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
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 yo 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 his own rules, and they are always and often debated. But mine works, 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 to always choose a knife of high carbon steel.
- It's easy to sharpen anywhere (which means in the field and not some fancy shop like mine or a souped-up workshop.
- Carbon Steel holds an edge better than stainless.
HOW TO Keep a sharp knife sharp
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 light weight 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 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 (keeps an already good edge razor sharp with very little effort). The older and more broke in and oily your leather belt the better.
Okay if you don't have a sharp knife or if you have incurred some damage from hitting bones, rocks,or other, 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.