The Ultimate Guide to Cutting Tool Sharpening
What makes a tool sharp are its two sides that are coming together under an angle that forms an edge necessary for cutting. The level of sharpness is measured by how easily a tool will cut something without severely damaging the edge.
It doesn't matter if you are sharpening a knife, an axe, a chisel or plane bits, the techniques are pretty much the same. The sharpness will primarily depend on two factors: the bevel angle, or angle at which a tool is sharpened, and the fineness of the grind, or how well the bevels are polished. A tool with much less edge angle will be sharper, and so will a tool sharpened with finer-grit abrasives.
In this article we'll present some sharpening basics, talk about the difference between sharpening and honing (yup, there is one), present various step-by-step guides to sharpening different cutting tools, and present you various CRATEX abrasives that are ideal sharpening tools. Just one of those tools is our CRATEX large sharpening wheel.
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Honing vs Sharpening
How to Hone a Knife
How to Sharpen a Knife
How to Sharpen a Machete
How to Sharpen Pocket Knife
How to Sharpen Scissors in a Few Steps
How to Sharpen a Sword Like a Lord
How to Sharpen an Axe Step by Step
Honing vs Sharpening
There are a lot of people out there who are not really sure what the difference between honing and sharpening is or might think they are the same thing. You just might be one of them. There is a short and a long explanation to this matter, so we'll do our best to provide both.
Short explanation: Sharpening is removing material from the workpiece to create a sharp edge, while honing is just straightening out the edge of a blade that is already sharp. You can say that sharpening is grinding, while honing is truing.
Sharpening is the process of creating a sharp edge on a tool designed for cutting. It is done by grinding or removing the material with an abrasive substance of higher hardness (according to the Mohs scale than the material that is being sharpened.
The most traditional materials for sharpening are sandstones and granite, but most commonly used today are flat sharpening stones and various grinding wheels. Diamond is a very hard abrasive, but also very expensive one, while synthetic abrasives and natural Japanese waterstones are cheaper, but also less hard.
On the other hand, honing is the process of creating a precision surface on a metal workpiece by using an abrasive stone called honing stone. Honing stone is similar to a grinding wheel , but is more soft and friable, so it wears in and conforms to the shape of the workpiece.
Unlike sharpening, honing is just the process of preparing or maintaining an already sharp edge. Preparing the surface involves removing burrs or wire edges after you perform sharpening and maintaining the blade edge by polishing out small imperfections or marks caused by regular use. Honing should be done on regular basis, as it will keep the microscopic edge straight and make the need for sharpening less frequent.
Burr and Wire Edge
There are two phenomena that you should know about that are directly related to the process of sharpening. Namely, the sharpening process causes two things to occur: a burr and a wire edge. Many are not aware of the difference, but it does exist, and we'll try to explain what that is exactly.
Raising a burr is an essential part of the sharpening process. For all those who don't know, a burr is a small metal fold or piece that forms at the tip of the cutting edge, on the opposite side of the grind. Raising a burr is important because it is a signal that you've ground the edge thin enough and that you should proceed and start sharpening on the other side of the bevel.
If the burr doesn't form during the sharpening process, it means that you haven't sharpen the blade fully, so it's not as sharp as it could be. Forming the burr can be particularly difficult in case you are using coarser stones to sharpen the blade.
Namely, if you use too much pressure on a coarser stone, you may either create a much larger burr than necessary or not create one at all. The higher the pressure, the less the possibility to keep a consistent angle when sharpening which will affect the ability to raise a burr. This is why using a light pressure is key for chasing the burr. The process might take longer, but the results will be perfect.
Wire edge also falls out of the geometry of the edge. It is a continuous round wire of metal that is formed on the blade by the sharpening process. When you are back-stroking the blade or sharpening it in the spine-to-edge direction like you would by using a belt sander, you'll crate a metal buildup on the blade, resulting in a rolled round edge. Note that if you use wetstones and go in both directions as you sharpen, the wire edge won't appear.
