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Thread: Favorite abrasives and surfaces for paddle strops?

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    Senior Member Tony Miller's Avatar
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    Default Favorite abrasives and surfaces for paddle strops?

    I have not done paddle strops for a few years now and wanted to see what types of abrasives and surfaces are in favor now days.

    I was always a fan of diamond sprays myself after moving away from the soft pastes which seemed to never dry completely. I have always liked to use the sprays on smooth, skin side firm leather for my straight razors feeling that the rougher flesh side would be more likely to round an edge.

    I know many of the knife guys like the CBN emulsions but didn't know if they were in favor with the straight razor crowd. For knives I stick with the hard, bar type abrasives applied to the rougher flesh side as it is easiest to apply to that surface and it just seems to hold on to the abrasive much better.

    In my experience the harder or firmer the surface the more exact the edge with the least chance for any rounding. On knives I have favored a softer leather so as to impart a convexing of the edge for my outdoors woods knives.

    So, what does everyone prefer now days and if using them on leather do you prefer the skin side or the rougher flesh side? What are your thoughts on balsa or even basswood ( harder than balsa) which was used on some vintage paddles?
    Last edited by Tony Miller; 02-05-2019 at 02:20 AM.
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    Senior Member blabbermouth RezDog's Avatar
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    A long time ago I got some cerium oxide for lens polishing, it is quite fine. I do not remember what the micron rating on it is. I like it a lot, although I seldom use it anymore. I tried it on hanging leather, hanging felt and then felt on a flexible paddle. I also tried CrOx on leather on a similar bench strop as well as TI’s fine paste. The cerium on the felt is the champ as far as I can see.
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    Senior Member Brontosaurus's Avatar
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    We've corresponded about this recently, so I'm sorry to repeat, but I'm glad that you're thinking to move back to paddles. I'm mostly interested in the Solingen green, red, and black crayons these days, applying these to the finish side of vegetable-tanned belting that has been garnet sanded to 180x to give the surface some tooth. For razors, I like to use such a surface pulled taut as a hanging strop, or on a bed of hard felt for some give on an otherwise solid-body paddle. For knives, balsa works for me, pasted the same way. To apply the paste, I rub it on my thumb, then rub the pasted thumb on the leather or balsa, never the crayon directly on the honing surface, apart from some initial scribble as needed. This is analogous to using chromium oxide and ferric oxide (red and black) pigments suspended in oil, which are applied in much the same way, the latter perhaps being preferable for balsa. All that said, I have been straight stropping recently on a small, thin solid wood paddle lined with shell cordovan. From my experience, both it and some of the smaller Solingen paddles, loom, foam-lined strops benefit from around three laterally biassed laps with a little pressure followed by a few more up-and-down laps lightening up and taking the blade in sections and returning to the laterally-biassed pass from time to time to even things out. Also, what has been curious to me is that there is one current and some otherwise vintage small pasted balsa paddle strops that have significant scoring lines following the length of the strop. I assume that this is to account for humidity fluctuations, as the balsa wood can otherwise heave and hoe like the sea. For my 3" x 12" x 1/4" balsa strops glued to plywood for kitchen knives, I scored the balsa surfaces lengthwise with an X-acto knife to minimize fluctuation from humidity changes. Seems to have helped and it's almost invisible apart from where swarf has collected and oxidized.
    Last edited by Brontosaurus; 02-05-2019 at 05:20 AM.
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    Gatling-Gun Jerry Gasman's Avatar
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    I've use Cr0X on Felt and diamond on Linen. As you said it can convex the edge, but I feel a little convexing is ok. Stropping does it too, just not as quickly. I made a paddle strop. I made it to use while honing then figured I'd use it for knives. If I only knew how to sharpen a knife. Ha. Getting there.
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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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    I use CBN and Diamond paste and sprays .50 to .10um. Chrome Oxide and Metal polish for tools and knives. Metal polish is too aggressive for razors but works well on knives and tools for a micro chipped edge.

    I use paddles for tools and knives with scraped horse butt to an almost suede finish similar to Nakayama second strop. On the skin side it holds Diamond well, a scraped flesh side of veg tanned, to hold Chrome Oxide or metal polish and can be scraped off and re applied easily.

    I also use MDF and Bamboo (cut from cutting board) pasted with metal polish on one side and Chrome Oxide the other for plane blades and chisels. No balsa, too soft.

    My shop strop for razors is a vintage thick Certified, Russian diamond cut back, well oiled and rolled, soft and floppy like a well washed sock. I scraped the face and strop on both sides, plane leather. I also strop on Polyester Canvas sail cloth pasted with Chrome Oxide between stones when honing.

    My daily drivers are a pair of Nakayama one vintage, one newer, with suede leather and linen second strops. I really like the linen and suede.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RezDog View Post
    A long time ago I got some cerium oxide for lens polishing, it is quite fine. I do not remember what the micron rating on it is. I like it a lot, although I seldom use it anymore. I tried it on hanging leather, hanging felt and then felt on a flexible paddle. I also tried CrOx on leather on a similar bench strop as well as TI’s fine paste. The cerium on the felt is the champ as far as I can see.
    Many sellers of Cerium Oxide do not list a micron rating. Some who do list size, quote ratings around 2-2.5 microns. However, I have seen some references to super cerium oxide that may be around 0.5 micron.
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    I use CrOX paste and diamond spray on balsa
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    Senior Member blabbermouth Haroldg48's Avatar
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    I use CrOX and Diamond sprays on two felts that I have for mine. I got away from the crayons because I didn't feel I was getting an even application and was afraid of a mini lump or two messing up an edge.
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    Senior Member Tony Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Euclid440 View Post
    I also use MDF and Bamboo (cut from cutting board) pasted with metal polish on one side and Chrome Oxide the other for plane blades and chisels. No balsa, too soft.
    Your experiences sound much like mine other than I have not tried CBN. I do wonder where balsa got its start. To me it holds paste well but just seemed too soft and easily dented. I have liked basswood as it is is much more dense and has a grain/pore structure that holds pastes well.

    Like you I find the stick abrasives work best on rougher leather, anything softer on smooth leather or wood depending just how firm a surface is needed. Even for knives I have been using the back side of a skived/split tooling leather that is very thin and very hard that provides almost no give under normal stropping pressure unless I specifically want a convex then I go thicker and softer. Been playing with kangaroo as well since it is nearly paper thin, smooth yet with a little tooth to it and quite firm.


    Thanks for you input


    Tony
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    Senior Member Tony Miller's Avatar
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    Lots of great info provided by everyone. I appreciate it. Much sounds similar to my experiences and maybe not much has changed over the years with paddle strops as it has with hones.....remember when a Norton 3K/8K was THE stone to have !

    Oddly though I have not liked hard felt as much as it seems others have. I just feel it was a bit soft for my tastes and just never really got on with it.

    For now I am working with a firm veg tanned tooling leather for razor paddles and both a hard smooth and a skived/split rough surface veg tanned tooling leather for my bench strops. This material, rather than the natural soft flesh side, has had the flesh side sliced off with a razor sharp knife leaving a hard, nearly sand paper feeling, open pore surface to hold stick type pastes (best for knives and tools).


    Been fun experimenting and hearing what others are using.


    Thanks,
    Tony
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