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TOPIC: When are the strops working best?

When are the strops working best? 1 year 1 week ago #10380

  • johpe
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Hi there

I'm wondering about how the blade edge should look while stropping. Are the strops supposed to leave a little bit of paste residue on the edge to work the best or should the edge be totally dry and clean after a few passes with the strops?

The reason for asking is that I really can't get the amasing results from stropping that Clay shows in this thread:
Stock stone/strop progression

When they are newly loaded they leave quite a bit of paste on the edge (at least for me) and they don't seem to work that well, at least not like I've seen in the photos Clay posted in the mentioned thread above. Later they seem to dry up but they still leave a bit of rubber like paste on my edge and I still can't manage to get any real "amazing-Clay-like" effect on the edge.

It would be really great with some instructional video on stropping and loading the strops or maybe a wiki page on the topic with lots of photos. ;)

BR,
Johannes
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Re: When are the strops working best? 1 year 6 days ago #10383

  • ApexGS
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What I do when I recharge strops is apply evenly and let it dry pretty thoroughly. It sounds like you might have too much paste actually, a little goes a long way. I've taken to using the rubbing alcohol trick after Clay mentioned it and it's very helpful in my experience. A quick spritz or dab from a q-tip will do fine.

Initially you'll probably have a little paste on the blade, just clean it off and keep at it :) The leather does take a bit of seasoning to get working its best. I can't recommend the rubbing alcohol trick enough though, it really does work and you'll notice a lot more "grab" to the leather!
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Re: When are the strops working best? 1 year 6 days ago #10384

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Yes I probably have too much paste on since the strop basically just seems to glide on top of the paste on the edge.

Maybe I should scrape off a little and then try some alcohol, cause I'm nowhere near the stiction that can lift the base of the weps mentioned in the thread above.

I was fully aware that the stones needed to break in, but didn't know the same applies to the strops.

But basically you're saying that there should be no visible residue on the edge of the blade while stropping?
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Re: When are the strops working best? 1 year 6 days ago #10385

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Usually my strops leave a little bit of gunk (probably because I haven't cleaned them or charged them for a while now) but not a whole lot. Like any polishing method you might get some fine debris on the blade which is why it's generally a good idea to clean it off between stropping grit changes just in case you cross-contaminate your strops.

I did the same thing overloading my strops initially, and it'll take off the excess as you use it. You just need to clean the blade frequently to get the excess paste off until it settles in. Generally I've noticed a dry, properly set up strop won't have a ton of "stiction" to it but it isn't a glide either... then with the alcohol added you get some grip!
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Re: When are the strops working best? 1 year 5 days ago #10389

  • PhilipPasteur
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Hi folks.
I just wanted to throw something out here:
Definition of STICTION: the force required to cause one body in contact with another to begin to move
Origin of STICTION
Static + friction
First Known Use: 1946

Definition ofstiction
noun
Physics
the friction that tends to prevent stationary surfaces from being set in motion.
n. physics The static friction that needs to be overcome to enable relative motion of stationary objects in contact

Stiction
"Stiction is the resistance to the start of motion, usually measured as the difference between the driving values required to overcome static friction"

In other words, when a strop is in motion against steel, after it has begun to move, there can be no stiction. There is only the coefficient of sliding friction and applied pressure that determine the force required to keep the strop in motion.


Anyway, I know that Clay has used the term in his desriptions from time to time. It is hard to argue with the master, but in the case of the strops, stiction is not what we are concerned about.

My technique with the strops does not include using alcohol, which can incresase the coefficient of sliding friction, or add "grab". Keep in mind that no one is right nor wrong , it is a matter of preferred techniques.
Yes it sounds like you have way too much paste on your strops. Now fixing that using alcohol during stropping would not be the way I would do it. I would scrape them, as mentioned, and maybe use some alcohol with a cloth of paper towel to remove paste to the desired level. Let them dry completely and give them a shot. You will be able to tell when you get there. There should be very little paste left on the blade and you should feel a smooth even drag as you strop Bottom line is, you need to take some of the paste off of your strops.

