Blade sharpening is an important skill to know.Any knife that gets used will need to be maintained and sharpened, however many of us make mistakes and this includes myself. Anybody can get a blade to a serviceable edge but if done right you can bring it to a fantastic edge. Also if you know your knife and your use you can customize your edge to your purpose. Remember, A Sharp Knife is a Safe Knife. A dull knife requires more force and if it slips that’s when injuries can happen.
Choose Your Coarseness
Most blades can be sharpened just fine with only a medium coarse stone. Mostly you won’t need a super fine edge because it simply won’t last and unless your blade is very dull and nicked you won’t need a coarse stone. A medium coarseness is usually fine to maintain an edge. If your blade is damaged or in very bad shape, choose a coarse stone to repair the nicks and then move to the medium stone. If your knife is made with fairly high end steel such as S30V you may want to finish it with a fine stone because it can hold the edge better. Also if your knife doesn’t see a lot of hard use, such as a filleting knife, you may also want to choose a finer stone.
Pick the Proper Angle
For a rougher used knife such as a survival knife you will usually want an edge of about 20 degrees. To do this its easiest to visualize a 45 degree angle and then simply cut that is half. A finer and sharper edge can have a shallower angle of roughly 15 degrees or even slightly less. To achieve this you can hold the backside of the blade about one blade width off the stone and you will be close.
Always cut into the stone as if you are trying to shave off a fine layer, never drag it. This is probably one of the most common mistakes and will still give you an edge but won’t optimize your blade. Most blades are delivered with the proper angle for your blade. An easy way to practice holding the correct angle is to use a felt marker. Simply shade in the beveled area at the edge and take a few swipes. If the ink is all gone then you have the correct angle. If you have ink left at the top of the bevel it means you need to bring the back of the blade closer to the stone. When done test your blade and see if it cuts cleanly. Being able to shave with your knife usually isnt possible unless you have used a very fine stone with a fine angle. Obviously you should be very cautious if you try this and don’t try it on your face unless you want to win some sort of Darwin Award.
Blade sharpening isn’t difficult but a little extra attention will give you a superior edge.
If you choose, companies like Buck Knives will repair or sharpen your blade for you. Click here for more information
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