Favored Techniques for Pocket Knife Sharpening?

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WildTurkeySurprise

Starting to Get Obsessed
Oct 23, 2020
257
4,290
46
Nashville, TN
I grew up using dry whetstones, and I got pretty good with them. A few years ago, I went down the rabbit hole researching knife sharpening, and I bought an Edge Pro Apex 4, which uses waterstones. It’s a chunk of change, but my blades are RIDICULOUSLY sharp after a session with it. The polishing tape is a game changer. I had always thought a razor edge was the goal, but now it’s just a rung on the sharpness ladder. It hurt spending the money initially, but I’ve never looked back. FWIW
 

mso489

Lifer
Feb 21, 2013
38,305
48,145
Interesting thread. When I was a cub scout, I learned to sharpen a pocket knife on a small stone with a thin coating of household oil, moving the blade against the stone with the blade edge facing me. Lately, I located a somewhat larger stone and have watched a few youTube videos. From this, I surmise I can use either water or oil on a stone, but some liquid is required to keep the stone from getting clogged with metal grit. The video I watched had the blade edge pushed away from you with pressure and drawn back toward you with no pressure. The burr is chased back and forth on either side of the blade, between the coarse side of the stone and the finer side, and stropped if you have that. I'll start with some old folding knives until i trust myself with better ones.
 

didimauw

Moderator
Staff member
Jul 28, 2013
6,486
13,757
33
Burlington WI
Two things that go great together. Knife sharpening and pipe smoking. I like doing them at the same time. Ultimate relaxation.
I had a friend that I worked with in the railroad that was big into knives. We brought a train down to Chicago late one night, and he showed me the proper ways to sharpen a knife. I had no idea that there was so much involved, yet it was so simple.
Changed my perspective on knife sharpening forever.
 

bassbug

Lifer
Dec 29, 2016
1,031
594
From this, I surmise I can use either water or oil on a stone

Nope...There are water stones and oil stones. Two different creatures. They wear out faster but my preference is for water stones just because they're not as messy and sticky.

I think maybe we should be drawing a distinction between sharpening and honing.

Honing is making an already sharp edge smoother on a close to microscopic scale. Some would call the result a mirror finish. If you look at a blade after 1000 grit, it will not reflect light very well. After 4000 grit, you'll get a bright reflection, after stropping on leather with a green or white compound, you can use it as a mirror. Honing, for all intents and purposes does not remove metal, so if your edge isn't sharp to begin with, it's pretty well a useless exercise.

Sharpening is getting your blade edge to a point if you look at the cross section. How sharp a blade is depends on how close you've gotten to a point. Think of a V shape compared to a U shape to simplify things. The closer you get to a V, the sharper the blade will be. The downside is that the point of the V is microscopically thin and as it's used goes toward the U shape. It needs to be brought back to a point.....HONING

Obviously, if you let your blade go too far to the U shape, you'll have to visibly remove metal to get back to a V shape. The moral of the story...Don't let your blade go completely dull :)
 
Aug 27, 2016
3,361
13,039
39
Louisville
Nope...There are water stones and oil stones. Two different creatures. They wear out faster but my preference is for water stones just because they're not as messy and sticky.

I think maybe we should be drawing a distinction between sharpening and honing.

Honing is making an already sharp edge smoother on a close to microscopic scale. Some would call the result a mirror finish. If you look at a blade after 1000 grit, it will not reflect light very well. After 4000 grit, you'll get a bright reflection, after stropping on leather with a green or white compound, you can use it as a mirror. Honing, for all intents and purposes does not remove metal, so if your edge isn't sharp to begin with, it's pretty well a useless exercise.

Sharpening is getting your blade edge to a point if you look at the cross section. How sharp a blade is depends on how close you've gotten to a point. Think of a V shape compared to a U shape to simplify things. The closer you get to a V, the sharper the blade will be. The downside is that the point of the V is microscopically thin and as it's used goes toward the U shape. It needs to be brought back to a point.....HONING

Obviously, if you let your blade go too far to the U shape, you'll have to visibly remove metal to get back to a V shape. The moral of the story...Don't let your blade go completely dull :)

Yep.
80% of the time I do some sharpening for other people, all it really needs is a good straightening.
 
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mso489

Lifer
Feb 21, 2013
38,305
48,145
Does Bagram on that hand sharpener refer to the airbase in Afghanistan, or is that just a coincidental brand name? I have a more basic version of that, not that brand, that seems to work okay. I'm trying to up my game without causing any permanent damage to my pocket knives. I carry a pocket knife daily for many small tasks, and hate it when the knives aren't reasonably sharp.
 
Jun 25, 2021
1,369
4,396
England
I draw the blade at a 20 degree angle on a 1000 grit diamond stone, working away from the edge never towards it, after that the blade is like a very fine toothed saw, and I do know no buffing or any othertreatment.
the amount of work necessary obviously depends on the bluntness of the blade beforehand, this works very well and the edge lasts a long time.
 

hawky454

Lifer
Feb 11, 2016
4,954
8,598
Austin, TX
I actually just bought a new sharpener for my pocket knives, it hasn’t arrived yet, should be here later today but it’s got great reviews/ratings. I also just bought another Kershaw knife, I love Kershaw.

Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener, Gray https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009YKHZ96/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_Q75HAM9J3J8XJ3W8G4SV


Kershaw Fringe Pocket Knife, 3-inch 8Cr13MoV Steel Blade with Gray Titanium Carbo-Nitride Coating, Carbon-Fiber Insert; SpeedSafe Assisted Opening, 8310 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BHTRNDM/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_EWWS6P8TREEWEHYEPJ0E
 

kurtbob

Lifer
Jul 9, 2019
1,998
12,216
55
SE Georgia
Does Bagram on that hand sharpener refer to the airbase in Afghanistan, or is that just a coincidental brand name? I have a more basic version of that, not that brand, that seems to work okay. I'm trying to up my game without causing any permanent damage to my pocket knives. I carry a pocket knife daily for many small tasks, and hate it when the knives aren't reasonably sharp.
They are made by Redi Edge. Yes sir, the Bagram is the air base in Afghanistan. Bought a bunch of em from the PX when I was there 2014-2015 for $10 on sale each.
 
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timelord

Part of the Furniture Now
Oct 30, 2017
849
1,694
Gallifrey
I use a whetstone (I think someone referred to them as a bench stone or sharpening stone earlier). My dad used these for his woodworking tools and showed me how to sharpen knife blades and chisels before I was a teenager (guess it meant I was useful for something in the workshop).
 

aspiring_sage

Starting to Get Obsessed
Oct 7, 2021
241
420
Southwest of Mpls., MN
There are better methods but the question of "favored methods" to me meant: "What do you actually do most of the time?". I've learned a number of "right ways" to sharpen. Most of them are good.

I treat chisels and planes differently than my pocket knife, or axe, or straight razor. For a pocket knife, anything goes.

For 'good enough', if I hadn't previously been obsessed with sharpening: I've never had sharpness from portable hand-held knife sharpeners that I can get with a couple of light strokes from a file.

If I were to start from scratch right now, amazon has diamond sharpening plate sets for previously unheard-of prices: Like $20 for 4 plates: 400, 600, 1000, 1200 grit. Just a few years ago it was $100 per plate.
 
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runscott

Part of the Furniture Now
Jun 3, 2020
523
1,130
Washington State
Interesting thread. When I was a cub scout, I learned to sharpen a pocket knife on a small stone with a thin coating of household oil, moving the blade against the stone with the blade edge facing me.

Same here. Also what Dad and Granddad used. Just a little stone with the middle worn down.