When man discovered the secret of steel, it revolutionized the world. It revolutionized warfare, hunting, and daily living. We still depend on the sharp edge for daily living and in SHTF, survival.
Sharpening a blade is an art. Some people have the knack for it. I don’t. I do well with carbon steel blades, but not so well with stainless. Many people will invest in a number of edged tools for survival (knives, cutting tools, axes, etc) but not give much thought to keeping them seriously sharp. It is the same when people invest in quality firearms and neglect to acquire proper weapons cleaning kits for them A dull blade will not do the job you need, and can skip on the item you are cutting, possible letting you injure yourself. There are a number of good sharpening devices on the market to enable you to keep your blades sharp so you can properly cut, slice, dice, carve, skin, and chop whatever it is you need for survival. The important part of sharpening is knowing the correct blade angle to sharpen it to. Know these for your various knives and tools.
These come in both natural stone or man-made stones. They can be used dry, with water, or a water based oil. Once you use oil though, it is recommended not to go back to using water. They will generally come in coarse, medium, and fine grade. Plain stones get the job done for sure. But it takes practice to be able to hold your blade at the correct angle for each stroke. One of the drawbacks to stones is that they will eventually wear down and are susceptible to breaking if dropped.
The Smith’s TRI-6 Arkansas TRI-HONE Sharpening Stones System illustrated is three stones that rotate on a triangular base so you can quickly go from course, to medium, then fine grit.
Manual Portable Sharpeners
These are designed to take a lot of the guesswork out of knife sharpening by guiding the blade in a pre set angle. Most of these are of the pull through design, are lightweight, and will fit in your bug out bag. Chef’s Choice makes a large number of sharpeners and their Sportsman model illustrated is especially designed with three sharpening modes: Fish, Hunting, and Polishing/Serrated Blades. It weighs only 8 oz. and has no slip rubber bases. There are a number of much smaller pull through knife sharpeners that are small, handy, and will fit in your pocket. The Gerber Fiskar is an example. It uses ceramic rods in course and fine and has finger grooves for a solid grip. I keep one in my bug out bag, one in my get home bag, and one in my EDC kit. The Lansky Blade Medic is a handy, multi purpose sharpener that will fit in your pocket. It has tungsten carbide rods, ceramic rods, a ceramic for serrated blades, and a diamond tapered rod. The Spyderco Golden Stone is an interesting design made of aluminum bonded ceramic covered in micro sized sapphires. It comes in a suede case that doubles as a base. It wont wear out and doesn’t require lubricant. Holding the stone vertically the stone tilts side to side, lifting one edge up and making a 20 degree sharpening angle for knife blades. Both of the sides are an elliptical edge with a large radius to sharpen PlainEdges and a smaller radius for SpyderEdges. Held vertically on its side, it creates a 12.5 degree angle for scissors and a seam channel running the stone’s length hones pointed objects. It weighs 9 ounces.
Most sharpeners move the blade across the sharpening element. Dynamic sharpeners reverse that and move the stone across the blade. Lansky makes a wide variety of sharpening systems and their Diamond Deluxe Sharpening System with Extra Coarse, Coarse, Medium and Fine Hones is an example. It includes 4-stone diamond knife sharpeners with extra-coarse, coarse, medium, and fine diamond hones. It allows you to clamp the stone in a clamp with a rod and select 17, 20, 25, and 30-degree angle options. This type of sharpener is ideal for the novice or someone who has a variety of blades with different angles.
Learning to sharpen a blade well takes practice. If you are new to knife sharpening and need a good reference, The Complete Guide To Sharpening is a good start.
Steels and Strops
Sharpening steels are another option. Between professional sharpenings, tiny metal fibers bend down on a blade, dulling the surface. The purpose of the sharpening steel is to straighten up those fibers, maintaining the sharpest edge possible for daily use. These are good for a quick touch up if you are doing a lot of knife work such as skinning large game. The one illustrated is a quality steel made in Germany. These are made from the same type of steel many knives are made of.
Strops are used to keep a very fine edge on a thin blade such as a straight razor. You can use sharpening compounds on them such as Herb’s Yellowstone Honing and Stropping Compound. My first experience with a razor strop was when my Father applied my Grandfather’s strop to my butt when I needed it. They make excellent child attitude adjustment tools.
Field Expedient Sharpening
If you find yourself with a dull blade, and for some reason do not have one of your sharpeners available, there are a couple of field expedients you can use, especially in an urban environment. Most ceramic coffee cups will have an unglazed rim on the bottom which makes a pretty good sharpener.
Auto window glass will have a top edge that is rough and not smooth. It can be used as a field expedient sharpener.
Keeping your edged tools and weapons sharp could be the difference between life and death in SHTF. Insure you have the proper sharpening tools to keep your life saving edges sharp.