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The way the paste works on the strops for knife sharpening is fascinating and has been much discussed in other threads, so in this post, I'm just going to kick off the conversation about how much paste to apply and how often. There are essentially three different actions that the strops perform:
The amount of paste on the strops will directly affect the ratio of burnishing:abrading, honing:abrading, honing:burnishing. I've found that I don't need a whole lot of paste to get my ideal ratio going. My preference for stropping is a to have the ratio weighted more heavily toward burnishing and honing. When the strop is burnishing well, it's also honing well. This happens when there is considerable "stiction" between the leather and the metal which occurs when there is enough paste to create a tight seal between the metal and leather, but not so much that the paste begins to lubricate. Having more heavily pasted strops will give you more abrasion and less burnishing and honing. I start out a fresh set of strops with the equivalent of a thin bead about 1" long shared between the two strops. I work that in by rubbing the strops together, working the paste in as well as I can. If I'm patient enough, I'll let the paste dry. From there, I'll use the strops a lot until they start to get tacky. If they don't get tacky after a lot of stropping, I'll apply just a little more paste and repeat the process. Once the strops are tacky feeling against the blade, they're just right for my taste. I usually only reapply the paste after 50-100 knives and only then just a little.
Please share your thoughts and experiences on applying and reapplying the paste.
When I use the Wicked Edge pastes, I do it basically the same way as you do: two or three drops of paste per strop go a long way. I use these pastes mainly for their burnishing effects (which they do way better than any other compound I know) and my experience is that this works better if you use only a little paste which you spread well over the entire strop.
The paste dries out slightly even if you don't use it and I have found that the burnishing effect (on leather) is about maximal just before the strops get so tacky you almost cannot move them over the blade anymore in a smooth motion (but only with shaking movements). The strops are not very useful anymore when they are tacky like chewing gum, but just before that point their burnishing power is great.
When I use a diamond spray or other spray, which provides hardly any burnishing, I use it quite liberally on the strop, since this will give it more abrasive power.