What strop should I use?
So you want the perfect finish after an intensive sharpening pass? Stropping your knife is the best way to achieve that. Different knives and circumstances call for different strops. A straight razor needs a completely different treatment than an outdoor knife. When is it better to use stropping belt or a paddle? We will tell you more!
Stropping with a straight razor strop
Stropping with a straight razor strop is actually suitable for any knife. You will get a pretty sharp straight razor, pocket knife or survival knife by using a straight razor strop. In particular, knives with a convex-grind are a very suitable to use with straight razor strops. For example, the survival knives by Fällkniven. The more rounded profile of a convex-grind is very easy to strop because you can choose the applied pressure and angle yourself with a straight razor strop. You can follow this round profile of the cut very easily.
Straight razor strop are a good choice for daily maintenance as well. You can easily put a small hook in something to hang the belt on. In this way, you can easily maintain your knife on a daily basis.
You should keep in mind that you control the applied pressure on the belt yourself. You are therefore responsible for ensuring that the leather surface is actually flat. This can be a risk. So, if you are still a beginner, a stropping paddle for an outdoor knife or a razor strop for a straight razor would be a better option.
Stropping with a stropping paddle
A stropping paddle is a great choice when you want to strop during a camping trip or while hiking. Stropping paddles come in many different sizes. A small stropping paddle is ideal for on the road. A bigger stropping paddle is practical when you're sharpening larger knives, such as larger outdoor knives or kitchen knives. Japanese kitchen knives could use a nice finish after you sharpen them with Japanese sharpening stones. You can do this with a straight razor strop, but a large stropping paddle will work fine as well.
A stropping paddle is simply a piece of leather on a hard surface. Because the leather is placed on a hard surface, you can apply a bit more pressure on the blade. Especially when you're just starting out with stropping your knives, you might like to tighten up the first few strokes, and then decrease the pressure towards the end. The hard surface ensures that the leather is constantly 100% flat. Additionally, this makes applying the stropping compound easier.
Stropping with an adjustable strop
An adjustable strop can be used on outdoor knives, kitchen knives and straight razors. Stropping with an adjustable strop is the middle ground between a stropping paddle and a straight razor strop. An adjustable strop is basically a thicker straight razor strop that has been stretched on a frame. By turning the handle, you can adjust the tension of the strop. As such, you won't have to keep an eye on the tension as you're stropping: the frame maintains the tension for you.
It's also super practical that the leather is pretty thick. In the unlikely event that you make a mistake on your strop, you can still sand out the cut. Should you accidentally cut into the leather of a straight razor strop, you may suddenly find yourself the proud owner of two (half) strops. Besides, it's easier when you don't need to screw a little hook into the wall.
Other materials to use as a strop
The most widely used material for a strop is leather. Popular choices for real stropping fanatics are Russia leather or even kangaroo leather. But in addition to different types of leather, it is also possible to use other materials as a strop. Popular materials for this are simple newsprint, jeans fabric, balsa wood or maple wood. We do recommend using a polishing agent for this, such as a stropping compound, spray or paste.
You lay newsprint on a flat and hard surface as you spray with a diamond emulsion. Then you can very gently strop your knife with light movements.
For maple or balsa wood, you want to have a very flat piece of wood, without imperfections such as knots or other damage. You spray the wood with diamond emulsion as well. From there, you can start to carefully strop your knife.
Depending on the grain size of the emulsion, you can get a great result. When it comes to stropping, the following applies: lightly moving your knife over the strop three times is always better than roughly moving over it once.
If you are using a leather strop, it is important to maintain it well. After all, leather can dry out and crack. We will explain how to maintain your strop here.