How to Sharpen a Knife in 6 Steps – What to Know

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Here we explain how to sharpen a knife. We explain the best way to do it along with how to sharpen a knife on a stone. A knife will help you clean the animal and prepare it for cooking. It will also be helpful should you need to build a temporary shelter during emergencies, cut through bushes, and more. You should also ensure you have a knife sharpening tool and know how to sharpen a knife. A dull or unsharpened knife is useless and won’t let you handle anything you might encounter while you’re out in nature.

Best way to sharpen a knife

Sharpening a knife is fairly simple and there is not just one way to do so. However, there are better ways to do things when you’re outdoors and don’t want to pack a large tool. Sharpening knives with a sharpening stone is the easiest to do and learn, plus you can carry the sharpening tool without adding too much weight to your pack.

Choosing the Type of Stone to Use

Whetstone, diamond stones, and ceramic stones are the most popular options on the market. The first is the best way to sharpen a knife if you’re a beginner, while the last two are better for intermediate or advanced uses.


The whetstone is the best for beginners because of the amount of room for error that it provides. You want to get the angle as perfect as possible, but this will take some time to learn. Using a whetstone allows you to make mistakes without compromising its sharpening abilities.


A ceramic stone is a good option for those who have more experience with knife sharpening because it is a hard material that does not allow much room for error. It takes off more of the knife at one time than the whetstone does. That means you need to be more precise, or you could mess up the angle pretty badly.


The diamond stone is the hardest stone of the three and designed for the most experienced knife sharpeners. Like the ceramic stone, this type of stone takes off a lot of the knife at once and can screw up the angle of your knife very quickly if you do it wrong. This option also requires you to get the angle of the blade just right. If you don’t think you can do that, you will want to work your way up to this stone.

Steps to sharpening a knife

Now that you know the best material to sharpen your knife, you must also understand how to use the stone that works for you to sharpen your knife. So, here is a step-by-step guide that will show you how to sharpen a knife with a stone.

Step 1: Clean the Stone

No matter which option of stone that you use, you will need to wash it before each use. The oil and metal shavings from the knife can build-up and make the stone less effective. As such, rinse it with warm water, and then scrub it with a sponge. After that, dry it with a soft cloth to remove any residue or build-up off of it before you begin.

Step 2: Wet the Stone

If you are using a diamond or ceramic stone, you can skip this step. But if you are starting with a whetstone, you will need to soak the stone with water. You can choose to submerge the stone in a bucket of water, or just use a hose to allow water to run over for about five minutes. Soak the whetstone properly; otherwise, it will not work.

how to sharpen a hunting knife

Step 3: Stabilize It

When you sharpen your knife, the stone can move around as the knife moves against it. You want to prevent this as much as possible since it can mess up the knife’s angle. To do so, get a clean, dry rag and place it under the stone to help keep it in place. You could also build your own holder that will clamp down to hold it still.

Step 4: Apply Oil

Friction can cause sparks and let the metal shavings stick to your work area. Using a bit of oil will help fix both of these issues. Just take a teaspoon of oil and rub it onto the stone. The ideal oil to use for sharpening stone is mineral oil. It works well for sharpening knives. In addition, it’s lightweight and won’t go rancid. As you sharpen the knife, the oil will lower the heat produced from the friction.

Step 5: Draw Your Line

Once you’re ready to start sharpening your knife, you need to mark the blade’s angle with a sharpie. It will make it easy for you to see where you need to strike the stone. If your angle is good, then after just a few strokes, the line will be gone. If the line is still there, you need to adjust the angle for it to be the same as the line.

Step 6: Count Your Strokes

The recommended number of strokes for each side of the knife’s blade is five. That means you will want to strike the stone five times on each side. If the blade is very dull, though, you need to count up to fifteen on each side. Remember to check the angle before every stroke to ensure that you are sharpening it properly.

How to Sharpen a Knife on a Stone

If you forgot to pack your sharpening tool before using you shouldn’t worry since you can sharpen knives or any other knives, like an everyday carry knife, using ordinary stones.

Step 1: Choose the Right Stone

Look for a stone with no large holes and pits, but is somewhat porous. You can usually find them next to rivers and streams.

Step 2: Hold the Stone Properly

Hold the stone in a manner that your fingers will be out of the way when you start sharpening the knife.

Step 3: Sharpen the Knife

Place the knife’s blade against the rock, ensuring you maintain the right angle by following the blade’s bevel or grind. Start moving the knife using a steady and even motion. Make two to three counts or passes on each side of the knife blade.

Knife Sharpening

Having the right tool for handling wild game and fish is important. There is no need to feel like you can’t sharpen  knives yourself since it is a pretty easy job. Just follow the steps provided, and you will have a sharpened knife in no time. Start with a whetstone, and once you get good at using it, you can move to the harder stones to test your accuracy. Although the best way to sharpen a knife is with a stone sharpening tool, you can always use stones you’ll find in nature during emergencies.