Ensuring a Sharp Blade

Look at almost any officer and you will see the same piece of equipment clipped to a belt or in a pocket – a folding knife. The reasons for carrying a knife on duty are varied but, regardless of why you carry it, a knife is useless if it cannot cut. Is your knife up to the task?

A dull knife is likely to be the user’s worst nightmare. Not only will it fail to do its intended job, but it is also more liable to cut you. A blade that is not sharp enough is more prone to slipping, which often results in accidents. Many knife owners suffer with a dull blade because they just do not know how to sharpen it. But that does not need to be the case.

By following these simple steps, you can sharpen almost any knife and be the envy of every knife owner you know.

  1. Select the Proper Sharpener: There are a whole host of sharpeners on the market. While diamond sticks, hand held sharpeners and even electric sanding machines each have a place, nothing provides a long lasting, quality edge like a simple sharpening stone. When selecting a stone, make sure you pick one large enough to accommodate the knives you carry; pick one that is too small and you will have a hard time dressing the entire blade.
  2. SharpenerLearn the Proper Angle: The most difficult part of learning to sharpen any blade is learning the proper angle to hold the blade against the stone. Thinner blades tend to have lighter angles while thicker blades have sharper angles, something that is easily seen if you look at the knife’s edge. A general rule of thumb is to angle the blade approximately 20 degrees, or equal to placing two dimes between it and the stone.
  3. Preparing the Stone: All stones require lubrication. Not only does this allow you to move the blade more easily, it also prevents the stone from becoming clogged with metal flakes. Although I prefer oiled stones, I recommend beginners use a stone that allows the use of a water-based lubricant. If in doubt, check the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Proper Technique: When moving the blade across the stone, you need to apply enough pressure to remove a tiny edge of the metal, but not so much as to damage the blade itself. Pretend you are trying to slice the thinnest possible piece off the top of the stone as you move the blade slowly across the surface. Work the entire edge starting at the back and moving towards the tip with a constant, even pressure.

Easy To Follow Steps

  1. Select proper stone and lubricate (coarse for extremely dull, fine for touch up)
  2. Make 8 – 10 strokes away from you
  3. Turn blade over and repeat, this time taking 8-10 strokes towards you
  4. Repeat B & C until you feel a thin burr forming on the edge
  5. Make 1 stroke towards you
  6. Make 1 stroke away from you
  7. Repeat E & F 10 times

If you started with a coarse stone, move to a fine stone and repeat. You should now have a blade that would make any mountain man proud.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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1 thought on “Ensuring a Sharp Blade

  1. There is no sharpening system you cannot screw up. However, I have found that the Lansky sharpener gives the best bang for the experience and cost. That said, don’t be ashamed to send your knife out for professional sharpening, then learn to properly use a leather strop to keep the edge longer.

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