Stropping is an age-old way of sharpening some types of knives, and is especially useful for straight blade knives like pocket knives, chef’s knives, a traditional straight razor and even machetes. It brings back the edge on a knife that has become dull but isn’t so dull as to require more intensive restoration work. To strop a knife, you’ll need a piece of leather or canvas fabric with either mild abrasive compound applied directly to it or a piece of wood with grit paper attached to it.

Step 1 – Clean the Knife – Begin by wiping down the blade with a clean cloth or paper towel, which removes any built up oils or debris on the blade surface. You may also choose to use soap and warm water if necessary. This will help give you maximum control over all areas of after stropping process.

Step 2 – Place Blade Head in Hand – Hold the head firmly in one hand while positioning your other hand with your fingers closed around the top part of the blade near its back edge. Make sure your thumb is not touching the blade surface when doing this.

Step 3 – Create Proper Angle – Create an angle between 30 and 40 degrees with your blade relative to its centerline position (the angle should face away from yourself). This angle must be maintained across its entire length throughout each pass when stropping (i.e., repeatable). It’s important to take care that you don’t create an excessive angle that could chip or break off parts of blade when stropping.

Step 4 – Move Blade Across Strop Gently – Starting at one end, gently move the knife across the strop in slow and consistent strokes toward yourself until you reach the other end. Make sure that you maintain equal pressure across length of strop while making each pass (avoid going harder on one side than another). This can be difficult to learn at first but with practice becomes easier to perform accurately each time you strop your knife.

Step 5 – Repeat Steps 3 & 4 Both Sides – Flip your knife over and repeat steps 3 and 4 on opposite side until desired sharpness is achieved (usually about 5-10 passes per side should be adequate for most blades). If possible use one continuous stroke from one end like before rather than breaking up into disconnected segments – this will help ensure uniformity throughout process as well as better accuracy from start finish points along way.

What is a Strop?

A strop is a piece of leather or canvas which is used to sharpen and polish the edge of a knife. A strop can be either flat or folded over itself into a loop shape, and it important for prepping blades before sharpening.

Stropping has become popular among knife owners because it is an effective alternative to traditional sharpening on stones or other hard surfaces. Stropping a blade does not remove metal from the cutting surface, like stone sharpening does, but it instead refines the existing edge and polishes burrs without damage to the surface. It will result in cleaner, sharper edges, and will more quickly restore the keenness of each blade than using stones alone. This makes stropping an ideal choice if you want your knives to retain their strength after regular use. Additionally, strops are much easier to use and don’t require extensive skill or practice to get good results.

Gather the Necessary Tools

Using a strop to sharpen a knife is an easy and effective way to keep a razor-sharp edge on your cutlery. It’s important to gather the necessary tools in order to properly and safely sharpen your knife. You’ll need a strop, which can be either leather or canvas, and preferably with a compound like diamond paste to help grind away old metal while honing the blade. Honing oil or water-based lubricant such as WD-40 will also come in handy. Additionally, you may want to use masking tape or painter’s tape if using a leather strop so that it won’t be damaged during the process.

Follow These Steps

1. Start by securely clamping the strop to a flat, clean, and dry surface.
2. Place the blade of your knife on the leather side of the strop. Hold down the blade with the non-dominant hand while suspending it over the surface of the strop.
3. Starting at your dominant hand side, use gentle pressure to pull the blade across the surface in an even stroke.
4. When you reach your opposite hand, reverse directions and return back to where you started.
5. Repeat this process 10-20 times before checking its sharpness using a whetstone or another method for assessing sharpness (e.g., shaving test).
6. Finally, if further honing is required, repeat steps 3 to 5 several more times until desired sharpness is achieved.


Below is an illustration showing how to use a strop for sharpening a knife:


Advanced Tips and Techniques

When stropping a knife, the angle of the blade can significantly affect the sharpness of the end result. The ideal angle will vary depending on personal preferences and the type of knife being sharpened. However, one approach that works well for most knives is to hold the blade at exactly 15 degrees as you drag it against your strop. Holding the blade at an angle either higher or lower than this may be necessary in some cases (e.g., with a curved hook-shaped or tanto-style blades), but it’s important to experiment by holding different angles and comparing them to find the sharpest setting for each blade. Sharpening a kitchen knife is slightly different, since standard chef’s knives usually come from the factory at a sharper 15-20 degree angle than other types of knives do, so they generally require less stropping before they become razor-sharp.


Before beginning the sharpening process, it’s important to properly clean and maintain the strop itself. Depending on the type of leather used in your particular strop, it may be necessary to de-grease or season it with a specialized conditioner before use. Additionally, basic maintenance steps should be taken after each use of the strop. To do this, wipe off any left-over paste or oil on the strop’s surface with a cloth before storing in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.

When beginning to sharpen a knife using a strop, it is important to select the appropriate tools for the job—a smooth hardwood or diamond paddle is recommended. A butter knife with padding can also work in a pinch. Begin by applying an abrasive paste or oil to one side of the strop – if unsure of what type to use seek advice from an expert – then apply pressure as you draw your blade along its length. Keep your strokes even and gentle so that you create uniform wear and polished edges across your entire blade without damaging it. Once completed, repeat for successively finer abrasives until you achieve your desired level of sharpness and remove any residue from the surface of the strop when finished.


Using a strop to sharpen a knife can be a great way to give your knife a fine edge without having to make use of an actual sharpening stone. To start, you need to find the correct angle for stropping—typically this will be between 10 and 25 degrees. With the blade at the chosen angle, draw it along the strop in a forward motion, using light pressure and paying close attention to keeping your angle consistent. Make sure you repeat this action one side of the blade at a time, flipping the strop each time you switch sides. To finish off, put some honing compound on the leather side of the strop if available—this is what helps to maintain that much-desired super sharp edge.

After trying out this method of stropping your knives, experiment with different stropping techniques that work best for your knives. Maybe try stropping against rawhide or balsa wood which provides an even finer finish but helps to remove less material since they are softer than leather hardwoods. Each type has its own unique properties so it’s important to spend some time figuring out what works best for your knife sharpening needs and goals!