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Is a Strop even necessary?

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Forum topic by gauntlet21 posted 12-19-2018 12:28 AM 1187 views 1 time favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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gauntlet21

69 posts in 658 days


12-19-2018 12:28 AM

Topic tags/keywords: strop sharpen sharpening

Okay, so before you put me on blast, hear me out you strop die hard enthusiasts! I understand the point of a strop and compound and various leathers that may be better than others when stropping but, I’ve just heard about Shell Cordovan strops and that they’re the equivalent of roughly a 10-12k grit. They’re considered the pinnacle of stripping. But I am fortunate enough to own a Shapton Glass 16000 grit sharpening stone that puts a shine on my blades like nothing ever before. So after sharpening my hand plane blades on a 16000 grit stone, is it actually worsening my secondary bevel by stropping it on the equivalent of a 12000 grit stone (the shell cordovan strop) or is there something else in play here? I’m not even considering a compound on the shell Cordovan strop but my argument would change if the compound was greater than 16000 grit which is equal to 0.92 micron! I’ve yet to see a compound paste that small and then if I introduced the 30000 grit Shapton glass stone, if there exists a reason to strop, would it still stand?

Thanks,

Dan


20 replies so far

View Andre's profile

Andre

2693 posts in 2253 days


#1 posted 12-19-2018 12:46 AM

I get mirror finish with 8000 Water stone, only strop/hone at the bench to touch up edge!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

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Aj2

2375 posts in 2245 days


#2 posted 12-19-2018 12:56 AM

I’ve also found stroping messes up a good edge but sometimes it make it better. So I dont strop very often expect my carving chisels. I also use shaptons pro stone.I even have the half micron 30,000 grit. Stone. Bought it from Hap some years ago.
Mostly I hollow grind and work from the stones.
Good Luck

-- Aj

View Rich's profile (online now)

Rich

4676 posts in 1036 days


#3 posted 12-19-2018 01:11 AM

I use the strop while I’m using the chisel to touch it up. Kind of like keeping a steel next to your cutting board in the kitchen.

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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woodbutcherbynight

5967 posts in 2856 days


#4 posted 12-19-2018 04:53 AM


Kind of like keeping a steel next to your cutting board in the kitchen.

- Rich

What’s a Kitchen???

LOL

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

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anthm27

1124 posts in 1557 days


#5 posted 12-19-2018 05:00 AM


Kind of like keeping a steel next to your cutting board in the kitchen.

- Rich

What s a Kitchen???

LOL

- woodbutcherbynight

Haha, Brilliant

-- To be a true artist one must stick to their own thought process

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HokieKen

10207 posts in 1586 days


#6 posted 12-19-2018 01:49 PM

I agree with Rich. The strop is for quick “refreshes” on the bench for me. I use it on freshly sharpened edges as well but I generally only sharpen to about 1500 grit. 6000 on paring chisels or carving tools. If your stone is finer than the strop or the compound on the strop, then no, I can’t see any logic in using it personally.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View lumbering_on's profile

lumbering_on

578 posts in 937 days


#7 posted 12-19-2018 02:13 PM

Stropping is also known as honing and means you are aligning the edge without removing metal. Sharpening something requires you to remove metal to produce the edge. As far as you 16K grit stone goes, it’s actually honing the blade, not sharpening. So yes, going down to a 12K equivalent grit means you’re getting worse not better.

View Robert's profile

Robert

3468 posts in 1928 days


#8 posted 12-19-2018 03:02 PM

I use a strop but truthfully I don’t think it makes a noticeable difference. I go to 8K.

I’ll let the gurus correct me, but I think honing does actually remove metal. If its not, then what is the black material I’m seeing on my stone?

I’m of the belief there is the “dubbing effect” from over stropping or not doing it right, for example pressing too hard, or stroking to much. They way I figured this out was trying to follow Paul Seller’s “30 strokes on the strop” idea. But then, he only sharpens to 1000 I think.

Then there’s the question of which side of the leather goes up? And lots of people advocate a piece of MDF with compound rather than leather.

