Bushcraft 101: Sharpen Knives Once, Then Hone Forever

Ultimate Hunting KnifeYou must regularly sharpen your knife to re-establish a worn edge. A dull knife is worse than useless; it’s dangerous, since it’s harder to control. The sharpness of your knife is a key indicator of your skill level as a bushman.

By Dave Canterbury

A whetstone is a sharpening stone, a tool used to remove metal from the blade of your knife to create a sharp cutting edge. Whetstones are the age-old method of sharpening or bringing the edge back to a knife. Any sharpening process involves a couple of steps.

First you must understand the actual degree of bevel the cutting edge of your knife has; it will generally be at an angle of between 10–20°. The sharpening process is divided into five stages:

1. Coarse
2. Medium
3. fine
4. honing
5. strop

A knife maker once told me you should “sharpen your knife once and hone it forever.” Although that’s true, remember that each step of the sharpening process using coarse, medium, and fine abrasives removes metal from the blade with every stroke.

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