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How to Sharpen a Pocketknife

A pocketknife is a very useful camp tool. It can cut a rope, open a can and whittle a tent stake. But it’s useful only if you keep it clean and sharp. A dull knife can slip and get stuck, making it more dangerous to use.

Keep your knife sharp by using a whetstone. Some experts prefer a dry whetstone, while others use light mineral oil or water on the stone while they are sharpening. The choice depends on the type of stone and the preference of the sharpener.

Hold the knife blade at about a 30-degree angle and push it along the stone as though you were slicing a layer off the top.

For a sharper but less durable blade, you can try a lower angle, like 20 degrees. But whatever you choose, do your best to keep the blade at a consistent angle.

Then sharpen the other side of the blade the same way.

Check the sharpness by wiping the knife with a clean cloth and examining the edge in the sun or under a bright light. A dull cutting edge reflects the light and looks shiny. A sharp edge is so thin that it has no shine at all.

12 Comments on How to Sharpen a Pocketknife

  1. Anonymous Boy Scout // March 29, 2020 at 7:46 pm // Reply

    According to the 13th edition Boy Scout Handbook, it states that you should “Hold the knife blade against the stone at an angle of about 25 degree” (381). Furthermore, it states that “Higher angles, say 30 degrees, make for edges that are very durable but relatively dull” (381). If this is stated in the BSA handbook, why does your description state to hold the knife blade at about a 30-degree angle?

  2. That sharpening stone is meant to be set on a solid surface so you can control the angle.

  3. As long as you don’t hand the knife blade first to the person they’ll be fine but always let the person that opened it close it.

  4. this contain of sharpen pocketknife is really great one.thank you for sharing such an information.

  5. HiawathaTheShinKicker // September 21, 2016 at 3:42 pm // Reply

    We can TELL and TEACH these kids the way to do things, but APPLICATION is key. If YOU hand them a knife a certain way, YOU make sure it’s correct. If need be, use the video as a means of pointing out correct and incorrect. It’s a teachable moment, go with that.

  6. Whittler's Brother // July 12, 2016 at 3:59 pm // Reply

    I don’t know if anyone else noticed this but on the “push away” the person sets the edge on the stone. This will dull the edge. The “draw toward” is fine. If you set the blade down on the bevel or on the face and rotate onto the bevel, you won’t round off your edge and will get a uniform sharpening.

  7. Remington87012gauge // May 12, 2016 at 2:47 pm // Reply

    folding knives why not carry a fixed blade to? And that comment about passing come on they are kids.

  8. what is your nickname

    • ILikeWeaponsAndTools // August 19, 2016 at 8:28 am // Reply

      In my mind, a fixed blade is good for fighting and quick use. A folding knife is great for pretty much everything so long as it’s a good knife and you take care of it. They also travel better since they are (most of the time) smaller.

  9. They passed the knife the correct way if had not been able to be closed. Don’t be too hard on these guys.

  10. Sharpening towards you is wrong!

  11. I can’t believe that a scouting magazine had a video of a scout passing an unclosed knife to someone. shame. shame.

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