Leather: The Secret to a Razor-Sharp Knife Edge

Leather: The Secret to a Razor-Sharp Knife Edge

Dec 14th 2021

Did you know that leather can be a great partner for your knives? No. We're not talking about leather sheaths. Although they look awesome to carry your blade, we're talking about sharpening your knife! For centuries, leather has been used to effectively sharpen knives and blades.

If you're just learning about this great sharpening technique, we'll tell you all about it in this blog. After learning about this technique, you'll never go back to sharpening your Marfione dagger or Microtech knives with stone or steel.

Signs That Your Knife Needs Sharpening

If your knife is not performing as it once did, likely due to its dullness, you'll need to invest more strength when slicing. You may even find that the blade starts slipping or sliding instead of making a clean cut - these are signs that sharpening your knife could be needed.

Why Does Leather Sharpen Knives?

The secret of leather's sharpening abilities lies in its abrasive surface. When you run your knife against the leather, it aligns and polishes your blade's edge to create a sharper edge overall. This is why stropping is so effective at honing and polishing blades - because it can straighten out any bent or rolled edges and remove any burrs or nicks present.

What Type Of Leather Is Best For Sharpening Knives?

Of all kinds of leather available, vegetable-tanned leather is by far the most beneficial when it comes to sharpening knives. This type is treated with tannins, giving it a tougher constitution and expanding its longevity.

How Do You Care For A Leather Strop?

To ensure your leather strops remain soft and functional, condition them periodically with a suitable product. Options include mink oil, beeswax, or lanolin. Simply spread a minimal quantity of the substance onto the strop and work it in using a delicate cloth to complete the task.

Leather Sharpening Techniques

There are different methods to sharpen a blade using leather:


Stropping is the most common and traditional way of sharpening a blade with leather. You can use a leather belt, strop, or any flat piece of tanned leather and run the edge along it in straight strokes for about 10-15 minutes to get the desired result.


Lapping is a slightly more advanced technique that requires softer leather. You must create an abrasive paste using the jeweler's rouge and then rub it on the leather surface. You can then slowly and gently sharpen your edge with the help of lapping strokes.

Keeping Your Knives Sharp

Carrying a dull knife is like carrying a phone without reception or an internet connection: completely useless. Follow these tips to keep your knives useful at all times:

  • Use a leather strop for best results.
  • Be sure to condition your strop regularly.
  • Sharpen your knife every couple of weeks.
  • Use a sharpening stone if your knife is very dull.
  • Be careful when sharpening your knives.

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