Keeping knives and other essential blades in their best condition is already not a secret. People who love cooking know the advantages of sharp knives and the disadvantages of dull ones. Individuals who fancy going on outdoor adventures are also aware of the importance of knives and other blades, such as scissors, arrowheads, and fish hooks.
But, when the materials downgrade due to natural wear and tear and other factors, what could be the best option that can retain their optimal states? Sharpening with the help of a knife sharpener and honer is the most common method that may opt to maximize in those situations. But, there are other functional ways that can resolve all your knife or blade-related problems, which are through honing and stropping. These two methods may have the same purpose and goal, but they definitely differ in process.
Thus, let us get to know more about honing and stropping so we can start applying them to situations when knives get dull, hindering our meal-prep processes and other related activities.
It refers to the process done after a knife is sharpened using a fine-grained stone or other materials. Thus, this gives the blade a better finish by refining and smoothing the edges. It is often considered a maintenance process that must be done regularly.
Honers are considered as sharpening tools. The intricate sharpening and polishing process of knives and other cutting materials was first developed and applied on stone artifacts approximately 75 thousand years ago. Based on research from the University of Colorado at Boulder posted in ScienceDaily, the prehistoric humans devised a way of sharpening their pieces of equipment made of stones.
It pertains to the thorough process of polishing and removing the tiniest inconsistencies on the blade’s edge. It’s often done with the help of a stropping belt or a piece of leather. In some conditions, abrasive compounds are utilized to achieve a perfect result. Moreover, half-micron diamonds, aluminum oxide, and chromium (III) oxide are among the typical abrasive compounds used to remove the recent flaws of the cut and enhance the sharpness of the blade.
How to hone a knife
To fully hone a knife, here are the steps that you should know:
- Get your dull knife and your preferred honer, a honing rod, for example.
- Place your honing rod in your preferred position, but the vertical grip is the most common
- Ensure that the knife’s help is above the steel with a 15-22 degree angle
- Apply a bit of pressure, then slide the knife down the honing steel
- Repeat the process on both sides until you reach your desired results
However, you can also use the user-friendly and super handy LeBeau’s Honer or the classic whetstone if you don’t fancy honing rods.
How to strop a knife
For stropping, the process is as follows:
- Prepare the strop and the knife
- Clean the leather strop to remove the residue
- Put your desired abrasive compound
- Find a comfortable yet functional angle for better results
- Position the knife to the strop and move from heel to tip
- Continue drawing the knife but keep the angle
- Flip the knife when the first side is done.
- Use warm water to clean the blade afterward
Points to Take Note of
The two methods definitely show some similarities, but their differences are also evident. Hence, listed below are the points that you should note to properly differentiate them.
- The materials used for both processes are different. Honing rods, whetstones, and other unconventional honers are used when honing a knife. But in stropping, stropping belts and leathers are used.
- Honing is preferred when a knife can still easily slice through but gets stuck on top during the first slices. A perfectly sharp blade must cut through without problems at all.
- It is not required to regularly strop your knives but consistent honing after use is recommended.
- Stropping gives a sharper edge by eliminating the burr while honing sharpens the blade by pushing the knife’s edge back to the center.
Regardless of their differences, they are still proven efficient methods to keep your knives and other blades in their optimum states.