Do you want to get the ideal finish after a thorough sharpening session? Keeping your tools sharp and smooth ensures that the cutting is both safe and precise. That’s why, after sharpening, you need to go a step further and use a strop.
What Is a Strop?
A strop is a surface used for the final stage of sharpening after the finest stone. Its job is to polish the edge and remove any burr that sharpening stones may have left behind.
Though they can be made of other materials, the different types of leather strops are the most common ones on the market. Technically referred to as the flesh side and grain side, some options feature both suede and smooth leather. In addition, these knife smoothing tools can be mounted to a flexible base, like a razor strop, or to a rigid base, like a paddle strop made of wood.
How to Use One?
These knife-sharpening tools are typically used in conjunction with honing compounds, the incredibly thin abrasives that polish an edge to a mirror-like finish. If you decide to use a compound, start by rubbing some on the strop’s surface. There’s no need to cake on the compound because a little bit goes a long way.
Move the blade away from the cutting edge while lightly pressing the bevel on the strop’s surface. Do the same thing on the opposite side by flipping the blade over. The procedure is the same on any stropping surface, with or without a honing compound.
Never move the blade in the direction of the cutting edge since doing so will destroy the strop and dull the edge. Usually, a few strokes are adequate. It is advisable to use a strop before you even notice your edge becoming dull. It is an essential step in keeping a razor-sharp edge if used regularly.
What to Consider When Buying?
Straight Razor Strop
Using a straight razor strop will help you achieve a reasonably sharp straight razor, pocket knife, or survival knife. Knives with a convex grind, in particular, are ideal for use with these tools. Take survival knives as an illustration. Because you can control the pressure and angle of the straight razor strop, a convex grind’s rounded profile is very simple for stropping. This cut’s rounded contour is very simple to follow.
These types of strops are a good option for routine maintenance as well. To hang the belt from something, it is simple to insert a small hook. This will make daily knife maintenance simple for you.
Remember that you are in complete control of the pressure being applied to the belt. Therefore, it is your responsibility to make sure the surface is genuinely level. Because of this, it’s not a good choice if you’re just starting out.
When you wish to smooth your knives while camping or trekking, a stropping paddle is a perfect option. Paddles for stropping come in a wide range of sizes. For short trips, a compact paddle is perfect. But when sharpening larger knives, such as the larger kitchen or outdoor knives, a larger stropping paddle will be more useful.
A paddle is also often used after you’ve sharpened Japanese kitchen knives with Japanese sharpening stones to give them a nice finish You can use a straight razor strop for this, but a sizable paddle will also do the trick.
Straight razors, kitchen knives, and outdoor knives can all benefit from an adjustable strop. The middle ground between using a stropping paddle and a straight razor strop is an adjustable stropping tool.
It’s basically a thicker straight razor strop that has been stretched on a frame. The tension of the strop can be changed by turning the handle. As a result, you won’t need to pay attention to the tension as you stroke because the frame will take care of that for you.
Stropping tools made of leather are the most commonly available. Russian leather or even kangaroo leather are popular options for serious stropping enthusiasts.
Leather strops can be made of both suede and smooth leather. Some people even have both of them in a single tool. Naturally, this makes many people ponder which is the better choice.
Although suede is frequently used with compounds and smooth for plain stropping, this is by no means a universal technique. The choice depends on both the individual’s preferences and the kind of edge being sharpened.
Traditionally, straight razors are stropped on smooth leather. Straight razors have delicate, low-angle edges that are ideal for the grain side surface.
Suede strops are commonly used by carvers and knife sharpeners. The suede’s nap keeps the substance firm, making it simple to load the strop. Some people find the little rounding of the bevel that the softer surface offers when the suede compresses under the blade to be quite appealing.
The side leather with a smooth grain may be preferred by those who don’t use many or any compounds. The slightly tougher surface also helps those who sharpen woodworking equipment like chisels when a rounding of the bevel is not desired.
Other materials, besides many kinds of leather, can also be used. A simple newsprint, denim fabric, balsa wood, or maple wood are common options for this. However, it’s recommended to apply a polishing agent, such as a paste, spray, or stropping substance.