Explore & Understand How To Sharpen Knife

My friends at Modern Survival Blog did an outstanding job on writing a comprehensive but straightforward advice guide for sharpening your knife from a Knife Maker's Perspective (just so happened to be me!)

Knifemaker Reveals Secret For A

Sharp Knife Edge

Ken Jorgustin February 2, 2017

How to Sharpen Your Knife

The following are some tips and advice on how to sharpen a dull knife and how to sharpen a knife that's already pretty sharp - from bladesmith/blacksmith James Wahls.

Every prepper has at least one knife. More than likely, you have several knives or more, each of them serving a range of uses and purposes. The invariable issue that you will encounter is sharpening a knife in a way that will end up with a very sharp edge. Until you have actually sharpened a knife the right way, you won't know what you're missing......

Here's the simple secret per James......

Every knife maker has its own rules, and they are always and often debated. But mine work works anywhere and costs very, very little, and the most important rule, it fits in my pocket.

My personal preference in knife sharpening is as follows:

A High Carbon Steel Knife is Key

First, I recommend always choosing a knife of high carbon steel.

  1. It's easy to sharpen anywhere (which means in the field and not some fancy shop like mine or a souped-up workshop.
  2. Carbon Steel holds an edge better than stainless.


Secondly, and preferably you want to start with an already sharp knife. To keep your sharp knife sharp, take good care of it, which means keep it clean and oil it regularly. Olive oil is my preference because it's cheap, very lightweight, and will not become gummy on your blade. Most importantly, you can put it in your mouth (which is key and can't be done with the most expensive gun/knife oils, which always blows my mind!).

To keep your sharp knife sharp, don't bang it on anything harder than the knife's edge (your main two culprits in nature are bones and rocks).

Strop it every evening on a good old piece of leather after you have used it. This is the main reason I wear an old leather belt (it keeps an already good edge razor-sharp with very little effort). The older and more broke in and oily your leather belt, the better.

Heavy Duty – Double-sided Leather Strop


Okay, if you don't have a sharp knife or if you have incurred some damage from hitting bones, rocks, or others, and need to reproduce a microscopic edge, then my only choice for knives (straight razors are a whole different story click here to see a great tutorial on razors and using leather strops and flat stones) is to use diamond and ceramic sharpening rods.

A rod works better, in my opinion, due to the fact that every blade has a different degree of bevel or angle, and the rod allows you to let the edge guide you while keeping the rest of the knife away from the sharpening device.

I keep these two rods in my pant pocket at all times when in the field. Primarily the tactical rod.

The diamond rod is for a knife blade with serious damage or a very dulled blade.

The ceramic rod is for "freshening up" a dull-ish blade. I keep one on my workbench as well as in the kitchen and field pack.

Then strop your knife on the leather for a razor's edge.

Here is a link to the best diamond rod on the market (Amazon sells them cheaper than anybody, and Lansky is the best), and they cost about $15.00

Lansky Diamond/Carbide Tactical Sharpening Rod and Ceramic Sharpening Rod

600 grit retractable diamond rod

600 Grit Retractable Diamond Rod

Ken adds: Looks like the tactical rod could also be purposed as a backup weapon....

24 Degrees Per Edge

Ken adds: I measured the angle of the built-in tungsten-carbide blades (24-degrees / side). Although James didn't mention it, the use of these blades should be reserved for a severely damaged knife edge.

James said, "hope that helps. It's one of my most favorite questions and I get it all the time and folks stopping in the shop for knife sharpening lessons."

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