How to sharpen a knife



A question I get asked a lot is how to sharpen a knife.

There are a few methods that can help you restore the cutting edge of your blade. The way I whet the blade is by using a fine grit abraisive belt, followed by a super fine grit belt, followed by a felt wheel with a polishing compound that acts like a strop and creates a razor sharp edge. If you don't have access to 3 phase motor made in Huddersfield 90 years ago, then a whetsone will do the same job!

I use an angle from between 20 and 30 degrees which you will need to do to get the same cutting edge. Gripping the whetstone in a vice will help keep it perfectly still, but a damp towel on a surface will also help stop the stone from slipping when using it.

Holding the handle in one hand and pushing the spine of the blade with the other, stroke the blade forwards a few times, then swap hands and repeat so that the other side of the blade gets the same amount of sharpening. If the blade is particularly dull, then start off with a more course stone and finish on a finer coumpound one. If you have a leather strop then you could use this now as it would help bring the edge to a razor sharp finish. A leather belt would also work well here.

If you don't have a whetsone, a sharpening steel will help bring the edge back too. Using the same angle (between 20 and 30 degrees), hold the steel in your less dominant hand with the steel pointing down, drag the blade down from heel to toe a few stokes on one side and then the other. Keep repeating until you are happy that you have a good cutting edge back. A good way to test this is by slicing through a piece of paper. Holding the paper in one hand, slice through it from heel to toe again. If you have a good edge then it should slice though without any tears or dragging.

Sharpening a knife on a whetstone
Sharpening a knife with a sharpening steel
Sharpening a knife on a belt
Polishing the whetted edge

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