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 In Techniques

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For the ultimate edge, use a leather strop.

I have a special set of chisels that I only use for paring. To do a good job, they have to be wicked sharp—and stay that way. My secret weapon isn’t a fabulously expensive honing stone. It’s a cheap, homemade strop.

1. Paring end grain requires an extremely sharp edge. When my chisel feels a bit dull, I go right to the strop to restore its edge.

I use these chisels a lot when I’m cutting dovetails (Photo 1). Whenever a chisel feels the least bit dull, I renew its edge on the strop. This only takes a moment, but the results are dramatic. When I pare end grain, for example, I routinely get tissue-thin shavings, not dust. I use the strop quite often, so I store it right next to my chisels (Photo 2).

2. My strop lives on the wall next to my bench, always ready to go. Stropping a chisel takes less than a minute.

A strop is a very simple device.


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