Author Topic: How important is a leather strop?  (Read 4146 times)

Offline theBINKYhunter

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How important is a leather strop?
« on: October 07, 2014, 08:35:24 AM »
Just curious. I just bought a set of stones and am going to get serious about taking care of my knives. I didn't really see any strops that I liked on Amazon so I'll look elsewhere.

How critical is a strop, and do I really need one? What form is best? Paddle? Bench? One with a small handle that you hold from underneath?

nelson96

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Re: How important is a leather strop?
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2014, 11:37:19 AM »
A strop is all you need to keep a blade sharp unless you need to rebuild your edge.  I like a 2" wide by 5" long piece glued to a small piece of wood.  A little oil and rubbing compound is all I've needed for 90% of the sharpening I do....  I learned this from a knife maker.

Offline The Professor

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Re: How important is a leather strop?
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2014, 01:09:59 PM »
I  have to answer with: It depends upon the steel of the knife/blade you have and what you're going to do with it.

For a general purpose knife, I don't keep a razor-fine edge on them, especially if I'm going to be working that knife.  Keep in mind, I didn't say "I don't keep them sharp."  I can get a knife working-sharp with stones.

The problem with those very fine-tuned edges is that the steel of most knives won't hold them very long, especially if they aren't already profiled for a razor's edge.  About the only edges I sharpen that fine are filet knives and straight-razors.  And I don't do the latter much, anymore.

Get a strop if you feel you need one, but I think you'll eventually find that it's not necessary, if you know what you're doing with stones.

The Professor


Offline theBINKYhunter

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Re: How important is a leather strop?
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2014, 04:23:16 PM »
Thanks for the input. I did end up getting a combo off e-bay. Leather plus the buffing compound for the price of the compound elsewhere so I went for it. I'll put the leather on a board and use that. And good point, Prof, on not keeping every knife that sharp. I would like to get some of the kitchen cutlery back to razor sharp edges though so I'll probably use those and my carving knife on the strop.

Offline joeinwv

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Re: How important is a leather strop?
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2014, 06:38:39 PM »
Old belt glued to a board.

Offline Knecht

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Re: How important is a leather strop?
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2014, 04:38:08 AM »
I just use the belt I'm wearing at the moment... I don't do the super "hair-popping" edge on my knives, though I like to keep them hair shaving, as long as they aren't currently used to do some really rough work (and I tend to use other tools for that).
If I sharpen several knives at the moment, I find a belt and hang its buckle somewhere, then use it as a temporary strop....really don't need any specialized piece of leather for knife stropping. Carving chisels, that's another story, there I use leather piece with green polishing paste.

nelson96

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Re: How important is a leather strop?
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2014, 07:29:18 PM »
The problem with those very fine-tuned edges is that the steel of most knives won't hold them very long, especially if they aren't already profiled for a razor's edge.  About the only edges I sharpen that fine are filet knives and straight-razors.  And I don't do the latter much, anymore.

Get a strop if you feel you need one, but I think you'll eventually find that it's not necessary, if you know what you're doing with stones.

The Professor

I'm not sure if I'm misunderstanding your post, or if you don't understand what a strop offers. . .  The idea behind stropping is that you remove very little if any metal (unlike with sharpening) but merely re-align the edge (polishes off the burrs).  To take advantage of stropping, the blade will require a certain sharpness but the advantage is that it will can be razor sharp within a few minutes.  Since the leather itself will not really remove any material, some will apply polishing paste and a little oil to the leather.  With this the leather will become slightly abrasive which will help the strop do its thing quicker.

A strop doesn't have to be used only when wanting a razor sharp edge, it can merely be used to put the edge you recently had back on by polishing the burs you formed during use.  As long as you don't need to re-form the edge, a strop could be all you need to touch up an edge. 

Another way to remove burs on an edge are sharpening steels (ie ceramic or diamond).  I've robbed ceramic rods out of industrial light bulbs to keep in my hunting pack for this.  That said, the benefit to a leather strop over a steel is that you can use any amount of pressure or blade angle without hurting your edge.

Offline The Professor

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Re: How important is a leather strop?
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2014, 08:18:14 PM »
I'm not sure if I'm misunderstanding your post, or if you don't understand what a strop offers. . .  The idea behind stropping is that you remove very little if any metal (unlike with sharpening) but merely re-align the edge (polishes off the burrs).  To take advantage of stropping, the blade will require a certain sharpness but the advantage is that it will can be razor sharp within a few minutes.  Since the leather itself will not really remove any material, some will apply polishing paste and a little oil to the leather.  With this the leather will become slightly abrasive which will help the strop do its thing quicker.

A strop doesn't have to be used only when wanting a razor sharp edge, it can merely be used to put the edge you recently had back on by polishing the burs you formed during use.  As long as you don't need to re-form the edge, a strop could be all you need to touch up an edge. 

Another way to remove burs on an edge are sharpening steels (ie ceramic or diamond).  I've robbed ceramic rods out of industrial light bulbs to keep in my hunting pack for this.  That said, the benefit to a leather strop over a steel is that you can use any amount of pressure or blade angle without hurting your edge.

Oh, I well understand what a strop is for.  I just obviously have a different perspective on when it should/could be used and on what.  For me, a straight razor, a true defensive knife or a carving knife is about the only time I'd polish the edge that well.  Otherwise, I use a set of stones.

I limit stropping/polishing edges to  knives/implements that have a 15 degree or less (per side) edge angle with a steel that can handle it (e.g., S30V, INFI, SR101, CMP 3V, VG10, etc.).

In other words, while I understand some people's desire to do so, I don't put that polished/refined edge on every knife I have and when I do need to "touch up" and edge, I typically just use a stone.

I took the question of the OP to heart.  How IMPORTANT is a leather strop?  IMO, it's only as important as the real reason you're using your knife.  Perhaps my perspective wasn't properly explained.

That all having been said, I might have to go find some industrial light bulbs.

The Professor

nelson96

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Re: How important is a leather strop?
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2014, 08:37:42 PM »
I took the question of the OP to heart.  How IMPORTANT is a leather strop?  IMO, it's only as important as the real reason you're using your knife.  Perhaps my perspective wasn't properly explained.

I guess that's where I'm still hung up with in your reply, but don't take that as me not allowing you or anyone a difference of opinion.  I just wonder what does a strop hurt when it is so easy to use and is often all that is needed?

I would say that it is IMPORTANT when you want to extend an already good edge without removing more metal.  Depending how you are using the blade, no matter the degree of blade edge, a strop can put the sharpness back on it with little effort.