Reprobate Sealskin Strop

This is a straight forward hand tool that some might argue to have become obsolete, especially since the advent of devilishly fine waterstones used in conjuction with Nagura stones. However, to me it reminds of the days gone by, which creates a sense of being part of the traditions of the craft.

That is why I fashioned this sealskin strop. Before all the whiny greenies get on my back, I did not kill any seals for this purpose. I simply bought the skins at Nakara. As far as I know, Namibia has been involved in a sustained seal genocide to which more liberal societies have developed an aversion of note. As I see it, these seals were well and truly dead by the time I bought the skins, so I might as well honour their expired existence by creating a timeless heirloom tool with it. Come to think of it, in the light of the above I should probably warn sensitive readers that this post might contain disturbing images, if you are that way inclined.

As per usual I found a small piece of Assegaai for the job. The bandsaw was responsible for the rough shaping, before I took to it with a few files to round the areas forming the handle.

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I then used a card scraper to remove the file marks, which I can really recommend. It works like a charm for this purpose, as you can see from the pictures below.

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The area that would end up covered with sealskin, were then planed flat with a rehabilitated old Stanley Jack Plane. I wrote a comprehensive post on this particular endeavor, which you will find under the category of “Rehabilitation of old tools”.

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To make absolutely sure it was flat, I used 3M adhesive-backed sandpaper on glass to get it as close to perfect as possible. I used the technique of scribbling on the wood with a 2B pencil before sanding to identify the low spots. The job is done once all the pencil marks has disappeared as you can see in the last picture. I advise those sensitive types to stop reading at this point.

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Two sealskins as bought from Nakara. In the closeup picture you can appreciate that the leather is quite rough, which is probably wicked for this purpose.

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A magic marker was used to trace out the strips needed.

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I first glued the narrow strips to the sides …

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… then the wider strips.

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I used a very sharp chisel to remove a few untidy strips of leather and …

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… finally the usual treatment with Ballistol gave the Assegaai a beautiful sheen.

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