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  • Strop

    How often, if at all, does anyone clean the strop?
    I use mine a few times when carving, as willow is a hardwood, when is the strop too dirty for the knives?
    I learned stropping from Doug Linker videos, and am hooked on how sharp I can keep my flexcuts!
    But after going through the threads there is not much new on just strop upkeep.
    As an afterthought, got any good brushes you all use for oiling, that can handle paint thinner?
    Amazon links welcome for brushes!

  • #2
    You know Becky, I'm the wrong guy to ask, I just keep adding compound when I feel the strop needs it. It will be interesting to see what suggestions are made to you.
    . . .JoeB


    • #3
      My strops are various kinds of paper card stock. Cereal box, file cards, leather wedges, even a tennis ball. I do not use a leather strop any more because it went soft and rounded edges.

      So to answer your question: I throw my blackened strops in the garbage.

      OK, so you work with a leather strop and some sort of honing compound.
      Get a 6" mill file. See the file cut on the edges?
      Tip that over so the very edge can drag on the strop like a rake.
      Gently rake the leather strop to pull off a lot of the blackened honing compound.
      Good. That's it. Recharge the strop with fresh honing compound and go to it.

      Just because the strop is black with fine metal does not mean that it is not working.
      You just can't see what's happening.
      I know a teaching carver who uses straight white AlOx on denim cloth glued to Baltic birch plywood.
      He hasn't cleaned a strop in a decade. They are all black as coal.
      Brian T


      • #4
        Great info, I have only had a a strop for a month, and want to make sure I take care of my tools!
        cardboard here is for the 6 rodents we have, 4 gerbils and my 2 rats, will be an endless fight lol!


        • #5
          Hi Joe! We all gotta learn somewhere eh!


          • #6
            The consensus on strops is a lot of people don't bother and continue to use their strops without care (I do), or, there are those who clean their strops by using the back of the knives to scrape off the buildup of minute particles of wood, metal and compound.

            The way I understand it is your knife (tool) has an sharp edge which essentially has a bunch of microscopic teeth that cut through the wood. Microscopic bits of wood get caught in the edge along with resin from the wood. You use a strop to hone--clean--the edge of buildup, and polish the metal which makes it easier to slice through the wood.

            So, you can clean the strop or not. I just apply more compound by rubbing the compound stick across the strop like a crayon. I guess that's my way of using an abrasive to clean the strop and apply new compound.

            If you scrape off compound on to the strop, then there might be a build-up of compound after a while and that might eventually need to be removed.

            The blackness just indicates how much you use your strop. A few times someone has posted a pic of a carving with their strop nearby and someone has commented, "You don't strop enough." based on the cleanliness of the strop and the dull cuts in the carving.

            I guess the proof is in the pudding: If your carving has clean cuts, and you are satisfied with the way everything is going, then don't fix it if it isn't broke.



            • #7

              I do occasionally clean my strop using just an old cotton washcloth that can be thrown away afterwards. Full disclosure, I seldom hand strop anymore using the leather wheel on the Burke instead. Back when I relied on the bench top strop I would probably clean it up a couple times a year.
              Living in a pile of chips.


              • #8
                I'm in the "Brian T camp," having switched from leather to cardboard years ago. I hone my gouges every half hour or so while carving. I throw the cardboard away if it gets too cut up to provide a smooth surface. I haven't added compound for six months or more. I try not to obsess over the tools but focus on the carving. The gouge has to get pretty dull to get my attention.


                • #9
                  If y use Tormec (a paste) or the powdered aluminum oxide compound I don't really need to clean the strop at all. The stick compounds are mixed with a clay for adherence and that builds up on the strop and i clean it every three or four applications


                  • #10
                    Becky, I have a leather strop on my Burke Sharpening System, I'll say once the leather gets really slick and black that's time to clean it to get back down to the natural color of the leather, and yes it does make a big difference. I use scotch brite to clean off all the black gum which is a mixture of the compound and metal. I pretty much get all the blackened compound off I'll hit it with a wood rasp to open the fibers of the leather, hope this helps.
                    Mark N. Akers
                    My Etsy Store:


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by pallin View Post
                      I'm in the "Brian T camp," having switched from leather to cardboard years ago. I hone my gouges every half hour or so while carving. I throw the cardboard away if it gets too cut up to provide a smooth surface. I haven't added compound for six months or more. I try not to obsess over the tools but focus on the carving. The gouge has to get pretty dull to get my attention.
                      Same. I'll just make a strop till it gets gouged by trying to sharpen a little too fast.

                      I'll also wipe my blades off with paper towel after stropping if any of the compound came off. the compound kinda self regulates that way. I believe new compound either buries the old compound or causes old compound to fall off.
             Straight and curved wood carving knives


                      • #12
                        Carving by hand with gouges in western red cedar, I can feel the edge "going away."
                        It just gets harder and harder to push. I wear simple leather work gloves.
                        They get kind of dirty. A couple of quick swipes across a glove palm
                        can tune up an edge in seconds! Run a glove finger out the in cannel to get that smooth.

                        I put the block of waxy CrOx/AlOx in my shirt pocket to warm up.
                        Mostly now, I'm using 4"x 6" office file cards (100 in a pack?).
                        Warmed up, I scribble the chrome green all over the card.
                        I stick it down with dabs of masking tape, maybe electrical tape.
                        Depends on which one I find first.

                        I'm not very careful as I've learned that it doesn't matter.
                        As long as I keep the bevel angle as required, I'm ready to go.
                        Maybe I should scribble CrOx on my gloves?

                        Here, you can see what I wear. Working on a Raven dish in Yellow Cedar.
                        Rivers 2013 Show 018.jpg
                        Brian T


                        • #13
                          Another thing I do, ever so often I will smear a little baby oil on my strop them add the compound, This I feel allows for a more even distribution of the compound.
                          . . .JoeB


                          • #14
                            Like Phil, I use the cardboard and green Cr2O3 compound scribbled on like a crayon. I never clean it. If it gets too cut up or torn up from the knife back, I peel it off the backing board, and put a new one on (printed side down), and scribble some more compound on top. Usually lasts me 2-3 years between replacements.

                            BTW, because most of my knives have flexible blades, I use my forefinger to gently press the flat of the blade to the strop as I drag it along. This keeps the entire blade against the strop. It does get the end of my finger colored green where it touches the strop, but a quick rub of my finger tip on my shop apron takes that off.

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                            • #15
                              I just keep adding more compound, but honestly I don’t think it matters.