Now I like to use my strops dry and to use strokes that lighten up as I use smaller and smaller abrasives. I like the strops to slide accross the steel with as little friction as possible. I want the abrasive to do the work on its own with as little input from the leather as possible. This also allows one to feel what is going on much more easily than when you intentionally add friction. It would be really hard to feel much of anything if you had to apply enough force to the strops to move them, such that you would lift you entire base up.

Now you can't argue with success, and Clay has been nothing but successful sharpening with the WEPS. But I can argue that there is more than one way to get to a goal. Using a light touch and reducing friction to the minimum possible levels, gets great results for me. I also get barely perceptable convexing at the edge at 400X. I don't need to strop at up to 2 degrees less angle either.

As time goes on, you will develop your own technique and do what works for you. I suggest that you try different things along the way.

One other thing, as I like to try different things, especially when promoted by lot of the respected members here, I tried the alcohol for awhile. I decided that it was not for me, but I also found that it was causing my leather strops to dry out and get hard. Leather needs its own oil and to have that replenished to stay in good shape, soft and supple. The alcohol sucks the moisture out of the leather and makes them get hard quickly. Because my technique is based on having a specific amount of give to the leather... this just screwed me up. I gave up and went back to what I have had success with.

Phil
Phil

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Last Edit: 1 year 5 days ago by PhilipPasteur.
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Re: When are the strops working best? 1 year 5 days ago #10393

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Ok, thanks for the input (and the definition!).

So do you sometimes oil your strops to maintain them and keep them soft?

I think I had some success with the strops last night, at least I got an edge that whittled and tree topped hair. I could still see grind marks with the naked eye (and with my 400x usb microscope), but those were definitely from the coarser diamond stones.

For now I get super sharp edges but there always seems to be a bit of a haze of small scratches left on the edge that I can't get out with my micro fine ceramics nor the strops (1u/0.5u) (I got the PP2).

Do you think that maybe it would be a good idea to add the super fine ceramics as well as an intermediate step between the 1K diamonds and the micro fine? (I've read that some say the coarse micro fine is actually more coarse than the super fines and in that case it seems like a waste) Or maybe I should just let my stones break in more (I've only done 12-13 knives so far)?
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Re: When are the strops working best? 1 year 4 days ago #10395

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+1 to Phil and trying different methods and techniques. It's all about finding what works for you and what you can get the best, most consistent results with. I actually hold my WEPS paddles much differently from anyone I've seen doing videos or Clay's palm rest technique, but it works great and I'm used to it by now :)

I kind of wonder if intentionally drying out the leather could be a plus... On the finer abrasives having softer leather would probably be better, but I've got this crazy idea that maybe a harder, dryer leather could be somewhat similar to balsa in some respects.

Re: rubbing alcohol I didn't mean to imply spray it while there's still too much paste on the strop :) Clean off what you've got and re-apply a smaller amount nice and even, then after it's thoroughly dry give the alcohol a shot if you like. I rather like the extra grab it provides, but I don't polish out edges often beyond 1000 grit with a few whacks on the strops so softness on the leather isn't critical for me.

I think the haze of scratches you're seeing may just be remains of previous grits. By now your stones should be wearing in a bit, but after 20-30 (there's no exact science here) you should be pretty well broken in. There is also the option of lapping your ceramics, which has been discussed numerous times here on the forums and seems to give nice results too. When you're going for high polish spend extra time making sure you get all the scratches out at each grit level, even if the first few times you do it it takes way too long :P
Your friendly neighborhood gunsmith!
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Re: When are the strops working best? 1 year 4 days ago #10397

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I haven't had to use any leather treatment on my strops. My concern would be with how any of the different preservatives that I have would interact with the abrasives. I do keep them in sealed plastic bags which should help some in keeping them supple. The oldest strops that I have are around 2.5 years old. I am sure that they have changed with time some but not significantly.

Scratch removal is an interesting thing. In the end I don't think it really makes that much difference at the edge, but the pursuit of a scratch free bevel can take the vast majority of the time involved in any given sharpening job.

