If you have ever used a sharp knife, you must have felt that exquisite moment as the nice glide through what you are cutting like it is a cloud.
What is stropping and why bother doing it? Stropping is what takes a knife edge to impeccable levels of sharpness not achievable with a whetstone or sharpening rod. Stropping is an important process in knife sharpening stropping that does the following- realigns a knife cutting edge, removes the excess metal, and lastly smoothens and polishes the blade.
Stropping refers to anything other than a sharpening stone or rod that’s used to sharpen or hone the edge of a blade. Stropping should always be used after sharpening and it gives you the sharpest possible knife edge.
In this article, we will look at how to strop a blade by breaking the process into 6 steps which can be done at home. Before starting you have to get the following materials together-
Clean and Flat surface to work on.
Paddle or bench strop.
3 strop grits ranging from rough to very fine.
Tissues to wipe the blade down.
Work gloves if you would like the added protection.
Step 1: Get the Right Stropping Angle
Begin by testing the best angle for stropping the knife. Place the knife flat on the strop so that it makes a “+” shape with the strop. Rotate the knife so that the spine lifts off and the edge stays on the leather.
Begin with a shallow angle as you slide the knife across the leather. Do not put too much force. If the blade catches the leather surface, the angle is too steep. Find the point where the angle is a bit shallower than the point where the catches happen. It is the best angle to strop the edge at. Don’t forget to also check out how to sharpen a knife with a whetstone?
Pro Tip: you can take a black sharpie and draw a line along the edge. Do a couple of strops and check if the sharpie has come off. If it is not, the angle is too steep. Now that you have the best sharpening angle, let’s move ahead.
Step 2: Get the Right Grit Strop
If the strops you are using are infused with the compound, then it will most likely be the black colored one. The green color is fine and the white color will be the best. You will do a couple of runs with the black grit to work out all the waste and burrs left by the sharpening.
The lighter grits do more of the finesse and polishing. Notice which side of the leather you are going to be using. If you are applying the compounds yourself, put the green on the smooth side and black on the rough side.
Place the bench or paddles strop down on the flat working surface so that the longest side is perpendicular to you. Grab the knife and move on to the next step. Check out our post on the best fillet knife sharpener here.
Step 3. Right Stropping Technique
Place the knife flat against the surface of the leather so that it forms a 90-degree angle with this strop. Slide the knife across so that the handle side of the blade is on the labor. Move the knife to the far end of the strop and raise the spine off of the leather leaving the edge touching.
Keep the pressure light, consistent, and remember to keep the angle steady. When you pull the knife towards you, remember to move it across the leather so that the full length of the edge makes contact at some point. Reset the position and repeat the process. This is one stroke. Read next: How to sharpen scissors with a knife sharpener in easy steps.
Step 4: Do not forget to Strop The Tip
Rotate the blade so the tip makes contact. Keep the pressure and the angle as consistent as possible. This will help to work the tip and make sure any roughness is worked out.
Step 5: Get Both Sides of the Blade
You can alternate between strokes beginning from your side and one from the far side. Repeat this process for the opposite edge of the blade. Repeat the number of strokes and inspect the tip and edge after each set. After a couple of sets, you will get diminishing results and you will need to move over to the final grit strops.
Step 6: Switch to a Finer Grit
Repeat the sets of 20 stroke for each side of the edge and do the test after each one. This step will get the edge razor sharp so be careful if you are testing the sharpness with your thumb. Once you’ve done a couple of sets you will be ready to go. Your knife will be ultrasharp.
How to use a Strop for Knife Sharpening
Take a little time to get the knowledge about how to properly strop a knife. If you have never stropped the knife before getting ready for the results you will get. Safety is important and remember that you are dealing with devastatingly sharp edges, so be careful.