How to Clean and Maintain a Knife Properly

When you buy something, you probably want it to last for a while.  Especially if you put a lot of money and work into getting it! The same goes for knives.  Every outdoor enthusiast knows that taking care of your equipment is key because you never know when or what you’ll need if for, so it should always be in prime condition.   There’s nothing like a knife fresh out of the package, razor-sharp… it’s like a dream come true.

Cleaning Your knife

Even though the knife itself is a pretty basic tool, there are a lot of ways that you can prolong the life of your knife by routinely cleaning every part of it.  A good place to start is the blade.  Nowadays most knife blades are made of good quality steel which helps the blade hold an edge, as well as keeping away rust and other types of corrosion.  If your knife is going to go unused for a long period of time, don’t store it in a sheath.  Moisture tends to collect there which puts the knife at higher risk for rust.  If your knife does get wet, dry it off and apply a light coat of oil.  If your knife comes in contact with saltwater or any other corrosive substance, clean it with tap water and then apply the light coat of oil.

If your knife is a folding blade, then it is important that you take care of the “hinge” on which the blade rotates.  That area of the knife is a great place for grime, sand and pocket fuzz to build up.  A good way to take care of the build-up is a Q-tip and compressed air. (If needed)  After the grime has been cleaned out of the knife you can lightly oil it for a smoother opening and closing action.  It is also imperative to check the locking mechanisms on your knives.   When you keep a constant eye on the lock there is a decreased chance of injury due to a broken or faulty lock mechanism.

Cleaning the handle of your knife will vary by build and material used in the handle.  If it is a wooden handle on a fixed blade knife it can be occasionally cleaned with oil or furniture polish.  For any metal handle, (fixed or folding) you can use a light coating of oil, and if it is a folding knife handle then there are some hard crevices to reach.  Again the Q-tip and the compressed air might come in handy.

Keeping the Blade Sharp

Sharpening is thought to be the hardest maintenance task concerning a knife.  To do the job properly has traditionally been a difficult and rare skill.  Having said that, it’s not impossible, it’s just difficult.  Because today’s knives are for the most part made out of good quality steel, the blade should hold its edge well.  Even though that’s true, if you have a high-quality blade that needs sharpening, you are going to need a high-quality sharpener to do the job.  The reason for this is you need something that is stronger than the knife blade itself to grind the blade down.   A good sharpener should include a rough stock removal surface.  (diamond abrasive works well)  As well as a finishing surface of hard stone or ceramic abrasive for the finishing touches.  It is best to sharpen your blades at a 20-degree angle.  While you can do this with a sharpening stone,  for beginners it is easier to use a knife sharpener.  In this video, the AnySharp Pro is shown, this is a great product to get you started sharpening your knives.  Watch the video, then check out our link to Amazon to check the current price!

Blade sharpening: Whetstone

Now for those of you who are hardcore whetstone.  Using a stone is a great way to sharpen your blade.  Depending on the stone it may not be as hard as the metal sharpeners which means it will take a little bit longer to complete the task.   Whetstones usually have two to three sides with varying grits.  The grit is how rough it is.  You must sharpen the knife using each side in the correct order.

When you start you want to start by soaking the stone on water.  After the stone has no more air bubbles rising off of it, take it off and put it on a slip-proof surface.  You then place the knife on the side of the stone with the highest grit.  The blade should be at a 10-15 degree angle.  This side of the stone is to grind off the rough part of the blade.  This is the pre sharpening stage.  After the roughness has been removed, you use the finer side of the stone to give the blade a fine edge.  The grit of the stone determines how sharp the blade can be.  The finer the grit, the finer the edge will be.  Here is a video showing the whetstone technique.  The Whetstone used is a Wusthof Gourmet Tri-Sharpener. These are sold on Amazon as well.  Check it out!  Wusthof Gourmet Tri-Sharpener

Knife Care Conclusion

In the end, the best way to take care of your knife is to use it for its intended purpose.  Yes, we would all love it if our knife was actually a screwdriver, pry bar, hammer, and chisel all in one but the bottom line is that it’s not.  The heavy work that most of us put our knives through is probably what wears them out the fastest.   If you just use the knife to cut things then it will last longer.

Hopefully, this will help solve the timeless problem of finding the motivation to go give your tools care.   If you want something that does more than cut, then you might look into a multi-tool, but you’ll need to take care of that too!!

The last thing you will want to keep in mind is any “fixing” you do to your knife may void any type of warranty on your knife, so if that is something that is important to you check into it before fixing your knife up yourself.

Leave comments below, tell us what works for you!


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2 thoughts on “How to Clean and Maintain a Knife Properly”

  1. Anysharp.
    Doesn’t sharpen the whole length of the blade.
    You would like to stabilise it with your “vice” hand. Don’t!
    Be careful about cleaning up the shavings and not letting them near food prep areas.
    Takes off a lot of material.
    I can go sharper on a whet-stone.


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