A sturdy, sharp, versatile knife is an essential emergency preparedness tool. Knives can be used for cutting, splitting wood for fires, making shelters, and self-defense. A dull knife is a dangerous and ineffective knife. Knives must be sharp. Each of your kits (vehicle, hiking, home, and Bugout Bag) should include a knife sharpener. Your portable kits should include portable knife sharpeners.Good: [Hiking Kit] Start with a small, inexpensive pocket sharpener that will produce a good (but NOT perfect) edge. Purchase one that can sharpen both straight and serrated edges such as the Smith’s Pocket Pal. This small, inexpensive, and effectively sharpener can easily be carried in a hiking kit. Better: [Home/Vehicle Kit] Add a sharpener that can be used in the field or at home. The Smith’s CCD4 3 IN 1 Field Sharpening System uses ceramic rods to put a fine edge on straight and serrated blades. This is small enough to fit in a vehicle kit and it could also be used on home and kitchen knives. It is a bit large to carry in a hiking kit. If you have “normal” knives then you can stop with this sharpener. Best #1: If you have some precision knives and you want a superior edge then consider Lansky Diamond Sharpening System. This sharpener requires you to clamp the knife in a jig and you can grind the edge to an exact angle. This level of sharpener is NOT necessary for average knives but works well for precision knives. Best #2: Work Sharp manufactures several belt-driven precision knife sharpeners that can produce a superior edge. My favorite model is the Ken Onion version. This sharpener uses abrasive belts to sharpen blades and a dial allows you to choose the blade angle. Some of these sharpeners can also be used for larger jobs such as garden tools and lawnmowers. I do NOT prefer these electric sharpeners on my precision knives but they do work very well and are extremely versatile.
A dull knife is a dangerous knife. Always keep your knives in top shape. When sharpening knives be sure to use the correct blade angle.
- 20° for fillet knives and kitchen knives
- 25° for general knives
- 65° for scissors
Using a Pocket Sharpener for Straight Edge
- Place the sharpener on a flat surface and hold securely. Insert the end blade into the sharpening slots at about a 30° angle. Be sure to keep your fingers away from the blade.
- Pull the straight blade through the sharpener in a smooth and steady motion. Start with the end of the blade and pull through the sharpener to the front of the blade. Use light to moderate downward pressure on the blade.
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 until the blade is sharp.
- Put a finer edge on the blade using the ceramic sharpener. Pull the knife edge through the ceramic sharpener 8 to 10 times using a smooth, steady pull.
Using a Pocket Sharpener for Serrated Edge
- Use the diamond rod and place it at the grind angle of the blade serrations.
- Push the rod through the serration while applying light pressure and rolling the rod as you push. Repeat this process until the serration is sharp.
- Repeat this process for all serrations.
- Pull the serrated knife through the fine ceramic sharpener 2 to 3 times to remove any burrs.
- Clean the knife with a damp cloth. Do NOT rinse the knife with water.
Improvised Knife Sharpeners
If you are caught without a knife sharpener there are several ways to put a decent edge on your knife. You can use a ceramic mug, vehicle window glass, or a number of other items. Here are some very informative videos on improvised knife sharpening.
- 5 Ways To Sharpen A Knife Without A Sharpener, by Sierra Trading Post
- Knife Sharpening Without Tools, by BushcraftOnFire
I have a SOG Seal Team Strike knife and the deluxe kydex sheath includes a knife sharpener. This is NOT an ideal sharpener but it works reasonably well and is with the knife since I always carry the knife in the sheath. When you purchase a knife see if there are options such as a deluxe sheath.