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Leather or Not

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  • Leather or Not

    Is honing a knife on a piece of flat wood better than using a piece of leather? Which way will keep an edge longer? I use the yellow stick compound. ???

  • #2
    Re: Leather or Not

    I don't think either way is better, just different! I've only used leather, but have friends who use wood, and our knives are not noticebly different. Either way, all you are doing is removing the wire edge and polishing out the striation marks from the stone.

    As far as which will keep the edge longer, I don't think the type of strop has any bearing on that. It has more to do with the hardness and abrasiveness of the wood you are carving.



    • #3
      Re: Leather or Not

      I've been using leather for the four or five years that I've been carving. However, I just read last night that continued honing with leather will tend to round the edge and change the angle at which you have to apply pressure to the tool or kniife. To correct this requires using a stone. I haven't really noticed this, probably because I touch up with a hard arkansas stone frequently. I got this from the instructions packed with a 'Flexcut SlipStrop' that I just purchased. I have no idea how much difference it really makes but for whatever it's worth....


      • #4
        Re: Leather or Not

        I believe that the rounding comes from the technique rather than the leather strop. We all have a tendency to start to roll the blade a bit at the end of the stroke in anticipation of going the other direction. Keep it down throughout the entire length of the stroke and you will have less rounding. The strop will help to efficiently remove the wire edge. Over time as the blade wears down, you progressively get into the thicker portion of the blade that will require some work on the stones of choice so the knife will move through the wood more smoothly. Once you have the correct angle set and you have good steel that hasn't lost its temper, there should not be a great need to be on the grinders or stones that much.


        • #5
          Re: Leather or Not

          Leather comes in various hardnesses depending on where it came from on the cow and the tanning process used. Most store bought belts are chrome tanned and made from side or back leather to prevent stretching and to give the product a hard finish. Hand tooled belts use the side or back leather but it is tanned by a vegatable tanning process (to allow the piece to accept the pattern and shaping done by the artist) and is much softer. If you were to use a piece of soft, thick leather (such as belly leather) for your strop you could easily get a rounded edge. A piece of thin soft leather would not be as bad, but using the stiffer, chrome tanned leather would be best.


          • #6
            Re: Leather or Not

            According to Moonraker, I use chrome tanned strops. Thanks Mr. M ! I didn't know what I was using.

            I was taught to keep a finger pressed down on the edge of the blade to keep it flat against the strop. Stop at the end of the strop and pick the knife straight up. This prevents the rolling.

            Placing the blade flat at the start of the next stroke, and again with your finger pressing on the blade edge will help keep the same angle.

            How long does a strop last ? I've used the same one for 3 years.


            • #7
              Re: Leather or Not

              I would say that leather would be preferable to wood.
              Leather will hold the compound in place better. The thickness and hardness of the leather is important.
              Understanding what stroping is actually doing is even more important than the surface you are stroping on.
              When you first hone a knife, you strop to remove the 'wire edge' or the burr. After carving for a while, you may feel a need to strop the knife and will notice an improvement in the tool afterwords.
              Why you ask? Well, I'll tell you.
              When you are carving with a knife, the stresses on the fine cutting edge cause it to become wavy. Stroping helps to straighten the edge once again; it also polishes slightly thereby reducing friction.


              • #8
                Re: Leather or Not

                Rick, good to see you again! What Rick says is absolutely true. Did you ever see a Chef running a carving knife against one of those long sharpening steels? He pulls the blade down against the steel and straightens the edge. It does not actually sharpen it but it makes it cut better. Regular stopping will reduce the number of times you must take a blade to a stone. Remember, a stone sharpens by removing steel from the edge and a lot of stone work will eat away at your blade!


                • #9


                  • #10
                    Re: Leather or Not

                    I feel you will get better results using leather when stropping
                    your knives.

                    Combined with the stropping compound, you will get at better



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