A blunt knife can take a lot more force and time to get your job done whereas a knife with a sharp blade can do it quickly. A pocket knife is a fine tool to carry while roaming outdoors. Normally, your knife blade will likely get dull over time with usage. Therefore it’s crucial to keep your pocket knife sharp and clean. A knife with a dull blade is usually riskier than a sharp one.
There are so many tools and ways of sharpening a pocket knife thus there is no right way or wrong way to do it. It simply gets down to which way you’re most confident doing it. In this article, we are going to cover the process and list the required tools for sharpening a pocket knife. Besides, if you are a beginner then it’s just the right place to start from.
- Sharpening Stone: You can find a sharpening stone in any hardware store and there are varieties of stones to choose from. The most commonly used stones are whetstone, ceramic stones, and diamond stones. Normally sharpening stone has two sides; one is rough other side is much finer. You start sharpening your knife on the rough side and to finish it off you use the finer side. Let’s get familiar with some of the sharpening stones.
- Whetstone: Sharpening your blade is easier with a whetstone that’s why it’s also the most common one. This stone is comprised of great coarse grit. For beginners, this could be a great pick.
- Japanese Water Stones: Once you become a master at sharpening knives, you can pick Japanese water stones. Though it’s more on the expensive side.
- Ceramic Stones: Ceramic stones are stiffer than whetstone, thus your sharpening process will be much quicker. This stone may have high durability but it’s trickier to use. This may not be a great pick for beginners.
- Oil Stone: This stone is great for giving a sharp edge to your knife blade. Although if your blade is too blunt or your knife is too old, it will take time to sharpen the blade with an oil stone.
- Diamond Stone: Diamond stone not only makes the sharpening process quicker but also lasts the longest. This stone comes with different levels of toughness.
- Lubricant: It is highly recommended to use some kind of lubricant for sharpening a pocket knife. You can use both water or mineral oil as lubricants. Lubricating the stone is important since the friction between the stone and the knife can produce too much heat. Excessive heat can cause the deformation of your knife.
7 Ways Of Sharpening A Pocket Knife
Now that you have gathered your tools, let’s start with the process of sharpening a pocket knife.
1. Cleaning And Testing The Knife
Make sure your knife doesn’t have any filth or grease in it, you can use soap and water to wipe the knife clean. You can test your knife blade by cutting it through paper. Take a piece of paper and try to cut it with your knife. A sharp blade can slide through the paper easily but a knife with a dull blade can not.
2. Lubricating The Stone
Lubricating your sharpening stone with water or mineral oil is an essential step. You can find mineral oil in any nearest hardware store. While lubricating your stone, you don’t need to drench it with mineral oil, just use an ample amount. This will get rid of any metallic residue in your stone as well as lower the production of heat caused by friction between knife and stone.
3. Right Blade Angle
Determining and maintaining a steady blade angle is the trickiest part of knife sharpening. Blade angle normally depends on what kind of knife you are using. It also affects both the longevity and sharpness of the knife. For pocket knives, it’s recommended to keep the angle within 25 to 30 degrees. Use the same angle each time you go for sharpening.
However, it’s still very difficult to hold a constant angle during the whole sharpening process. This will take some practice before mastering it. If you are still a bit confused about the angle, you can check the instruction that comes with the knife or visit your local knife shop for help.
4. Stroking The Blade
Since you have positioned the blade at a proper angle, you can start honing your blade. You can either stroke away from the blade of the stone or do it the other way around. Both will work, so you can use any one of them. You have to stroke your blade across the stone evenly with moderate force. Ensuring the stone reaches the full length of the blade is important so the blade gets sharpened uniformly. After making the first stroke go back and start repeating it.
5. Repeat On The Other Side
How can you determine when is the right time to sharpen the other side of the knife? You can see some thin coating of metal on the edge of your knife blade, which is called burr. You can check the burr by simply running your finger carefully across the blade and you can switch sides when you feel a pull. Start sharpening the other side of the knife pushing it upward. Once again check for the burr, so you know when to stop. The number of strokes on both sides of the blades should not vary much.
6. Using The Finer Grit
After you’re done stroking both sides of the blade on the stone, it’s time to flip the stone to the finer grit side. Most of the sharpening stones come with two sides, a rough one and a finer one. It’s suggested to use the rough grit first and then go with the finer grit. You may not always need to use the rough grit as long as you take good care of your knife. You may only use the finer grit If your knife is in good condition.
7. Strop The Blade
Stropping is optional, but most people recommend doing so. Stropping means honing the stone but with material like leather. It’s the last step of sharpening your knife. For stropping, you need to use the same angle that you used for sharpening, and rather than making an upward motion try to stroke downward. Finally, your freshly sharpened knife is ready for use.
Here goes everything you need to know about sharpening your pocket knife. A sharp knife is both better and safer than a blunt knife. Lastly, don’t forget to sharpen and clean your pocket knife more frequently, it will extend your knife’s longevity even more.
Diana Miller, is a dedicated nature enthusiast and an outdoor adventurer. She began leading groups for excursions in her teens and never stopped. Following her passion for nature, she gathers her friends for outdoor trips every now and then. And for the last 10 years, she has executed workshops on backpacking, snow kayaking and traveling that included her main motive of lightweight packing while outdoors. During leisure, she loves planning for her next adventure.