Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Knives


Stropping by hand on a leather strop impregnated with an abrasive compound of choice is all that is needed to keep any of the WOOD BEE CARVER Signature Series knives made by HELVIE KNIVES tuned up and ready to carve.

Stropping is the action of laying the blade of a carving knife down flat on the leather strop positioned so that the cutting edge will trail the pulling stroke. Hold the blade flat on the leather strop using slight press while making the pulling stroke. At the end of the pull stroke lift the knife up to return it to the starting point of the stroking action and lay the blade flat again on the leather strop and repeat the stropping stroke several time. Then turn the knife blade over, laying the blade flat again and pull the stropping stroke in the opposite direction to treat the other side of the blade. Strop the second side several times.


Stropping is a learn by doing activity in which one will learn an appropriate number of strokes on both sides to tune up the cutting edge for clean and sharp slicing cuts. Stropping is not technically “sharpening” but rather a “polishing” of the cutting teeth of the cutting edge and the sides of the blade to enhance the slicing action.

When stropping concentrate on keeping the blade flat on the leather strop and do not be concerned with the angle of a bevel. The stropping action will slightly compress the flat blade down into the leather which in turn will enhance the micro bevel of the cutting edge as it is being polished and burnished by the leather and abrasive compound.

STROP          knife 8

STROP          STROP

The only time a cutting edge needs to be sharpened is when the cutting edge develops a nick or scratch or dullness from repeated use. Hand sharpening using the diamond hone paddles or credit card shaped hones with progressing grits of medium, fine and extra fine is all that is necessary to create a good cutting edge on a carving knife which is followed up with a stropping on a leather strop to remove the burr edge caused by the diamond hones and give the final polish and burnish treatment to the blade.

Stropping a curved cutting edge blade is to simply follow the direction of the cutting edge from the heel of the blade to the tip of the blade while guiding the cutting edge along its path. The key to remember is that one is stropping the entire length of the cutting edge as the cutting edge trails the direction of the stroke.

Sharpening a blade using the progressive grits of a diamond hone is to lay the blade flat on the hone and using slight pressure guide the blade with the cutting edge leading the way in the push stroke on one side of the blade. At the end of the push stroke, keep the blade flat and slide it backwards to repeat the forward stroke. It is the forward stroke that causes the abrasiveness of the diamond hone to cut teeth into the cutting edge and the backward stroke allows for the blade to remain flat during this back and forth action and helps to shape the side of the blade. Repeat the process for the other side of the blade with the cutting edge now leading the way in the backward or pull stroke. Stroke backward and forward to keep blade flat and eventually after working on both sides of the blade with an equal amount of strokes a burr edge will appear. Move then to the next finer grit of the diamond hones and repeat the process until the burr edge gets smaller and smaller. Finally, remove the burr edge using the stropping action. Sharpening a curved cutting edge is simply remembering to follow the path of the cutting edge from heel to tip and tip to heel in the stroking action in order to sharpen the entire cutting edge.

Not recommended is the use of motorized sharpening systems or buffing wheels. Hand sharpening and stropping is simply an extension of the carving process in that the knife becomes a part of the hand which is an extension of the carver’s creativity. Be Sharp and Never Dull.






This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 at 7:52 pm and is filed under Knives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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