Updated: March 9, 2021

How to Sharpen a Pocket Knife

How effective is a dull pocket knife? It is like having a gun without bullets.

A dull knife is not only ineffective but can be dangerous as well. The good news is that you can sharpen your pocket knife in a few minutes. Stones and steel are excellent tools for sharpening your pocket knife. This article will cover a step-by-step guide to sharpening your pocket knife using the two tools.

Sharpening a Pocket Knife With a Stone

The tools needed to sharpen a pocket knife include lubricant and a stone. Many stones have both rough and fine sides. Sharpening requires using the rough side first and moving on to the fine side to fine-tune the blade edges.

Different Types Of Stones For Sharpening Pocket Knives

Sharpening stones are available in most hardware stores and are also sold online. There are different types, so you may need to buy more than one to see which does the job better.

There are three types of sharpening stones – diamond stones, ceramic stones, and whetstones.

Ceramic Stones

The ceramic stones last longer but are quite difficult to use. You need to soak it in water for at least three minutes before using it. the material is harder, and it sharpens the blade faster.

Whetstones

The whetstone comes in fine and coarse grit. It is more common because it is easy to use. Despite being user-friendly, you need to soak it in clean, cold water for at least 10 minutes. It is soft, so it is advisable to use the whole surface area. Grooves can develop in the stone if you donā€™t follow this rule.

Diamond StoneĀ 

This stone is the most expensive type, as the name implies. However, it lasts longer than the others on the list. The stones are made with a metal disk which is enhanced by diamond particles. The texture of this stone is coarse, hard, or superfine.

Diamond stones are the most durable since the materials are the hardest. Also, they sharpen pocket knives faster than the rest.

how to sharpen a pocket knife

How to Sharpen a Pocket Knife With a Stone: Step by Step Instructions

Before sharpening your knife, you need another tool; lubricant. The role of the lubricant is to protect the pocket knife. It also protects the user while maintaining the stoneĀ’s durability.

Your skill level determines what type of lubricant to use. For instance, water is helpful when you are an expert. For novices, mineral oil is preferred. The lubricant reduces heat damage from friction. Excess heat can damage the blade. It also removes shards of metal debris during the knife sharpening process.

1. Prepare the stone

Ensure that the stone is ready for use by soaking it in clean water. The recommended time for soaking is ten minutes if you plan to use a whetstone. Ceramic stones require three minutes at least.

2. Add lubrication

Pour the lubricant on the stoneĀ’s rough side. If you plan to use diamond stones, thinned dishwashing liquid can work as lubrication.

3. Choose an angle

Sharpening the pocket knife properly will increase the lifespan of the tool. Failure to follow this rule will ruin the blade. Do not sharpen at the wrong angle. Some local stores highlight the ideal angle for different blades.

4. Position the knife

Set the knife on the stone. Raise the blade while it is on the stone to the proper angle. Always use the manufacturerĀ’s recommendation.

When the angle is lower, the blade will be sharper. However, this could cause poor edge retention and make it become blunt faster. If the knife is higher during sharpening, the edge may not be as sharp, but it will remain like that for a long time.

Keep the angle between the stone and the blade steady and consistent. Not doing so can damage the stone or the blade. Try as much as possible to be consistent. If you fail, it could damage the cutting-edge integrity.

If you are a novice, it would be ideal to purchase a sharpening guide so you donĀ’t damage the pocket knifeĀ’s blade. It is helpful and inexpensive as well. It keeps the blade in one consistent and ideal angle as you sharpen the pocket knife.

5. Slide the knifeĀ’s blade along the stone

Always start from the rough side. Stroke the blade on the stone. Follow up the sharpening with the fine grit. This smoothens the edges.

Ensure that the strokes are even and long. They should cover the whole blade. Gently stroke the knife away from you or towards. Both methods work so you can do whichever is more comfortable for you.

DonĀ’t press hard. The pressure should be moderate. It may not be easy to tell how much pressure is moderate. Here is an idea; push it and see how it feels. It should feel easy. Feeling any resistance simply means you need to switch angles or pressure on the blade. Each stroke should be consistent.

Stroke the blade on the stone-like you intend to slice a layer of the stone. The rough grit should be first, and the process should be repeated for five minutes or more until the edge is gotten.

After finishing one side of the blade, do it again for the other side. If the pocket knife has a curved blade, sweep the blade sideways while working on it. This gives it a chance to be evenly sharpened. If the blade is longer, use the same approach as well.

6. Finish the edge

Switch the position of the stone so the finer part faces up. Be sure to lubricate the stone surface. After that reset the knife properly and run it on the finer side. This allows you to fine-tune the blade. End the process by changing the strokes and cleaning particles and lubricants that may be on the blade.

Sharpening A Pocket Knife With Steel Step by Step

You can use steel honing rods to sharpen a blade. They are also called sharpening steels. This steel is effective for blade sharpening. You can use it for your pocket knife as well. The results from honing rods are the same as stones, so you only need to choose based on convenience.

Rods come in different types like stones. Some are made from diamond while others come from ceramic. Both materials work well, but diamond produces a smoother finish. However, both sharpen quickly.

The difference between both is the arrangement of the tool. The rod is held vertically while stones are laid flat.

1. Place the rod

Use the handle to position the rod on a flat surface vertically. Bring an old towel and place it under the tip, so it doesnā€™t slip. Also, this protects the solid surface like a table from scratches.

2. Place the knife.

The angle is important when using a rod. When you sharpen with steel, maintain a 25-to-30-degree angle to sharpen the pocket knife.

3. Sharpen with the rod.

Donā€™t use too much pressure for this part. Run a side of the knifeā€™s edge on the steel rod. Gently use the full blade to swipe across the rod. Start from the handle down to the tip of the knife. Be consistent during the stroke.

Switch sides when you are done so the other side can be sharpened as well. If the blade is sharp, you may only need to swipe a couple of times on both sides. But if the knifeā€™s blade is dull, repeat the process for a while.

Hereā€™s a demo of the entire process:

Safety Tips for Sharpening A Knife

There are a few things you need to do to stay safe while sharpening your pocket knife. For your own safety, follow these tips:

Wear Protective Gloves

Even though it is not totally necessary, it is advisable to reduce the risk of injury by wearing protective gloves.

It may be easy to just throw on gloves around the house, but it does not cut it. You cannot use vinyl, rubber, or winter gloves for this purpose. Thicker gloves are ideal. Kevlar or steel mesh can do the job since they are thick enough to protect you from injury.

Slow Movements are Ideal

DonĀ’t make the mistake of running the blade against the steel or stone too quickly. The result of fast movements when sharpening is non-smooth blades. It could damage the blade and render it useless. Also, it can cause injury. Always have control of the blade, so it does not slip. This is the only way to achieve a smooth surface.

Final Thoughts

A pocket knife is not much use if its edges are dull, and could even cause accidents. Learning to maintain the pocket knife edge is essential, and with some practice, the process is easy and quick. Note that these techniques are for straight edge pocket knives, serrations need a different technique altogether.

Jeremy Dodd
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