Bottom line if you’re going to 16000 grit don’t use a strop.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View bbrown's profile

bbrown

260 posts in 3999 days


#9 posted 12-19-2018 04:15 PM

I use a horse hide leather strop on occasion. But for day-to-day stropping I have mounted 4 MDF wheels on a buffer/grinder. I shaped the wheels to conform to the rounds and V’s of my carving tools. I also put a leather belt on my delta 1” belt sander ($20 on Craigs). I charge the wheels and belt with my own green honing compound, made from beeswax. A few seconds is all it takes for my carving tools on the MDF wheels and my flat chisels on the belt. My tools will go for many years without touching a stone, just stropping. Eventually the back gets rounded over a bit and I’ll go back to the 1000—-> 8000 diamond or Japanese stones. 8,000 is all I need for the finest work. Stropping does the day-to-day work and that is done in about 10 seconds when needed. The idea of doing 30 strokes each time would not be appealing!

-- Micah 6:8

View Beats85's profile

Beats85

31 posts in 241 days


#10 posted 12-19-2018 04:49 PM

Not having made the investment in high grit water stones yet, stropping definitely makes a difference for me. I use some lapping film from tools for working wood (the sample pack has lasted me quite a while now) and then I strop on leather with the green stuff. Out of curiosity I took some extra leather I had on hand and tried stropping on the smooth side of bare leather. Maybe a tiny improvement over leather and green compound, but sans water stones stropping is a necessity for me.

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gauntlet21

69 posts in 658 days


#11 posted 01-01-2019 06:35 PM

That’s all great information. I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t going crazy after finally accomplishing the task of getting razor sharp edges on my chisels, and hand plane blades by way of freehand. For those who still use a honing guide, I did for about 6 months until I wasn’t getting the results that I wanted. I own the Veritas MK II Honing Guide and despite all of the bells and whistles and assurances that come packed in the box, I was constantly getting uneven bevel thicknesses which, I KNOW, does not make a difference when the cutting actually occurs. But, for an aesthetic purpose only, who would be happy paying the hundred plus dollars to take a brand new L.N. blade out of the packaging and then getting bevels that are very noticeably crooked? I’ve owned the Shapton stones for about a year now and I’d purchase them all again. I originally invested in some Arkansas sharpening stones but found that using oil all the time got to be messy and slippery.

I used the MK II honing guide for a while until I finally purchased an extra blade for my L.N. No. 4 and attempted to freehand sharpen it. The results were not only better than the MK II but the bevels are absolutely straight. It’s imperative that you flatten your stones frequently between sharpenings if you want to get consistency on your blades.

So then I’ve heard all about stropping and the videos that I’ve watched of people sharpening knives and blades always finish the exercise by polishing the newly sharpened edge with a strop. When I discovered that the abrasive polish that is usually applied to the strop wasn’t as fine as the 16,000 grit stone that I usually finish up with, I didn’t understand the purpose. Besides, once you’re done with 8000 (not to mention the 16,000), there’s a reflection worth bragging about on the bevel so how could it get any better with further polish? I’ll keep the “touch up” concept in mind when I’m out in the shop, I didn’t consider that before. Glad I’ve gotten some perspective on the matter.

Thanks to all.

View Dark_Lightning's profile

Dark_Lightning

3486 posts in 3556 days


#12 posted 01-02-2019 12:02 AM


I use a horse hide leather strop on occasion. But for day-to-day stropping I have mounted 4 MDF wheels on a buffer/grinder. I shaped the wheels to conform to the rounds and V s of my carving tools. I also put a leather belt on my delta 1” belt sander ($20 on Craigs). I charge the wheels and belt with my own green honing compound, made from beeswax. A few seconds is all it takes for my carving tools on the MDF wheels and my flat chisels on the belt. My tools will go for many years without touching a stone, just stropping. Eventually the back gets rounded over a bit and I ll go back to the 1000—-> 8000 diamond or Japanese stones. 8,000 is all I need for the finest work. Stropping does the day-to-day work and that is done in about 10 seconds when needed. The idea of doing 30 strokes each time would not be appealing!

