How To Sharpen A Pocket Knife With Whetstones


A pocket knife is one of the most useful and versatile items you can carry, whether it’s a knife or a multitool. They are always ready to be used no matter the situation and make a wonderful gift for anyone with a need to be ready for any circumstance. In this article we will cover the following:

  • What Are The Differences In Sharpening Stones?
  • How Do I Prepare My Sharpening Stone?
  • Does Angle Matter When Sharpening My Pocket Knife?
  • How Do I begin The Sharpening Process?
  • What Is The Difference Between Sharpening And Honing?
  • What If I’m No Good At Sharpening My Pocket Knife?

Where Do I Start?

Our range of personalized pocket knives featuring your chosen laser engraved text or design, adds an extra special element to a pocket knife that is sure to quickly become someone’s prized possession. Once you have a pocket knife the question often asked is how do I keep it sharp?

There are many ways to sharpen a pocket knife, including various types of pocket knife sharpening stones and many techniques to use. We recommend researching the different options so you can find a tool and technique that you feel comfortable and safe with.

Each knife needs a sharpening tool of one sort or another. You may be familiar with the kitchen knife options of sharpening steel and electric sharpeners. While these are valid options for a pocket knife, we are going to focus on sharpening stones in this article.

What Are The Differences In Sharpening Stones?

Considered the quickest and easiest sharpening stone to use is the whetstone, called such because in order to sharpen your pocket knife you need to soak the pocket knife sharpener in cold water for ten minutes before you start. This type of stone will require replacement more often than other types due to being made of a coarse grit which can start to develop grooves over time.

Ceramic stones are similar to whetstones but take less soaking in water beforehand. Approximately 5 minutes instead of ten minutes. The benefit of these stones is that they are harder than a traditional whetstone and will sharpen your blade faster and should last longer. 

The most expensive, but quickest and longest-lasting of stones is a diamond stone. These come in varying degrees of coarseness which gives you greater flexibility when choosing your pocket knife sharpener. 

Most pocket knife sharpening stones on the market today have two sides, a coarse and finer-grained side. 

How Do I Prepare My Sharpening Stone?

As stated above, many whetstones need to be soaked in water. Lubrication is important when using either a whetstone or a ceramic stone. If you begin sharpening your custom hunting knife without an appropriate lubricant, you have the potential to generate enough heat that your pocket knife blade will begin to warp.

Many whetstones need to start with being soaked in cool water for five to ten minutes. It is then recommended to add a mineral oil lubricant as this will help stop any debris from clogging up the sharpening stone and reduce unwanted friction. Application is easy, after soaking in water simply apply a small amount of lubricant to your stone and rub in before beginning the sharpening process.

Does Angle Matter When Sharpening My Pocket Knife?

The short answer to this question is YES. It is of the utmost importance to take a good look at your pocket knife before you begin the sharpening process to determine how your knife should be held during the sharpening process.

Every pocket knife is honed to an individual angle chosen to suit the knife’s intended purpose. Most pocket knives have a bevel edge angle of 25 to 30 degrees, however, if you’re unsure then make sure you check the manufacturer information or pop into a knife store for advice.

How Do I begin The Sharpening Process?

Now that you’ve completed all the prep work, it’s time to begin!

Start with the coarser side of your sharpening stone, be sure that the blade is facing away from you for safety reasons. Position your pocket knife against the stone at the correct angle and glide the knife away from you and down the length of the sharpening stone. Apply an even amount of pressure to ensure a consistent sharpening.

Repeat this as many times as necessary to your desired sharpness, flip and repeat. During the sharpening process, small bits of your blade are removed to create a new and sharper edge.

Once the sharpening process is completed, it’s time to hone your blade.

What Is The Difference Between Sharpening And Honing?

Honing is the process of ensuring your newly sharpened edge remains centered to the rest of your blade. Through use and sharpening, the microscopic tip of your blade is not only fatigued but may be off-center, making it more likely to become duller – faster.

Routine use of your pocket knife will cause the microscopic edge to move, bending this way or that and may even cause it to roll in on itself. We can’t see this process, but we can feel it as the blade dulls.

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This is where the process of honing your blade comes into play. Especially after sharpening, a good honing will guide the metal to its original place, thus keeping your pocket knife blade sharper for longer periods of time.

When using a whetstone, you can hone your blade simply by flipping it to the finer-grained side and repeating the sharpening process of running your knife along the length of the whetstone at the correct angle.

What If I’m No Good At Sharpening My Pocket Knife?

Knife sharpening is a skill and takes time and practice to learn so don’t worry if it takes a few attempts to get it right! You will get better the more you practice! There is a host of information and video’s out on the web for you to learn the variety of techniques and tools that others use. Finding the right method that comes naturally to you is simply a matter of trial and error.

Looking for your next great pocket knife? We have a variety of personalized pocket knives that are perfect for everyday use, including outdoor activities including camping, hiking, hunting, and fishing. Check out our selection today!

Disclaimer: Knives, as a rule, are very sharp and should be handled with care. Freshly sharpened knives can be dangerous if not handled correctly, please make sure to take caution when handling any form of knife or blade.

Author: Casey

A long term writer, Casey enjoys writing about a variety of topics for the best gifts, how-to's, and more!

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