Leather Strops and Secrets of Stropping
Strops: What are They?
For wood carving to be successful and safe, it is crucial to use a honed, well-sharpened tool. For this, wood carvers use many sharpening accessories, but the most valuable are unique strops that can help return your cutting tools to peak performance. You can use this sharpening supply to hone all kinds of knives, chisels, gouges, and other woodworking tools.
A strop is a comfortable leather surface for finishing the tool's blade. Unlike honing and sharpening, which remove parts of the metal edge, stropping aligns the burrs without removing much metal from the blade's surface.
The primary purpose of stropping, for which special leather straps are used are:
- Smoothing minor nicks and burrs that appear on the surface of the blade after sharpening, which can subsequently lead to chipping;
- Restoration of the edge and straightening of the warped tool blade after the wood carving session;
- Fine-tuning, helping to bring the tool after sharpening to perfection.
A leather strop is a perfect sharpening device for whittlers, wood carvers, joiners, and carpenters of every skill level, from beginner to advanced.
Leather Stropping Technique
Leather stropping is a final sharpening of cutting tools with a fine metal polishing, often used with honing paste. It is most effective to sharpen your tools before their actual use and during a woodcarving session. This approach will help them keep perfect sharpness, and the quality of wood carving will be much better. Proper leather stropping is key in maintaining a razor-sharp edge of your wood carving knives and other cutting tools.
The technique of honing tools on a leather strop may seem complicated at first. But following the advice of professionals, you can easily master it.
To learn how to strop your whittling knife or other woodworking tools as efficiently as possible is simple if you follow the proper technique:
- Draw your instrument along the strop away from you and towards you (bevel against the surface of the strop). The number of strokes depends on the condition of the blade, but it is not rational to do more than 50.
To give your tool an excellent edge, you need to learn the basics:
- When you move the knife from yourself, the blade should point on you, and when towards yourself – away from you;
- Do not press the tool to the strop too hard. Sliding (stropping) should be easy, without pressure;
- When stropping, make sure that the angle is the same when you move your knife in both directions;
- Turn the knife over carefully, so the blade does not cut into the strop.
- You can use a polishing compound to bring your tool to peak performance.
After the stropping session is finished, gently wipe the knife with a piece of soft cloth or paper towel. To tell if stropping was effective, put your tool to the paper cutting test. A perfectly sharpened knife will cope with such a task without problems, meaning the woodcarving process will be smooth and easy.
Different Types and Variations of Strops
It's actually quite easy to keep your wood carving tool blade sharp. Just a few attributes and the stropping ritual will become familiar and will not take much time. Razor-sharp tool for wood carving is all about functionality and quality. And leather strop is an indispensable companion of the sharpest blade.
Nowadays, there are many types and variations of strops for sharpening, depending on the construction features, design, material of manufacture, cost, and other characteristics. But the most used options among wood carvers are the following:
- Flexible (pocket) strops;
- Paddle strops;
- Double-sided paddle strops;
- Special dual-sided paddle strops (for hook tools and gouges);
- Leather stropping kits (with one or more bars of a polishing paste, etc.).
Whatever your sharpening strop is made of, make sure it meets the following criteria:
- It must have a hardness and elasticity sufficient to provide optimal resistance to the blade;
- The level of smoothness should provide no gap between the strop and the sharp surface of the knife;
- For the stropping method to be correct, the strop must have a flat and smooth surface without roughness.
LS1 – BeaverCraft Dual-Sided Leather Paddle Strop
It is the most modern version of the honing strop, which does not require additional skills. This strop is made of cowhide, firmly attached to a flat piece of wood (paddle) for convenience. Its two sides are covered with different types of leather, which allows you to achieve the best result when stropping.
Maintaining your wood carving tools has never been easier. Using this BeaverCraft LS1 Dual-Sided Leather Paddle Strop, you can smooth out burrs on the blade that are not visible. Sharpening tools on this strop is a pleasure.
LS5 – BeaverCraft Dual-Sided Paddle Strop for Hook Knives
It is a custom-design paddle strop made for effective final sharpening, polishing, honing, and finishing hook tools, spoon carving knives, gouges, and other curved cutting tools.
For manufacturing our BeaverCraft LS5 Dual-Sided Paddle Strop for spoon carving tools, we used two premium materials – genuine leather and high-quality sandpaper. Everything is done to help you get the desired effect from stropping; the leather side for honing and the side with replaceable sandpaper - for light sharpening.
Such a versatile stropping device is designed following all the requirements so the blade of your bent tool can fit perfectly.
LS6P1 – BeaverCraft Stropping Kit with Polishing Compound
You can sharpen knives and wood carving tools quickly, easily, and without leaving your home. All you need for this is a special kit for honing from BeaverCraft. Such a sharpening accessory is the most convenient to use, the safest, and less demanding on developing stropping skills.
The BeaverCraft LS6P1 Stropping Kit will be your winning choice and an indispensable tool in your workshop. This kit contains everything you need to start sharpening tools without delay. It has a dual-sided paddle strop and a bar of green polishing compound. Keeping woodworking tools razor-sharp using this set will be fun and trouble-free.