Preparation - Applying the diamond emulsion to the leather or balsa:
Always start with clean hands and a clean working surface when handling your strops to prevent contamination of the surfaces. Remove the strops and the bottles of diamond emulsion from their packaging. The strops are mounted in colored plastic trays attached to the handles and the handles are labeled with the correct grit number. In some cases, the handles are labeled Coarse/Fine. The bottles are labeled with their grit number. The color chart on the box indicates which grit is to be applied to the leather strops in the trays of corresponding color. Compare the number on the bottle to the color graphic on the box in order to apply the emulsion to the correct strops. If the handles are marked Coarse/Fine, apply the higher numbered grit to the side labeled Coarse and the lower numbered grit to the side labeled Fine. Start by applying the lower numbered, finer grit by spraying/pouring a small amount of diamond emulsion to the strop. Rub the corresponding strops together to work the paste into the strip. You can also use your finger to spread the emulsion around and create a thin layer over the entire surface of the strop.
Tip: Fill an empty spray bottle with isopropyl rubbing alcohol and lightly mist the surface or the strop after applying the emulsion and before rubbing the strops together. The emulsion will work in more easily and less residue will be left on the blade during stropping.
Using your strops
Make sure to thoroughly clean your blade before using your strops. Exercise caution so as not to cut yourself. Start with the coarser, higher numbered grit and strop your knife using the same up-and-away stroke you use with the stones. Be very careful not to slide the strops down into the blade as this will cause the knife to cut into the strop. Be sure to clean the blade again before switching to a different grit to prevent cross contamination.
Tip: Lower the sharpening angle by 2 degrees for stropping to maintain the original sharpening angle.
Tip: Lightly mist the surface of the strop with rubbing alcohol before stropping.
Care and maintenance:
Always wipe the steel filings off of the blade you have just sharpened before using the strops. Failure to do so will result in contamination of your strops with these steel filings, which can significantly reduce their performance. Never allow strops with different diamond sizes to come into contact with each other. Be sure to store them in a clean location and in a manner that prevents cross-contamination, such as in separate plastic bags. The diamond emulsion should be reapplied to your strops approximately every 30-40 sharpening sessions.