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Repurposing Leather Belts As Sharpening Strops

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One question that many people ask themselves is whether they can use a leather belt as a strop? However, the answer isn’t straightforward. Rather than saying “yes” or “no,” it is crucial to know which types of leather belts can be used as strops and which cannot.

The purpose of this article is to look at the ideal surface of a leather belt that will be used as a strop. The type of compound to add to the belt strop and which side to use will be discussed.

Before we continue, if you are interested in getting the best leather strop, we have the best recommendations for you.

Can a Leather Belt Be Used As a Strop?

Leather clothing belts are generally used for stropping knives. It should be constructed, however, from either full grain leather or top grain leather. The belt’s stropping surface should be smooth. When belts have tooling, embossing, or raised stitching, they create an uneven surface, which leads to inconsistent stitching results.

Which Leather Belt Should I Use for Stropping?

Leather Belts With Engraved Surfaces Should Be Avoided

You should avoid using leather belts with embossed or tooled surfaces. Tooling and embossing produce raised or recessed patterns on the belt surface. Stroping is not easy on this type of texture, but the design does create a beautiful texture.

The surface of the leather belt should be as smooth as possible. Smooth surfaces allow the entire blade surface to remain in contact with the strop. A belt with an uneven surface has inconsistent stropping results.

Leather Belts With Heavy Stitching Should Be Avoided

Stitching leather belts creates thick, reliable belts by combining small leather pieces. The surface of the belt is also decorated with stitching. However, stitching creates a raised surface, which is detrimental to blade stropping. As a result of the raised stitching, the surface is uneven, which interferes with stropping.

Leather belts used for stropping should have no stitching on the area that is used for stropping. For stropping, the best leather belt comes from a single piece of leather.

Choose A Full Grain or Top Grain Leather Belt

Top-grain or full-grain leather belts are made from real leather and have the best stropping surface. It is possible that a belt marked “Genuine Leather” is not authentic leather.

Often a belt with a “genuine leather” label has coatings or other chemical treatments. Having a coating on a belt does not allow you to strop and hone it in the same way a real leather belt would. A leather belt should be marked (such as with a stamp) to indicate that it is genuine.

The best belt for stropping knives is one made of flat, unadorned leather. If you’re trying to maintain your best kitchen knives, you should use the best strop you can find.

How Does Stropping Affect a Knife?

The correct shape of the cutting edge is grinded when sharpening a blade. Sharp edges are achieved by using finer abrasives. When you closely examine the sharp edge, you will see a burr, which is a thin, ragged bit of steel, much like a foil.

During sharpening, finer abrasives are used to reduce this burr size. In each abrasive step, the abrasive from the previous step is replaced by a burr.

Here comes the magic bit with the strop. The strop bends the burr backward and forward until it becomes fatigued and breaks off. We now have a burr-free edge since the leather isn’t abrasive enough to create a burr.

The fine edge of the blade bends over slightly when the blade is used, re-establishing a burr or what some refer to as a wire edge. Although a knife with a wire edge will cut, it will not have a quality edge that will last.

Strapping removes stray metal fibers and polishes the edges of knives. It is possible to continue stapling for a reasonable amount of time, but eventually, a regrind is necessary.

Which Kind of Leather Belt Is Best for Sharpening Knives?

Belts tanned with vegetable oil make the best strops. In fact, it will be even better if the inside of the belt is still rough and not treated.

With or without a compound, a belt can be used as a strop. An edge that has been properly honed should be polished with a strop. A sharpened blade should only require about two strokes per side.

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