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Master Using Compound With Leather Strops

How To, Blog

Here we’re going to look at how to use leather strop with compound ..

..by breaking the process down into 7 steps you can follow from home.

Let’s see how you can use leather strop with compound like a pro!

Before we start..

Let’s hear it from Pance story’s

I bit the bullet and bought a new knife in celebration of my recent promotion.

Now, I want to be able to maintain that factory edge as best as possible..

..and I’m forced to consider stropping..

..after years of just using diamond sharpeners and ceramic rods.

Ceramic rods, with a careful eye, have given me some ridiculously sharp edges in the past..

..but that is with quite a bit of attention to detail.

Stropping, I’ve heard, requires a little less exactness, gives a mirror polish..

..and will work out microscopic edge damage without removing much steel..

..or accidentally changing edge geometry.

So, if that’s accurate, I really should invest in one.

I’ve noticed most people say they use different grit compounds on their strops ..

..is that entirely necessary?

Check this out!

How To Use Leather Strop With Compound

Get The Right Stropping Angle

Striking your knife at the right angle is the first step to use leather strop with compound.

Leather strop with compound
Credit: Burrfection

In order to do this..

..place the knife flat on the strop so that the strop forms a “+” shape with the knife.

As you rotate the knife..

..the spine should lift off and the edge should remain on the leather.

The knife should be slid across the leather with a relatively shallow angle.

Be careful not to overdo it.

An angle that catches the leather surface indicates a steep angle.

Find a point where the angle is slightly shallower than the point…

…where these catches occur.

The best angle to strop the edge is at this angle.

As a tip, you can also draw a line on the edges of the sheet with a black sharpie.

Try stropping the sharpie a couple of times and see if it has come off.

There is an angle too steep if it has not.

We’ll move on to the next step once you have the best sharpening angle.

Get The Right Grit Strop

Starting with roughest grit leather strop with the compound..

..is the next step to use leather strop with compound.

Your strops will likely be black if they are infused with any kind of compound.

Green color will be finer and a white color will be the finest.

Once you’ve done the sharpening, you may have to run..

..the black grit a couple of times to remove any waste.

Finesse and polishing will be handled more by light grits.

Leather strop with compound
Credit: Webself

You should write down which side of the leather strop with compound..

..or you’re going to use.

You should apply the green compound (mid-grit) on the smoother side..

and the black compound on the rougher side if you are applying the compounds yourself.

The longest side of your bench/paddle strop should be perpendicular to you..

..when placed on the flat working surface. 

Grab your knife and move on to the next step.

Use the Right Stropping Technique

Leather strop with compound
credit: The OFy

To use leather strop with compound like a pro you need the right stropping technique.

With the knife flat against the leather surface..

..make a 90-degree angle (like a plus sign) with the strop.

You want the handle-side of the blade to touch the leather strop..

..with compound when you slide the knife across (with your handle hand).

Move the knife to the far end of the strop and raise the spine..

..while leaving the edge touching the leather strop with compound.

At the same angle we tested in Step 1, you want it.

Let’s talk about stopping now.

You should keep the pressure light and consistent..

..as well as the angle constant.

Instead of moving into the knife’s edge, we will slide away from it.

Make sure the entire length of the blade makes contact..

..with the leather strop with the compound as you move the knife toward you.

Repeat the process after resetting the position. There is only one stroke here.

Keep reading…

Don’t Forget To Strop The Tip

Leather strop with compound
Credit: Knives and Tools

I would like to point out the technique for stropping the knife tip.

The blade should be rotated so that the tip touches the surface at the end of the stroke.

The pressure and angle should be as consistent as possible.

The tip will be worked and any roughness will be removed.

It will not be necessary to do this on all your knives and it depends on the tip style.

Get Both Sides of the Blade

Now that we know how to do a successful stropping stroke and take care of the tip..

..it’s time to repeat it.

For each side of the edge, I like to work in sets of 20 strokes.

As much as possible, keep the angle consistent and the pressure constant.

Professionally, you can alternate between strokes starting from your side..

..and ones starting from the far side (on the same edge of the blade, of course).

The process is repeated for the blade’s opposite edge.

Always use the same number of strokes and make sure to inspect..

..the tip and edge after each set.

An easy way to test the sharpness of a pencil is to use paper.

You’ll need to switch over to the finer grit strops..

..after a couple of sets as the results diminish with each.

Switch To A Finer Grit

Leather strop with compound
Credit: The Family Handymn

Let’s use the green compound strop or the smooth side if you’re not using compounds.

Repeat sets of 20 strokes on each side of the edge (or alternate 10×10)..

..and perform tests after each set.

You’ll get the edge razor-sharp by doing this step..

..so be sure to test it with your thumb if you’re trying to get the edge sharp.

Keep the pressure light and the angle constant.

After you’ve completed a couple of sets, you’ll be ready for the next one.

Make sure your knife is ultra-sharp and ready to use.


Get an even finer grit strop (white color compound) if you want to go all the way..

..and get the sharpest possible finish (and a gorgeous polished edge).

Take a tissue and use it to wipe down the blade after you do a few stropping sets.

Now is not the time to touch the edges as they are sharp enough..

..to cut through the fabric and space.

Jokes aside, tread carefully on this edge because it is exceptionally sharp.

In case you need recommendation for best leather strop, we have a list for you.

Keep going…

How To Apply Compound To A Strop Knife

Applying the compound is similar to using a crayon for coloring.

Apply the compound with a little heat to soften it and make it easier to handle.

Do not lather the soap too much..

..or you will end up lathering too much.

You might want to check out some pictures online if you’re not sure.

By applying the compound to the leather using the edge of the knife..

.(at an angle from the edge of the blade), you will create a firm contact.

Let it settle for a few minutes after you’ve done this.

You will need to keep the belt flat and secure..

..while stropping with a belt if you wish to use a compound.

The solution should be a block of wood and a few elastic bands.

Here’s the interesting part…

Presents you our best recommendations for polishing compound and leather strops!

You might also need these, I guess?

Sums Up

A “strop” is a leather strip over which a blade is dragged lightly..

..to sharpen the edge through polishing.

Experienced knife users typically use a stone for the bulk of “grinding,”..

..then use a strop to polish the knife thoroughly.

Nonetheless, over the last few years the practice of stropping knives..

..which eliminates the need for stones, rods, or other sharpening instruments..

..has become increasingly popular among bushcrafters and knife enthusiasts.


Some people even have both on a rant at the same time.

Naturally, this prompts many people to ask which is the best alternative.

While suede in combination with compounds..

..and smooth for plain stropping is a frequent procedure..

..it is by no means universal.

We’ve discovered that the decision is a mix of personal preference..

..and the sort of edge being sharpened.

Stropping a straight razor on smooth leather is a tradition.

Straight razors have delicate, low-angle edges, and the grain side surface is ideal for them.

Suede straps are used by many carvers and knife sharpeners.

The suede’s nap grips compound nicely, allowing the strop to be loaded quickly.

The softer surface also gives the bevel a slight rounding..

..when the suede compresses under the blade, which some people prefer.

In emergency preparedness..

..knife experts state that strops are the ideal way to sharpen and maintain a field knife..

..but the process takes practice and the right materials.

I hope you can now take care of your knife carefully and maintain it well!

Thanks for reading this article! Bye!

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