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What strops to maintain an edge

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by firefighterguy, May 13, 2018.

  1. firefighterguy

    firefighterguy Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 30, 2014
    Hello all!

    I’m looking for input on strops for maintaining an edge. I use a wicked edge to sharpen and have some strops for it but I’m looking for something to use between sharpenings to extend the life of the edge.

    I would like some freehand strops to avoid the hassle of setting up the wicked edge.

    I’m looking at something like this https://www.chefknivestogo.com/haamstkit.html with a balsa and leather strop and 1 micron paste.

    What would you recommend to go with it or what are you using?
  2. Mo2


    Apr 8, 2016
    Those are good strops. My buddy uses them. I'll get some of them eventually too.

    but let's be honest, you can make a good strop out of anything as long as it's not spungy.
    Beansandcarrots likes this.
  3. jc57

    jc57 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2012
    I use the same Richmond strop base, balsa strop, and 1 micron diamond for my kitchen knives. I didn't get the leather strop for it.

    The one you listed is a good kit, and versatile. The strop base is heavy enough and has rubber feet, which provides a stable base that wont move around. The magnetic backing on the stops holds them solidly in place. The height of the base gives you enough room for knuckle clearance when using it on a work table without having to move it to the edge.

    The 3" x 11" is a good size. Bigger the better for bench sharpening tools, especially for kitchen knives.

    A lot depends on the type of steel you are stropping. For my daily pocket knives, I often just use a home-made strop from a strip of veg-tanned, hand-cased leather belt blank I got at Tandy, and some green chromium oxide buffing compound. But most of my pocket knives are basic steels - 420HC and 1095, and similar.

    The diamond compound will work with anything, though.
  4. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    The balsa wood is good I use it on some steels that are harder to remove the burr instead of it just getting pushed around ...

    I like DLT's kangaroo leather strops for high carbon or non "super steel" blades with various compounds ...

    I also use often a Idahone 1200 grit ceramic hone for light touch ups and a trailing edge stroke or two to remove the burr.
  5. Wowbagger


    Sep 20, 2015
    I timed how long it took to go get my Edge Pro Apex and the jeweler's magnification visor (so I could see that super fine minutest sharpening bur that tells me I am on the apex).
    . . . and set up the Edge Pro including wetting and putting in the 4,000 Shapton Glass stone, marking the bevel with Magic Marker and adjusting the angle so I am right down on the very apex:
    2 minutes 34 seconds and I'm not in a mood for hurrying in the least today. I did too much of that all week.
    And this is a knife that has never been in the Edge Pro or on any other jig. A brand new knife that I have only just used from the factory (so I had little idea of where to put the adjustment).

    Alternatively what I do to touch up a blade that is near shave sharp and take it back to frighteningly hair whittling ( couldn't do much, if any, better with a strop or hand held on any other stone) is the Spyderco Ultra Fine Ceramic triangle rod. It doesn't remove the bur on all alloys so for those I use the chunk of Norton 8,000 stone shown in the last photos.

    Anyway I orient the edge under a light where I can see any bur / roll now or that I am creating. I pull the rod toward me and with practice I can (with fairly high magnification from the visor) see when I am on the apex and creating the very faintest sharpening bur.

    Once that is created all along the edge I put the stone on top of the blade with just the weight of the rod and pull the rod toward me to take the bur down. Just a stroke or two or three.

    I put the rod under the blade again and with one or two strokes raise the bur back to that side.

    This will show me where any areas that are more dull or rolled or nicked are and I can work those with the corner of the triangle rod to "steel" them or other wise reform them and sharpen them (sometimes takes a steeper angle in that area). This "fixing" of the flaws, rolls and nicks is something that a strop can't really do. The flaws just scrape compound off the strop but that's about it.

    Once I get a decent bur on both sides (flip the knife over to see the bur as needed) then I can take the flat of the triangle once again and go against the edge (edge leading) to take off the bur and then some more edge trailing ever so lightly to refine the edge.

    If the bur is gone I am done if the bur won't come off I go to the Norton 8,000 stone below and repeat. It never fails to take off stubborn burs; mostly on stainless steel blades.

    That is M4 on the Para2 and the triangle is always all I need to remove ALL the bur and touch up the edge to a very pleasing hair whittling or even tree topping sharpness.

    Strops have a hard time removing rolls or heavier burs so for that reason the stones are the way to go for touch up. And for me at least the only way to go ever for a final edge unless I am doing a full resharpening then the edge off the jig (Edge Pro) is all I could ever dream of; just a brilliantly sharp, quality edge . . . cutting wise anyway.

