Taking care of your swivel knife requires regular maintenance. Sharpening and stropping the blade is necessary for it to cut smoothly and easily through leather. Here are a few quick steps on how to both sharpen and strop your knife blade.
1. First, determine if your blade needs to be sharpened. Most new blades are pre-sharpened and only need to be stropped (polished). If you are getting concaved edges on your cuts, the blades need to be sharpened. If the knife seems to be dull and dragging on the cuts, it may just need to be stropped.
2. To sharpen the blade, you will need a medium to fine grit natural or synthetic sharpening stone. Some stones require the use of honing oil or water. Always follow the stone's specific instructions for use.
- Position the blade (attached to the swivel knife) at the proper angle on stone. A 30-degree angle on the beveled sides of the blade is normal for most blades.
- Push blade straight back and forth while keeping pressure on the blade.
- It is important to work both sides of the blade until a centered sharp cutting edge is achieved. Apply the same amount of pressure to both sides of the blade to ensure that the edge is centered.
3. To strop the blade, you first need to make a strop. You can make a disposable strop using poster board or card stock. A strop 1-1/2" x 12" is a good size to use. Apply white rouge (white rouge is the cleanest of rouges), to one side of the board (rough side of poster board).
- You can make a more permanent strop by rubber cementing a piece of thin natural vegetable tanned leather (flesh / rough side down) to a firm plank of wood like oak or a piece of Masonite.
- Apply rouge to the grain / smooth side of the leather. Rouge can be applied repeatedly until leather wears out. Then replace with a fresh piece of leather.
4. To use the strop:
- Position strop on a sturdy, hard, smooth surface
- Position blade on the strop so beveled edge of the blade is flat on the surface of the strop.
- Slowly press down and pull towards you several times. The gray marks that appear on the strop rouge are metal residue.
- Repeat on both sides of the blade.
Click here for a printable PDF of the tutorial steps.
If you would like to see a tutorial of how to strop and sharpen the swivel knife, Don Gonzales Saddlery has a quick video that demonstrates each step. You can watch it here.