Pocket knives are an exceptionally versatile and useful tool to cut smaller items and peel fruit. However, a pocketknife with a blunt edge may cause more frustration than adding value.
Although there are a few ways to sharpen a pocketknife, not all provide the ultimate sharpness that can cut through most objects.
- Invest in a whetstone
- Check the manufacturer’s guidance on the correct angle to sharpen to
- Use a sweeping motion on the whestone and ensure the blade stays in contact the whole time
- Test if the blade is sharp with magazine paper
Sharpening your pocketknife regularly will protect your knife against damage when used prudently.
Take great care when sharpening your pocketknife as it could cause some serious damage when sharpened to the maximum extent.
How to Sharpen a Pocketknife
There are a wide variety of tools available to sharpen a pocketknife but not all of them will produce the same result.
Handheld sharpeners that are used in the kitchen to sharpen knives can be used quite successfully but will not produce the same result as sharpening a pocketknife on a whetstone.
The reason handheld sharpeners are not the best for sharpening a pocketknife is that the optimal bevel angle for kitchen knives is between 15 and 20 degrees while the optimal bevel for pocketknives is between 22 to 30 degrees.
For maximum results a series of whetstones is ideal.
A 1,000-grit whetstone is recommended to put a new edge on a blunt knife. Finer grits up to 6000 grit are used for the finishing edge and the final polish of the blade.
For the best result, you may need some lubricants like mineral oil or water (whetstones).
Steps to sharpen a pocketknife
1. Clean your pocketknife
Use soap and water to remove all the dirt and grime from the blade and check the blade for nicks which may require additional work to smooth them out.
If soap and water don’t clean the blade properly, use a pot scourer to remove the dirt and grime.
2. Find your edge angle (or edge bevel)
Not all pocketknives have the same bevel. It is important that you use the prescribed edge angle supplied by the manufacturer to achieve the best results.
Major pocketknife manufacturers such as Swiss Army knife manufacturer Victorinox recommends sharpening at a 15- to 20-degree angle on both sides.
3. Begin sharpening your pocketknife
Sharpening along the whole blade provides the best results. When using a sharpening stone, place the and farthest away from the handle on the stone and slide it along the whole length of the blade.
Use a sweeping motion and ensure that the blade stays in contact with the whetstone at a constant angle until the end of the blade is reached.
Repeat on both sides of the blade.
4. Coarse grit stone
Starting with a coarse 1,000-grit whetstone and working your way to finer grits produce the ultimate results.
However, if your blade is not blunt you may start with a finer grit whetstone and work your way through the various grits until your pocketknife blade is at the correct angle and shiny.
Experts propose that you take an extra step to sharpen your pocketknife by passing the blade over a piece of leather containing a polishing compound to provide a final polish.
This is done by drawing the blade away from its edge preventing the blade from cutting into the leather.
Regular stropping will keep the knife’s edge sharp for longer.
5. Check the blade’s sharpness with paper
The ultimate test of whether the sharpening process was a success is testing the pocketknife cutting into magazine paper. If the blade cuts through the paper without difficulty or tearing it was a success. If not, follow the process again.
Having a sharp pocket knife available can be extremely useful.
It is worthwhile to sharpen your blade regularly to ensure that you are not caught up in a situation where you urgently need to cut something, but the blade is too blunt to cut anything.
This guide provides the tools and steps used most frequently and provides the ultimate result ensuring that everyone will look at you for assistance due to you being the sharpest pencil in the box.
Keep your whetstones ready and in good shape so that you don’t get caught with a blunt blade ever again.