    Pull the rod toward you a few times while watching and minutely adjusting the angle until the faintest bur forms (assuming this is a fairly sharp knife; not dull).

    Once the slightest bur is showing all along the edge put the stone on top and pull the least amount that it takes to knock the bur down. Switch to the flats of the triangle rod and repeat.

    Can't get rid of the bur with final edge leading strokes on the ceramic rod ? Go to Norton 8,000 and do same MO.
    Pretty much I never go edge leading on the Norton it is too soft without perfect technique. But edge trailing gets rid of the bur.

    PS: if the flat of the Norton 8,000 isn't doing it I some times resort to the corner of the stone as the corner of the triangle rod is used. I have smoothed and prepared the corners of the stone on a more coarse diamond plate just for that purpose.
    Last edited: May 13, 2018
    Blues likes this.
  6. whp


    Apr 26, 2009
    I ve found the Flexcut strop to be my favorite for maintaining a working edge on my outdoor work knives.
    Knives Plus also sells a nice strop.
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
  7. wade7575

    wade7575 Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    BeansandCarrots on this forum showed how he use's MDF as a strop and I do not mean a MDF Wheel I mean hand strop's.
    He used MDF and cheap diamond paste called Badak found on ebay and re-sharpened a dull S110v Spyerco knife back to a hair whittling edge,you can also pull back and forth when using MDF where as leather you can not,the reason he told me he likes it better is because you can use a bit more pressure to let the diamonds bite in and do the work were not talking extreme pressure either just a bit more.

    I would link his review he did but it was deleted do to the fact he linked to ebay.
  8. OLd_gUY

    OLd_gUY Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 20, 2018
    What he said
  9. Fred.Rowe

    Fred.Rowe Dealer / Materials Provider Dealer / Materials Provider

    May 2, 2004
    I use an ERU, which strops both sides of the edge at the same time, instead of pushing the refined edge from side to side. It is fast, adjustable and extremely accurate. They are not in production at present. I'm to busy to make it happen. They are a great edge working tool. They can be found in second hand market at times. We made about a thousand of them over the last four years.

    Enjoy your time, it is precious, Fred
  10. leozinho


    Jan 7, 2005
    I like the chefknivestogo balsa strop and their paste (which I’m sure is rebranded from somewhere else. But I think it’s better than the THK paste.)

    I have leather and basswood but balsa is my favorite.
  11. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    I have a ton of stones and other strop materials, still use one of my Washboards to finish just about everything. Has proven to be more reliable for longer term maintenance than anything else. Details linked through my signature line.

    Otherwise any cut of well-cased veg tanned leather will do. Balsa, poplar also good choices. A sheet of paper or a dollar bill on top of a benchstone also works well.
  12. David Martin

    David Martin Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 7, 2008
    For maintenance, I've not had much success with any type strop except a loaded leather or loaded wood. I maybe dulling mine
    more before taking it to a strop. Then it actually needs some metal moved or removed to bring the edge back. DM
    jc57 likes this.
  13. Almost all of the 'character' of my favored edges comes from the last grit of stone I used in creating the edge. So, I do as much as I can to preserve that character, which means I keep compounded stropping to an absolute minimum, or I avoid it completely.

    When I finish a new edge on a stone, I've become a big fan of just laying a piece of plain paper atop the stone and doing the last few finishing passes on that, edge-trailing. All that does is remove the last bits of weakened, burred steel from the apex, leaving all the 'tooth' from the stone intact. And beyond that, with steels compatible to it, I rely quite a lot on 'steeling' these edges to keep them aligned, without stripping too much of that original 'tooth' from the edge. When the edge eventually weakens from the steeling, I'll take it back to the finishing stone again, to remove that weakened steel and restore the original bite.

    I do strop on a bare leather belt, though; sometimes following the steeling. No compound used, just the bare leather. Occasionally, I've revisited using some compound on a strop (usually hard-backed denim), and that works fine if I want to create or maintain a more polished finish on an edge. I'll do that with one or two of my kitchen knives, which work great with a mirrored, thinly-convexed profile behind the edge. But that's essentially the one exception, for me. Most everything else I use, I prefer something more toothy as created on a stone by itself. Compounded stropping always eventually strips a lot of that bite away, leaving the edge finish more polished than I generally prefer; so, I minimize or avoid it, for the most part.
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
    miso2 likes this.
  14. Mo2


    Apr 8, 2016
    Pictures please. Id like more info.
  15. There's a link in his sig line, to a thread with details and pics.
  16. Mo2


    Apr 8, 2016
    Ah thanks. I don't see signatures on mobile. I'll check it out later on my desktop

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