How to correctly sharpen a knife

Article credit: Crazy Crow.  Take a look at their knife sharpening tools. I have also bought their knife blanks in the past. They’re relatively inexpensive and make a cool project as you add your custom handle and make a sheath for it.

How to Sharpen a Knife

The most difficult knife care task is said to be sharpening a blade. Modern stainless steel is very hard and when sharpened properly, will hold a good edge for a very long time.

When sharpening a knife, you must have a high quality sharpener that features a rough stock removal surface of diamond abrasive and a finishing surface of hard stone or ceramic abrasive. The diamond and ceramic materials will cut away the blade’s cutting surface easily as these materials are much harder than steel.

A hard stone will also perform this task, but the stone is only slightly harder than the steel and this requires more effort on your part. Before you put your knife on the stone you should coat the stone with a little oil. The oil will float the metal and stone particles that are produced in the sharpening process, enabling you to wipe them off at the end of the process so that the pores in the stone do not get clogged.

As you sharpen your knife on a stone, there are several factors to keep in mind: the angle of the blade, the pressure of each stroke, the number of strokes per side of the edge and sharpening the entire edge. A General rule of thumb is to sharpen hunting knives at 20 to 30 degrees and kitchen knives at 15 to 20 degrees. See above image.

Once you have the proper angle, draw the knife across the stone toward the edge. Try to imagine that you are slicing a very thin piece off the stone. Draw the blade in a sweeping motion so that the entire edge comes in contact with the stone. Make sure to hone the tip of the knife too. Grind one edge along the stone edge-first until a burr is formed on the other side of the edge. You can feel the burr with your thumb, on the side of the edge opposite the stone. The presence of the burr means that the steel is thin enough at the top that it is folding over slightly, because the bevel you have just ground has reached the edge tip. If you stop before the burr is formed, then you have not ground all the way to the edge tip, and your knife will not be as sharp as it should be. The forming of the burr is critically important – it is the only way to know for sure that you have sharpened far enough on that side. Once the bur r is formed on one side, turn the knife over and repeat the process. Make sure and use the same number of strokes on each side to make a keen edge. After the knife has been sharpened, use progressively finer stones to hone the knife to razor sharpness.

About Jody Smith

As Communications Coordinator, I maintain the web site and send out email promotions for the district. I get the inside scoop at the National LEAD conference, I'm in FCF, teach JTC/AJTC and practice on the Discovery Rangers class I teach at Bridge Church, Waukesha.