A wire edge can begin its life as a larger burr that gets polished down instead of being ground away. It can also occur on thin blades when the edge flexes away under the pressure of the grinding tool.
Wire edge may look sharp, but it's not – it is fragile and prone to chipping. It takes time and patience to go from a burr to a wire edge and then to a clean, sharp blade. This is why you'll use progressively finer abrasives until the final burr or the wire edge can be polished off with a high-grit stone.
Whetstones or wetstones (nothing to do with being wet, but word "whet" which means "to sharpen a blade") can be natural (typically formed of quartz) or artificial, that usually come in the form of some bonded abrasive made of a ceramic, usually silicon carbide or aluminum-oxide. As you might imagine, artificial stones provide faster cutting action and are more efficient than the natural stones. They are often found as double-sided blocks that have coarser grit on the one side and finer grit on the other.
Other common forms are bench blocks, that are intended for installation on a bench, and pocket stones, that are smaller and portable (thus the name). Although using pocket stones might make it difficult to maintain a consistent angle and pressure when drawing along longer blades, they still can form a good edge and are excellent asset for "field work" honing.
Steel plates are available in various grits and sizes and are sometimes mounted on a resin or plastic base and coated with diamond grit (better known as diamond stones). Coarser grits are used for coarser grinding or removing larger amounts of metal more rapidly, for example, when forming an edge or restoring a damaged edge. On the other hand, finer grits are used to remove scratches created by coarser grits and to refine the edge.
The angles on each side of the blade need to create an edge that is sharp enough to cut through a certain material. The rule is simple: the smaller the angle, the sharper the cutting tool. Greater angle means more metal to be cut, which provides more durability in the field and a longer lasting sharpness.
For example, you would consider a knife very sharp in case it is sharpen at 10 degrees per side (knife's edge includes a 20-degree angle). The sharpest cutting tools, such as razors, fillet knives and paring knives are sharpened at an angle between 12 and 18 degrees, while most kitchen knives (carving and boning knives, chef's knife, etc.) are sharpened at 15-25-degree angle (Japanese knives go between 14 and 16 degrees).
Pocket, survival and hunting knives or (sporting knives)are usually sharpened at 25-30-degree angle. Extremely durable edges of about 30-40 degrees can be seen on a machete, ax, chisel or a draw knife.
In case you are not dealing with a straight edge instruments, sharpening angles and tools might be different. For example, drill bits are sharpened at 60-degree angle from vertical (120 degrees total), typically on a grinding wheel.
How to Hone a Knife
The knife blade consists of many microscopic teeth that become bent and knocked out of alignment with ordinary use. Every time you use a knife, the bits of the edge will become curled over, so the knife won't cut efficiently any more.
To solve this problem and push the edge back into alignment (straighten it), you'll perform knife honing. Honing will make the blade true again and bring back its proper cutting abilities.
Since this correction doesn't include material removal, honing won't sharpen the knife, but the knife will seem sharper as the blade will be in proper position. This will reduce friction and make your blade more efficient.
Honing should be performed often, some recommend a couple of times a week, and some even before each use, but that depends on the type of knife and application. For example, a kitchen knife is usually honed before or after each use, but can even be honed during heavy use, such as by butchers. In any case, you'll be the one to detect the exact time you knife needs honing as you'll be able to detect the decline in its performance.
Honing Steel: A Honing Tool
Just about any abrasive can be used to make a honing stone, but the most commonly used abrasives are silicon carbide, diamond, corundum and boron nitride. Among these abrasives, most commonly encountered in honing stones are silicon carbide and corundum, but the choice will depend on the type of the workpiece. For example, extremely hard materials will require superabrasives. Sometimes it can get confusing, as people often say "honing steel" when they refer to ceramic rods.
