Interesting post. I string my old Volkls on a Kmate, too, and use the leather wedges (nowadays called "power pads" as a marketing ploy of some sort). The wedges are there to help smooth out the angle break the string takes at that point in the frame geometry, thus reducing possibility of a string break.
I've reused mine over and over and over again, having cut them from an leftover bit of leather grip sometime back in 2001.
To Praise, To Bless, To Preach--the Dominican Order