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Should you put compound on the shiny side of a strop too?

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Morthawt, Oct 11, 2018 at 10:24 AM.

  1. Morthawt


    May 30, 2017
    Just a quick question. I have ordered another cheap wood-based leather stop with a smooth and rough side, same as my existing cut-up one. Plus I ordered some smurf poo blue stropping stick stuff (I have never used any form of compound of any kind for stropping). I know I should apply it to the rough side for sure as I have seen this on YouTube videos. But should I also be rubbing that stuff on the smooth side when I get it too?
  2. 115Italian


    Nov 13, 2015
    I only apply diamond paste to the smooth side. Maybe others do it differently.
  3. Morthawt


    May 30, 2017
    Really.. Interesting. What is your reasoning for using it on the smooth side?
  4. Jason B.

    Jason B. KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 13, 2007
    The smooth side is the surface of the skin and the side you should be applying the compound to. The rough side is the backside of the leather... the unfinished side.
  5. Some compounds apply more easily and more densely on the 'rough' side of leather. The bar/stick-type compounds fit that category, and sometimes they don't apply evenly to smooth leather and/or don't stick well to it. But the rough side of leather will usually scrub more compound from sticks/bars and hold it more tenaciously, without it being scraped off during stropping. You can help the application process on the smooth side, by lightly sanding the leather to give it some velvety 'nap', which will help it scrub and hold the compound more easily, from the stick or bar.

    Depending on what you're using the strop for, applying a heavier/denser layer of compound may or may not be best. If you're just using the strop to de-burr & lightly enhance the edge, then a very light application on the smooth side could work for that. If you're using the strop with an aggressive polishing compound for mirroring or convexing, a dense layer of compound applied to a more textured substrate (rough leather, denim, linen, canvas, etc) works faster for that. The firmer the substrate is, under the compound, the more aggressive the compound will work, and the crisper the edge will be.
  6. WhitleyStu

    WhitleyStu Keep'em scary sharp!!! Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 8, 2006
    I've always charged the rough side on both 1x30 and 2x72 belts for finishing off the edge with green compound when removing light grind lines and shining up the edge. Seems to work best for my needs. I have charged the smooth side, but as stated won't hold as much compound

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