Knife is one of the most under rated tool we have in our homes, just because it is very commonly available and not that expensive to buy. Knives are sharp objects that we have in use in modern times but this was not the case before the discovery of iron. Man used sharp objects made of stones and other materials to cut through dense objects. Whatever the material was used to manufacture those sharp tools centuries ago there is one thing common in both knives and those old sharp tools used to cut that is they needed sharpening after some time.
Back then different sharpening tools and methods were used to keep the cutting tools functioning but in the era we live in we have designated tools that we use to sharpen our knives. This publication is focused on one sharpening method and how you can use that method step by step. You can use this method on any kind of knives but for this publication the method will be kept in context with personal knives.
So what is required beforehand? Any soft abrasive stone will do the trick. If the stone is big in size you can drill a hole in the middle and use any suitable saw to saw a small piece off it. After that you will need to flatten it evenly.
What’s next? Let’s get into that.
Inspect the Blade
The first thing to do before you start off sharpening the knife is to inspect the blade if it requires sharpening or not and if it does, which part is the dullest of the whole blade. To find that you the easiest way you can follow is to place your blade under bright light, sunlight will do just fine. After that you have to look for reflections on the blade surface wherever there is a reflection that part needs sharpening.
Remember: Sharp blade doesn’t have any reflection and will appear as thing black line if placed under bright light.
The second thing you can do to verify the dull spots on the blade is by using a plastic pen’s body. Hold it on a 15 degree. If the blade with just the weight of the knife holds on to the plastic and doesn’t slide off it means the blade is sharp.
You can do the same thing with your thumbnail. Use the blade on a part of your thumbnail and see if it sticks to your nail or just slides over the nail. If it slides the blade is not sharp enough.
About the Stone
The stone you can use for sharpening the knife can be easily found in China Town or Hardware stores for a dollar or so.
If you have found a sharpening stone laying around in your house or borrowing from a friend than it’s probably a good idea to flatten it. We’ll get into the details in the next step.
There will be two types of sharpening stones, one that is oily and other is water based. The water stone will require you to spill some water on the stone as you sharp the knife, the water will help in floating away the sharpening dust off the stone.
The oil stone is preferred by some people and require oil spilled onto the stone to sharpen the knife blade and once the oil seeps into the stone the water will not work on it anymore and you’ll probably have to find a new sharpening stone if you want to switch over to water stone sharpening.
Flattening the Stone
When it comes to flattening the stone you can do so with the help of any concrete built object. The most common way flatten the stone is by rubbing it against the sidewalk. You can pour some water on the sidewalk and rub the stone against it till the stone is flat, you will have to apply some pressure to achieve the flatness.
It’s better to have a flat sharpening stone before sharpening the knife blade as it will be easier to hold the knife at the right angle while sharpening. Any unevenness in the stone’s surface will be irritating.
Thinning of the Edge
The next thing after the preparation of the sharpening stone is to thing the edge by using the rough part of the stone. To do so you should rub the knife on the coarse side at an angle of 5 degree there is no preference on stroke or direction you can use.
As we are just thinning the edge around the blade to safe ourselves from extra labor at the end and the next steps will be using higher angles than 5 degrees so that in every step of this process new part of the blade metal comes in contact with the stone.
There are people who use holding angles of 10 degrees and beyond and they get the job done equally well. There is no specific number that you can follow but this angle is the easiest for the beginners as it doesn’t involve much complicated stuff.
Now after following all the instructions given above you can begin with the actual sharpening of the knife blade. Now for this step you have to use the flattened side of the sharpening stone. Now hold the blade at 6 degree angle and stroke the blade in forward motion. You have to sharpen one side first and move on to the second side of the knife blade when you are done with the first. Be sure to check the condition of the sharpening by placing the blade in bright light and keep on sharpening till all the reflections are not visible.
Once you are done with the stone sharpening the next thing to do with the knife blade is to tune the sharpness to extra fine limit. To do so you can get a piece of glass and 600 grit sandpaper.
The use of sandpaper on a glass is recommended because glass surface is as levelled as they come. If you have any other alternative in mind you can use that too.
Hold the knife at around 7 degrees angle and stroke at in forward direction as you did on the sharpening stone. The only difference between the two is that you don’t need to stroke it more than two or three times as it is enough to remove the abrasive metal required to fine tune the sharpened blade. If you still want finer tuning of the blade and you don’t like the result with the 600 grit sandpaper you can use 1200 grit sandpaper instead.
The only thing to consider here is the angle and amount of strokes you are going to apply for fine tuning. You have to start with lower angles, if you have a thin blade then you will not need to go with the higher angle to sharpen the blade. Higher angles are suitable for blades that are thick and will not be suitable for thin blades as higher angles remove large quantity of abrasive metal off the blade.
By the time you will be done with this step your knife will be all set to cut through compatible objects easily. To test the sharpness of the knife you can use the thumbnail technique which we have discussed above in this publication or you can place the blade under bright light or sunlight to check if the blade appears to be a dark line without any reflection.
Besides this technique you can use other tools that are perfect for sharpening your knife whether personal pocket knife or kitchen knife. You can check them out here Reviewed Pocket Knife Sharpeners.
- Best Pocket Knife Sharpeners Available