Is stropping really important

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Kmikaz3, Mar 10, 2020.

  1. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    My stock method is to work both sides alternating if necessary, correcting bevel width etc. Raise a burr the entire length, flip and repeat. An important aspect of burr removal is to not flip it more than absolutely required.

    Once the burr is formed (as small as possible) I increase the angle by double or more and very lightly brush it off with a few leading passes.

    Then drop back down to original angle for just a few leading or trailing passed depending on stone composition.

    Then strop or microbevel and done.
  2. Mr.Wizard


    Feb 28, 2015
    On stubborn burrs I have always flipped it a lot, thinking this would fatigue the root of the burr leading to it breaking off. Do I really have this completely backward or do I misunderstand you?
    kreisler likes this.
  3. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    Well, that is one way, and very commonly used.
    The approach I arrived at was noticing the attachment point is way more robust when it hasn't been flipped much, I take advantage of that. So with a light touch and high angle it is a LOT easier and faster to eliminate it in a single operation.

    On my guided unit I estimate as high as 90% of the burr can be wiped away without it flipping, freehand is still about 80% at a guess. Both methods are virtually 100% with the slightest of cleanup on the opposite side.

    Too many flips and on some steels is faster to just regrind the bevel.
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  4. kreisler


    May 11, 2012
    Does it work out for you? if yes, then they are not stubborn.

    touché kreisl :p
  5. David Martin

    David Martin Moderator Moderator Gold Member

    Apr 7, 2008
    Yes, I have gone to this as well at times. Thanks for just coming out and saying it. DM
  6. Lefty_Knives


    Jan 11, 2020
    I always used my KME stones to strop on or occasionally a strop with green compound, then I got 1um and .5um diamond spray, massive game changer in sharpening, they really help refine the edge to an unbelievable degree of sharpness.
  7. Mr.Wizard


    Feb 28, 2015
    @kreisler Not as well as I would like. I wonder what else I've been ignorantly making harder. I'll have to experiment with this.
  8. kreisler


    May 11, 2012
    @Mr.Wizard we experienced metals which will not fatigue after countless plastic 90°-back'n forth deformations, think of bending metal springs (in a ball pen, flashlight), tough stuff (unlike paper clips). in the ideal case we doht flip the burr but "grind" it down with feather pressure (reducing the size without the burr getting flipped) and eventually get it sheared off, all edge-leading; especially with microburr. i doht like to raise the angle to say 45° but as long as the pressure is feather, the stroke will affect/grind the burr only not the apex. I'm prolly the only one with this technique but it's working for me: in addition to feather weight i use snail speed in the edge-leading stroke at 45°. in this combination i can feel the drag by the microburr in the feedback of the stone better; on a dry stone, no lubricant. disadvantage, one pass takes several seconds:D (i would ridicule myself in a youtube demo because snail speed is so unorthodox). advantage, the combo works for me, gets the job done. (the working could be also due to the quality/properties of my geman ruby[​IMG] , I'll have to compare..)

    it is very illuminating to engrave your name in a sheet of plastic with a dremel (at 5000rpm+), letters min. 1-2mm deep. sounds easy? not too easy. since the material is plastic, all drawn lines of a letter end up having massive plastic burrs wtf. so one actually has to deburr the letters! redrawing the letter lines with feather weight all of a sudden cuts off the plastic burrs, like magic. unforgettable experience! do you have a dremel tool with ball tip?
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2020
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  9. HeavyHanded


    Jun 4, 2010
    On my guided system I'm probably around 45° very slow, very easy, check every pass. That's the thing with this method - one pass is often enough. Freehand I might be about the same, IDK but is the same method.

    On one of my finishing waterstones I won't go quite as high to avoid digging into the stone, but is still probably about 2x the working height. Then a few passes at original angle. When using a microbevel I often don't even check after the high angle deburr, I'll wait till I've microbeveled, have a very high success rate with this method.
    MtnHawk1, Mr.Wizard and kreisler like this.
  10. TheTourist

    TheTourist Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 23, 2019
    I have a strop, and over about 20 years I've used it about 5 times. But when I felt a "blunt edge" on a knife I just polished, I would strop the edge. To my eye, not much of a bevel improvement is recognized. However, the edge was better.

    This seems to be a normal condition of a poor steel alloy that seems "coarse" if I'm using the correct adjective for this type of edge.

    BTW, my strop is a "Herald Solingen Prima Rindleder."
    kreisler likes this.
  11. kreisler


    May 11, 2012
    i end my sessions on guided system with guided stropping (PTS method), always. with PTS i don't raise the angle because the strop is eating away steel like crazy and swallows old and fresh burrs in an instant. crazy effective stropping .. just consumes much steel:rolleyes:
  12. TheTourist

    TheTourist Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 23, 2019
    kreisler, i end my sessions on guided system with guided stropping (PTS method), always.

