Well hello, my friend and welcome back to Part 2 of Keeping It Sharp It Sharp In A SHTF World. Today, I’m going to walk you through sharpening a knife blade step by step. So grab a cup of coffee my friend and have a seat while we visit.
The first step in sharpening any blade is visual inspection. Look very closely for any chips or gouges in the edge of the blade. If you find some, then they will need to be removed first. To do this, I use a Carbide knife sharpener. Why? Because it removes metal from an edge faster than a whetstone can, so I use it first, when needed. Be sure the blade edge is clean and smooth before you ever start the sharpening process.
Next, you will want to use your leather strop to remove any small burrs there may be left behind. These can hinder the sharpening process if left on the blade edge. For the purposes of this example, we are going to assume that the blade is really dull and you have to start from the beginning.
The next step is to select the lowest grit diamond whetstone that you have. I usually start with 250 grit if the knife is really dull. If you don’t have one, then you can also use sandpaper glued to the top of a piece of glass.. (This is called the “Scary Sharp” method.) Whatever you decide to use, it must be completely flat and if you have any doubts, place a straight edge on the top and look for light underneath it. If you see light, you will need to level the stone with a diamond whetstone leveler, before you start.
The sharpening process is a series of steps, where you progress from one grit stone or sandpaper to the next and then repeating the process as necessary. Now place water on the Whetstone you are going to start with. The water needs to puddle, if possible. This assures you that you have enough liquid to carry away any metal particles you produce while sharpening. Periodically add more water as needed. Begin pulling the blade backward in smooth, even strokes while applying even pressure to the blade and holding it at about a 20 to 30-degree angle. I usually rest the back of the blade on my left index finger. I find that this gives me about the right bevel for the blade. Now if the blade is really wide, you may need to push your finger closer under the back of the blade to get a better angle that looks about right. It takes practice and you eventually do it without even thinking about it.
Now, draw the blade backward on the stone about ten to fifteen times. Remember to count how many strokes you make. Then flip the blade over and repeat the process on the other side making the same number of strokes as before. Do this several times, I usually repeat the process three times. Then move to the next higher grit stone. For me, it’s a 400 grit stone. Now repeat the same process as with the first stone. By this time you should start seeing a clean edge appearing on the blade. Now simply repeat the process, working your way up through the different grits you have. You should finish with 1,000 grit or higher if you have one.
You will need to check the blade to see if you are satisfied with it. (If not, then back up a few grits and repeat the process until you are.) If you are, then you will want to use a leather strop to finish up. This removes any fine metal particles that may still be attached to the edge of the blade. Simply drag the blade back against the leather strop several times on each side. DO NOT skip this step. Using the strop is a very important step, as it puts the finishing touch on your blade. You can actually tell the difference when you are finished.
As I have said repeatedly, this is the method I use, it has worked for me over the years. Others may do it differently, and that’s OK. This is my way. Well, that’s it for today and I hope I have answered some of your questions on sharpening your blades, and until next time, stay safe, stay strong and stay prepared. God Bless America!