Switch to full style
Post a reply

Need help with honing/stropping

Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:54 pm

I am new to the world of good knives and have been reading many conflicting posts on stropping vs honing. I just bought 2 artifex knives and a few stones and want to know the most effective way to finish my knives. I spent most of my budget already and read that I can strop on cardboard with metal polish. I dont care if I have the best edge possible, just something decently sharp. So I basically have 2 questions.

How would I go about stropping on cardboard? Ive seen some people use hard cardboard (like on the back of a notepad) and some use a regular cardboard box. Also, how much metal polish do I put on it and do I need to reapply every time I hone or is it a one time thing?

My second question is how do I maintain the edge between sharpening? Should I use a hone or just continue stropping?

I also have a wusthof grand prix 2 that I will continue to hone, unless someone thinks its better to just strop that as well.

Thanks for the help! This forum and CKTG in general is great.

Re: Need help with honing/stropping

Thu Jul 04, 2013 3:43 pm

Just use a fine stone, it will maintain the edge better and for longer.

Don't use a cardboard box as a strop.

The back of a notepad would be a much better choice.

Learn to use your stones before the strop becomes a crutch.

Re: Need help with honing/stropping

Thu Jul 04, 2013 3:50 pm

Thanks! Im not bad at sharpening, I can usually get a hair popping edge. My question is more about maintenance between sharpening. Should I just strop, hone and strop, or just hone?


Re: Need help with honing/stropping

Thu Jul 04, 2013 5:46 pm

Lots of options for strops. You can use pretty much anything including the pants you are likely wearing now. Its very much a try it and see thing. You could be very suppressed at what works.

To add to Jason's suggestions.

Newspaper on top of your high grit stone.
This is Murray Carters preferred method. If you don't know of Murray, Google him. Lots of very practical stuff with him.

If you get out a bit, another option is to head down to your local hobby shop and get some hard balsa wood, then head over to your hardware store or Woodcrafters and get a tube of Chrom Oxide. Those too together make a really excellent cheap strop that is just as viable as high dollar alternatives for kitchen knives.

Mark has some great solutions here.

Re: Need help with honing/stropping

Fri Jul 05, 2013 7:33 am

If by honing, you mean using a honing rod to true a knife which has an impact burr (bend) along the edge; a honing rod is a faster and more efficient method than stropping -- for most knives.

A few, influential knife "experts," notably Korin, have popularized the idea that "Japanese knives" should never be steeled. That's bullshit. Some knives aren't suitable for truing on a honing rod because they are too asymmetric, too acute, too hard, or otherwise too brittle; and some Japanese knives are quite asymmetric, acute, hard, or (wait for it) otherwise too brittle, and should not be trued. But their Japanese-ness has nothing to do with their suitability. It's strictly a question of whether the tremendous forces generated by along the small contact patch of a honing rod will straighten the burr or break off a piece of the edge.

Steeling an AEB-L or 51200 Artifex is not a problem; I'm not sure about Bohler 390, but given 390's toughness, I doubt steeling it would be a problem either.

Really, really good honing rods are inexpensive.

The only good reasons to true an Artifex by stropping on a flat surface are:
  • Experimenting;
  • Screwing around;
  • You're really serious about maintaining a polish which the knife won't hold long anyway; and/or
  • Your strops are already set up and you feel like it.

You can strop on a lot of surfaces -- including water stones. If you're stropping to true (as opposed to stropping to sharpen and/or polish) there's no compelling reason to charge (use a stropping compound) the surface. If you're going without a charge anything fairly smooth which can be mounted on something hard to hold it flat will do; I favor strips of manilla folder, because it works and because I have a lot of it. You could use shirtboard, leather, newsprint, hard felt, masonite, etc., etc., as effectively. It really doesn't matter, so don't obsess over what's best.

You can also used a charged strop to true. You can even charge the surface of a very fine stone, and strop on that.

One thing you have to watch out for when stropping is pulling a wire. If you draw a wire, you'll have to deburr. Another way to true an edge is "touch up" sharpening on your finest stone. But, alla time same same. If you pull a burr, the Mystic 8 Ball sees deburring in your future. The burr/deburr thing is is one of several reasons a steel is so much more efficient for truing.

The right ways to steel and strop are not intuitively obvious, and while neither is complicated both are a but fussy and both have something of a learning curve. You have a pretty good chance of causing damage (usually minor) if you steel with the wrong rod or use bad technique. Bad stropping tends to be more ineffectual than actually harmful.

If you're after efficient results, get a good steel and learn to use it the right way, using very few strokes with very light pressure. Learn to strop, too. You never know.


Re: Need help with honing/stropping

Fri Jul 05, 2013 1:30 pm

Stropping on 1µ BC from HA on leather - that's all you need in between stones - period!


Re: Need help with honing/stropping

Fri Jul 05, 2013 3:22 pm

MadRookie wrote:Stropping on 1µ BC from HA on leather - that's all you need in between stones - period!


Mad truth from the MadRookie!!! Stropping gives me the best edges I have ever achieved and experienced in my life and I am not even that good of a sharpener. I remember when I first immersed myself into the world of high quality japanese cutlery, I bought a MAC Chef Series which isn't really that great of a knife and proclaimed to a fellow cook how sharp the OOTB edge was. He told me that I could never get it that sharp again and he was right, until I started stropping.

You don't need any kind of fancy setup, I just have a few of the strops from CKTG and the 1 micron boron carbide paste and I made my own magnetic hone base to hold the magnetic strops but as was mentioned earlier you can go to a hobby shop and get some balsa or maybe even a craft store and get a piece of leather. If money is tight I would just strop on your highest grit stone granted it is at least 3K or above. I use a honing rod as well but is not a steel, it is a MAC ceramic rod which is expensive but well worth it for me at this point. I can feel my edge getting dull at work and then I hone it and comes back rather nicely. You could also buy a smooth steel honing rod for pretty cheap and those work nicely as well especially on some low to mid range Japanese knives. Hope this helps.

Re: Need help with honing/stropping

Mon Jul 08, 2013 5:01 am

I'm finding this thread confusing. Jason says stones. Mad Rookie says Compounds (his favorite) and BDL says honing rods, leaving the original poster (OP) back where he started between choices.

The OP says " I dont care if I have the best edge possible, just something decently sharp." and then says " I can usually get a hair popping edge." I would call that level of edge more than decently sharp.

And of course the OP - Alex - wants to do this for no $$ or as little as possible.

So Alex, if you can get hair popping edges and aren't really trying to achieve anything beyond what you currently achieve, what are you using now? Could you just touch up your edges with whatever you are currently using, just touching up with your finest abrasive - compound or stone - in your current progression?

Also let us know what stones you bought already and what your 'kit' consists of and I think we can give you better recommendations.

Now that you have a couple of Artifexes, we might want to up your perceptions of sharp a bit beyond what you are achieving on your Wustoff.

Additionally let us know if you are needing to maintain your edges in a home or work environment. This would change what I would suggest.

Post a reply