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To Strop or Not to Strop...

Discussion in 'Sharpening Stuff -- Stones, Strops, and Systems' started by Moshe ben David, Dec 20, 2015.

  1. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    No, I won't pursue the Shakespeare further...

    Reason for the question. I'm NOT well versed in sharpening. I have a Spyderco Sharpmaker system and I bought the UF rods as well.

    I think I understand the reason to strop; my question is if I use the UF rods following sharpening, is that sufficient or do I need to strop also?

    Further, in terms of 'freshening' up the blade, am I better off using the UF or better off with a strop?

    Finally, what would be a reasonable all-purpose strop? Will I need compound also?

    I'm not looking for sharp enough to shave hair off my arms; but I would like to get consistant sharpness based say on a paper test...

    Thanks y'all

    Moshe ben David
     
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  2. Ben Rubinstein

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    I love the strop, far less hassle even than setting up the sharpmaker, it's kinder to the blade even than the sharpmaker and I find it quite enjoyable.
     
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  3. IHateBottleOpeners

    IHateBottleOpeners EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    All my knives are stropped. Period. I'm more into sharpening than you (as you can tell about yourself) and I very much recommend stropping after sharpening with ultra fine stones. But mostly depends on your blades' purpose, for EDC you can leave your knives un-stropped, those micro teeth will might help you cutting a bit harder stuff, like hard plastic package, bottles, thicker paper etc, bit in comparison with stropped mirror edges, It won't be that precise and clean cut and will maybe last a bit longer on the edge retention (if it's the same knife and not 2 different knives with 2 different steels and heat treatment). And yes, you'll need a compound, I use pink paste, the seller told me that it's for polishing jewelry, so it's extra fine.
    P.S. The Spyderco sharpmaker is harder to use in comparison with simple stropping. But for using both of them, you'll need some experience and built up muscle memory.
     
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  4. adnj

    adnj Loaded Pockets

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    You don't need to do anything after the Sharpmaker but if you bought the extra fine rods you may as well get the strop and a couple of finishing compounds. You will notice a more refined edge that can become frighteningly sharp.

    I prefer to strop (refine) a blade very often rather than resharpen it. Just like the barbers used to do.
     
    Last edited by adnj, Dec 20, 2015
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  5. CitizenSnips

    CitizenSnips Loaded Pockets

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    There is a case against stropping to maintain an edge - something about the steel at the very edge of the blade weakening from being bent back and forth - but honestly the blade is sharp when you decide it's sharp. If the sharpmaker gets it 'good enough' it's good enough. If you want to hone the edge slightly beyond that after sharpening give a strop a go.
     
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  6. adnj

    adnj Loaded Pockets

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    The Sharpmaker fine rods, if used properly, will give you an edge good enough to shave hair from your arm. You said that you have the ultra fine rods also so you should be able to get even better results.

    Take a look at the different recommended techniques for the Sharpmaker to see what works best for you. You might be surprised at your results.
     
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  7. A.B.

    A.B. Loaded Pockets

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    I use whetstones at home up to a couple of 1000 grits untill I think it is ok. Sometimes I polish the edge with a piece of very, very fine ceramic normally used to back seams that are about to be welded. Hard to explain if you are not familiair with the process. In the field I use a diafold (fine/coarse; coarse for axe or nicks in the edge) and sometimes use just my belt to strop the blade. No compound although that is better. Normally I don't strop. I get a razors edge without it.
     
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  8. J_C
    • In Omnia Paratus

    J_C Loaded Pockets

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    If you have the right sets of stones and your technique is good, you can do fine without a strop. I personally can get a better edge with a strop. I most often use an old leather belt with some cheap ($3) green Porter-Cable brand polishing compound I bought at Lowe's hardware.

    The trick is to not over-strop and to use the right angle (same as your sharpening angle) and a light pressure. You just want to remove the final burr left from sharpening without rounding off the edge.
     
  9. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    adnj: This is kind of why I started the thread and was confused. I'd seen some who say stropping was essential; others who say not if using something like the Sharpmaker with UF. You've sort of indicated both approaches here? I'm wondering if the middle ground is to use a strop at the end of a day of 'normal' (meaning normal urban edc, not heavy) usage sort of like a barber does between 'normal' shave customers? Or are you suggesting a quick touch up with the rods is going to work just as well based on what I was indicating? Any clarification of your thoughts would be most welcome sir!
     
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  10. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    All y'all who have responded so far: thanks very much. I'm forming a picture in my mind that for light touch up at the end of a normal day I could get by OK with or without the strop given the stones I already have... and given how I've described my goals.

