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Applying compound on a new strop

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  • Applying compound on a new strop

    Hey! I’m new here. Also very new to the hobby. I’ve bought a strop and a flexcut 1.75 in knife. I’m having a ton of trouble keeping it sharp and I think it’s a stropping issue. How much compound should be applied to a new strop? I’ve used a hairdryer which helped spread it evenly but is the leather supposed to soak up a ton of it at first?

    Side question, are there any video resources on actual cut techniques. I see a ton of videos on figure tutorials but I can’t seem to find any on how the cuts should be made.

    I don’t want to end up discouraged beyond the point of no return.

    Thanks in advance!! :-)

  • #2
    Just put enough compound on that you see a little color. Leather can actually be used without compound. While sharp tools are important don’t head down the perfect edge rat hole. In our club we start new carvers out with a 1”X1”X3” piece of basswood we have them carve that into a round peg. This teaches about carving with the grain of you go the wrong way the wood lifts instead of cutting. Also that the grain changes as you go around the wood. You will also need to learn about stop cuts and bandaids.

    Try these videos:
    Last edited by Nebraska; 08-15-2021, 09:22 AM.


    • #3
      A bunch of the guys on this board suggested making my own strop with thin cardboard from a cereal box on a flat piece of wood. I find it works much better than my leather strop. I also strop every 30 minutes or so while carving. Hope this helps! SharonMyArt on YouTube has a nice video on different cuts.
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      • #4
        The issue could be how you strop. When I started I would use to much pressure on the blade. Pushing the edge in to the leather and I rolled my wrist at the end of the stoke. Both can result in rounding the cutting edge. You just need a light coat of compound. Use light pressure as you move your edge down the strop and pick the blade straight up at the end of your stroke. If your strop is getting darker it is removing steel. That is all the pressure you need.
        We live in the land of the free because of the brave! Semper Fi


        • #5
          One of the concepts beginners need to learn in woodcarving is the use of stop cuts. These are incisions (cuts) across the wood grain that limit the cuts we make for wood removal. They are usually made before the shaving or paring cuts. In relief carving the stop cuts are made by outlining the major objects in the design with a V-tool (or gouge held vertically & driven into the wood.) Even in chip carving, the "plunge cuts" are made before the shaving cuts to set limits on the chip removed. When whittling faces, that notch you make for the nose is a stop cut for what comes after. If you are rounding a block of wood, and the knife cuts extend off the end of the block, you may not need a stop cut, but when you get to the stage of details they become necessary.


          • #6
            Welcome to the best carving site on the 'net.

            Stand up, if you are able. Pull strokes only. Hold your arms tight to your sides, you become the jig.
            Sharpen from your knees, not from your elbows. That way, you can't roll the blade at the end of each stroke. Paint some little stripes of black felt marker on the bevel so you can watch what's happening.

            Honestly, I'll guess that you have canted the blade much too far up to see an useful bevel angle.
            Yes, your knife may be sharp but the included bevel angle is too blunt, too big, to push wood open.
            The spine of your blade should not be more than the thickness of a dime off the strop.

            I use CrOx/AlOx honing compound for all edges. My strops vary in shape a lot, 4" x 6" office file cards are pretty good. Cereal box cardboard is excellent. Stick them down with dabs of masking tape is good enough. Just scribble compound all over it is enough. No, uniformity of coverage is not important. I use rods and tubes and pipes, even a tennis ball as strops.
            Brian T


            • #7
              All good advice, especially the band-aids .
              I use the progressive method to strop my tools=
              5 strops on one side, flip the blade over, and 5 on the other side then
              flip it over and 4 on the original side, flip it over and 4 on the other side
              continue reducing the stroke until you do one per side.
              I then strop each side with alternating side 5 times.

              I do this each day when I first use a knife, then as needed during the day.

              I find that by doing this you can produce a "wire" edge, slightly rolled over edge, by reducing the stokes you reduce the wire and end up with a sharp blade.

              Don't get discouraged, it might take some time to get the sharpen you expect, the advice about the dime is important.
              . . .JoeB


              • #8
                Before you begin stropping, take a marking pen such as a Sharpie and make several lines on the blade from back to cutting edge. Now strop one pass and then look at the marks on the blade. If the ink is gone only at the cutting edge, you are lifting the back of the blade too much. If the ink is gone from the back edge of the bevel on the Flexcut blade, you're not lifting the back of the blade enough for the cutting edge to touch the strop.

                I also use the strip of cereal box cardboard with some compound rubbed on it. The compound doesn't have to completely cover the strop; just scrub in on like a crayon... The reason for using cardboard is that it is thin and doesn't compress like leather will.

                Read through some of the other threads in the sharpening forum - lots of good info...
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                • #9
                  Here is a link to some basic cuts. Sharon does some good videos. Be aware that carving and sharpening does take a bit to learn, and it is not quite as easy for a beginner as it often looks on these videos! But don't get discouraged!

                  'If it wasn't for caffeine, I wouldn't have any personality at all!"



                  • #10
                    Just rub your compound lightly on the strop. A little goes a long ways. It's like Randy mentioned. If the strop starts turning black then you're removing micro amounts of metal from the knife. Be mindful of what Claude said. Make sure that your just not stropping the blade edge or the spine. You want to ensure that the entire blade surface comes in contact with the strop. And finally, when and if you get to the point where the strop is totally black and slick as goose poop, you can remove excess compound from the strop by scraping it with the backside of a knife.


                    • #11
                      What compound do recommend for the strop?


                      • #12
                        The very best compound is a can of worms.
                        You need something down in the range of 0.5 microns to 0.2 microns.
                        Polishing compounds and honing compounds are abrasives.
                        The human eye cannot see the fine scratches so the metal "looks" shiny.

                        Green is the natural color of chromium oxide for honing (0.5 micron,)
                        commonly doped up with some 0.25 micron aluminum oxide which is snow white.
                        Some makers add dye to distinguish particle sizes (yellow, purple, etc.)

                        The blacks and reds are iron and copper oxides, sort of uncommon (aka "rust?")

                        I use a waxy bar of CrOx with AlOx and scribble that on 4" x 6" office filing cards.
                        That gets wrapped around various rod and tube mandrels for the crooked knives that I mostly use.
                        Cheap. Quickly replaceable. I hone my elbow and D adzes with compound on a tennis ball.

                        Brian T


                        • #13
                          Where do you buy the CrOx compound that you are recommending?


                          • #14
                            There are a too many choices out there and we all have our own favorites. I use Tormek honing compound. I prefer the paste rather the stick compounds. Woodcraft has a good selection of compounds to choose from. All will do the job.
                            We live in the land of the free because of the brave! Semper Fi


                            • #15
                              Lee Valley/Veritas sells a 6 oz bar of CrOx/AlOx ( # 05M08.01).
                              I buy 16 oz bar of it from KMS Tools, an industrial tool company, that's good enough
                              for "carving sharp" to work in really soft wood such as western red cedar.

                              Funny: the KMS stuff is waxy and was poured into a mold. They didn't mix it up very well,
                              there's little pockets of pure white AlOx scattered in there like freckles.

                              Most wood carving tool houses usually flog something they believe is useful.
                              Randy suggests a couple as examples.

                              What ever you do. What ever you do. DON'T saw up the bar with a nice hand saw.
                              That stuff is abrasive and will take the edges right off all the teeth on your saw.
                              Use a hammer and a screwdriver to break off chunks.
                              Brian T