                    He talks about "austenite" forging, which is working the steel at a lower
                    temperature.

                    The one book I have is "Forging your way to Perfection", ISBN 0-87364-430-1,
                    published by Paladin Press, Boulder, Colorado (USA)

                    If you're trying to forge blades, I recommend this book highly.

                    Duryn/John
                  • Jason
                    There is a technique of thermal cycling O2 that produces very Wootz-like results. It s in the experimental stage now, but results are very promising. It s
                    Message 9 of 19 , Jun 1, 2001
                    • 0 Attachment
                      There is a technique of thermal cycling O2 that produces very Wootz-like
                      results. It's in the experimental stage now, but results are very
                      promising. It's been named Neo-Wootz for now to differentiate the two, but
                      the name is just about the only thing that looks different without
                      destructive testing.

                      If you have access to a precision kiln or annealing furnace you may be able
                      to reproduce the results yourself. So far the low tech experiments have not
                      had satisfactory results, unfortunately.

                      Jason Baker

                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: Grooby, Peter <peter.grooby@...>

                      > Wootz isn't something to 'have-a-go" at.
                      >
                      > It is made in a large crucible, the molten metal forming the classic
                      > 'damascus' pattern within itself.
                      >
                      > The metal is then cooled and worked to shape below red hot. If it is
                      > heated too much them the molecular structure gained in the crucable would
                      be
                      > lost.
                      >
                      > Rest assured that it is possible to make pattern welded steel using
                      > the popular fold and weld method. Although it is much easier using the
                      > controlled enviroment of a gas forge.
                      >
                      > Vitale
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                      >
                      >
                    • rmhowe
                      ... I have an old book on Tokio from not long after it changed names. It s full of stories and pictures from the period. I collect the currency of the era, and
                      Message 10 of 19 , Jun 4, 2001
                      • 0 Attachment
                        "Jack C. Thompson" wrote:
                        >
                        > I put a mirror finish on my leather paring knives, and the
                        > final polish happens on the flesh side of a goat skin sharpening
                        > wallet which I make.
                        >
                        > However, looking at an old slack strop in my collection, the
                        > following information is stamped on some cloth stitched to the
                        > leather at the bottom (i.e. the part one holds when stropping
                        > a blade):
                        > "GENUINE SHELL Finish on this side" I don't know when 'Tokio'
                        > became 'Tokyo' but this particular strop is 'part' number 230,
                        > manufactured by 'Tokyo Shioda.'

                        I have an old book on Tokio from not long after it changed names.
                        It's full of stories and pictures from the period. I collect
                        the currency of the era, and China (Literally the Middle Kingdom
                        Chung Kuo), Choson (Korea, land of the morning calm), Dai Nihon or
                        Nippon (Great Japan (or Giappon as Marco Polo named it was an
                        invention drawn from his attempt at a Chinese pronunciation))
                        and Annam - roughly Northern Vietnam and a bit south. Actually,
                        the Chinese referred to the short legged Japanese as Island Monkey
                        People, and the Japanese called the Europeans Namban or Southern
                        Barbarians - lots of this had to do with their lack of bathing
                        or tonsurial habits, they also came from the south.
                        America was named Beikoku by the Japanese - meaning Rice Country.
                        We exported rice there at one time, mostly from our southern
                        plantations.

                        Edo, the capital of the Tokugawa Shogunate became Tokyo about
                        1868 when the Japanese Emperor resumed control over the state
                        and established the National Diet, or legislature there.
                        Previously Emperors had largely held a ceremonial religious
                        role, and were kept in Nara, the Daimyo's and the Shogun
                        ruling 'by consent' as it wasn't. The last Shogun was a weakling
                        and abdicated control. This was brought about by the incursion
                        of Admiral Perry in about 1854 and the forced opening of various
                        tradeports throughout Japan causing a tremendous rift in Japanese
                        Society. There is a print showing the hapless Japanese trying
                        desperately to tow Perry's new sidewheeler out of the bay.
                        It was done as much to protect foreign sailors shipwrecked on
                        the shores of Japan as it was to open the company to trade
                        (with someone besides the Dutch getting rich).

                        One of the first things the new Emperor did was send his scholars
                        and ambassadors abroad to learn European and American industry,
                        marine science, and military training. In thirty-five very short
                        years they beat Russia's navy and took Port Arthur. They possessed
                        an amazing assimilation rate. (The Borg should take lessons.)
                        This pretty much ended the Samurai role in Japanese Society
                        excepting those who served in the Military or Foreign Relations.
                        Japan also took Formosa (Taiwan) and Korea during this period.
                        They had long had the Ryukyu (Floating Dragon) Islands -
                        Okinawa and areas adjacent.

                        Some of the old time Samurai and their Dai-myos (Great Names) they
                        followed got in some serious trouble for firing on the American
                        and other foreign ships, or attacking them in public.

                        Tokyo simply means Eastern Capital. Edo was originally a small
                        fishing village until Tokugawa Ieyesu decided to move the
                        Capital there from Kyoto after winning the incessant wars
                        about 1616 or so.

                        He established a period of peace lasting about 240 years.
                        During this time only the Portuguese black ships could trade
                        at a manmade island, I seem to recall it being in Nagasaki
                        Harbour. No European was allowed on the mainland. Only certain
                        Japanese were allowed on the island, consorts among them.

                        Previously the Spanish and Jesuits were allowed on the mainland
                        but John Adams, an English ship's Pilot, exposed their treachery
                        to Ieyasu. This was the period depicted in part by the movie
                        Shogun with Richard Chamberlain. The names were changed but if
                        you know the history they are instantly recognizable. John Adams
                        told the Shogun of the Pope's agreement to divide the New World
                        equally between Portugal and Spain, and was of course not amused.
                        He was never allowed to leave Japan. He did command an arquebus
                        corps for Ieyasu. His title was Anjin-san, or Lord Pilot.
                        This was the curious period when some European armor was copied
                        or adapted to Japanese tastes.

                        The Japanese wanted Chinese Silks and spices, the Chinese wanted
                        tobacco, and other things like opium. Gold was at a premium in
                        Europe, buying much more silver to trade to the Chinese for the
                        silks and spices that brought outrageous amounts of gold from Japan.
                        The Dutch / Spanish could trade for an unequal amount of silver
                        for gold until the gold ran out in Japan because of the
                        difference in relative evaluation. They also took back gold,
                        tea, silks, lacquer, opium, and flower bulbs and porcellain to
                        Europe. Amsterdam was built on this trade, much as Venice was
                        in the Mediterranean.

                        About 1870 to 1872 there arose a Samurai rebellion to restore
                        the old customs. Samurai had been forbidden to wear swords
                        in public, and even had to learn new trades, such as teaching
                        to support themselves. In the end the main part of the Samurai
                        was defeated by the new commoners' army and the leaders commited
                        suicide in a cave. The new commoner's army was European trained
                        and equipped.

                        Magnus the eclectic.

                        > 'Shell' is a term used in the leather trade to refer to horse
                        > butt. It is the same leather used for making the best blacksmith's
                        > aprons.
                        >
                        > There is no grain on either side of this piece of leather, but there
                        > are layers of leather, and leather is hardest/densest on the grain side
                        > and softer on the flesh side.
                        >
                        > The flesh side would hold more stropping compound; the grain side
                        > (with the grain removed) would hold less compound, but would work
                        > fine 'smoothing' out the blade.
                        >
                        > Jack
                      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.