How Does a Strop Work?
A strop is a compressible strip of leather or other material that is used to sharpen and polish edges, such as on a knife or razor. It works by using the abrasive properties of the leather or a polishing compound to remove small amounts of metal from the edge of the blade, creating a sharper edge.
The process of using a strop involves drawing the blade along the surface of the strop, away from the edge. This allows the strop to remove any burrs or rough spots that may have formed on the edge during previous sharpening stages. The strop can be treated with an abrasive compound, such as stropping compound, to further enhance its sharpening properties.
Strops will also realign a blade edge. This is especially useful for straight razors. The edge of a straight razor is very thin and susceptible to being bent out of shape. Stropping will push an edge back into the correct alignment.
As the blade is drawn along the strop, it compresses the surface material. This causes the material to conform around the edge. So long as the blade is held at the correct angle and is not pressed into the strop too forcefully, this will create a micro convex bevel. Over time the edge can become too convex and will need to be flattened on stones.
Strops can be especially useful for wood carvers. Wood carving tools, such as gouges, can be difficult to sharpen. Only a small portion of the curved bevel can contact the abrasive surface of a stone. The fact that strops will conform around the bevel allows wood carvers to sharpen a larger area of their tool bevels with each pass.
Strops are often used after a blade has been sharpened on a grinding wheel or stone to remove burrs and give it a polished finish. They are also commonly used to maintain the edge on blades that are used frequently, such as kitchen knives or straight razors.
You can browse our selection of strops here.