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Knife Sharpening Made Easy



Feature | Sharpening knife | Knife Sharpening Made Easy

Improve your knife sharpening skills with these simple tips and make your blade the overall reliable tool that it is!

RELATED: Choosing A Fixed Blade Survival Knife (Part 1)

Knife Sharpening | The Best & Simplest Technique

The Basics of Knife Sharpening

So your knife is dull as a dog biscuit, huh? And you want to do something about it, but don't know where to start?

You have found the right article, my friend. Sharpening a knife is a lot like many of these skills that fall into the self-reliance category.

It's something that virtually everyone could do just a few short years ago. With that in mind, I would like to point out the basics of how to sharpen knives correctly.

If you take the time to watch the video at the end of this post, you will also see some of these in practice with various knife sharpening devices.

To sharpen any knife you need to go through the same basic steps which are: getting the proper sharpener, knowing the angle you need to sharpen on (this is really important), preparing your stone, and actually using proper knife sharpening techniques.

Get a Proper Sharpener

There are tons of knife sharpeners out there, and which one you get depends on your experience and confidence level. You can get one as simple as a handheld sharpener, a diamond sharpener, or stones.

The handhelds are for those of us who do not feel confident in our skills and want something that gets the angle correct each time and is safe to use. The diamond sharpeners and stones come in various grades of coarseness.

A man holding knife | Knife Sharpening Made Easy

If you have an incredibly dull knife, you are going to need to use a coarse stone. A very coarse stone will take off much more material than a fine stone will.

Personally, I have a coarse stone and a fine stone, as you can see in the video.

Know Your Bevel Angle

This is the angle on the sharp side of your blade. You will notice that some knives have a steep angle right at the sharp side, and others have an angle that basically slopes all the way to the back of the blade.

A general consideration is that most of your thin knives, like a more brand or fillet style knife, will not have much actual angle.

Grayscale image of a man hand sharpening knife | Knife Sharpening Made Easy

What Is a Fillet Style Knife? A very flexible type of knife used for filleting or preparing fish.

Whereas, thicker blades will have a much steeper angle. Keep in mind that a good rule of thumb for sharpening is 20 degrees.

I have always laid two dimes down on the stone and then rested the knife on them to get a good idea of this angle.

RELATED: Top 3 Blade Tech Knives To Put In Your Pocket NOW

Prep Your Stone

Do not feel as if you need to get too fancy here. In the video, you will see I discuss using nothing more than spit on the stone to get the desired effect.

Works and tools | Knife Sharpening Made Easy

Honing oil has its uses, however, mostly it makes a knife slip a bit too much for my liking. A good rule of thumb, if you determine you need to lubricate your stone, is to use a water-based lubricant (spit or water) on the diamond stones and then use oil on Arkansas, and similar stones I discuss in the video.

With that said, I rarely use oil when sharpening and my knives are as sharp as razors.

Proper Technique

Have you ever sliced or watched someone slice the Thanksgiving turkey? If so, you already have a leg up on sharpening a knife.

Man using blade to cut wood | Knife Sharpening Made Easy

Whether you are using a stone or diamond sharpener, imagine you are slicing off a thin sliver of the stone. You should always start the blade near the handle and then slice toward the tip.

Remember, slice off a small sliver of the stone.

Watch knife sharpening in action in this video by Nature Reliance:

There you have it! Even these basic tips will have your knife sharpening service and skills level up a notch.

By reading this and then watching the video I want you to be the person everyone looks up to when needing a sharp knife.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Over-sharpening and its Consequences

Believe it or not, it's possible to over-sharpen a knife. Excessive sharpening can thin out the blade, compromising its structural integrity and longevity.

Using Incorrect Angles

Maintaining the correct sharpening angle is essential. Using the wrong angle can lead to uneven sharpening, affecting the knife's performance.

Tips from the Pros

Expert Advice for Long-Lasting Sharpness

Professional chefs recommend regular honing and occasional sharpening to maintain knives at their best. Developing a routine will keep your knives in top shape.

