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How to Make a Custom Contoured Strop Block to Sharpen Your Gouges | Beginner Wood Carving Tutorial

Sharping is a key component to wood carving. But when you're a beginner, it can be difficult to get a mirror finish on the curved profile of your carving gouges. While it's possible to accomplish that razor sharp finish on a flat strop, it can be easier if you have a contoured surface that matches the shape of your gouges.

Unfortunately, finding the right tool also isn't easy. Many of the contoured strops available, like the one from Flexcut, for example, are too small to be effective for your full size tools.

Luckily, with some help from professional carver Randall Stoner, you'll be able to learn how to make your own custom sharpening strop in just a few steps to match the profiles of your gouges. We hope you find this beginner wood carving tutorial from Schaaf Tools helpful!

Video Notes:

Schaaf Tools 12-pc Foundation Set - Wood Carving Tools for Beginners
Choose Your Profiles
Timestamp: [0:28] 
  • Select the gouges you are going to use. In this video, Randy will be creating his stropping profiles using profiles from the Schaaf Tools 12-pc Foundation Wood Carving Set, 7-pc Expansion Set.

Gouge profiles used:

  • 7L-20mm Long Bent
  • 7-14mm, 5-20mm
  • 12 - 6mm V parting chisel
  • 3-20mm

You should also be able to use this strop for your 4-pc Detail Set of Fishtail Chisels, because their sweeps fall under the tools chosen above. 

Use Basswood to create your custom contoured strop block

Getting Started
Timestamp: [3:11] 

  • The wood used in this tutorial is Basswood. 
  • Cut into the surface of your wood, creating grooves that match the sweep of your gouge. 

NOTE - Leather is optional. You can also put honing compound directly onto the wood.  

Schaaf Tools Custom Strop Beginner Wood Carving Tutorial

Timestamp: [5:23]

  • Make sure you leave some extra space in between each contour. It'll take more space than you might think to complete the groove. 
  • Sometimes you may need to widen the contour a little bit to ensure your gouge will fit the whole way. 
Timestamp: [7:55]
  • Sand each groove down to get it clean and uniform.

Add leather to your strop schaaf tools beginner lesson

Adding Leather (Optional)
Timestamp: [8:40]

  • At this point, you can keep your strop as is, and apply honing compound directly to the wood. Or you can continue following along and learn how to apply leather to your sharpening strop. 
  • Cut your leather to the approximate size of the block. Make sure the leather piece is slightly larger to account for the contours. 
  • Randy prefers to have the rougher side of the leather facing up. (The rougher side of the leather will hold the sharpening compound better).
  • Glue the smooth side of the leather to the block using wood glue. 

Timestamp: [10:45]

  • Now it's time to sharpen your wood carving gouges! Get a razor sharp finish on your tools before you get back to carving :)

Sharpen your Schaaf Tools carving gouges


  • Andy Weston

    Thanks for this! Just what I needed, I bought this same set of tools about a month ago.

  • Eli

    Hey Ricky, I haven’t used a paste, but I know some people like it more. I thinks it’s a matter of personal preference!

  • Ricky M Adkins

    Question, have you ever used a paste like compound on your strop rather than the hard yellow or whatever color you prefer? I see people using it and some swear by it. You like your views.

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