YouTube Video: The stropping myth and how to sharpen tools with leather

Today a little video about the maintenance of sharp tools. Unfortunately I am not giving my tools the attention they would deserve, because I am not using them enough, but that should hopefully change soon. I have also bought a thick leather strip to make myself a good strop last year, but then I misplaced it and I found it again only last week.

In a pinch, I have also used following things for stropping a knife blade:

Folded newspaper, paper, cardboard, towel, dog’s collar, wooden board, and even the trouser leg of my worn jeans (whilst wearing them).

And when I had not commercial compound available, for stronger abrasion I have used:

A toothpaste, a bit of fine clay/mud, and fine wood ash (grass ash would probably work even better, it contains silica, but I did not try that one yet).

But the best results are in my opinion obtained with a strip of thick leather and jeweler’s rouge (the real stuff – finely ground haematite made from annealed rust). It is definitively worth stropping kitchen knives, especially if you have knives with an apple-seed edge.


  1. Jazzlet says

    Charly I don’t know what knives with an “apple seed edge” are, would it be a serrated edge? If it is apple seed edge is a much nicer descriptive!

  2. voyager says

    Very interesting, Charly. Sharpening is a skill I’d like to learn. Is a diamond plate required first for kitchen knives?
    Also, I’ve never heard the term “Appleseed” edge either.

  3. says

    An appleseed or convex edge is not serrated edge, but an edge with cross-section like an appleseed and not like a vedge. The secondary bevel is not flat and clearly visible, but curved and tapers smoothly onto the primary bevel.

    Right now the article shows me a link to this article in the Rondel Dagger Series. A blade with appleseed edge has crosssectin similar to the profile of the dagger scabbard.

  4. fusilier says

    WRT sharpening:

    I can recommend Leonard Lee’s book:

    http:// www.,43072,43091&ap=1

    and Ron Hock’s book:

    http:// www.

    Disclaimer -- I send them money, and they send me toys; don’t forget to remove spaces in the URLs

    Whatever sharpening approach you use, work on being consistent. As Kipling wrote, “There are nine-and-sixty ways of constructing tribal lays”

    “And. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Is. Right.”


    James 2:24

  5. says

    @voyager, to answer your question, no, you do not need a diamond coated plate to sharpen kitchen knives. All that you really need is a cheap coarse&fine whetstone, a bit of water and you are set to go. And with a piece of cardboard for stropping, you can even get your knives shaving sharp.

    Whetstones have the disadvantage that they get worn out in the middle when used, but my father never bothered with truing them and his knives were always sharp all the same. I true my whetstones on old flat brick or on a granite tile.

    A consistent edge angle is important because an inconsistent angle tends to inconsistent behavior of the blade in the cut -- uneven blunting and/or bending/waving of the edge, chipping, etc.

    Diamond plated machinist plates, a gazillion of ever finer sharpening stones, natural stones, glass-backed stones, leather strops, polishing pastes and whatnot are really fun to have and to play with. But 99% of sharpness can be obtained with a cheap 10 bucks whetstone and a bit of praxis.

    Specialized tools or highly specialized Japanese kitchen knives are a different story, but most people in the West do not use those anyway.

  6. voyager says

    Thanks. From what you’ve said before I thought that was the case, but the fellow in the video spoke as if a diamond plate was something essential. Of course, he was talking tools not knives. Good video, nonetheless.

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