    I may still go and get a strop; they don't look expensive. I may just leave this thread going a bit and see what others weigh in with also...

    I don't want to shortcut actual sharpening processes; more of concern when I started this thread was to find something that can be easily done as a daily maintenance routine -- easily so I'd not be tempted to not do anything!

    Best,

    Moshe ben David
     
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  11. premise

    premise Loaded Pockets

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    I've sharpened with stones and diamond for over a dozen years and got awesome results. I can get to to hair popping sharp with extra-fine stones that would satisfy all non-knife folks. Then I started stropping a few months back, and I can really tell the difference. It gives you a superior edge that goes from shaving to hair-popping sharp. I can make flat out scary cuts that are so clean, you can't tell something was even cut until you move it.

    So, for a ~30 dollar investment, I find stropping to be well worth it.
     
  12. Chimay

    Chimay Loaded Pockets

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    To add just a bit to what others stated it depends on what you want to cut with the knife. For me, a general purpose food prep knife is just going to get a 600 grain stone. This is very useful for tomatoes for instance. Other knives (including food prep) I take to 1000, finer edge. For edc knives I don't go over 1000. I do keep a few knives that I go over 1000 with and those are the knives I do strop after sharpening and between sharpening. This are knives that I want the finest edge on for absolutely clean cuts. But I don't use them often, I don't really find the value in creating and maintaining the edge for what I typically do on a day to day basis, but it's nice to have if you really want one. I can't actually remember the last thing I cut with my sharpest knives. Probably paper or hair just to show off. If I had to cut rope often I'd try only using a 400 grain stone on a knife.

    It's a very valid technique that you "should" be able to do as a "knife" person. How much you use it, really depends on you and your knife usage.
     
  13. Highlander200268

    Highlander200268 Loaded Pockets

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    i recently got a stropping belt for my worksharp, works like a charm and in only a few swipes, a shiney edge
     
  14. HalJordon

    HalJordon Banned

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    I use a Sharpmaker, no UF stones though. I could get knives sharp but never hair popping sharp. I picked up a cheap Flexcut strop kit from the large online retailer with the same name as a large river for $15 and the difference is like night and day. It came with a strop block and compound. After the fine stones on my Sharpmaker it only takes about 10 passes per side to be able to shave arm hair.
     
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  15. Adahn

    Adahn Loaded Pockets

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    I strop for fun, my Olfa Craft Knife gats hair whittling sharp from it.
    [​IMG]

    Besides for cutting fine leather I don't see much sense in a stropped blade though, for my edc knives a ceramic rod is giving me a better toothy edge. Of course even those blades are sharpened to a finer angle and stropped to remove friction while cutting but the cutting bevel iself is toothy.

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. adnj

    adnj Loaded Pockets

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    If I were in your circumstances, I would stick with the Sharpmaker for a while. In my experience, if you can't get the blade sharp enough to shave, you pressed too hard or the blade edge is obtuse.

    To clarify, you have to decide what your aim is. Super sharp, polished edges do great for slicing through softer, consistent material. Toothy edges are great for tougher, fibrous material. Polished edges require maintenance, too. Think about the difference between a butcher's knife and a straight razor.

    I prefer a toothy edge for EDC. I sharpen on stones, rods (sometimes a sharpmaker ), belts, and even sandpaper, depending on the blade. I will surely strop to get more of a refined, convex edge. Heavy stropping for the choppers (up to 20 inches! :blink:) and lightly strop for my pocket knives. I always strop after use BUT a few passes on the ultra fine rods will keep it sharp, too. On my serrated edge blades, the only way to sharpen is to use a rod.

    So, if:
    You want a convex edge then strop.
    You want a flat microbevel don't strop.

    Pick a method that works for you and stick with it. The best way to dull a knife, in my experience, is to incorrectly use ANY sharpening method on it.


     
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  17. LC Ray

    LC Ray Loaded Pockets

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    WARNING!
    Knife sharpening & stroping can be addictive
    This has been a Public Service annoucement
     
  18. 91bravo

    91bravo EDC Junkie

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    If I'm going to put a super fine edge on a blade that I will be doing a lot of push cutting with, I will strop my edges to a mirrored scalpel-like finish. For every day use, it's a couple of swipes on one of my DMT diafolds or stones and the knife is back to working sharp.

    Here is a rookie vid I made for my ESEE brethren...Not THE way to do this, but A way.

     
  19. Moshe ben David

    Moshe ben David Loaded Pockets

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    Makes sense to me. Thanks!
     
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  20. adnj

    adnj Loaded Pockets

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    Glad to be of help!