Strops are some of my favorite tools for sharpening. For me it is the final stage in sharpening an edge. We have many different strops to suit your individual needs.
This is our smallest strop; it is our only hand-held strop. It is 6" long and it does have the hand grips. Basically you just hold it in this manner as you draw your knife across it.
Our next size is our 8" x 2". This is basically sized to be like an 8" x 2" stone. Think of this as a very fine sharpening stone.
Then we have what we call bench strops. These can be mounted to your bench. We have one that is 10" long and 2" wide, an excellent choice for knives. And then we have this extra large one that is 12" long and 3" wide. It can be used for just about any knife and is also great for tools because it is wider.
And then also we have what we call our paddle strops. All of our paddle strops are two-sided. We have a suede side, and then we have a smooth side. This one is 8" x 2". We also have an extra large which is 12" x 3" and this also features both the suede side and the smooth side.
We often get the question whether you should purchase a suede or smooth-sided strop. The simple answer is that either one will work just fine. You can use the suede side on any tool or knife; you can use the smooth side on any tool or knife. We have found that woodworkers and carvers do tend to prefer the suede side and people with knives tend to prefer the smooth side.
When using strops I do recommend using a compound on the strops. It does produce a fine edge much more quickly than using it without. But you could use the strops without, it just wont sharpen or polish your edge nearly as quickly.
Basically, it is very easy, you literally just rub it back and forth on the surface. This is not a thing of beauty. It is just to get some of the abrasive material on your strop. It is not too dissimilar to using a crayon back when you were in grade school.
Using a strop is actually quite simple. What you do after you've applied your compound is just pull your knife across it. You'll notice I'm not cutting into the leather. If I were to do it in this manner (pushing edge rather than pulling it) like I would a sharpening stone, I would cut directly into the leather. So, basically you are just pulling the edge across and alternating sides.
This is really getting this knife sharp. This knife was sharp to start with, but now it is even sharper.
Usually I would say, about 10 passes per side. It really does depend on how finely sharpened your knife was to start with. If you had taken your knife to an extremely fine stone before-hand, you'll notice a significant difference after just one or two passes.
We've selected the leathers for our strops based on its properties for sharpening. We had to select a leather that was not too hard and wasn't too soft. If it is too hard you do not get tactile feedback from the strop and your knife just kind of skids across it. If it is too soft you tend to round over your edge. We did try to find leather that would accept the honing compound better; some leathers just don't accept it very well at all.
If you still have any questions about our strops please just give us a call: 1-800-351-8234