- bbrown

I can strop no problem, but I like your idea here. It saves time and allows one to keep the angle correct more easily than a strop, unless one is really careful. Some of the people in my carving classes have themselves a time trying to strop their chisels. I see a lot of cutting edges rounded over from some long-term poor stropping. I’m thinking I could make something like this that people could use. Probably be some grinder work first, depending on the shape of the cutting edge.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

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gauntlet21

69 posts in 658 days


#13 posted 01-02-2019 10:17 PM

Just scanned a sharpening supply retailer that I’ve used in the past and been happy with and to my amazement, found some “stroping” supplies that may enhance even a 16,000 grit sharpened blade. I’ll attach a couple links, (I have no affiliation to this company, nor have I used any of the products that I’m posting). I’m simply attempting to add to the discussion that seemed to be over since I was not aware that there were stropping pastes/compounds or synthetic strops that exceeded a smaller micron size than 0.92 micron which is the equivalent of a 16,000 grit abrasive.

This is an extremely affordable abrasive powder that is just sprinkled onto a strop with a micron size of 0.25!
https://www.sharpeningsupplies.com/Abrasive-Powder-P33C11.aspx

These appear to be a synthetic strops available in multiple to single and even sub-micron abrasive sizes.
https://www.sharpeningsupplies.com/Jende-Nanocloth-Ultra-Strop-P1647C11.aspx

I haven’t even considered purchasing the Shapton 30,000 (0.49 micron) stone because it is simply too expensive. I’m sure that the results are pretty amazing as I’m stunned with the quality of bevel I receive after the 8000 as well as the 16,000 grit stones. Considering the Shapton 30,000 stone retails for $360.00, I’m definitely considering the purchase of one of these synthetic “Jende Nanocloth Ultra Strops” that has an even drastically smaller micron size as small as 0.025 micron!!! That’s absurd! Also, I’ve been probably misguided as many have about the micron size and the use of the word “grit”. Apparently, a 0.5 micron abrasive is equal to 60,000 grit so however Shapton comes up with their numbers, I’m not sure. A 0.25 micron abrasive is equal to 100,000 grit so considering that there are synthetic strops available that have an abrasive as small as 0.25, 0.1, and 0.025 micron, perhaps my decision to skip the strop can be swayed. I’m going to contact this online retailer to inquire more information about these items and what kind of results can be expected.

Obviously, if you’ve used one of these Jende Nanocloth Ultra Strops, I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks!

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gauntlet21

69 posts in 658 days


#14 posted 01-02-2019 10:30 PM

Quick update:

Sharpening Supplies has posted on their website the following:

0.5 micron = 30,000 grit (just like Shapton)
0.25 micron = 60,000 grit
0.1 micron = 160,000 grit
0.025 micron = 600,000 grit

There seems to be some confusion according to the results I’ve read on Google regarding micron size and grit size but nonetheless, there appears to be a sharpening abrasive out there capable of polishing your bevel at an equivalent of 600,000 grit! It must be like hand planing with a laser beam!

View Rich's profile (online now)

Rich

4676 posts in 1036 days


#15 posted 01-02-2019 11:22 PM

I posted this over on Rick M’s Hot Deals thread, but it fits in here too. Popular woodworking is running a 14 day free trial for their video library.

Why does that fit in here? One of the videos in the library is called The Perfect Edge and it’s hosted by Ron Hock, of Hock Tools. They make replacement blades for popular planes, etc, and Ron is considered to be one of the top authorities on steel and sharpening. He also wrote a book by the same name. In the video he does a superb job of explaining different steels (O1, A2, etc) and the theory and practice of obtaining the perfect edge.

Considering that you can sign up, watch that and however many other of their quality videos you can in 2 weeks, then cancel not owing a dime, it’s a pretty good deal.

https://videos.popularwoodworking.com/bundles/free-trial-14-day-all-access

-- Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill. -- Shinichi Suzuki

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