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Stroping (Hopefully a less contentious Discussion)

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Allan DeGroot, Jun 23, 2019.

  1. Allan DeGroot

    Allan DeGroot

    Jun 15, 2019
    I know some people are serious about their "stroping" and I have NEVER used a leather strop.

    I have used a taut piece of canvas, a strip 6" wide stretched tight on an open frame, but more often I enlist a piece of flat corrugated card board misted with light oil (typically ATF) and salted (from a repurposed salt shaker) filled with Fine alumina powder.

    As the purpose to me is to smooth the transition angle between the "micro-bevel" and edge-angle, and the angle between the edge angle and the basic grind of the blade as well as break any "wire edge" formed typically not as much an issue with harder blade steels. it seems to work for me (atleast with 6Cr13Mo and VG1, I don't currently own anything better, but I do have D2 & AUS8 blades in transit(ordered and shipped))

    The oiled cardboard an be disposed of easily enough by simply tossing it into my coal stove.

    I also have a few ceramic blades I've never sharpened, any suggestions what I will I need to sharpen those when I use them enough that re-sharpening becomes necessary?

    I pretty much doubt my Arkansas Stones (silica) or Alumina will be much use...
    and my Silicon carbide is too coarse. Diamond hones?

    If I know how to sharpen them I'd likely be more inclined to use them.
    bucketstove likes this.
  2. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    I'll try to stay out of the strop discussion (been there moved on).
    I will say I wasted a fair amount of time trying to touch up a couple of ceramic knives (both black and white) by stropping with diamond on maple and then leather even going as coarse as 600 grit (I would have to go dig out the tubes of goop to tell you what micron).
    These were brand new knives and I just wanted to improve the edges on them.
    Nah dude, nah.

    I had moderate success sharpening them on the Edge Pro with Silicon Carbide (wet or dry) sand paper on aluminum blanks. I think the "secret" is a fair amount of pressure if hand sharpening or a bunch of surface feet per minute with the grit traveling at a a good velocity (think paper wheel on a bench grinder). I have the paper wheel and have fooled around with it. The lack of precision and the high degree of guess work to know when I am actually on the edge or just polishing the blade away from the edge just leaves me cold.

    I'm used to doing precision work with precision tools. Set it up and machine it. Not throw rocks at it from across the room and pray. That's an exaggeration but maybe you can see what I mean.

    There is a whole forum for using paper wheels on grinders with various abrasives added to the wheel if you care to look in the "Yellow Stickies" at the top of this Maintenance Forum.

    Maybe some day I will get interested in it again but . . .
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
  3. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    Here you go.
    Here is a LINK > > > to the paper wheel forum / threads.
    Allan DeGroot likes this.
  4. Allan DeGroot

    Allan DeGroot

    Jun 15, 2019

    Thanks, adhesive Silicon Carbide on a sheet of 5/16" stainless seems to me the way to start, especially since I've already got the stainless steel plate.

    but the paper blade sharpening wheels seem pretty neat too, but I need a new grinder to make a place to set it up.

    Do I understand correctly that the abrasive is applied via the wax on the edge?
    or is abrasive also applied between the paper layers during disc assembly?
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
  5. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    Nah just on the periphery of the paper wheel. One does not try to take the layers apart nor is there any abrasive applied by the maker of the wheels.
    This kind of means for the best result that to change grit mesh size one should use another wheel dedicating a wheel to each grit. I think for the most part people stick with one or two grits and just keep the edges touched up or spend more time on duller knives. I don't recall people saying they changed wheels often or had multiple mounted bench grinders. I have multiple mounted bench grinders but they are dedicated to regular old rough metal grinding.

    By the way it wasn't clear from the paper wheel instructions but from what I have been able to glean later the slots in the wheels are to provide a fan effect for keeping the edge of the blade cool.

    Here is mine at this LINK > > >. Page down once at my post to the fifth photo down. That was a long time ago when I first got the paper wheel. That is an excellent thread for sharpening stones etc. by the way.
    The blue wheel is a Norton extra cool running wheel for grinding edge tools. I think it is called and "X" something or other, is about 46 grit. I use it to thin small pocket knife blades on at a hobby level; nothing fast or in a rush. I dunk the blade in water every few seconds.
  6. Diemaker

    Diemaker KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 28, 2017
    I am sold on strops, they take the edge to the next level of sharp when you have gone as far as stones can go. Bare or with some abrasive, depends on what you are stropping and what you want to do. For me it's bare leather or 1 micron diamond. If I am using a diamond loaded strop I don't use more than 3 passes because it convexes the apex so much.

    As for ceramic blades I have only tried silicon carbide and Matrix stones. Silicon carbide works fine for rough work and the Matrix stones are tailor made for ceramic. Tips are to use only edge trailing strokes and NO micro bevels. The reason for both is microchipping, which I found to be a real problem with ceramic. I only have one cheapie Kyocera paring knife so that is all I have experience with. Once you figure out what works sharpening a ceramic blade takes no longer than steel since diamond likes cutting it far better.
    cwsmith17 and Gary W. Graley like this.
  7. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    I also have experience only with cheap ceramic knives. I was able to get them reasonably sharp but nothing I was particularly happy with due to microchipping.

    I believe use of a guide is important if you want to get above a very remedial edge due to this tendency to chip.

    As for stropping, I use it all the time, an am partial to disposable substrate as well (copy paper). Too many variables to make blanket statements, but I avoid softer strop materials.
    cwsmith17 likes this.
  8. Diemaker

    Diemaker KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 28, 2017
    I only sharpen with a guided system so please keep this in mind.

