Strop sharpening is a traditional sharpening technique used for centuries to achieve a professional level of honing for edged tools such as knives, chisels and razors. The strop consists of two components: a leather base and an abrasive compound. The abrasive material most commonly used in strop sharpening is chromium oxide (CrO), but other compounds can also be used. Typically, one end of the strop is fixed with an abrasive compound while the other end remains untreated and acts as a final polishing surface. When a blade is drawn repeatedly across the strop, it removes small amounts of metal from the blade’s edge, resulting in a razor-sharp edge that will last much longer than when only using traditional sharpeners like grinding stones or whetstones. As an added bonus, this technique can be used with dull blades without having to disassemble them first, making it extremely simple and convenient to use.

The history of strop sharpening dates back thousands of years ago in China where craftsmen used special stones hard enough ro make the tools sharper than ever before. In Europe during medieval times, strops were widely used by blacksmiths and leather workers alike. Today stropping is still widely used as it provides an easy yet effective way to maintain one’s tools at their highest level of performance. Strop sharpening is also well-regarded among someone who makes knives as part of their profession due to its fast results and superior quality compared to most other methods available today.

What Strops Are and the Material Options Available

Strops are usually made of leather, although other materials like canvas can also be used. Leather is the most common material for sharpening strop because it’s easy to use and allows for a wide range of abrasives to be used with it. The fine grain of the leather creates an incredibly smooth surface to sharpen on, which helps to create a sharper edge on the blade. Canvas strokes may not provide as fine an edge, but they are still suitable for honing and polishing blades when a very fine surface is not needed. Strop materials can be impregnated with honing compounds like chromium oxide and diamond paste for an even smoother effect. Strops often come as two-sided boards; one side is milder (worn leather or canvas) while the opposite side is rougher (newer leather or treated canvas). This allows the user to choose what kind of sharpening action they desire – some find that going between both sides produces the best result.

Why Strops Are Important for Sharpening and Their Different Uses

Strops are an important tool for sharpening, as they help to maintain the factory edge on a blade and extend its life use. They consist of a leather cushion padded to various smooth surfaces such as wood, aluminum, or hanging curved boards. The edges of metal blades are drawn backwards and forwards on the strop with moderate pressure, creating an even hone. As metal reacts differently to stropping from different angles and directions, it also helps perfect the edge of a blade.

Strops can be used for both knives and razors. For knives, strops are mainly used to remove burrs left behind by other sharpening methods and maintain the already existing sharpness. They can also help restore damaged edges or create new ones if no other tools are available. For razors, strops are typically used in addition to honing stones for initial shaping and maintenance of the blade’s edge angle; this will ensure a good shave every time with less irritation or nicks. Additionally, stropping can be done dry or with lapping compounds such as chromium oxide paste for extra finishes depending on the desired level of sharpness.

For maximum benefit, stropping should take place regularly whenever a knife or razor is used. This ensures that any minute elements being removed while cutting get polished back onto the blade instead of worn down completely; thus keeping it sharp at all times!

Step-by-Step Guide to Sharpening with a Strop

1. Start by placing the strop on a flat and sturdy surface with one end of the strop hanging off the edge.

2. Position your razor at a 15-20 degree angle against the leather side of the strop and draw it against the leather in long, even strokes.

3. Flip your blade over and repeat the process until you get a sharp edge to your blade. Keep in mind that stropping polishes a blade, so lighter pressure should be used for an effective build up of sharpness.

4. Once both sides have been stropped, carefully flip the strop onto its canvas side and use light strokes to keep up with maintenance (a few strokes from heel to toe are enough). This side serves as a way to straighten out any curved edges or minor nicks, ensuring that all surfaces are genuinely parallel and straight for optimal performance whenever you use your blade again.

5. Finally, go through both sides one more time on the leather to ensure that no damage occurs when you put away your razor or wait before putting it into storage again until needed.

Different Sharpening Techniques to Consider

Strop Sharpening is a popular and fast way to hone your edged tools. It’s similar in principle to honing with stones, but instead of using mineral abrasives which can wear down surfaces over time, a strop is used and runs on friction. By rubbing a steel blade along the surface of the strop, small amounts of metal are shaved off the blade edge in order to sharpen it. Strops may come in different materials such as leather, canvas or even foam, depending on the type of sharpening desired. Some strops also contain a polishing compound that adds an extra layer for further sharpening power. Here are some tips to consider when stropping:

1) Use small circular motions whilst stropping. This allows for a more precise edge-line and also avoids accidental over-sharpening.

