Putting a keen edge on your knife is almost as important as carrying the knife in the first place.
A dull knife won’t cut very much and is more likely to cause injury to its owner. Good equipment is an important part of the task, but with the right technique you can literally sharpen a knife on a rock!
Survey the damage to see just how dull your knife really is. Look for nicks in the edge, and try cutting a piece of paper to test the edge. Deep nicks and no paper cutting mean you’re going to have a lot of sharpening ahead of you.
Determine the edge angle of your knife. Depending on the make and model, the actual edge may have a different angle than the sides of the knife blade.
File away any nicks with a bastard file or a coarse sharpening stone, while maintaining the proper edge angle (most knives have a bevel angle of roughly 20- to 23 degrees). If there are no nicks, go down each side of the edge twice with a coarse stone.
Sharpen with a medium-grit sharpening stone, twice on each side, and finish by doing the same with a fine stone. Grind the edge using little circles and count as you go, making the same number of strokes on each side of the blade.
Finally, to remove burrs and polish the edge, strop the blade against a leather belt or a smooth log. Draw the spine of the knife forward, dragging the sharp edge against the stropping surface. Strop each side several times, then test for sharpness.
Shop Sportsman’s Guide for a fine selection of Knife Sharpeners!
This tip, and 337 more survival tips, are in MacWelch’s new book Prepare For Anything. This latest Outdoor Life survival manual is available at Amazon.
Follow him on Twitter @timmacwelch And check out more of MacWelch’s outdoor skills and survival articles in Outdoor Life Magazine.