When it is about sharpening a knife people usually don’t think of anything else rather than a leather strop. 

Are you not getting the best results to sharpen your knife? Then, you can plan on using leather to sharpen knife. Generally, this process is simple and effective. On top of that, it has been used for centuries. Hence, it is proven to be useful. But how do you use leather to sharpen knife

Don’t worry! That is why we are going to have this discussion so that you can learn the entire process. 

Using Leather to Sharpen Knife: The Process

In reality, “using leather” means using a leather strop to sharpen a knife. The actual process of sharpening a knife is simpler than you think. After gathering everything, such as the knife, the leather strop, and the honing compound, you need to follow the steps below to go through the honing procedure:

  • First, coat the leather strop with your preferred honing compound. It removes any burrs or nicks from the edges to have a sharp finish after polishing. 
  • Next, lay the leather strop on a table or a suitable place. Make sure the rough leather side is facing upwards and the flat wooden side is facing downwards. 
  • At this point, gently run the blade along the strop’s length. Keep your palm on the handle while doing this.
  • After sharpening the first side of the knife, flip it over keeping the sharp edge away from you. This time, run the blade with an opposite motion.
  • No matter which side you are honing, always apply equal pressure. Be firm and gentle while applying pressure, but not too hard as it can damage the blade. 
  • Repeat the honing process about five to ten times, alternating the blade sides. For best results, hone the first side two or more times, then flip to the second side and hone the same number of times.
  • After honing both sides on the rough leather, switch to the soft leather side by flipping the strop. Repeat running the knife the same way you did on the rough leather side of the strop.     
  • When polishing the blade, the soft leather side works best. Hence, three to four single strokes should do the job. 

Congrats! You have successfully sharpened your knife with a leather strop. For a better demonstration of the process, you can also check out this video,

Factors to Consider While Sharpening Knife with Leather 

You should be aware of some factors while using leather to sharpen knives. Here are some considerable ones,

  • Apply equal pressure to each area of the blade when sharpening your knife.
  • The honing compound shouldn’t be overcoated.
  • The finest results come from softly sliding your knife down the strop.
  • Ensure the entire blade runs the length of the leather strop.
  • Sharpen both sides of the knife by using both leather sides of the strop, rough and soft. 

Why Leather is the Best Option to Sharpen Knives?

Leather is not only the best material to sharpen a knife but also the most widely used one. A leather strop is constructed accordingly to sharpen a knife in the best way. That is why it is the best option for sharpening knives. Perhaps, these factors will further justify it: 

  • It usually takes less time to sharpen knives with leather unless you use a professional knife sharpening machine. 
  • The outer part of a leather strop is made of soft material, while the inner part is made of solid material. This gives you the benefit of sharpening knives more conveniently. 
  • While constructing a leather strop, a piece of wood is used for hand support. This offers better stability while honing the knife than using the leather alone.
  • In contrast, leather functions as a softer substance to offer the delicate touch required for sharpening a blade.
  • A sharp blade is delicate. Thus, the combination of several types of leather provides excellent support. 
  • Only leather can polish the micro edges of the knife smoothly, which may not be possible with other compounds. 

The Benefits of Sharpening Your Knife with Leather

You get some additional benefits while sharpening knives with a leather strop that you don’t find with other compounds. The good news is there is no harm in honing your knife with leather. The entire procedure is designed to make your knife better.

Here are some of the benefits of sharpening a knife with leather…

  • Leather can clean the rough edges better than other materials. It gives a smooth touch to the razor’s edge while maintaining sharpness.
  • In addition, it makes the sharp edges last longer. So, you don’t have to sharpen your knife anytime soon. 
  • Compared to other compounds, you can use a leather strop more times for sharpening knives.
  • Unless you are using a sharpening machine, a leather strop will last longer than anything else. 
  • Since a leather strop is made dedicatedly to hone knives, you can expect to have the best results.
  • Moreover, the process of honing knives with a leather strop is affordable.    

What Are the Other Types of Sharpening Compounds?

There are various types of sharpening compounds. They differ in grit for their finishes. That is why different honing compounds are good for sharpening different objects. There are many distinct types of compounds, including waxes, sprays, and pastes.

However the classification of these compounds is generalized here,

Wax Compound: 

  • The most common compound for sharpening.
  • Long lasting even after plenty of uses.
  • Easy to apply.
  • Affordable.

Spray Compound:

  • Relatively long-lasting compared to pastes, but not from wax compounds.
  • Can cover a vast surface.
  • The easiest option to apply. 

Paste Compound:

  • It is becoming more popular.
  • Very much effective as wax compounds.
  • Not long lasting compared to wax or spray compounds.

Power Compound:   

  • May need to apply it on the surface frequently.
  • Not so popular.

Leather to Sharpen Knife FAQs

Knowing only the process of sharpening knives with leather is not enough. You need to know some additional things that may come in handy. So, go through the following questions that people generally ask, and their answers.  

Is a leather strap good for sharpening knives?

Yes, a leather strap is an excellent choice to sharpen any type of knife. If you put some abrasive powder on a leather strap, it will become more efficient to sharpen the edges of the blade. Moreover, the knife’s longevity can extend after sharpening it with a leather strap.  

What kind of leather is ideal for a strop?

Usually, strops are made of various types of leather. These include cowhide, horsehide, bison skin, or synthetic leather. However, vegetable-tanned leather can make the strop free of blemishes. With that said, Russian-tanned leather strops are renowned for their high caliber.

How often should I sharpen a knife?

Ultimately, it all comes down to how frequently you use it and what you use it for. A frequently used knife is suggested to sharpen almost every day. On the contrary, a knife that is used less frequently should be sharpened once or twice a month. In general, if you find it difficult to cut something with your knife, you should sharpen it as soon as possible.


Now you know how to use leather to sharpen knife. We hope all your inquiries are answered in this blog. So don’t struggle or wait for other options to sharpen your knife. Get a leather strop if you haven’t any, and start sharpening your knife if requires. 

Don’t forget to apply some honing compound on the rough leather side of the strop. And always be careful not to cut yourself when sharpening your knife, regardless of the sharpening material.


Oliver aka Arannyk Monon is a versatile content writer, editor, and content strategist. He has been writing for the last 10 years to help people get the actual information that they are searching for on Search Engines. He has proven expertise in Kitchen, automotive, camera, hosting, and other technical topics.

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