A standard honing steel looks like a rod of steel sitting on top of a handle, however, the rods can be made of steel, ceramic or diamond-coated steel and can be round, oval or flat and up to a foot long.
The steel and ceramic honing tools can have ridges along the length, and these ridges are responsible for guiding the blade back into alignment as you draw the knife over. The ridges may wear out over time. Even when they do, the honing steel will still serve its purpose.
The surface of diamond steels is smooth and embedded with diamond particles. These particles will shave off a thin layer of the blade, so they are not suitable for daily honing. What they can do is significantly extend the working life of the knife before sharpening is needed again.
Tip:When making a purchase, look for heavy models that are at least 9 inches long, as these will provide more control.
The steels have been traditionally more common in the West, particularly in situations where knives are heavily used, such as butchering. It eventually steered the manufacturers to produce blades that have lower levels of hardness and lower brittleness. On the other hand, harder knives are preferred in East Asia where waterstones are preferred as honing tools.
Easy 5-Step Honing Guide
Although honing a knife is really easy and should be a mellow task, a lot of people are doing it wrong by winging the knife around the honing steel like throwing around Nunchucks.
They probably think the harder they press the blade onto the honing steel or the faster their moves, the better the results will be, which is wrong.
By doing this they will probably cause damage to the knife. Honing is all about control and getting the right angle.
To help you hone your knives like a Zen master knife-honing pro, CRATEX came up with an easy 5-step honing guide.
Step 1: Grab a Rag
The rag is not necessary but is recommendable as it provides more stability and prevents you from damaging the surface. You'll take a wet rag and place it on the counter. Then you'll place the tip of the honing steel on the rag, hold it straight up and down with one hand and anchor it.
Step 2: Start at the Heel
Hold the knife with the other hand at about 15-20-degree angle. Many might be worried about how much a 20-degree angle is, but don't over think it. First of all, we said "about". You know how much 90-degrees is, now reduce that by half and then reduce that by half. And then just a bit more. It should look like you are about to slice a really really thin slice of your honing steel.
A neat trick is to take a matchbook and press the flat side against the steel and then lay the knife against the matchbook. That's the angle that you are looking for!
Step 3: Draw the Knife Down
Now, just let the knife fall down the steel from the heel to the tip of the blade in an arching motion. It should all be one smooth, easy movement. Make sure you use the full length of the steel and pull across the entire length of the knife with a constant angle.
While you are drawing, you are not pushing but applying a light pressure. More like letting the gravity do its work. You should start with a bit more pressure in the beginning and lighten it more and more until the very last stroke.
A net trick for determining the pressure is to take a baking scale, grab the knife by the handle, press the blade on top of the scale and press down until you hit 4 to 6 pounds a pressure. This would be a good zone for honing your knife on a regular basis.
Step 4: Repeat on the Other Side
After you are done with one side of the knife, repeat on the other. Make sure you do equal number of passes on each side, usually about 5-10 times per side depending on how dull you knife is.
Step 5: Wipe the Residue Off
After you are done, carefully wipe the blade off to remove any residue that might have remained.
Bonus: Advanced Knife Honing with Honing Steel
The advanced method doesn't require you to hold the tip of the honing steel down on the counter, but you'll hold it out horizontally with your non-knife hand. This method is much faster but doesn't provide much control, so it's not suitable for honing beginners.
You'll also start by placing the heel of the blade on the steel base. Next, you'll draw the knife all the way heel to tip and down the steel while maintaining 15-20-degree angle.
You can go 5 times on one side and 5 on the other and then gradually do fewer and fewer strokes on each side until you're down to one stoke on each side.
How to Sharpen a Knife
Sharpening is the process of grinding or shaving off the blade to produce a new, sharp edge. After you create a sharp edge, you'll maintain and prolong its sharpness. However, due to the repeated use and honing, you'll notice that the knife holds its sharpness only for a little while or is not in full alignment, because the blade starts to get crushed or has chips in it.
