Keeping a knife sharp is the best way to ensure it can cut, slice and carve anything you throw at it. When in a survival situation, your knife will be the one tool that can help you get through many of situations. Knowing how to sharpen a knife is a vital skill which you must learn in order to maintain your trusty work horse.
When a knife is sharp, it makes it easier and safer to use also. Building a shelter, preparing food, skinning game and so on, won’t take as long, and will be easier, requiring less energy.
How to Sharpen a Knife
There are many different ways to sharpen a knife in the field and at home, from sharpening stones, to river pebbles. Lets take a look at the best ways to sharpen a knife.
There are many different whetstones on the market, some cheap, and others very expensive. My sharpening set consists of a 320 grit, 1000 grit, 2000 grit and a 5000 grit whetstone, all made by Shapton. These stones are higher end, and go for around £30-£55 a stone, though there are cheaper options available, and also more expensive.
In my opinion, the Shaptons are better, but the BearMoo can still but a very sharp edge on most of my knives, but for some steels, such as CPM-3V, Elmax, and other supersteels, the BearMoo just isn’t good enough. It takes the higher end stone to get the job done.
What Sharpening Stone Should You Buy?
Lets look at it like this. Would you buy an expensive car and use dirt cheap oil in it? I think not. So, if you have an expensive knife ($150 plus), it makes sense to buy proper sharpening stones. Take the time, save up the money and buy one at a time, starting with the 1000 grit stone.
If you have a cheap knife, such as a Mora, or anything else for that matter, go for the cheaper stone. It will get the job done, provided you are not trying to sharpen a supersteel.
What Grit to Use
320 Grit – Removing Chips/Re-Profiling the Blade
1000 Grit – General Sharpening if the blade gets dull and stopping won’t do
2000 Grit – Finer grit, great for putting a razor sharp edge on your knife
5000 Grit – More for polishing the blade
How to Sharpen a Knife
Here is a great video from Dutch Bushcraft Knives explaining how to sharpen a knife and get a razor sharp edge on it.
If you look after your knife, a leather strop is all you should really need to keep your blade sharp, though, having a sharpening stone on hand incase of a chipped blade is always a good idea.
A leather strop is just a piece of vegetable tanned cow hide which you apply compound to, and then run your knife blade along the leather to make it super sharp.
Every time I use my knife, I would give it a quick strop that evening to keep it in tip top condition. It means you hardly ever have to break out the sharpening stones.
Make Your Own Strop
A leather strop can be quite expensive, $40 plus, so it pays to make your own. You can buy a piece of 3.4mm thick leather for around $20, and can make 2 strops from this one piece.
If you don’t want to make your own, go ahead and buy one.
How to Strop
Another video from DBK, this time showing how to strop a knife.
Sharpening with Rocks from a River
If everything goes to shit, and you don’t have access to Whetstones or a leather strop, you can use a flat, smooth stone, which can be found near a river, or the beach.
Check out this video on how you can do it.