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Old 01-14-2009, 02:09 PM   #1
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Stropping on chromium oxide charged leather

In another thread this was mentioned. I would love to get some more info on it. Specifically, I would like to know:

1. What does it do to the knife?
2. How do you do it (technique)?
3. What materials do you need to purchase?
4. Where do you purchase them?
5. Is this something that if done wrong can mess up your knife?

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Old 01-14-2009, 02:43 PM   #2
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I'm looking forward to hearing the answers too.
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Old 01-14-2009, 03:00 PM   #3
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jpaulg, or anyone else, please feel free to throw your question in here as well. We can use this thread as a general tutorial on the technique.
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Old 01-14-2009, 04:15 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GB View Post

1. What does it do to the knife?
2. How do you do it (technique)?
3. What materials do you need to purchase?
4. Where do you purchase them?
5. Is this something that if done wrong can mess up your knife?
First of all, take a look at this graph:



Looking down the Edge Pro column, and interpolating because the chart was put together before EP came out with the present 800 grit stone, you can see that the EP 800 is roughly 3500 on the Japanese scale, and it is the Japanese scale that is most often used by knife sharpeners. 3500 grit is at the lower end of polishing stones. You can use the polishing tapes for the EP and get about a 7k edge but it isn't necessary if you strop. I have done some testing on the effectiveness of stropping and have been very impressed. Even if I stop at the 2k level, stropping provides a paper push cutting edge with any decent steel.

The chromium oxide that is used for stropping is .5 microns, or 25,000 grit. There is even .25 micron diamond spray (50,000 grit) available and with certain steels adds another level of sharpness.

Answers:

1. Just like going up through the grits with stones, stropping removes a small amount of metal and polishes the bevel as well as refining the edge itself. Sharper, plus less friction equals easier cutting and better quality cuts.

2. It's like sharpening except only trailing edge strokes are used. I'll reference a tutorial under answer #4.

3. If you want to make you own, you need a base such as a 2X4 a thin, smooth piece of leather, and chromium oxide. Leather glued to wood is available from several suppliers and even an entire kit is available (next answer)

4. Many knife and straight razor stores and Internet sites carry strops and chromium oxide in solid bars. The consistency of grit size is questionable however. Dave Martell, owner of JapaneseKnifeSharpening, carries HandAmerican products. The HA stropping system is the "EdgePro" of strops if you will. It can be seen here. Also note that there are two links, one for applying chromium oxide and the other a tutorial on how to strop, on this page and that will cover question #2.

5. If you strop at too high an angle it is possible to round the edge somewhat, therefore dulling the knife. Personally, I strop at a slightly more acute angle than the bevel itself. I feel that the leather finds its way to the edge and it also eliminates the possibility of rounding.

That's a start. Read Dave Martell's tutorial and we can go from there.
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Old 01-14-2009, 04:22 PM   #5
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Thanks Buzz. That is a good start for me.
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Old 01-14-2009, 04:37 PM   #6
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Stropping polishes out the finest grind marks from the sharpening process. This makes for the keenest edge possible. Leather also adds a bit of convexness to the final bevel, making it arguably stronger. Some guys who are really into chasing the perfect edge have built strops that use hardboard for the stropping surface. It's firmer than leather and, thus, maintains the sharper, more angular bevel.

I built mine from a scrap bit of poplar and an old, two-inch work belt. It's charged with a stick of Chromium Oxide compound from Rocklers. I've seen the compound in both stick and powder form as well as manufactured strops for sale at Hand American Tools (online).

It's a really gentle process, though a few simple errors can mean extra honing (and by honing I mean "honing" and not "steeling"). The most common error is rolling the blade over at the end of the stroke. This causes microscopic rounding of the edge. Nothing a few strokes with your final stone won't cure, but an annoyance nonetheless. Be sure to maintain a constant angle throughout the stroke!

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Old 01-14-2009, 04:39 PM   #7
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Sweet, I will check that out later tonight. Thanks Doc!
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Old 01-14-2009, 06:51 PM   #8
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Can you use a razor strop or is it better to use a knife strop?

I have been looking at the Thiers-Issard range of strops on the theory that I'd rather get a strop from people who actually still make good cut-throats.
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Old 01-14-2009, 07:06 PM   #9
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T-I makes some fine razors, don't they? As to strops, I'm unsure if the T-Is are fixed or loose. Loose strops don't work for knives. Straight razor geometry is different and floppy strops work fine with them. For knives, the thinner and wider and smoother the leather the better. It makes short work of even long slicing knives.
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Old 01-14-2009, 07:43 PM   #10
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The more I get into knife sharpening the more I get tempted by cut-throats.

T-I have fixed and loose strops. I'll look into their box strops a bit more, which are hardwood boxes with the strop on the outside and a little cavity inside for all the goodies.
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