You'll eventually lose the edge and you'll need to put a new edge on or re-sharpen your knife. Sharpening is usually performed every 6-12 months, but it can be done more frequently depending on how much the knife is used and the application.
The best way to test if the knife is sharp is to take a piece of paper and try to slice it while holding it up in the air. Or trying to slice through a rolled-up magazine page would also do the trick.
A dull knife is not only less attractive as a finished product but is also quite dangerous. Since it doesn’t provide clean cuts, you'll tend to apply more pressure than necessary when cutting, which can result in an accident.
In case you are not that crafty or don't have the tools, bringing your knife to a professional knife sharpener could be a good idea. This option is good for those who sharpen their blades only a couple of times a year, as the services can get rather costly in case you need your blades re-sharpened dozen times per year.
There's also a downside to using services of professional sharpeners. Namely, most of them use grinding stones that will remove much more material than necessary, which will reduce its lifespan (especially not suitable for chef knives). Besides, bringing it to a sharpener will prevent you from building a fine, strong bond with your blade, which is the whole point of the sharpening ritual – treating the knife with respect, so that it behaves better for its owner.
Namely, for most bladesmiths and knifemakers sharpening a knife is more than creating a sharp edge on a blade. It's almost a ritualistic practice that puts one in touch with both the knife and the man as tool maker and tool user.
So, feel like you want to master the art of sharpening already? That's the whole purpose of this chapter – to provide necessary information on knife sharpening and a simple know-how.
Knife Sharpening Tools
There are dozens of different ways to sharpen a knife. It is typically by grinding it against hard surface, such as sharpening stone, or a soft surface that is embedded with hard particles, such as sandpaper.
There are dozens of different sharpening stones, such as Japanese waterstones (whetstones), diamond embedded stones and stones with different grit grades. Most basic ones have two sides – a rough and a fine grit. The grit sizes range from 100 to 10,000 or more grits. For those who don't know, the lower the number the coarser the grit, so you'll take more material with it. Of course, the higher the grit, the sharper the blade you'll create, but you just need far more strokes to get you there.
Whetstones can be single, double-sided or triple-sided stones with varying degrees of grit. When sharpening a knife with a whetstone, make sure you use progressively finer grits. It needs to be said that this is the most labor-intensive method, but when performed properly will yield the best results.
Diamond is the hardest naturally occurring substance and can therefore be used to sharpen almost any material (it can even be used to flatten waterstones), while ceramic sharpening rods are less abrasive, require more work, but deliver a much finer edge.
Choosing a stone is a matter of personal preference and a matter of function. If just starting, you'll need to try out a few stones to find the one that gives you the results that you are satisfied with. Just make sure you don't use cheap stones in case you are sharpening high-quality knives, but also keep in mind that there's no need to get fancy stones if you are just getting started with sharpening your pocket knife.
There are also various electric sharpeners suitable for both kitchen knives and pocket or tactical knives. The main obvious benefit of these electric sharpeners is speed (only takes a couple of minutes), but the main disadvantage is the fixed sharpening angle which won't be suitable for some specialized knives.
Blade Sharpening - Getting the Right Angle
The sharpness of the blade will depend on the edge angle or angle at which you hold the knife and the sharpening stone – the smaller the angle you hold it at, the sharper the knife.
Typical angles are about 20 degrees, but very sharp knives can be as little as 10 degrees. On the other hand, knives that require a tough edge may be sharpened at 25 degrees.
What does "tough edge" mean? Well, the edge and the sharpness of the knife primarily depend on the application. Namely, tougher edges are used for operations such as chopping, while thinner edges are used for more precise cuts with little pressure, like surgical ones.
For example, surgical scalpels are extremely sharp, but also so fragile that people throw them away after they become dull rather than sharpening them. Straight razors are very sharp with a small angle, and kitchen knives are less sharp and used for slicing rather than pressing.
