Too much compound on my strop?

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by BJ987, Aug 7, 2020.

  1. BJ987


    Jul 21, 2020
    Total newb here to stropping, semi-newb to general sharpening. Got a little strop kit online, watched some videos and applied the compound like coloring with a crayon (only came with 1 green compound) to the smoother side, as I don't use my knives hard enough ATM that their edges are "dull". Also, wanted to minimize risk of messing up any edges with my first go around.

    Here's some pics. Can an experienced "stropper" comment if I used too compound? Or any other criticisms on how I applied it?

    kreisler likes this.
  2. gazz98

    gazz98 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 3, 2008
    I'm no expert but it looks a little heavy on the compound to me. Let's say what you did is 10/10.

    I would aim for 8.5/10 next time.

    Stropping, estimating blade angles, getting it sharp, etc all comes with experience. If you have some cheap beater knives, practice on those first. If don't have a beater knife, now is time to spend $3 at Walmart for a *ahem* POS knife to practice sharpening on.

    Don't worry about messing up. We did it and most of us still make mistakes.
  3. Ajack60

    Ajack60 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Apr 21, 2013
    Here's one I got with a knife purchase. You can compare yours to one that comes preloaded. IMO, yeah it's way over compounded.

    BJ987 likes this.
  4. BJ987


    Jul 21, 2020
    SMH... I knew it was too much:(... Should I still use it till it goes down naturally or try to take some of the compound off??

    So, the "cheap beater knife" I used first was a CIVIVI Baklash... Not because I have a lot of stupid expensive knives or anything, just because my collection is small and right now it's the cheapest knife in my collection. But not really... I have an old beat up Kershaw Crown that I've had for like 20 years but the blade is so dull on that I didn't think it would be a good practice knife for learning how to strop, aka probably needs to go on some stones first.

    As I said I got this thing for maybe, weekly maintenance on my knives. I don't think I use them hard or often enough to warrant more than a weekly strop. Just want to keep them shaving sharp. If I do end up doing some heavy work, I have a NIB Spyderco Sharpmaker collecting dust anyway.

    Would you say I should use the rougher leather side first, and then the smooth side? With the same compound on both sides? It's obvious I don't really understand the physics of this. If there's compound atop the leather, what matters the texture of the leather underneath? Unless what matters is how much "give" the because it's thicker on one side?
  5. Ajack60

    Ajack60 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Apr 21, 2013
    I'd take some off, you want to use the leather with the compound to maintain your edge. Too much compound will not be nearly as effective. I've got a four sided strop, I leave one side bare to finish up with.
    The thing I've learned is that a strop is good for between sharpening and that if you don't hone the edge with a stone, a strop will not be effective. Depending on the steel, for some knives a strop between sharpening really doesn't do any good. I use a ceramic rod and strop for in between sharpening.
    I always use the rough side first and then the smooth side. I'm left handed too, I may have it backwards :oops:
    BJ987 likes this.
  6. gazz98

    gazz98 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 3, 2008
    Again, I'm no expert. Answering to the best of ability FWIW.

    1. Use it. I wouldn't bother trying to scrap it off. You might gouge out the leather.

    2. Sharpen the Crown on the Sharpmaker and use it as your beater/learner knife for sharpening and stropping.

    3. Rough side removes a little more material then the smooth side. The smooth side is more a polish step.

    4. Compound comes in 4 colors. This is a *generalized* statement about compounds.
    Black = all cut no polish, White = cut and polish, Green = little cut more polish, Red = no cut all polish

    5. Strop texture + compound work together. It isn't really one or the other although you can strop a knife with no compound on the leather. It's kinda like brushing your teeth. Just using a toothbrush (no water or toothpaste) will help clean your teeth, but the toothpaste adds some grit to help scrap off stains and polish your teeth.

    Don't think just because you have a strop, you won't need to use the Sharpmaker or stones. Stropping is part of the process for sharpening a knife, not the entire process. How often to do it? It depends on how often you use your knife and what you cut with it. 7 hours of breaking down cardboard will require stones. 7 hours of cutting tape... some cleaning and stropping will probably be good enough.
    RoMo, Hurrul, kreisler and 1 other person like this.
  7. BJ987


    Jul 21, 2020
    I've heard that depending on the use (as you said), stropping might just be enough. By that I mean I think I only would need to use the Sharpmaker once a month and strop once or twice a week.

    EDIT: premature post...

    Let me explain. On average, I probably do a combined total of 1-2 hours breaking down cardboard a week with some tape cutting and letter opening sprinkled in there. Oh, and a little paracord cutting since I just started learning how to make my own lanyards/fobs. As you can see, very light work.

