Knife Sharpening Basics-A Basic Guide To Knife Sharpening
Knife Sharpening Basics
Just about every house and domicile in America has knives in it for the preparation of food for out daily meals. There are all kinds of knives out there. Big ones, small one's. Pocket knives and hunting/camping knives. The knife is man's oldest tool and one thing that has remained the same since the dawn of time when it comes to our knives is how to sharpen our knives correctly and efficiently.
When it comes to sharpening your knives no matter what type they are in my opinion the most important consideration to make is how to sharpen the knife and what angle do you wish to sharpen the knife at. There are many angles to choose from. Alas, each type of cutting implement is designed with a specif purpose in mind by the maker/manufacturer and hence each type of cutting implement will have a particular angle associated with the primary cutting edge of the knife.
Basic Primer On Sharpening By Hand On A Stone
Basic Sharpening Angles For Knife Blades
The angle at which you sharpen your knives will in turn determine the type of performance that you will get out of your cutting edge. As stated each type of knife/cutting implement will have an optimal edge angle for top cutting performance. Generally speaking when you go out to your local department store or cutlery shop and purchase knives for the house or a knife for your pocket the blade angle has been determine by the manufacturer. In my humble opinion it is always, and I mean ALWAYS best to re-sharpen your knives to the angle that it came with from the factory and then in time and with some practice you can experiment with changing edge angles and profiles to suit other needs.
Each knifes blade angle is different. As an example kitchen knives will generally come with a blade angle of 30 to 40 degrees, which is 15 to 20 degrees on each side of the blade. This is of course determined by whether the kitchen knife is European or Japanese in nature. This angle is relatively thin being only about an 1/8th of an inch up the blade from the primary cutting edge to creating the back bevel of the blade. REMEMBER THIS: All knives have two edges and they are the primary cutting edge and the secondary or back bevel which sometimes needs to be thinned out in order to create your primary edge. Trust me on this one.
On hunting/camping knives or what some call woodsman knives or bushcraft knives the angles can vary greatly. Generally, many manufacturers will use a 40 to 45 degree angle which will translate into 20 to 22.5 degrees on each side of the blade. This blade is a bit thicker than a kitchen knife blade angle and therefore can take more punishment and will not need to be sharpened as often as say a kitchen knife with a 30 degree angle or 15 degree on each side.
Intro To Knife Edge Angles
Different Ways To Sharpen Your Knives
If you do not know the angle of the knife you want to sharpen you can contact the manufacturer and ask what angle was used at the factory and in most cases they will be more than happy to tell you this information. Now, if you do not have a lot of or any experience in sharpening knives that is OK as this is just about knife sharpening basics.
There are many ways to learn how to sharpen your knives. I always suggest to people that before they ruin a good quality knife that they already have to go and buy one at a garage sale or thrift store and then to go and get a good deal on some type of stone set like a started Arkansas stone kit or a synthetic two sided stone. Then place a towel on a flat surface and put the stone on the towel. I always tell people to use water instead of oil because if you run out of oil and use water, the water will bead and that is not what we want. If you do not know what a 20 or 22.5 degree angle looks like then I tell them to use a matchbook or two quarters on the surface of the stone so that they can see the "lift" in the back of the knife in relation to how the primary cutting edge sits on the stone and then go from there.
There are also tons of sharpening "jigs" on the market today that have the blade angles pre-set and all you have to do is pick one and go from there. They are easy to use and are quite inexpensive. What I am trying to get over to you is that even if you do not know how to sharpen your knives right now, that is OK because it is easier to learn then you think. It is an excellent skill to have and it lends itself to pride of ownership. Side Note: Sharpening a knife is also a survival skill that I feel everyone should learn. It is one of those things that make you self sufficient.