That's why kitchen knives need to be honed on a daily basis to maintain the sharp edge. On the other hand, axes used for chopping wood are less sharp, so you'll need to regrind them daily rather than hone them.
When it comes to kitchen knives, Western-style knives are usually made of softer steel and are sharpened at 20-22 degrees. East Asian kitchen knives are usually made of harder steel and therefore, sharpened at an edge angle of 15-18 degrees.
Knife Sharpening Guide
Different people prefer and use different sharpening methods, but a sharpening stone provides the best edge and removes the least of material. That's why we've decided to provide an easy X step guide to sharpening knives with a whetstone.
First thing you'll need to do is get yourself a set of sharpening whetstones. There are different grits of sharpening stones and it is recommended to have at least two in your set. One should be a medium grit of about 800 and the second one a fine grit of at least 2,000.
Ultra-fine grit stones of 8,000 of more leave a mirror-like finish, which is not necessary for all professions and purposes. If you budget only allows one stone, then perhaps a stone of 1,000 to 1,200 grits would be a way to go. The stones with two sides and a coarser and finer git are also available, but they do have a poorer quality.
In any case, you will need a coarser stone called a "fixer". You'll use it to rub it on the surface of the stone before sharpening. You'll do this to create a flat surface on your stone and build up some sediment on the surface of the stone.
Tip:When buying a waterstone, always look for a large one that is at least 2 1/2" inches wide, 8" long and 1" thick.
For help you master knife sharpening, CRATEX came up with this easy 7-step guide to sharpening your knife.
Step 1: Get the Stones Nice and Moist
Before you begin sharpening your knife with whetstones, you'll need to submerge them in water for at least 45 minutes. If they are not properly soaked, they may become dry during the sharpening which may cause dents and scratches to your blade. You'll need to soak both sharpening stones and the fixer stone.
Step 2: Rub the First Stone with the Fixer
Take the coarser stone out of the water and place it on the counter in front of you. Now take your fixer and rub it for a while against the surface of your stone to make sure you are starting with a nice flat surface.
Return the fixer in the water container after you are done.
Step 3: Prepare for the First Stroke
Place the heel of the knife on the far edge of the stone and hold the knife at a 15-20-degree angle. You should hold the knife handle with one hand, spread the fingers of your other hand and place them on top of the blade to apply even pressure.
The trick for determining the proper angle with the matchbook applies not just to honing, but to sharpening with a stone as well. Grab a matchbook, place it on the sharpening stone backside down and lay the blade on top of it. That's about 15 degrees!
Step 4: Draw the First Stroke
After you find the angle in the proper starting position, start slowly dragging the knife over the stone in an arching motion. Never grind the blade forward but go with the direction of the blade. Apply a very gentle, firm and even pressure. It should look like this: heel to tip, from the front of the stone to the back. Don't forget about maintaining the 15-20-degree angle as you make the stroke.
There's also another way to do it: simply move the blade straight back and forth while puling the blade from one side to the other – or from heel to tip.
Step 5: Finish & Repeat
When you finish a stroke, your tip should end up touching the bottom of the stone. Lift the knife, reposition the blade and repeat.
You should start with 10-20 strokes on one side, and then do fewer and fewer strokes on each side until you are down to one stroke per side.
Step 6: Switch Stones
After you are done, you will check your blade for burrs. It's easy to determine whether you've raised some burrs or not – simply gently run your fingers along the blade and feel the burrs under your fingertips.
Wipe the blade off with a kitchen towel and proceed to the finer-grit stone. You'll repeat the whole process, starting with rubbing it with the stone fixture, and repeat the same strokes as you did before after that.
Step 7: Rinse the Blade
After you are done, rinse the blade under running water and you're done!
Just make sure you carefully dry your stones after each use. The best would be to wrap them up and keep them in a kitchen towel in a dry and grease-free place.
