Hello, my friend and welcome back! One of my readers, Huggy, requested that I do a post on sharpening knives of all types and how to keep them that way in an SHTF world. Now, I am no expert, but in the last 62 years, I have learned a thing or two about it and this is my take on the subject. Now I’m sure there are people out there that know much more than I do on the subject, and if you are one of them, please add your comments below if you see something you disagree with or have more information. I’m always willing to learn a better way to do something. Now grab a cup of coffee my friend and have a seat while we visit.
Let’s start with determining the correct cutting angle and how you determine the best one to use. When it comes down to the correct angle, it all goes back to what type of blade (i.e. pocket knife, Hunting knife, Axe, or Machete) that you’re trying to sharpen, and just what it is you’re going to be cutting with it. (I.e. meat, wood, bone, etc.) For example, if you’re sharpening a knife to be used for slicing meat, such as a skinning knife, you can use a sharper angle because it won’t be used on hard surfaces. This same angle would, however, cause an axe to dull very quickly.
So how do you know which is the best angle to use? Here is a graphic that will help give you an idea of just which angle to use.
Because a sharp bevel leaves a lot of very thin metal at the end of the blade, it can be bent or rolled over easily when it comes in contact with a hard object. This is not what you want on edges which get heavy usage on wood, rope bone, etc. You would spend more time sharpening it that you would use it. When it comes to sharpening a blade, the angle is the single most important decision you need to make.
Once you have determined which angle you want to use on your blade, the next step is to decide how you want to sharpen it. Let me say right here that there are a ton of things out there to help you sharpen your blades, and most of them are not worth the money they charge. They may make the job quicker, but personally, I find that there is something very satisfying about taking your time and putting a razor-sharp edge on a blade of any type. I have tried quite a few of these and I still go back to a few basic items for sharpening all of my blades. This list includes:
- A good Metal file
- A round Whetstone (For Axes and such)
- A small cheap Carbide knife sharpener (For repairing damaged blades)
- A few Diamond sharpening stones (They come in different grits)
- Around Diamond file (For serrated edges)
- A good piece of leather to be used as a Strop
I also keep a complete set of these in my Bug Out Bag as well. You never know when you may find yourself needing to re-sharpen a knife or hatchet while bugging out. I mean let’s face it; a dull knife or ax would be of little help in an emergency. They will out a doubt, need to be re-sharpened along the way. They take up very little room and are very lightweight to carry.
Here are a few basic rules I follow and while I’m sure that there are many who might disagree with me, it’s just how I do things.
(1) Use water not oil on a Whetstone when sharpening a blade. Why you may ask? Because the whole purpose of using a liquid when sharpening a blade is to carry away the metal particles that are removed from the blade in the process. The thicker it is, the slower it moves it away.
(2) Never push a blade across a stone when sharpening it. You can move sideways like on Axes and other large blades, but never push the blade, always drag it. Why? Because pushing the blade across the stone will allow the metal particles to build up in front of the blade edge and it can actually dull the blade undoing the sharpening you have just done. Now I know I’m going to get a lot of flack over that one, and if you disagree, then that’s fine, but this is how I do it and why.
(3) Know when to quit. I have seen people and even myself when I was young, sharpen a blade for hours. In the end, you just wind up removing way more metal than you need to. Once it’s sharp, stop!
(4) Take your time, it’s not a race. A sure way to cut yourself is to get in a hurry when sharpening a knife or other blade. Slow down and pay attention to what you are doing and learn to enjoy the process. It takes time to master blade sharpening so you need to practice and keep trying to get better at it.
Because this subject is so big, and I want to cover it as well as possible, I’m going to break it down into different parts. This is going to be Part One and in Part Two, I will begin walking you through actually sharpening different t types of blades, including Serrated edge blades and how to keep them that way. Until next time my friend, stay safe, stay strong and stay prepared. God Bless America!