    I start, use and end my sharpening/polishing with my Edge Pro. Over the years I have gathered +30 types of polishing and shaping stones from Ken Schwartz--one of the few honest appliance serviceman in America.

    I've tried just about everything to get a truly sharp edge. It's Ken's stones on an Edge Pro appliance that gives me a perfectly flawless razor sharp edge.

    kreisler likes this.
  13. kniferbro

    kniferbro Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 22, 2011
    I honestly get sharper edges when I don't strop. I can work a burr off with just the stone and then its sharp and aggressive. My stropped edges shave hair better I guess but don't bite like a stone only edge.
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  14. TheTourist

    TheTourist Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 23, 2019
    If I polish out to 30K I do not strop, either. I do use a lighter 'hand' on the edge as I finish.
  15. Bigfattyt

    Bigfattyt Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2007
    As my freehand skills have improved over the years, I find I strop a bit less.

    I can whittle hair with a stropped edge. But, I feel as if I lose a bit of tooth/bite in stropping. Recently I've been enjoying leaving the edge after even the medium sharpmaker stick. Sometimes I even skip the fine ceramic.
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  16. me2


    Oct 11, 2003
    It's not really important for knives. I haven't stropped in years and haven't missed it. About half my sharpening is freehand and the other half with guided systems like a Sharpmaker and homemade sharpening blocks. If I want a hair whittling edge I can do it off the Sharpmaker, but I don't normally worry about it.
  17. Twindog

    Twindog Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 6, 2004
    My take is a little different. It's not difficult to remove a burr with edge-leading strokes. The hard part is learning to remove the burr without creating a new one.

    If you have just finished your stonework on Side A of the edge, you'll have a burr leaning off to Side B.

    When you switch your stone to Side B, the leaning burr will be quickly cut off in the first eighth inch of the stone stroke. But if you keep the stroke going, you'll create a new burr leaning off Side A. (diagram below) When this happens, most people think the burr has flipped. But it hasn't -- a new burr was created on the other side of the edge.

    Burrs are fatigued, fragile metal, which is why they fall off so quickly in actual use. They don't flip back and forth in most cases of edge-leading strokes.

    You can remove a burr with a very short edge-leading stroke. Just don't keep going.

    You can also remove a burr (actually a long series of burrs) with ever finer grits and lighter strokes. All you're doing with this technique is making the burr smaller. At 2 pounds of edge pressure and a 4-inch stroke, a 100-grit stone will produce a larger burr than a 1,000-grit stone.

    I've posted this diagram before; it illustrates what I see happening. In Photo 1, the burr stands proud off the opposite side that was just sharpened. In Photo 2, the stone comes down and cuts the burr off. In Photo 3, the stone creates a new burr as the stone keeps moving. In Photo 4, the burr is much larger as the stone comes to the end of a full stroke, creating the illusion that a the original burr was flipped.

    The best way to sharpen a knife is to remove as much of the burr as possible with your stones. Then use the strop to clean up the apex and increase keenness.

    kreisler likes this.
  18. MtnHawk1

    MtnHawk1 Basic Member Basic Member

    May 22, 2019
    From what I've read about stropping, which is a lot (thanks to all the great posts and info here! :thumbsup:), and my experience doing it, I don't think it's necessary for me, all things considered.

    As I've stated, coarse, toothy, edges work very well for what I need, and I get good results just using stones. Stropping seems to be more for those who prefer smooth, polished, refined edges. I also like to keep sharpening as simple as possible and not spend anymore time at it than I have to, without sacrificing quality. I don't have the time for experimentation to find out if I'm defeating my purpose by smoothing out toothy edges with stropping, and don't want to get into more equipment and time examining my edges with a lot of magnification, to see if I'm doing it right. I've tried loupes and other types of lower magnification and it's not enough, or too difficult to keep focused.

    Even if I could strop with confidence, knowing I wasn't ruining my toothy edges, I'm not sure I'd notice much, or any, real-world difference. I don't often use my knives for anything demanding as, for example, a meat cutter does, just common household and wilderness tasks, so don't need absolute maximum sharpness or performance. It's not worth taking a chance ruining my edges trying to "improve" them.

    After sharpening, or long and/or hard use, I'll probably take a couple of edge-trailing strokes on my jeans, or readily available material such as paper, cardboard, or leather, but that's about it.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2020
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  19. sickpuppy1

    sickpuppy1 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 27, 2018
    ^ I hope you mean edge trailing on you jeans! Hate to see you slice into your leg with that nice toothy edge! lol
    MtnHawk1 likes this.
  20. MtnHawk1

    MtnHawk1 Basic Member Basic Member

    May 22, 2019
    sickpuppy1, good catch and corrected. :)
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2020

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