How to Sharpen a Pocket Knife Quickly and Easily
Every good hunter and outdoorsman has a pocket knife on hand. That’s just the truth of good hunting. You need to be able to be prepared for anything and everything . And pocket knives are an essential for having tools of various kinds ready and at your disposal while out in the field. But a pocket knife is only as good as the tools in it, and the blade of a pocket knife can easily dull if not looked after properly after a lot of use. It can go from an old and trustworthy device to the reason your hunting trip was ruined, in seconds.
So, how do you make sure your pocket knife gets sharp and stays that way? More importantly, how do you do it quickly and easily? There’s plenty of “official” ways to do it, but you might not always have the right equipment with you or your knife may not be the right shape for a certain style. Fear not, there are plenty of ways to get it done.
How to Know It’s Dull
Besides the fact that the knife simply won’t be working the way you want, there are several ways to test if a blade is blunt that are effective for those who haven’t used the knife in a while and plan on taking it out on a trip. One method is the tomato test. A sharp knife should easily slice through a tomato but a dull one will have trouble and do a bit more pushing and crushing than actual cutting. Another method is the flashlight method. You can shine a flashlight onto the edge of the blade and if it reflects the light, that means the blade is dull. The final, and sometimes preferred method, is running the blade across your fingernail. A dull blade will slide easily, but a sharpened blade will catch on the way down.
Using a Stone
The traditional way of sharpening any knife is get it on a sharpening stone, often referred to as a whetstone). This come, generally, in long rectangles and are fairly easy to carry with you if you want to bring one on a hunt. All you’ll need is the stone and some water. Use the water to lubricate the stone to ensure an easy glide across and no sparks are thrown in the process. Then you’ll want to quickly identify the angle of the blade with a marker so you make sure you’re running it along the stone in the correct way. Then simply guide the knife across the whetstone.
Now, one thing to note is whetstones often come with two-sided options, with one being more coarse than the other. It’s up to you how you want to sharpen your knife and which side you want to use. But, as a general rule, the rougher side is used first while the less coarse side is used for fine sharpening after the initial sharpening is done.
These are items you’re likely to see in any household kitchen. They are a rod of coarse steel (usually) and not exactly the preferred method for the primary implement for sharpening a knife but they do get the job done. They’re generally meant for fine-tuning your sharpness after the knife has been run against a coarse edge, but if you need to use one, it will work fairly well as a sharpening device. The material on these that will get you the sharpest blades is a diamond rod but coarse ceramic and steel work fine as well. You hold the rod vertical, with the handle up and make sure to note the blade up and down it, particular to the angle.
What if it Has a Serrated Edge?
Knives with teeth are a little bit trickier and more complicated to sharpen. And they take a little bit more attention to detail than the smooth blade of many pocket knives. For this you’ll use a sharpening rod. You’ll want to locate the gullets of the serrated teeth. You’ll run the rod across the teeth, always sure to do so away from you, for obvious safety reasons. Now, there is a little bit of clean up when it comes to this knife. Sharpening it will leave behind small amounts of residue known as “burrs.” To get them off, simple run the blade across sandpaper or a coarse cloth.
Even though whetstones are the recommended method, you may not always be with one when you notice your blade has gone dull. There are plenty of ways to get a sharp edge with a whetstone stand in. You could use a brick or any rough rock you find near you. You can even use unglazed porcelain material like the underside of your toilet tank lid or a flower pot, if you’re really in a pinch. Even emery boards from nail salon’s are an option for getting the knife sharper without the proper equipment. Basically, anything you can find with a fairly rough edge will do the trick, the coarser the better and just make sure to perform the same pre-sharpening ritual of located the angle of the blade and sharpening appropriately.
There’s several methods out there to get your pocket knife sharp quick and easy if you’re out in the field and don’t have a lot of time or resources on your hands. The important thing is knowing how and what makes a knife sharp, once you know the process, can effectively spot a dull edge, locate the angle, and run the blade accordingly, you can use virtually anything you find out in the woods to help you (within reason of course). But it’s always good practice to have some kind of whetstone, honing rod, or other implement with you in your pack to have ready. Preparedness is the key to any successful hunt or outdoors trip, so you’ll always want to be sure you’ve got yourself covered while out in the field. You’ll never know when you need the sharp edge of that pocket knife.