A razor strop (or razor strap) is a flexible strip of leather, canvas, denim fabric, balsa wood, or other soft material, used to straighten and polish the blade of a straight razor, a knife, or a woodworking tool like a chisel. In many cases stropping re-aligns parts of the blade edge that have been bent out of alignment. In other cases, especially when abrasive polishing compound is used, stropping may remove a small amount of metal. Stropping can also burnish (i.e. push metal around) on the blade.
The strop may be a hanging strop or a hand-held paddle. Various abrasive compounds may be applied to the strop to aid in polishing the blade while stropping to obtain a mirror-like finish. Common abrasive compounds include: half micron diamonds, green Chromium(III) oxide, white rouge (aluminum oxide), and Jeweller's rouge (Iron oxide).
Stropping is primarily done with straight razors, used for shaving, as these are the thinnest blades in everyday use, and require stropping at each use, due to the thinness of the blade. Kitchen knives may instead be straightened on a honing steel if less sharpness is acceptable. Any blade may, in principle, be stropped to polish it. Although a purpose made strop will likely work better, nearly any piece of smooth leather, such as your shoes if you don't mind scratches, and even common fabrics, such as denim with polishing compound, may be used for stropping.
Two points are key to stropping:
- Draw the blade spine-first along the strop. By contrast, honing on a stone is usually done edge-first.
- When you turn the blade at the end of a stroke, turn it over the spine, so the edge moves away from the strop and faces you, and the spine rests on the strop. This preserves the edge – if the blade is turned over with the edge against the strop, this will roll the blade edge, defeating the purpose of stropping.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Knife sharpening.|
- Scienceofsharp, True effects of various blade sharpening and stropping techniques, mostly on straight razors, shown by electron microscope.
- http://www.bushcraftuk.com/downloads/pdf/knifeshexps.pdf Electron microscope analysis of various sharpening techniques. By John D. Verhoeven
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