These leather strop FAQs apply to all of the Sharpening Supplies Leather Stops.
Q. Should I use honing compound on my strop?
A. We generally recommend honing compounds such as our Green Honing Compound. If you have a double-sided strop, apply the compound to the suede side and leave the smooth side plain.
Q. Which side of the strop should I use?
A. Some of our strops are double-sided. Both can be used to put a true razor-sharp edge on any knife or tool. If you’re using honing compound, apply it to the suede side and leave the smooth side plain. If you’re using compound, strop on the suede side with compound first, then the smooth side to finish the edge.
Q. Are there any rules for choosing smooth or suede leather?
A. If you plan on using compound, the suede leather accepts compound better. If you plan on not using compound, we recommend stropping with the smooth leather. For some tools such as carving tools, suede leather with honing compound is often recommended. For knives, smooth leather is common.
Q. What is the grit of a leather strop?
A. The leather itself doesn’t have a grit or particle size rating. If you want to compare it to a stone, we simply rate it based on the sharpening results. For a general comparison, we would consider it finer than a .5 micron or a 30,000 grit. This is one of the reasons we recommend strops, as they are a tremendous value compared to extremely fine grit stones.
Q. How hard do I press down on the leather?
A. You don’t need to apply a lot of pressure. One of our Sharpening Specialists describes it as light as the weight of the knife or tool while others say simply light pressure. Definitely don’t use heavy pressure. Pressing too hard will create a steeper micro bevel.
Q. Will I cut into my leather strop?
A. If you’re stropping properly, you will not cut into the leather. Always strop with the blade trailing. If you try to move the blade into the leather, you will cut into the leather. When laying the edge down, make sure you’re not moving the blade forward into the leather. If you follow good technique, you’ll never have an issue.
Q. Will a strop round over my edge?
A. Since leather is softer than a stone, it applies more cutting pressure at the edge. If a strop was very abrasive, it would round the edge or create a convex edge. However, strops are extremely fine, so the amount of rounding is very minimal. On knives, this will almost never become an issue. On tools such as a chisel, extensive stropping on the back (the flat side) will eventually round the tip. For this reason, we recommend only light stropping on the backs of chisels.
Q.Will compounds make my leather strop finer or coarser?
A. Compounds will make the strop cut faster. Some compounds (larger than 3 microns) will undoubtedly make a strop coarser (and cut much faster). However, the more common grits in compounds are under 1 micron, so it would be similar to or slightly more coarse than plain leather.
Q. Will leather strops ever dry out?
A. In most circumstances, no. However, if you want a more soft and supple leather, we do have Leather Treatment Strop Paste. This is a non-abrasive paste.
Q. Will a strop sharpen a dull edge?
A. In theory, yes, but it is not the right tool for the job. A strop excels at making sharp edges extremely sharp. By taking a dull edge to a strop, you’re asking it to do a job it wasn’t designed to do. It is possible to use very coarse compounds to do this, but stones excel at the coarser work when compared with strops.
Q. Will a strop remove a burr or wire edge?
A. Yes, that is one of the main reasons we really recommend strops. Not only are they super fine, but they do a wonderful job of polishing off the burr or wire edge from blades. An edge isn’t ready to be used until the wire edge is removed, using a strop is the best way to do it as it gently polishes off the burr compared with simply knocking it off.
Q. I stropped my knife and it feels duller. What happened?
A. There are a few reasons you may feel that stropping made your knife duller. First, is simply that it isn’t duller, but simply more polished. Sometimes a toothy edge feels sharper than it is and feeling the edge isn’t giving you correct feedback. Second, if you strop a very coarsely sharpened edge, you likely missed a few steps. Using a strop after an extra coarse stone will make it sharper, but you’ll have to do a lot more stropping than normal to make it truly sharp. A strop is meant to be used after a relatively fine stone, not a coarse stone. Lastly, if you strop at too steep of an angle, you’ll basically be polishing the edge dull. Use a strop at the same angle, or even a slightly lower angle than you used when sharpening.