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Which strop to buy?

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  • #55369
    Matt
    Participant
    • Topics: 3
    • Replies: 5

    Hey there – first post here and new owner of a WE130.  I recently purchased the WE130 on the Holiday sale and picked-up the 800/1000 stone set as well, but did not add any strops (yet).  I’ve got some scratching that I would like to polish out and realize I probably need to purchase a strop.  I’m also considering purchasing the Super Fine 1200/1600 Ceramic stones at some time in the future when the budget allows.

    What strop set would you consider recommending for me to use?

    Would adding the 1200/1600 stones change your recommendation on what strop to use if it were removed from the mix?

    If so, what would that be?  I am trying to avoid buying something that might not be as useful if I add in another stone set before the stropping.

    Thanks All

    #55370
    MarcH
    Moderator
    • Topics: 64
    • Replies: 2532

    Welcome to the Wicked Edge Forum Matt.

    First, it can take about 10 knives sharpened with each new stone til they’re broken in and begin to yield their best results.  The finer grits will break in sooner with less use.

    Ask any experienced W.E. user which grit should I buy next and the answer is likely, more.  If you get into knife sharpening with your W.E. eventually you’ll end up with most of them.

    Realize scratches are laid down with each grit used in your sharpening progression.  We attempt to remove these scratches with each subsequent grit.  The fine scratches remaining can be the remnants of scratches left unresolved from anyone of the previous grits.  This means even though they appear fine they may still be quite deep.

    Strops polish due to a burnishing effect.  They tend to smooth the steel by deforming it and pushing it over to fill the scratches.  Deep scratches can take a lot of polishing.  For these you need to essentially take the surface down till it’s even with the scratches.  Because of this it’s best to try to prevent leaving these deep scratches in the first place.  This is why it’s important to save sharpening your better knives till after your stones are well broken in.

    That said, strops are a medium unto themselves.  They don’t necessarily follow a logical or intuitive grit precession we have, to go finer and finer with each next step.   I follow up my sharpening sessions with at least a two grit strop progression, normally the 4µ/2µ.  This is mainly for utility purposes. Although, the strops do enhance the polished appearance of a well done sharpened edge. The stropping process smooths the bevels and the shoulder to improve the sharpness by enhancing a knife edge’s ability to penetrate and slide through the substrate.  I add additional strop grits to my basic 4/2 progression, either coarser grits before and/or finer grits later, depending on the level of polished appearance I seek.

    Even a lot of stropping may not remove the remnants of bad deep scratches left from early coarse grit sharpening stones.

    I’m not a big fan of the ceramic stones although they do have a place in a sharpening progression.  Of the two ceramics offered by W.E. I prefer the results with the microfines (previously designated 0.6µ/1.4µ) over the superfines 1200/1600.  The ceramics, used properly, should enhance your sharpness and polish.  I don’t find it necessary to use both ceramic sets.  The ceramic sets require a pretty good amount of use before you’ll see their best results.  The microfines seem to be better, sooner.  Using the ceramics doesn’t effect my choice of strops.

    Marc
    (MarcH's Rack-Its)

    4 users thanked author for this post.
    #55374
    Matt
    Participant
    • Topics: 3
    • Replies: 5

    Thanks for replying to my question Marc,

    I appreciate the detailed reply.  Is there a grit number you work up to before using the ceramics?

    I do notice that the shallower beveled knives hide the scratching vs. my EDC which has a longer first bevel.  I should probably work on the kitchen knives first to break in the stones.

    Lastly – do you feel the paste type stropping compounds in paste form are better for beginners to apply vs. the sprays?  I saw some videos online that show how the strop can become an uneven surface if not applied appropriately.

    Thanks again!

    #55375
    MarcH
    Moderator
    • Topics: 64
    • Replies: 2532

    It’s hard to answer in black and white, do this, then do that, terms.  Just because someone says or writes something is better,, it may not be best for you. Knowing what to use and what to do next for a given circumstance is experience based.  What I like to call “the art of sharpening”.  Until you reach the point in your sharpening experiences to recognize what is appropriate next, I prefer to share in generalities.

    Each medium we use has it’s own characteristics.  Like I wrote, “grit size doesn’t necessarily follow a logical or intuitive precession, to go finer and finer grit number with each and every next step”.  I follow a decreasing grit particle size, coarse to finer, within each different medium.  When crossing to the next medium, following with the next finer grit doesn’t strictly hold.  Sometimes we step back up a grit size or so.  This can better blend the medium’s scratch patterns to yield better results.

    In general I use diamonds, then ceramics, then strops.  Then within each medium I use my coarse to fine grit.  The grit I choose to use is commensurate to the job I need it to do.  Within each medium I start with the appropriate grit for the condition of the knife edge.  Whether it’s the initial sharpening or a touchup, I start with the finest grit that’ll get it done.  Same thing with stropping.  If I’m working too hard at it, exerting too much time and effort, I step back up a grit size, coarser, or two as needed to get the results I’m expecting to see.

    I would follow whatever finest grit diamond stone you use with the ceramics.  Using coarse ceramic to fine ceramic.  Then the same for strops, coarse to fine.

    Don’t make too much out of trying to do every exactly right, from the get go.  I realized most of us, me included, who are attracted to the W.E. are perfectionists.  Work with what you have, and what you bought or can afford at the time.   Nothing they sell is bad.  Results are user driven, how well you do it, not the results of the product.  I never found any real issues using the strop pastes.  They can get dry and flake or scrape off.  A spray mist with rubbing alcohol helps with this.  Worry more about learning and developing your technique.  Techniques are individualized.  Doing it right means you are achieving results you are pleased with.  Only with time and experience will you truthfully be able to recognize the results you’re seeing  with each medium your using.

    For me only after I was able to see cause and effect…that is what I did,  how I did it and where on the knife edge the scratch pattern and/or the polish was applied.  Only then, after I had control over this, was I able to recognize what each medium and grit actually did for my sharpening job.  Then at this point I saw the difference each change I made has, as I added more grits and different mediums to my sharpening repertoire.

    Start simple.  Work with what you have.  Buy what’s cheaper…entry level.  With time you’ll upgrade.   Sorry if I share in too general or theoretical terms.  I’ve learned that sharpening with the W.E. is such an indivualized experience.  Many of us do it differently with just the same excellent results.

    Get a lighted magnified visual aid, a jeweler’s loupe or a USB microscope is even better, (Amazon).  This is an invaluable tool to see what you’re doing, and where you’re doing it…the results are user effort driven.  Time, effort and attention to detail is key.

    Read the recent new thread “Stropping Technique”.  It’ll be helpful for you, too.

    Marc
    (MarcH's Rack-Its)

    5 users thanked author for this post.
    #55377
    000Robert
    Participant
    • Topics: 6
    • Replies: 321

    Welcome to the forum, Matt!

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