How to Sharpen Knives the Easy Way

Keeping your knife sharp may seem like a daunting task. There are dozens of different techniques and tools to get the job done. Simplicity though, proves to be one of the best practices! The goal when sharpening a knife is to simply make the knife sharp. This is done by removing metal from the edge of the dull blade. Blades become dull due to, on a micro level, the metal rolling over.  As we sharpen the blade we remove that rolled metal leaving behind a nice clean crisp edge.

Keep Your Knife Sharp

Never allow your knife to get dull. Although this may seem strange to say when talking about sharpening it is true.  Maintaining a knife before it gets dull is extremely easier than working a dull knife back to sharp.  Large chips or cracks are signs of damage outside the scope of what simple sharpening can repair. If this happens it may be time to get a new knife.

Knife Sharpening Tools

For most individuals a small pocket sharpening stone is the easiest and most cost effective way to make their knife sharp again.  Although there are very complex effective systems out there a pocket stone will always get the job done. It is easy to transport and won’t break the bank.

The Sharpening Process

  1. Hold your knife with the blade facing up and the tip away from you.
  2. Place your sharpening stone against the side of the knife.
  3. Carefully tilt your sharpening stone towards the edge (sharp part) of your knife.
  4. While tilting the stone towards the blade you will notice a gap between the sharp edge and the stone. As you get close to the edge what appears to be a black line between the knife edge and stone start to develop. This is referred to as the gap.
  5. Continue to move the sharping stone towards the edge closing the gap. Be cautious to not over tilt the stone. During this step simply look to close the gap and STOP.
  6. At this point when the gap is closed you are the correct angle to sharpen your knife.
  7. Begin by moving your stone with medium pressure up and down (sky to floor) against the knife edge. While doing this also begin to move the stone away from you down the edge of the blade.
  8. Continue this process on both side of the blade making sure that you make a consistent number of passes on each side. (Example: if you make 3 passes up and down the right side be sure to make 3 passes up and down the left side)
  9. Test your knife by cutting a piece of wood or paper. If you are happy with the performance of the blade you are all done otherwise continue this process until you are content!
Close the gap
Don’t over angle the blade. Keep matching the angle.

There you go in less than 10 steps you can have a sharp knife ready for whatever nature throws at you! 

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About The Author


Dan Wowak, Owner and Instructor, of Coalcracker Bushcraft and the Appalachian Bushman School, has been an avid outdoorsman since childhood. His love and passion for the outdoors began while fishing and hiking with his grandfather in the hills of Appalachia. Over the years, he continued pursuing his love for the outdoors through backpacking, camping, hunting, and trapping.

As time went on, Dan’s enthusiasm for the outdoors compounded with his drive for reaching his physical and mental limits. The collision of these two passions launched him into the unforgiving, highly dynamic world of survival and bushcraft. He spent years honing this craft and was driven to inspire individuals to pursue a love of wilderness skills. Dan has been formally teaching and sharing knowledge of survival and wilderness living for several years. Most recently Dan has had the opportunity to put his lifetime of knowledge and foundational survival approach to the test on History Channel’s Alone Television Series.