How Does A Strop Work? Things You Need To Know

Stropping is polishing the cutting edge of a knife after sharpening.

Stropping is done on a strop, which is a leather strap fastened on a hard surface.

After sharpening your knife and honing it to remove the burr, the next thing you should do is strop the blade. Stropping helps in removing the tiny microscopic-level inconsistencies on the cutting edge for a razor-sharp cutting edge.

A strop helps in polishing the edge for better edge retention.

How to use a strop?

For excellent results, it is advisable to use strops with honing compounds. However, it is not a must to use these compounds. If you decide to use a honing compound, the first thing you should do is apply the compound onto its surface.

Apply the honing compound gently on the leather strop in a back and forth motion until the compound is evenly applied to it. For people using paste-like honing compounds, you should spread the compound evenly on its surface area. This, in turn, results in even stropping for uniform results.

The techniques

Stropping is the reverse of sharpening a knife. The only difference between stropping and sharpening is that in the former, you move the blade backward. This is so that the cutting edge does not cut the leather strop.

When stropping, you should expect to feel a slight resistance, but you shouldn’t press into it as this is likely to dull the edge. Instead, you need to apply just enough pressure to feel a slight drag.

Choosing the right angle

Stropping, just like sharpening, requires you to use the right angle for excellent results. Ideally, you should strop your blade at the same angle that you use for sharpening the blade. For instance, if you sharpen your blade at 15 degrees, then you should also strop it at the same angle.

The easiest way to get the right stropping angle is by holding the blade perpendicular to it, then halving the angle to 45 degrees and further to 22.5 degrees. Always ensure that you settle on the perfect angle, as this angle determines how successful your session will be.

Steps when stropping your angle

Stropping is a simple task and should be undertaken stepwise:

  1. Place the blade on it at the right angle. Remember that you will move the blade from the heel to the tip.
  2. Slowly draw the blade backward from the heel to tip. Ensure that you maintain the angle consistently throughout the entire stropping process.
  3. Flip the blade to the other side and start stropping. Repeats steps 1 and 2.
  4. Strop the blade for at least 7 alternating passes. Strop on one side and then change to the other side until you have made a total of 7 passes on each side.

Once you have stropped the blade to your satisfaction, the next thing you need to do is clean the knife with warm water. Additionally, clean it immediately rather than have to wait to clean it later.

What is the benefit of stropping?

There are several benefits of stropping your knife. These include:

Realigning the edge

The cutting edge is susceptible to breaking and denting due to constant use and repeated use. Since these edges are malleable and flexible, stropping help in realigning the edge. By stropping the edge gently, it becomes easy to restore the straightness of the cutting edge.

Enhancing edge retention

Stropping also helps in enhancing the edge retention of a blade. This is because it helps in removing microscopic inconsistencies on the cutting edge. This, in turn, guarantees that the razor-sharp edge of the blade lasts for a long time.

Maintaining a strop

If you want it to last for long, you need to maintain and take care of your device.

The first thing you should do when it comes to maintaining a strop is lubricating it regularly. You can use the leather balm to condition and care for it.

The best thing about giving your leather strop regular care and maintenance is that it helps in keeping it flexible by preventing cracking.

The other important aspect of maintaining a strop is storage. Always store yours in a sealed and airtight plastic bag. This not only keeps it clean but also prevents dehydration and consequent cracking.

Avoid storing it in a wet and moist place as this is likely to have a degrading effect on it and its quality.

Conclusion

Stropping does not necessarily have to be a complex and confusing task. This is because it is a simple DIY task that you can accomplish easily, even without prior experience. While stropping is not really necessary, it goes a long way in perfecting your blades’ sharpness.

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My name is Andy Wang, and I'm a retired chef. I used to work at the City Vineyard restaurant in NYC. I also had a culinary degree from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. And this blog is where I share my love for knives and cooking with people like you.