I promise, I have spent well over three hours and used thousands of strokes, while running through 20 different grits to 0.050 and 0.025 micron on nanocloth only to find ...to my horror, that I could see scratches remaining. Out of the 50 or so knives that I went through this process on, only two were scratch free in the end.

The key, I think, is to spend enough time with any grit to remove all of the scratches from the previous grit.

The ceramics are good stones, but no matter what progrssion I have used them in and how much time I have taken, they leave a scratchy... to the unaided eye, sort of dull finish. You can help this with the strops, but you probably will want to start with some of the more course pastes. The problem with going to the 1/0.5 micron paste is that the combination of the low grit content and the fine abrasive means you wil have to work a very long time to remove the scratches left by the ceramics.

If using the WEPS pastes, I would consider using the 14/10 and 5/35 micron pastes before the 1/0.5 paste.

Keep in mind, the idea fo using a progression with abrasives spaced fairly close together, is to make scratch removal from the previous grit faster. You may get there going from the ceramics to one micron paste, but you will take way more time than you want to in doing that.

Now don't take this as my saying that you don't get edge refinement with the leather and paste, you will get that and fairly quickly, just not scratch removal.

The more stones that you use with properly spaced grit sizes and the smaller the final grit, the fewer scratches will remain. This si a reasonable general rule, but you still have to understand the differences in the way the various materials act on steel, independant on their rated grit size.

Yes the superfine ceramics would be a worthy addition to your toolset. Down the road, you might consider soem of the other types of stones avaialble as well.
johpe wrote:
Ok, thanks for the input (and the definition!).

So do you sometimes oil your strops to maintain them and keep them soft?

I think I had some success with the strops last night, at least I got an edge that whittled and tree topped hair. I could still see grind marks with the naked eye (and with my 400x usb microscope), but those were definitely from the coarser diamond stones.

For now I get super sharp edges but there always seems to be a bit of a haze of small scratches left on the edge that I can't get out with my micro fine ceramics nor the strops (1u/0.5u) (I got the PP2).

Do you think that maybe it would be a good idea to add the super fine ceramics as well as an intermediate step between the 1K diamonds and the micro fine? (I've read that some say the coarse micro fine is actually more coarse than the super fines and in that case it seems like a waste) Or maybe I should just let my stones break in more (I've only done 12-13 knives so far)?
Phil

MAX 2001-2013
Hoping there is that bridge!
I miss you Buddy!
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Re: When are the strops working best? 1 year 4 days ago #10398

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ApexGS wrote:
+1 to Phil and trying different methods and techniques. It's all about finding what works for you and what you can get the best, most consistent results with. I actually hold my WEPS paddles much differently from anyone I've seen doing videos or Clay's palm rest technique, but it works great and I'm used to it by now :)

I kind of wonder if intentionally drying out the leather could be a plus... On the finer abrasives having softer leather would probably be better, but I've got this crazy idea that maybe a harder, dryer leather could be somewhat similar to balsa in some respects.:P

I agree, if you want your leather to be harder and to reduce any convexing at the edge, then drying it out would be the way to go. That is just not how I develped my process. I do change angles, pressure, and number of strokes based on what media and abrasive I am using. I think there are some real positives involved with putting a "micro convex" on the edge. For that, the hard leather is just not very good.

There is an advantage in having different tools for different effects. I already have balsa strops....
Phil

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I miss you Buddy!
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Re: When are the strops working best? 1 year 4 days ago #10401

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Good thread... I think both sides of what the alcohol does is well represented.

My only comment on the excess paste... I don't think scraping off the excess paste if you get too much on is really necessary... if you do have too much, you should be able to get the excess off with a paper towel (always being careful not to cross-contaminate the strops). If it's just a little extra, it will usually go away on its own after a few knives, so again, just make sure to clean between strops.

I'm guessing "stiction" is probably used mostly because it sounds like "sticky", :) even though it may not be entirely correct. Maybe we should just say sticky? I actually looked to see if there was a more "proper" term for sticky.... it's "adhesion"... but that just doesn't seem right to use. (I can just see someone gluing the top of their strop....) :sick:
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