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Sharpening Knives 101

August 20, 2013, by Ken Jorgustin


The basic technique of properly sharpening a knife is simple, but yet essential to keeping your pocket knife (or any other) razor sharp, and ready to perform.

Here’s a basic method to sharpen a knife…

First you need a sharpening stone of sorts. There are lots of varieties, materials, sizes and shapes. The purpose here is not to discuss all that, but to simply show a proper basic technique to sharpen with it.

The portable sharpener shown in the picture is one that I use. It has microscopic diamonds embedded in each of the two sides (one side is finer than the other).
Double Sided Diafold Sharpener

Sharpening Technique:

Hold the knife against the sharpening stone at the same angle as the sharpened edge itself, and then push it forward across the sharpening tool while maintaining that same angle.

After sliding the knife across the stone, don’t slide it back up against the stone… Lift the knife and start over from the top of the sharpener and slide it down across its surface again.

More specifically, you should sweep the knife such that you are contacting the entire surface of the blade in one arcing motion down the sharpening tool (therefore sharpening evenly). The longer the blade, the more dramatic the sweep, so as to get the entire blade in one smooth motion.

You will get into a steady rhythm while practicing. Apply light to moderate pressure.


The trickiest part when sharpening by hand (without a jig) is to hold and maintain the knife blade at the proper angle. To determine that angle, it may help to first rest the knife on the edge of the stone, look closely at the blade’s sharpened edge, and then adjust the knife’s angle until you see that the sharpened edge sits ‘flat’ against the sharpener tool’s surface. Once you’ve visualized the proper angle, just go with it…

Without getting into the various differences in proper angle, suffice it to say that ‘typically’ that angle is somewhere around 20-degrees. So one trick is to first hold the knife at a 45-degree angle against the sharpening tool (easy to visualize) and then adjust the knife to half that angle, which will be close to what you want.