Keeping a Keen Edge
Every outdoor enthusiast has a knife tucked away in a hunting vest, tool box or tackle bag. They are indispensable tools whether field dressing game, stripping wires or cutting fishing line.
After enough use (and abuse) blades become dull and need sharpening. The first mistake many make when dealing with a dull blade is to continue using it, choosing to press harder on the knife to compensate for the lack of cutting efficiency. More people are hurt with blunt knives than with sharp knives. One is more likely to make a mistake by pulling or pushing a dull knife than letting a sharp blade do the work. Rather than risk serious injury with a dull knife, take a few minutes to sharpen the blade and continue to safely enjoy the outdoors.
Here are some quick pointers to put a keen edge back on your favorite blade:
If the blade only needs touching up, use ceramic sticks, sharpening steels or diamond hones with fine grits (1200 or higher) to restore the edge.
Using a variety of stones from coarse (200 grit or less) to very fine (600 grit or more) is best when sharpening really dull blades. Work from coarse to fine, using a light touch to prevent damaging the blade.
Remember that most man-made sharpening stones do not require oil or lubrication of any kind.
Maintain a consistent angle when working a blade against a stone. Blade guides are helpful for keeping the correct angle against the stone.
The blade cutting/sharpening angle depends on the knife's main purpose. For fine precise cutting, such as filleting or carving, 15- to 19-degree angles are recommended. For uses such as skinning game animals and slicing rope, 20- to 25-degree angles are recommended. For chopping and coarse cutting, 25- to 30-degree angles are recommended.
Thin knives with precise cutting edges generally need sharpening more frequently than thicker knives with wider cutting angles.
Check the edge of the blade by running a plastic pen cap along the edge. Dull spots will cause the plastic to hang up or skip.
Store knives in sheaths when not in use. Lubricate blade if stored for extended periods to prevent corrosion.
Find the perfect knife for your outdoor needs at the NWTF Turkey Shoppe. — P.J. Perea