How to Sharpen a Knife With Leather

How to Sharpen a Knife With Leather
Using leather to sharpen a knife, more commonly called "stropping," is a method that will allow a knife to take on a razor-sharp edge. Stropping is normally used on straight razors to attain an edge that can be used for shaving. The leather polishes the blade's edge and removes microscopic burrs or defects on the edge. In order for stropping to be effective, the knife should have been previously sharpened to a fine edge.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Leather strop
  • Scrap leather
  • 1-by-4-foot wood board
  • Glue
  • Short section of cord
  • Previously sharpened knife
  • Sharpening stone kit (if needed)
Step 1
Purchase a commercially made leather strop or make your own. One way to make your own strop is to glue a strip of leather to a piece of 1-by-4-foot wood, leaving enough wood to make a handle. Another method is to purchase a long piece of leather from a crafts store. Make a hole in one end and attach a small rope lanyard, which will allow you to hang the strop.
Step 2
Ensure that the knife has been previously sharpened to a fine edge. The knife has to be sharp and clean to begin with or the stropping will not work. Refer to "Additional Resources," below, for a link on how to sharpen your knife.
Step 3
Run the blade back and forth on the strop at a shallow 10-degree angle. Make sure the knife's edge is facing you as you push the knife away. Flip the blade over so that the edge is away from you, and pull the blade back toward you. The blade's edge should always be in contact with the leather.
Step 4
Work the knife back and forth 10 to 15 times. Check the blade's sharpness, and then repeat if needed. Refer to "Tips," below, for a method to check your knife's sharpness.

Tips & Warnings

After sharpening, test the blade by cutting a sheet of notebook paper. The blade should slide easily through the paper, and it should not snag or catch as you cut through the paper.
Use caution when working with knives.

Article Written By Daniel Ray

Daniel Ray has been writing for over 15 years. He has been published in "Florida Sportsman" magazine. He holds an FAA airframe and powerplant license and FCC radiotelephone license, and is also a licensed private pilot. He attended the University of South Florida.

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