2) Apply light pressure when stropping – too much pressure will cause uneven areas on the blade edge which could cause potential issues in the future.

3) When you feel it’s necessary, you can use an abrasive honing paste on your strop for added sharpening power but this should be done judiciously since some appear more aggressive than others.

4) Take your time and make sure you know how many strokes are needed before each side requires additional attention; usually 10-15 strokes should do fine.

5) If possible try to get an experienced eye involved – either from a professional sharpener or from someone who knows what they’re doing – as it can be difficult to judge just how close you are getting to the ideal edge line without expert advice.

Common Questions and Answers About Strop Sharpening

Q: What is strop sharpening?
A: Strop sharpening is a process of honing a knife by running the blade over a strip of leather. This technique is used to straighten and polish the edge, resulting in an exceptionally sharp edge.

Q: Why should I use it?
A: The use of strop sharpening can help to improve your cutting performance by creating an extremely durable, long-lasting edge on your knife blade. With regular practice and attention, this technique will help to maintain your knives as if they were new for many years.

Q: What materials do I need for strop sharpening?
A: You will typically require a sharpening stone or steel, some mineral oil and a strip of leather. It is important that the leather you select has either been conditioned (with pumice powder) or already treated so that it does not diminish the blade’s edge when stropping.

Q: How do I use it?
A: Strop sharpening requires careful attention and accuracy with each motion made against the strop. First, carefully run your knife along the leather at its full length while ensuring that you maintain even pressure at all times. As you do this, safety glasses are recommended due to tiny pieces of metal being shaved off onto the leather surface. Try stropping both ways across the blade before reversing direction – be careful not to distort or damage your knife’s edge. Once you have finished, check carefully that no burrs are left on your blade’s edge using a piece of paper and lightly apply some mineral oil onto the strop surface to condition it again for future use

Considerations for Preparing Your Strop

Strop sharpening is a great way to keep your blades sharp and maintain their edge. A strop consists of a piece of leather that’s often treated with compounds like diamond paste, green rouge, or chromium oxide. The reasons to use these compounds are two-fold, they provide lubrication while also adding abrasive particles to the surface of the leather in order to remove material from the blade during stropping. Before you start stropping it’s important to properly prepare your strop.

First, make sure you clean and condition the leather before you begin so that your strop won’t fray or tear during use; a damp cloth can often be used for this purpose. Once the leather is dry, test whether there is an even amount of compound dispersed on the surface; if not, use an applicator to ensure it’s applied in an even manner across all areas. Lastly, ensure THAT THE CORNERS OF THE STROP are protected from damage by tucking a cloth around them or placing felt tape on them so THEY don’t get torn during stroke-throughs. Additionally, make sure your other hand remains away from the blade when you’re stropping so as not to get injured by its sharp edge! Once you’ve taken all of these preparation measures, then you can safely begin stropping and reap the benefits of having sharper blades without any worry or hassle!

Common Strop Sharpening Mistakes to Avoid

1. Not Spending Enough Time on a Strop – A strop is most effective when used for multiple passes. Skipping out on additional strokes will reduce the sharpness of the blade, resulting in an inferior edge.

2. Using the Wrong Compound – Different strops work best with different compounds. For example, leather strops are best used with polishing compounds such as chromium oxide or diamond paste, while canvas and other synthetic materials require different abrasives to be effective.

3. Moving Too Quickly or Erratically – Stropping should be done with smooth, consistent strokes that move along the same line throughout each pass (typically forward only). Fast movements may cause damage to the edge or compound being used and can reduce effectiveness overall.

4. Keeping Poor Record of Progress – Keeping track of how many strokes have been completed helps you evaluate progress from one sharpening session to the next and ultimately helps you hone your skill over time.

5. Not Being Consistent With Stroke Direction – Strokes should always move in one direction on both sides of the strop; typically away from you when using a leather strop. Reversing directions unknowingly can leave a wavy edge or cause other imperfections in your sharpener’s work that can undermine its effectiveness and quality overall.


Strop sharpening offers a myriad of advantages over traditional methods of sharpening. Its simplicity makes it a great choice for both amateur and professional knife users. Not only is the process fast, but it can also sharpen nearly any kind of edge with remarkable precision and accuracy. Additionally, stropping helps to maintain an edge, producing a superior blade that resists dulling for longer periods than most other forms of sharpening are capable of achieving. In addition to these advantages, strop sharpening is an inexpensive solution as it requires minimal equipment and proper use can extend the lifespan of blades considerably. With its time-efficient capabilities and ability to create fine edges rapidly, strop sharpening is no doubt one of the best approaches for giving your knives their desired shape.