    I know a lot of this depends on the steel as well, but I'm essentially trying to limit running my blades through rods as much as possible. I think I can achieve this with the amount of actual cutting I do, if I get my strop technique down. (At least that's what I've gathered so far from the internet.)
    Not sure what honing is exactly. And the steels I have are 9CrMoV13(sp?), D2, S30V, and S35VN. So, I believe that most if not all the knives I have came with great factory edges (Cold Steel, CIVIVI, Spyderco, Kershaw). They all came shaving sharp. Forgive the ignorance, but, are you saying that even if the knife came shaving sharp, I should still "hone" the edge with a stone before stropping?
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2020
  8. Rhinoknives1

    Rhinoknives1 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 1, 2013
    Just keep using the strop. The grit will imbed you’ll be fine. Also you can take an old leather belt, use the unfinished inside and cut about a 12” length . Works great & the Green Chrome compound is my favorite m!
    RoMo and BJ987 like this.
  9. cudgee

    cudgee Gold Member Gold Member

    May 13, 2019
    Just remember less is more. You can always add more compound if you feel you need to. Also, if you want to remove some of the compound, get yourself a putty knife about the width of the strop, always handy to apply compound as well.
  10. Craig James

    Craig James

    Oct 30, 2018
    Grinding, sharpening, honing, polishing are terms that tend to be used interchangeably to some degree.

    the first two tend to be used for removing more metal and polishing/honing less I.e you sharpen the apex and then polish the apex to refine it. There is no hard boundary when one becomes the other. Honing is typically reserved for when you are maintaining an already sharp edge.

    I have never had any luck applying wax based compounds to the smooth side of leather - it always peels off. I tend to use diamond pastes exclusively now
  11. BJ987


    Jul 21, 2020
    I have a cake icing spreader thing (not mine obviously). I wonder if I can use that to scrape some of the compound off. I used the strop again and I don't think I'm getting anywhere with so much compound on there. I also don't see how a putty knife can help apply compound. The compound I got is literally like a fat crayon. So, when applying it, I "colored" it on following a tutorial on YT where the guy used the round tip of the compound "crayon". Obviously it didn't work for me as it applied way too thick with little pressure. I think I need to remove as much as I can and start over using the flat side of the "crayon", like I'm shading a drawing? I also haven't even touched the more coarse side yet. I feel like using the coarse side with properly applied compound, and then finishing with the smooth side with too much compound would be counter-productive?
  12. cudgee

    cudgee Gold Member Gold Member

    May 13, 2019
    I do not know what an icing spreader looks like so i cannot help you there. Sorry about the putty knife confusion, i presumed, and you should never presume anything, that you were using a paste, they are good for evenly spreading a compound paste, a small dab can be spread evenly and thinly.You can use anything that has a flat straight edge, just take your time, it will make a big difference if the compound is too thick as it appears to be on your photo. But just remember " Less Is More ". Have a good weekend.
    BJ987 likes this.
  13. The 'crayon' compounds often apply more easily to a surface that's a little bit fuzzy or nappy (think of the texture of velvet, for example). With a strop of simple cowhide leather, the surface can be lightly sanded to give it some velvety 'nap'. Sand with some 100-150 grit sandpaper - doesn't take much effort. You'll see the nap reveal itself in the smooth leather surface. Then use the flat face of the crayon to lightly 'shade' the nappy leather surface, as with shading a drawing as you mentioned, just enough to give it some subtle coloration of the compound being used. No need to lay it on heavily; just color it a little bit.

    If you ever feel like giving it a try, you might also try the same compound on a hard-backed strop of denim or canvas. The fabric will accept a heavier application of the crayon compound, more readily than leather will. The net effect of a heavier application of compound, on the denim/canvas, will be that it'll make the strop a lot more aggressive at metal removal and much faster polish to a high shine (IF that's what you want). Each method has it's advantages, depending on how subtle or how aggressive you want your strop to be, using the same compound.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2020
    BJ987 likes this.
  14. Chevelleface

    Chevelleface Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    Aug 7, 2012
    I had this and issue used a heat gun/blow dryer to warm it up and melt the bigger chunks. Then wiped some off with paper towel. It’s evenly coated now. Works great.
    Alberta Ed, marchone and cudgee like this.
  15. sickpuppy1

    sickpuppy1 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 27, 2018
    Yep,I’ve been doing the hair dryer bit for a while and using a credit card to smooth it and work it into the leather. Not only smoother, but it lasts longer having been worked into the strop more.
  16. rpttrsn

    rpttrsn Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 1, 2006
    Many have cleaned their strop using WD 40 on a rag and wiping the surface. I use this once the strop becomes dirty. Let it dry over night then apply your compound. You don't want to soak the strop with WD 40 but it will remove the compound and clean the surface.
  17. cudgee

    cudgee Gold Member Gold Member

    May 13, 2019
    Before it gets really dirty with gunk build up, you can use an eraser, i have been using one for a couple of years, they work well. Just when it looks like it needs it.:):thumbsup:

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