Stropping recommendations?

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Joined Apr 11, 2021
Hello,

I am just starting out on a more active sharpening, honing and stropping regimen for my kitchen knives. I have knives of average quality, mostly Sabatier and Victorinox with some cheaper high-carbon stainless knives for the kids.

I just invested in a Work Sharp Ken Onion sharpener with the Blade Grinding Attachment. This is after years of grinding away too much steel on an old Chef's Choice 130. I upgraded my stock honing steel to a new 14" Dexter-Russell Butcher Steel and I'm looking to add a fine honing steel and possibly a very fine ceramic honing rod to my lineup.

I'm intrigued by what I hear about stropping as a best-practice daily edge maintenance routine. I ordered a paddle strop from Amazon along with some compound but I was very unimpressed with it, especially the compound. I think the paddle is too short for longer culinary knives and the compound, especially the white one, seems really poor. It coats the leather and crumbles away rather than suffusing it.

What brands of stropping compound are recommended for sharpening ordinary kitchen knives? There doesn't seem to be any standard for particle size or even for colors. I read somewhere that the progression from coarse to fine is supposed to go "black, white, red, green," but this doesn't seem to be universally true.

Are Bark River bars respected as stropping compounds go? They seem to be widely mentioned on the internet sites where stropping is talked about.
 
3,989
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Joined Dec 18, 2010
I strop razors for shaving. No need for kitchen knives. A ceramic hone or smooth steel is better for a quick touch up between sharpening. For a somewhat coarser steel, the f. dick multicut can’t be beat. Pricey but effective.
 
3,187
1,061
Joined Jul 13, 2012
You can strop on cardboard and finish on inky newspaper. Both have a certain clay content to them and the ink makes a good polish. I like the dividers that come in wine cases it lasts a long time. Chromium oxide is good stropping medium too, but it costs money where as paper products are free. If it's good enough for Murray Carter it's good enough for me.
 

phatch

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Staff member
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Joined Mar 29, 2002
Corrugated cardboard is less desirable for stropping, you tend to get some uneven pressure and angles. It works, but not as well.
 
3,187
1,061
Joined Jul 13, 2012
That's why I like the dividers, they are flat and free. You can also treat them with compound as well, but I don't find that necessary. To be honest I have a lot of stropping items and I use them on different knives that do different tasks, but at the end of the day chipboard (flat cardboard) and news paper are my go to. Knives like my Suji and fish knives get the deluxe treatment, but boning knives and field knives rarely go past 1k on the stones. My Gyutos, pettys and parings go to 6k then strop
 
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Joined Nov 29, 2012
Hi David, I'd say that if you're just transitioning over to a nicer sharpener and trying out stropping, keep it relatively simple and get some green CrO compound. I bought a Formax green block and it works amazingly well. Besides the waxiness of your compound, the face of your strop might play a factor in compound retention. I use 2 strops that are both smooth, and the Formax sticks well to the one with compound. A strop with split-faced leather might hold the compound better?
 
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