Should you Strop after Sharpening your knife

A sharp knife is essential for woodworkers and many of them use a strop after sharpening their knife while others don’t. Let’s explore the many ways knife sharpening in conjunction with a strop is used for best results.

After sharpening your knife, you should definitely use a strop to further hone the edge. A strop ensures that the knife is razor-sharp all along its edge. Stropping after honing also allows for more precise cuts. However, if you decide not to use the strop, although it will influence your knife’s performance to be worse, your knife will still be sharp.

Let’s explore the right methods for making your knives razor-sharp by stropping them the right way. We will explore the advantages and drawbacks of stropping, common mistakes made, and the consequences of not using a strop after sharpening your knife.

Why should you strop after sharpening your knife

Considering you want to have your knife in the best condition. Then stropping after sharpening is of course the right approach. It will keep your knives in the perfect functional use, remove any scratches from the knife and give it that razor sharpness at the microscopic level.

A knife that has been stropped after sharpening will be less likely to slip due to its sharpness, this means less effort and more safety for your woodworking projects. A knife that is dull or lacking in sharpness will slip while using and not make perfect cuts.

Resultantly the probability of injury will increase along with imperfect or wasted wood such as carving projects. Remember the first rule of woodworking: keep your tools in the best condition. Therefore, keeping your knives sharp is essential for any woodworker.

After honing, your knife edge still needs a strop to fully remove imperfections along its surface and align the “micro teeth” along its edge. Once they are realigned the knife becomes sharper and can cut more precisely.

What is the test that will tell you if the knife sharpening has been successful? Cutting paper is the test used by most people after stropping. If the knife edge from the tip to its end is easily able to cut paper then the knife is at its sharpest otherwise more sharpening is needed.

Quick Guide: How to Strop for best results

Before stropping your knives make sure to clean your knife (ensure it’s free of any particles or residue), now make sure your leather strop is also clean. Spread some compound on the strop and now you are ready to sharpen your knives via stropping.

Using a strop is similar to honing a knife through a whetstone or knife sharpener. The process requires focusing on the flat parts of the knife and stropping in a pulling motion.

Keep that in mind and let’s get started on how to strop for best results.

PRO TIP: For Stainless steel knives any type of compound is fine to use, however for carbon fiber knives it’s better to use either black, green, or blue compound. A safe choice is to use green compound which is a good overall fit for most functions.

To strop hold your knife over the strop at a twenty-degree angle then lightly push at the strop and when you feel a slight resistance pull back over the strop surface in a half-circular motion. Do this pull motion several times while lightly pushing at the edge.

Doing the motion about fifteen times is good enough if you do it right and will sharpen the knife properly. An important aspect of using a strop is to make sure to use just enough force while running the knife through the strop surface.

If you use too little force then the edge will not make contact with the surface and thus it will not sharpen the knife. If on the other hand, you use too much force you can dull the knife edge. These are a few common mistakes that beginners make which you should avoid.

Now that you are aware of the technique used watch the video below for a visual on how to strop properly and a few tips to make the most of stropping. Watch the video here:

Key takeaways from the video

  • Alternate directions of stropping from tip to heal and then heal to tip
  • Proper pressure while stropping: the leather conforms to the steel
  • Too much pressure while stropping: can rub the blade tip off
  • Practice makes perfect: keep stropping to get the technique right
  • A good stropping only needs five minutes if you get good enough

Now that you know the best way to use a leather strop for sharpening your knives, here is a recommendation for a good quality strop that you can use.

The paddle allows for a firm grip while using and is great for newbies and professionals alike who want to sharpen their tools safely. The two-sided strop allows for different types of stropping compound to be applied on each side, so that’s a big plus for users who require more functionality from their tools.

What happens if you don’t strop after you sharpen?

If you don’t strop your knife after sharpening then your knife edge will not be the sharpest it can be, it will have small scratches which will inhibit its function, and resultantly you will waste the sharpening tools if you do not make your knife have the perfect edge and function.

Knife stropping is necessary because for woodworking projects you need the sharpest knife which will easily be able to cut through many different types of wood and lessen injury. So, having after sharpening your knife, use a strop for maximum sharpness.

For woodworkers and woodcarvers, the sharpest knife is essential. Making precise cuts in a carving with minimal force is a necessity every woodcarver relies on. Thus having a knife that has maximum sharpness all along its edge is priceless.

Pros and Cons of Stropping

Advantages of stropping

  • Razor-sharp edge: Stropping a knife makes the edges the sharpest it can be. You want your knives to be in the best condition hence stropping ensures it.
  • Best shine: stropping a knife gives it that extra shiny edge which makes it look better
  • Eliminates scratches:  the stropping process not only gives the knife a good shine but also removes microscopic scratches not easily seen.
  • Fast method to sharpen knives: an expert can sharpen a knife in as little as five minutes by using a leather strop.

Disadvantages of stropping

  • Right method: you need to know how to use a strop properly as stropping the wrong way can dull the knife and can even damage the strop.
  • Takes away steel from knife after every use: the stropping process takes away tiny pieces of steel from the knife every time. This is a very small amount if stropping is done right however if not done right then large chunks of steel can be removed which will decrease the life of the knife.
  • Need to use the right compound: depending on the type of knife you want to sharpen, the type of compound that should be used varies. For newbies to stropping this can be overwhelming. The amount of compound used should also be known for best use.

Final Thoughts

As you read, we gave you some very good reasons to strop your knife after sharpening and gave you the reasons why you should do so. It keeps your knife edges sharp and gives it that extra polish.

We also showed you few drawbacks to stropping and what you can expect of a knife if you do not strop it after sharpening. We really recommend to use a leather strop to sharpen your knives for best usage and decreased injury. Go get a strop if you haven’t already.

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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