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  1. #1
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    Need strop advice

    I've read through several posts on strops, but perhaps someone could quickly answer some questions I have:

    Materials - Balsa, Leather, Felt - Is there one that works better for kitchen knives or certain steels (stainless vs carbon)? Is it the feedback the material gives? Or are certain materials easier to load?

    Loaded vs Unloaded - Seems like most people load strops before use for fine cutting. Do people ever strop unloaded or is that ineffective? I thought I read Murray Carter just strops on newsprint.

    Spray/Paste - Any preference toward diamond spray vs CrO? I gather the micron size makes most of the difference.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Frater_Decus's Avatar
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    I've only stropped unloaded, so I can't speak for the benefits of such. I've had great results from simply stropping on newspaper or some scrap rawhide I have left over from a motorcycle seat project. I also pull through champagne corks to deburr, if that tells you anything, haha!
    Vestigia nulla retrorsum.

  3. #3
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    Well I am in love with my Balsa wood hone with 1 micron blue diamond spray.

    Although, I have no actual data since I have only used diamonds spray, I suspect for the same micron size, diamond would give a toothier edge than CrO or CBN because of the shape of the crystals. But at 1 micron, it is awesomely polished as well...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ar11 View Post
    I've read through several posts on strops, but perhaps someone could quickly answer some questions I have:

    Materials - Balsa, Leather, Felt - Is there one that works better for kitchen knives or certain steels (stainless vs carbon)? Is it the feedback the material gives? Or are certain materials easier to load?

    Loaded vs Unloaded - Seems like most people load strops before use for fine cutting. Do people ever strop unloaded or is that ineffective? I thought I read Murray Carter just strops on newsprint.

    Spray/Paste - Any preference toward diamond spray vs CrO? I gather the micron size makes most of the difference.
    I've stropped newsprint (over a dry stone for a nice flat surface and yes Murray strops on newsprint), cardboard and leather.

    Diamond will be faster than CrO and the edge feels has more "bite" to it for me. I have 3 bottles of the This Site Not Allowed Here.com spray (1, 0.5, and 0.25 microns). I strop on balsa mostly now. I do have some leather lying around though. Its easy load the splitside of leather (CrO crayon, powder). I think the grain (smooth side) is for paste. I think that's how it works....

    As for stropping material theirs so many out there its hard to keep track (heck, I just found out you can use denim for stropping!). For me its not about feedback its just a medium to hold the diamond spray.

    Yes, you can strop unloaded (as long as your stropping medium has silica in it).

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by gic View Post
    Well I am in love with my Balsa wood hone with 1 micron blue diamond spray.

    Although, I have no actual data since I have only used diamonds spray, I suspect for the same micron size, diamond would give a toothier edge than CrO or CBN because of the shape of the crystals. But at 1 micron, it is awesomely polished as well...
    I think the green CrO is generally 0.5 micron (avg particle size), but I agree so far from my experience diamond is toothier than CrO. I haven't tried CBN though.

  6. #6
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    I like to strop on loaded balsa and plain horse leather. I have several grits of stuff for the balsa. 1µ Boron Carbide paste, .5µ CrO paste (Green), 1µ, and .25µ diamond spray. The BC and CrO are less expensive and give me very good results so I have not gone too wild chasing the other stuff available out there.

    Seems like some folks selling the stuff will blow all kinds of smoke and mirrors up your behind about their expensive formulations. I'm not convinced they meet the promises made. It's best to try some stuff and see what works best for you. Good luck!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Mucho Bocho's Avatar
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    Smooth bovine leather loaded w/ 1u diamond spray (I use HA brand) will bring a properly sharpened edge into scary sharp category.

    I'm a very active and passionate home cook and insist that my knives are scary sharp at all times. So I usually strop before each cutting task, sometime inbetween tasks. Im a freak but if my knives slide at all when stroking a ripe tomato skin, then it gets stropped. I like my edges sticky with three finger test and very quietly push cut paper.

    When stroppping alone fails bring it back that sharp edge, I run the edge over a HA Brand 1200 ceramic rod, then strop on loaded leather. When that ceases to bring the edge back, I strop on take out my highest grit stone (takenono 8K), then back to loaded leather. Sometimes my fingers shake before touching the blade cause they know better. Yep
    One thing you can give and still keep...is your word.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mucho Bocho View Post
    Smooth bovine leather loaded w/ 1u diamond spray (I use HA brand) will bring a properly sharpened edge into scary sharp category.

    I'm a very active and passionate home cook and insist that my knives are scary sharp at all times. So I usually strop before each cutting task, sometime inbetween tasks. Im a freak but if my knives slide at all when stroking a ripe tomato skin, then it gets stropped. I like my edges sticky with three finger test and very quietly push cut paper.

    When stroppping alone fails bring it back that sharp edge, I run the edge over a HA Brand 1200 ceramic rod, then strop on loaded leather. When that ceases to bring the edge back, I strop on take out my highest grit stone (takenono 8K), then back to loaded leather. Sometimes my fingers shake before touching the blade cause they know better. Yep
    Just don't slide your fingers up and down too much on the edge.....

  9. #9

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    Felt loaded w/ 1 micron diamond is all I ever use/need.
    "God sends meat and the devil sends cooks." - Thomas Deloney

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by gic View Post
    Well I am in love with my Balsa wood hone with 1 micron blue diamond spray.

    Although, I have no actual data since I have only used diamonds spray, I suspect for the same micron size, diamond would give a toothier edge than CrO or CBN because of the shape of the crystals. But at 1 micron, it is awesomely polished as well...
    I used to only strop on newspaper over a hard plate...and the edges were great. I had some felt strops I made from F1 hard felt, loaded with 6, 3, 1, and .5 diamond sprays...and I never felt they actually did anything. No matter how I positioned the knife (and I tried a TON), or what pressure I put on it...it felt like I was just sliding the knife over smooth cloth, and it didn't get any sharper. I always finished with the newsprint. Soooo last week I picked up a 3' piece of 5/16" balsa and made some strops out of that. I loaded them with the same sprays...and yeah, the difference was insane. First, the balsa tells you EXACTLY when you're hitting the edge, no matter what pressure you're using. That alone was worth it. But the cutting action seems much more efficient. Well worth the $5 I spent on the wood.

    A friend of mine is sending me a horse butt leather strop soon...he suggested I use it unloaded as a finisher. I'm looking forward to trying it out.
    I try to be the man I am..in times of broken lives. Shattered dreams and plans..standing up to fight. Pressures and demands..staring at the knife. Holding in your hands..

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