    I have no problem getting my ceramic knife much sharper than new. Sharp as new is what I consider dull. 21 degrees per side even though it is a single bevel knife.

    In some ways I like ceramic for sharpening more than steel, diamond works much better cutting it than steel. I can finish ceramic with a 2.5 micron diamond stone where on steel I can only get down to a 5 micron diamond stone, finer than that and the scratches get worse. For steel this is where it is time to switch to a strop to make it any sharper.
  9. samuraistuart

    samuraistuart KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 21, 2006
    I also only sharpen with a guide, so please keep that in mind.

    I used to strop, then stopped doing it. Then I tried it again a few weeks ago, and liked the result. For me it's just one of those things you either like or don't like. I find that it can increase how sharp a knife feels to the touch, but doesn't seem to add anything as far as edge retention. Generally I prefer the edge directly off of the stones, but I don't discount stropping at all. The lower alloy steels I might go for the strop, the higher alloy steels I just leave them as they are from the stone.

    I took my wife's AEBL 62HRC santoku from a Spyderco UF stone to a hard leather strop with green CrOx compound, and she commented on how much sharper the knife felt to her as compared to coming straight off the ceramic stone. She was a little surprised, asking what I did differently. It felt sharper to me using the finger test as well. Which is sort of odd, as stropping does round off the apex just slightly, but it also improves the "keenness". Or at least in "can", if done correctly.

    Getting rid of the burr is important in the discussion of "to strop or not". If you are employing one (or more) of the burr removal techniques while honing on the stones, stropping may not do that much for you. If you have a burr left over after you're done with the stones, stropping is a great way to get rid of it.

    As for the ceramic knife, use diamond plates for sure. I highly recommend that you don't apex with the coarse stone. It's OK to establish your edge with it, but as you approach the apex, switch to the fine or extra fine stone. I bought a ceramic santoku from Boker a number of years ago and never did like the factory edge. DULL!!!! Finally decided to do something about it one day, and using a clamp guide and diamond stones, turned that thing into something very pleasing to use. Same with the Boker "CeraTitan" (ceramic and titanium mixture). Super dull from the factory and chipped like crazy, but after redoing the factory edge and apexing with the extra fine diamond stone, that knife just falls through fruits and vegetables. Both knives, during use, seem to microchip, but at a very very fine level. Both of them have the kind of edge that you're scared to do a finger test with, refined but super super aggressive. If you want to use a strop on a ceramic knife, you'll probably need diamond paste or spray, like 1 micron or .5 micron. Ceramic knives are just so abrasive resistant.
  10. ToddS


    Jan 15, 2015
  11. bucketstove


    Sep 23, 2014
    As ToddS/ScienceOfSharp
    says diamonds not required
    this guy even used CrO with success
  12. kwackster


    Dec 23, 2005
  13. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    Did you use a guide on the paper wheels/Tormek or was this done freehand?
  14. kwackster


    Dec 23, 2005
    Sharpening & polishing the Forever ceramic knife was done entirely freehand.
    On Paper Wheels i only do freehand, so without guides, jigs, or lasers.
    On the Tormek it depends, can be freehand or with a (homemade) jig.
  15. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps Basic Member Basic Member

    Apr 20, 2018
  16. samuraistuart

    samuraistuart KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 21, 2006
    Actually, when I read that article, the only CrOx used was at the very end of a progression of tests, 0.5 micron CrOx. After trying different mediums like diamond rods, ceramic rods, 1200 DMT plate, and SiC paper (which I would expect to work quite well, as it's harder than the ceramic blade).
    One thing to remember about the DMT 1200 plate, as per my experience and plenty others, that plate is horrible unless it's well broken in. I should clarify that the apexing of the ceramic and titanium ceramic blades was with the Atoma 1200 (not the DMT), and then just a few swipes on the EEF DMT plate. And both knives with a chisel ground edge (bevel on only one side). The difference in perceived sharpness and actual performance was night and day compared to the factory edge they both came with. Especially on the ceramic knife, the polish that it took on the edge after the diamond plates was pretty cool. I still think the best (quickest) way to sharpen a ceramic knife is done with diamond (or SiC), but like the high carbide % steels, best not to apex with a coarse grit. Edge trailing with fine SiC or diamond for the apex. I may try using my finest waterstone, Suehiro 8k, if/when it starts to dull, just to see what it does.
  17. Baron Mind

    Baron Mind

    Mar 30, 2018
    For all but a rare few, stropping is essential for achieving the highest levels of sharpness.

    I used to be in the habit of using a whole progression after my last stone, but lately I have been doing most my deburring work on the stones, then just hitting a 1 micron basswood strop, and I am quite pleased with that currently. Occasionally I'll go to a .25 micron after the 1m.

    Ceramic... idk
    cwsmith17 likes this.
  18. Mr.Wizard


    Feb 28, 2015
    Most refined edge, i.e. smoothest shave, perhaps, but sharpest? For example the "Hanging Hair Test" is usually done after honing but before stropping I believe. And do you consider use of lapping film to be stropping?
  19. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    I do.
  20. Baron Mind

    Baron Mind

    Mar 30, 2018
    For the most part yes, I'd consider lapping films stropping, although recently I've seen them used as a full progression abrasive using edge leading strokes. Jende has a vid on YouTube.

    And as how I would define sharpest? I'm talking apex width, but a little more than that. Stones will almost always cause some microchipping and leave the edge somewhat messy. The final strop removes some metal, reducing apex width, increasing sharpness, but also aligns the edge for cleaner cuts, regardless of how toothy it is. When done right of course.

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