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How to clean a knife-sharpening strop

Monday, October 24, 2016 0:18
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One of the best ways to sharpen a convex grind knife is with a leather strop and abrasive emulsions. Here’s how to clean the strop.

by Leon Pantenburg

I thought I knew how to sharpen a knife. After all, I’d been doing it successfully since I was a kid. I regularly sharpen all the knives in my hunting camp, and have been teaching sharpening to Boy Scouts for years.

Then I got a convex grind knife. I could still sharpen it with a stone, steel and strop, but heard there was a better way.

I found that in this series of videos from Kniveshipfree.com (KSF is a Survivalcommonsense.com sponsor.) I watched the videos, did what they said, and it opened up a whole new world, and set a new standard for sharpness.

Cleaning the strop is easy - just erase the residue.

Cleaning the strop is easy – just erase the residue.

My emulsion sticks are from KSF, so I don’t know what the other standards are. I did get some similar sticks from Harbor Freight that work just fine. The black appears to be about 3,000 grit, and the green is about 3,500 to 4,000 grit.

I suppose you could go to an auto parts store and get some abrasives used for grinding valves. They should work, but I don’t know what the variances would be.

The basic idea is to use a black (coarse) emulsion on the strop until you get a shaving-sharp edge. Then you polish with the finer green. Even finer emulsions can follow, depending on how obsessive-compulsive you are about knife edges. If you’re like me, that means taking it to an insanely-wicked-sharp edge.

Nobody needs to whittle paper from phone book pages, but it is fun to show off with!

Truthfully, I get all the working edge I need with the black emulsion and a plain leather stropping. The wicked edges don’t last long under hard use. For butchering or wood carving, that standard of edge is overkill and takes too much time to maintain.

At some point, metal residue will build up on the strop, and that will affect how well it sharpens. I discovered these cleaning techniques on Facebook, and thought I’d pass them on. All you need is a Pink Eraser™ or some 320 grit wet-dry sandpaper.

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