Blade Sharpening 101

 

Blade Sharpening 101

 

It may sound like a simple process, but when it comes to sharpening your blade – whether it be a pocket knife, survival blade or other, it is important to know all there is regarding knife honing. After all, you need to be sure that the blade is ready whenever you need it.

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There are a variety of blade steels. Different types of blades require different grits and different honing angles to make them the best they can be. In addition, you must also be very aware as to what type of sharpener you are using for the knife you own. As a hunter, you will at times be sharpening that blade in the wild, which means the sharpener you have packed with the rest of your supplies has to be the correct one.

 

Finding the right whetstone can be complicated, but it is the number one part of the knife sharpening process. There is a huge difference between a Flat Grind and a Saber Grind, a water stone and an oil stone, an India Stone and an Arkansas stone, therefore, we begin with the basics.

 

Divided into different groups, whetstone groups consist of naturally occurring stones (Japanese Water Stones; Arkansas Oil Stones) and manmade stones, including India Stones (AKA: silicon carbide). Broken down even further, natural and manmade whetstones are then classified as water stones or oil stones, which means they are meant to be used with either water or oil as a lubricant.

 

Once you understand the whetstones available, you will see that different knives with different types of blade grinds need to be sharpened at different angles in order to achieve the right edge.

 

Knives meant for heavy-duty use generally have Saber Grinds; whereas, knives meant for general purposes have Flat Grinds, and knives meant for hunting generally have Hollow Grinds. Those heavy-duty knives require sharpening at much higher edge bevel angles (25 to 30 degrees) than blades with Flat Grinds or Hollow Grinds. This is an important fact, being that the heavy-duty knife has to withstand the shock generated when the knife is used to chop. By the same token, blades with Hollow Grinds will need to be sharpened at much lower edge bevel angles (10 to 15 degrees). And blades with Flat Grinds will need to be sharpened at angles between the two depending upon the thickness of the blade’s spine.

 

Once you have the information needed on whetstones, grinds, blades and angles, sharpening the blade quickly and extremely well will be easy to do.

 

When sharpening a knife with a Saber Grind made from a softer blade steel, start with a coarse grit and progress to a finer grit. But leave the edge rough because it will dull quickly the next time you use it. For knives with relatively hard blades (i.e., 154-CM, ATS-34, or D2 around 58-63 HRC) with either Flat or Hollow Grinds, start with a medium grit and progress to a fine grit. Last, but not least, if the blade has a Hollow Grind that’s particularly thin, then you might want to polish the cutting edge with an extra-fine grit. But regardless of which type of whetstone you choose, the process of sharpening a knife blade remains the same.

 

To begin, depending on the type of whetstone you are using, you may first need to lubricate it either with water or honing oil.

 

The second step is to grasp the knife by the handle and place the edge against the whetstone at a 10-to-30 degree angle, depending on the thickness, and then slowly move the entire length of the cutting edge across the whetstone while maintaining the same angle. When finished, turn the blade over onto its opposite side and perform the same action. Continue to do this, alternating from side to side, until the edge reaches the desired sharpness.

 

As you can see, the process of sharpening a knife blade actually starts with choosing the correct type of whetstone needed based upon the type of steel the knife’s blade is made from and its grit and hardness. As long as you maintain a consistent angle throughout the entire sharpening process, you will achieve that super sharp cutting edge you’re looking for.

 

Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle

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