Knife Sharpening

The description below is for a method of knife sharpening known as ‘Wire Edge Sharpening’ using a water stone

Find a flat, stable surface to put your stones on.  The choice of what grit to use depends on how much work needs to be done to the knife.

  • Immerse the stone in water; you should see bubbles coming out of the stone.
  • Once the stone has stopped bubbling, it’s ready to use.
  • Begin sharpening the knife by laying its bevel flat on the stone’
  • Draw the knife backwards and forwards on the stone with the blade facing away from you.
  • Use slow firm movements.
  • Check the bevel of the knife regularly; if the knife is polished above or below the shoulder you need to adjust the angle you are holding the knife.
  • If the top of the stone gets dry, wet it down with a few drops of water.
  • Using your nail, carefully feel the opposite side of the knife edge for a burr, or wire edge, along the whole length of the edge.
  • Once a wire edge or “burr” has developed, repeat on the other side of the blade.
  • Change to a finishing stone and use the same technique as on the coarse stone.  This won’t produce as much of a burr.

As a final step, use a leather strop to buff and further hone the knife edge.  The back of a leather belt will work (I bought one in a second hand shop for £1 that does the trick).  Run the knife up and down the strop 20 or so times.

The knife should be able to cleanly slice down through a sheet of paper held in the air between finger and thumb.


About Gary

Lead Instructor at Jack Raven Bushcraft, teaching bushcraft, wilderness and survival skills to groups and individuals.

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