Recommended Sharpening Frequency

The frequency of sharpening depends on how often you use your knives. Heavy usage may require sharpening every few weeks, while occasional use can extend the time between sharpening sessions.

Do you have your own technique for knife sharpening? We'd love to hear from you in the comments section below!


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Knife Sharpening Made Easy |

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 15, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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  1. Pingback: Knife Sharpening 101

  2. Donald Jones

    August 17, 2014 at 11:39 AM

    I’m a former FMF Navy Corpsman. Some SOB stole my GI issue KaBar knife which I loved,so I bought a replacement in a knife store. It seems harder to sharpen than I remember.
    I have two questions.
    1) Is the knife I bought actually the same as the ones we were issued (it looks and feels like it!);
    And 2) because of the composite metal in the blade, is there a certain way I should sharpen it to get it razor sharp?

    • John D

      August 25, 2014 at 7:39 PM

      Doctor Jones (sorry, could not resist the Indiana Jones reference) your new Kabar may indeed be different from whatever you were issued. At various times, different companies got Government contracts to provide knives for issue. Some that come to mind are Ontario and Camillus. The metal and treating has to be within specs but may have some variation. I was corpsman from ’67 to ’86 before getting my commission and not being able to have much fun after that.

  3. Mike

    August 25, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    What about sharpening a tanto tip? I have a crazy time trying to keep the right sharpening angle(s) on that without softening the curve / bend / point in the blade at which the cutting edge angles up toward the tip. Do I give up and send it back to the manufacturer for sharpening?

    • John D

      August 25, 2014 at 7:40 PM

      Look at a Tanto as being straight edges, and sharpen accordingly.

      • Richard Gaylor

        August 29, 2018 at 7:24 AM

        Try a lansky sharping kit work great with all different tupe of blades been using it for over twenty years

  4. Ronald Machleit

    August 25, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    could not watch the video the pop up said unable to resolve servers address, thanks Ron

  5. Carol Ann Glasheen

    August 27, 2014 at 8:55 PM

    I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation. Many people assume their knives are sharp enough but have no idea that a blade that is not as shape as it could be can be very dangerous. They have to exert too much pressure to do the job, and run the danger of causing injury and cutting themselves.

  6. ward eldred

    August 28, 2014 at 1:21 AM

    really?? that’s all you got? the yellow one is carbide and takes a LOT of metal off.i woul;d only use it if the knife was duller than my love life!the best thing i’ve found lately is those cute little emry boards the chickies carry in their purses! a couple of strokes and you’re good.the bottom of a china plate,a cardboard box.your leather belt,even a smooth tree will dress an edge!

    • Anonymous

      August 31, 2018 at 9:05 PM

      Smart man porslin sink works well match book stricker is good or 4000 grip sand paper

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  8. Knife Heavn

    September 8, 2014 at 3:04 AM

    Hey thanks for the awesome tips. Your tip on knife sharpener helped me a lot.

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  13. June mclane

    November 16, 2017 at 10:02 AM

    I have always done a pretty good job of sharpening my knives with a chain saw file. A few swipes and sharper than sharp. Of course I don’t use it on my good German kitchen knives that are never as sharp as my chain saw file job. I have never been successful with stones and I had the best and did the best at sharpening carving tools, chisels and the like but just don’t have the knack for the knife. Some one told me one time that it could be caused by “rolling the edge”. That means there is a burr rolled over on the edge and has to be stripped off. An oiled piece of leather. Strop it back and forth til the burr comes off and voila! Also you can look at the edge straight on. If you can’t see the edge, it’s sharp. If you see a shiny edge, it’s not sharp yet. The edge is still flat. Keep going til you can’t see the edge anymore.

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  19. Jacob Adler

    September 2, 2018 at 2:08 PM

    Ok — finally someone who knows how to sharpen a knife properly. Thank you!

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