Wednesday, February 18, 2015

20 Knife Sharpening Techniques To Test Your Sharpening Skills

20 Knife Sharpening Techniques To Test Your Sharpening Skills
This past weekend I was moving some pictures and videos that have made up past articles here to the cloud and came across a ton of different knife sharpening techniques I have tested with different knives and thought I would try to think of as many alternative knife sharpening techniques that I have used or have seen used and put them all in one post for posterity. Over the years my preferences have run from stones to tactical rods to sand paper and anything in between. Look for future article and videos where I dive deeper into some of these sharpening methods and as I do so I will update this article with additional links and information!
1) Three different Arkansas stones and a strop are one of the most effective means to sharpen a knife to "cut to the bone" standards. Add a little oil or water to the stones for added performance and a little compound to the strop for maximum performance. Remember most aggressive to least aggressive stone then strop.
2) Keeping the correct angle is the most important, if you have a great deal of experience free hand sharpening may be an option if not there are a wide variety of guides and clamps on the market to keep you on the perfect angle.
3) Remember- stropping IS sharpening.  This is a common misunderstanding. The polishing compounds used on strops are micro fine abrasives - they cut metal. A standard leather strop with good compound and good technique is all that is needed to keep most tools sharp for a long time.
4) Sharpening with sand paper- Learn more about this Sharpening Technique  here (LINK). I love this method as it is one of the simplest methods of sharpening and you can easily slip three or four sheets of sand paper into a kit with ease. Watch a video and learn how easy this sharpening method really is to use (LINK).
5) Work Sharp Mechanical sanders seem to work quite well and if you attend any trade show or other outdoor event you will more than likely find several people offering sharpening using this method as it is fast and fairly portable. The only thing that has kept me from using this method was the expense and then I found a great deal on Amazon... I included the link below in case you want to pick up one of these awesome little sharpeners! It comes with a few guides as well so you can rest assured you will always have the correct alignment when sharpening .

 6) Schrade Sharpener- While this sharpener out of the box was not the greatest out of the box, after using it on my axe as shown in the video below it leveled out the surface and made it much easier to use on a knife!  See a video of this sharpener in action on an axe here (LINK).
7) Smooth river rocks. If you find yourself with a dull knife while fishing simply reach down into the creek and pull out a quasi flat/smooth rock and proceed to sharpen. While this will not yield hair popping sharp knives by itself, if you combine this method with some kind of stropping you will be surprised by how sharp of a knife you are left with.
8) Integral sheath sharpeners and those cheap little survival knife sharpeners found in Rambo style survival knives. While I'm usually not a huge fan of this type of sharpener the Mora Bushcraft black sharpener has saved me from a dull knife a few times! I simply rework my edge then take off my leather belt and strop and ttwenty minutes later I have a knife that I can shave with.
9) So you have a block of knifes that you got as a wedding gift? Go to the kitchen and look in the top row for an odd shaped handle..... A sharpening rod you never knew your wife was hiding all these years. Chefs the world over have used this method of sharpening to keep the instruments of their trade razor sharp for years and it is now making its way into the outdoor market!
10) Lansky Tactical Rod- This has been one of my favorite sharpeners since the day I bought it and the Puck as a combo on Amazon a couple years ago. It has a pull through sharpener and the rod you see here and can also be used as a defensive striking weapon if needed (thus "Tactical" rod). Buy It Here-LINK 
11) Pull through style sharpeners- I tried a few before I realized these are not really for sharpening but reshaping an edge/burr removal and then the actual sharpening begins. I have tried the edge of glory (Buy It Here- LINK)and it did work well for kitchen knives as a sharpener and also a credit card (I had to see if they were lying in the commercial). The pull through sharpener you see above is the Lansky tactical rod (Buy It Here-LINK). 
12) Toilet Tank Lid- The underside of a toilet tank lid (assuming it is still rough cut ceramic) makes a great knife sharpener (quit playing games on your phone and start sharpening your knives). Just find an area on the side and get to work!
13) Coffee Cups- This was the hardest item on my check list to find as I'm not a coffee drinker and all of my wife's coffee cups except the one above were clear coated or covered in paint which makes it less conducive to knife sharpening. Find a rough cut ceramic mug with a flat bottom and get to sharpening!
14) Bottom of a ceramic plate- There are several out there with a ton of rough surface area on the bottom this one only has the thin square and the small circle on the bottom but still plenty of space to sharpen a knife!
15) Top of a car window- This method was new to me and I only had marginal success with it when I was testing it for this article. I promise to practice and maybe this will be my next full sharpening article!
16) Grinder- Nearly all knife manufactures utilize a grinder of some kind to sharpen their knives before they are sent off to customers, This this isn't the cheapest or easiest method, this is without a doubt one way to get the sharpest knife you will ever hold!
17) Fine Grit Metal File- Same concept as a tactical rod or other steel based sharpener except you have to find the right file or all is for nothing. Once you find the right file hold on to it as they are hard to find these days. This is also one of the preferred means for sharpening an axe thus its inclusion in this list as a dual use sharpener.
18) Dremel Tool- If you already own one of these handy tools you have probably already figured out how useful they are around the house and I have to saw it is probably my favorite power tool due to its adaptability. Next to a bench grinder and possibly the work sharp kit this is the fastest means to an extremely sharp knife.

19) Old Cinder Block or Brick- These two methods work much like picking up a smooth river rock simply sharpen like you would using a stone the strop.
20) Strop with cardboard- DON'T CUT CARDBOARD IT WILL DULL YOUR KNIFE FASTER THAN WILEY COYOTE CAN BLOW HIMSELF UP. Use an edge of the cardboard as a strop only it will work in a pinch in place of leather.
21) Strop with a piece of paper- While I have had limited effectiveness with this method it does work a little, Newspaper seems to work the best for me.

22) Each of these methods should leave you with a blade that will easily cut paper without fail and most will leave you with a blade that you can shave with!

No matter your environment or location you should be able to find some type of sharpening medium so that you are never without a sharp blade by your side. Join with me in practicing these techniques over the next few months as we perfect our alternative knife sharpening skills together to be prepared for whatever life my throw at us... At least we will always have a sharp knife!

Have something outdoor/bushcraft/trapping/preparedness/hiking/camping/fishing/hunting related you want me to make a post about? Leave me a comment and I will see what I can do! As always feel free to leave your questions and comment below! Also if you enjoy the blog please vote for us on the following websites to help us reach a wider audience:
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  1. Thanks for that!!! I just got one of those Jeff White knives from wilderness outfitters myself (my first real bushcrafting blade) and I was wondering what I was going to "buy" to keep it sharp. Turns out I can just use a river rock!!!

  2. Are these sharpening techniques also good for kitchen knives? I must admit that I don't hunt and don't have a lot of outdoor knives, but I have a lot of kitchen knives that I would like to keep sharp. I have never sharpened my own knives before, so I don't feel confident that I would do a good job with that, but I would like to learn.

  3. yes they will, I use a few kitchen knives as backup woods knives. Old Hickory butcher knives are some of the best budget woods knives you can get.

  4. Hi,
    Thanks for your instruction posting.It's really great.I can not do work but i can tray