You can use this fine grain side with or without spray or compound. Just remember to go "backwards" only on the strop since you will cut into the leather if you "push" the strop against the edge of you knife. We think this is going to be very popular. You can also save some money if you want to make a bunch of these by purchasing the honing leather and the plates and gluing them up yourself. Currently I'm using 3M spray adhesive but you can use contact cement as well.