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Ok, knife guys.

Does anyone use a strop for their knives? I ask, because I have an elderly man who comes to the shop once a month and stones a few of our knives in his truck. A pristine 1951 International delivery van. Last week I brought to him an old family heirloom to sharpen. A very old Italian Stiletto.

  After a few years, I finally found someone who replaced the springs. Anyway, Gene didn't use a stone on it. He pulled a out couple of funny looking files. He clamped it in some type of homemade holder and used 4 different files on both edges of the knife. Then he went up front and came back with a strop.. He rubbed some'what he called red" on it. Clipped it and started to "strop" the knife. It was never that sharp but after he buffed out the Italian walnut handle and handed it to me, he said be careful. It was razor sharp! Thank goodness it also has a reverse spring.
 

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Actually, I do. Mind you I sharpen a lot more woodworking tools than I do knives.

Up untill about the '70's you couldn't really get stones that were higher than 2-3000 grit. If there's one thing that sharpening nutjobs can agree on, its that the higher the grit size, the better polish, which means there are fewer scratch marks on the edge, and that means the edge holds up longer.

So, what usually means is that before the higher grit stones became available people would only have a course stone and a "fine" stone of maybe 2000 grit. The strop, charged with rouge, aka jewelers rouge, or green chromium oxide provided the polish. I know quite a few wood carvers who rarely use abraisives on their tools, but are constantly polishing the edges on strops.

Just a disclaimer for all the knifenuts out there:

All of my knives were handforged from meteors by mystical dwarf blacksmiths who live secluded lives in the Dutch Alps. By possesing such knives, they give me imediate Chef cooking powers. This has nothing to do with skill, muscle memory, or experience.
 

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I strop to touch up and it works great. Green chromium oxide followed by cardboard followed by bare leather followed by diamond spray on felt. Not for every knife some I leave at cardboard and refine on news paper and I'm good to go. Protein knives like fillet and boning never go past a 3k stone before stropping as I like a little tooth to them. Produce blades get the fully treatment.

I'm going to make one of these this summer -

 

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I've been putting it off but I can see that R2 steel really needs a high polish to get the best out of it.  I have lots of balsa and other surfaces and sunstrates to use and experiment with.  But it's like I just haven't though about it enough.  I really just have to motivate myself to just go through with it.
 
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