Every man should carry a pocket knife. They are lightweight, useful, versatile, and could even save your life. You should never leave home without it, just like your wallet and keys. You can even add a pocket knife to your keychain so you always have it when you’re out and about.
If you have a pocket knife, you already know about its many uses and the convenience it brings. Plus, there’s just something about using a tool like this which makes mundane tasks more interesting and manly (for example, opening a box with your trusty knife with one powerful swipe instead of digging for minutes with your fingernails).
If you own a pocket knife, you probably use it a lot and, like any knife, eventually, your pocket knife will need to be sharpened. So what are the best ways to sharpen a pocket knife?
But, what is the best way to sharpen a pocket knife?
There are a number of ways to sharpen knives, and you will probably want to experiment with a few different methods to determine which one works best for you and your tool.
The method below is just one of many ways to do it, but it is effective and easy, so even a beginner can do it. If for some reason this doesn’t work for you or your knife, there are plenty of other ways to try.
Also take into consideration that there are different ways to sharpen a knife depending on its main function, from cooking to construction and everything in between.
The method below is great for everyday pocket knives, but may not work well for sharpening your best kitchen knives.
For this method, you will need some sort of sharpening stone and lubricant. If you’re not sure what to use for either, don’t fret!
There are as many types of sharpening stones as there are knives. There are sharpening stones with various levels of grit, diamond-hard stones, Japanese water stones, and more.
Choosing the right kind of sharpening stone comes down to personal preference and what works best on your knife and what you use it for. Try out a few different kinds of sharpening stones to choose what feels best to you.
Sharpening stones also vary in price. It is advisable to match the value of your knife to the price of the sharpening stone.
If you are sharpening your expensive kitchen or art knives, you might want to invest in a more high-end, expensive stone. But for your everyday pocket knife, you probably don’t need a super expensive stone.
Most hardware stores stock sharpening stones that cost around $10 to $15. Instead of purchasing a new pocketknife every time the blades dull, an inexpensive sharpening stone like this is a wise investment.
Basic sharpening stones like these are typically double-sided, with rough grit on one side and fine grit on the other. Finer grit is used to get a sharper blade. Start by using the rough grit side first and finish on the fine grit side for the sharpest blade.
In combination with your sharpening stone of choice, you will want to use a lubricant to sharpen your knife. There are many different lubricants for knife sharpening; some are water-based and some are oil-based. Mineral oil is the most commonly recommended lubricant for knife sharpening.
Using lubricant helps to reduce the heat from the friction of sharpening against a stone, as heat can warp knife blades. The lubricant can also help flush away the grit that sheds as you sharpen your knife. Like sharpening stones, you can find lubricant at most hardware stores at a low price, usually around $5.
Note that lubrication may not be needed with basic sharpening stones. If you are in a pinch, don’t hesitate to sharpen your knife against the stone without lubricant; it’s just better in the long-term if you use lubricant when convenient.
Once you have procured your sharpening stone and lubricant, you are ready to sharpen your pocket knife.
Steps to Sharpen Your Pocket Knife
Start by using the rough grit side of your sharpening stone. As previously mentioned, most sharpening stones will have two sides – one with a rough grit and one with fine grit. You can tell which side is which by using a fingernail to scratch the surface of each side. Whichever side feels rougher is the rough grit side that you will want to start with. The rough grit side is usually more porous, as well. The rough grit side may absorb more of the lubricant than the fine grit side.
Use your lubricant to prepare the sharpening stone. If you are using lubricant, which again may not be necessary or accessible for every sharpening, pour a generous amount of it over the entire surface of your stone. It does not need to be soaking wet but should be thoroughly covered.
Hold your knife against the lubricated stone with the blade flat and raised at a slight angle. Maintaining the angle is important to good sharpening. Different knives require various angles, but for a pocket knife, a small angle of only about 10 to 15 degrees is your best bet.
Sharpen one side of the blade. Pretend you are using the knife to peel off a sliver of the stone. You can stroke the blade towards or against the stone; both ways work and will not affect the sharpness of the blade. Use moderate pressure to rub the stone about a dozen times.
Flip the blade and sharpen the same way on the opposite side.
After sharpening both sides, alternate strokes on each side about a dozen times.
After sharpening completely using the rough grit side, flip your stone to the fine grit side and repeat the process from step 2.
Now your pocket knife is sharpened and ready for daily use!