Note:After sharpening, the blade may feel like it's sharp, but it actually isn't and will become dull quite quickly. You'll need to remove the wire edge by using an abrasive and sharpen the blade in the opposite direction (or hone it) – with the edge leading.
How to Sharpen a Machete
Machete is an amazing tool that has a long history and various applications around the world. People have used it both as a weapon in combat and for protection, and as an agricultural cutting tool.
Today people use it most often for clearing bushes, cutting unwanted branches and other yard or farm work, and for those with survival-in-wilderness thrive, it's an irreplaceable piece of their bushcraft equipment.
You can find all kinds of machetes within all price ranges in both online and in retail so in case you are planning to get one, you'll need to know a bit about different machete blades, types, and most importantly – sharpening methods.
We came up with this chapter after consulting various forums, our community craftsmen and watching a bunch of YouTube videos, so that it could help you find as much details on machete sharpening in one place as possible, help you choose the right machete for you and teach all you newbies about properly maintaining its sharpness. Oh, and we'll present a million-dollar idea for sharpening bushcraft machetes and parangs with CRATEX oblong sticks.
Steel Types Used in Machete Blades
There are three main types of machete blade materials: stainless steel, carbon steel and high carbon steel.
#1 Stainless Steel Machete Blades
Stainless steel is an alloy of iron, chromium (minimum 10.5%), usually nickel, and molybdenum, and a small amount of carbon. Thanks to chromium and molybdenum it is highly resistant to corrosion. The higher the percentage of chromium, the higher the resistance. The purpose of molybdenum is to additionally increase corrosion resistance.
The advantage of stainless steel is that chromium and nickel oxidize and form a protective layer over the steel that prevents rust from developing. Precisely thanks to their rust-resistance, stainless steel blades require far less maintenance than the carbon steel blades to remain in good shape.
The stainless-steel machetes maintain their shinny appearance, so they are ideal for decorative use and display. Regular oiling is not necessary, but you can do it if you want.
The down sides of a stainless-steel blade are that stainless steel is more expensive than carbon steel, and that is not able to take quite as sharp edge as carbon steel. Stainless steel is softer than carbon steel, so it loses the sharpness faster, but can also be re-sharpened more easily, so that's another upside.
Most commonly used in: decorative, ceremonial or display machete blades.
#2 Carbon Steel Machete Blades
The traditional material used for making machete blades, carbon steel,is an alloy of iron and carbon (up to 2.1% by weight). The purpose for adding carbon to iron is to increase the hardness of the alloy.
Higher steel hardness means that the blade holds the edge well, will stay sharper for a longer time, but the higher carbon content will also make the blade more brittle. The increased hardness will also make the carbon steel blade more difficult to re-sharpen, so that's another down side.
Another useful advantage is that carbon steel is cheaper than the stainless steel, but on the other hand, there is one great disadvantage. Namely, the blade is very vulnerable to rust and stains, so it needs to be kept away from moisture and needs to be covered with a light layer of non-detergent oil to prevent rust.
Most commonly used in: blades found in survival and agricultural tools.
#3 High-Carbon Stainless Steel Machete Blades
The idea behind the high-carbon steel is to combine advantages of stainless steel and carbon steel to create a superior material. This steel has higher amount of carbon, so it has the hardness and durability of the carbon steel and has rust-resistant properties of stainless steel. The blades don't discolor or stain while maintaining a sharp edge.
The main disadvantages are the higher price and low tolerance to heat before becoming brittle.
Most commonly used in: both decorative blades and functional cutting tools.
Tip: Store your machetes in a dry place, to prevent the humidity from reaching and damaging the blade. Don't keep it in a sheath when not in field, as moisture can condense inside and rust the blade. If you do wish to keep it there, make sure the inside is well oiled, and check often for rust.
What Angle to Sharpen a Machete
With an exception of machetes like chisel ground sport machetes, machetes are ground on both sides to form a cutting edge. It doesn't require a razor edge, but a chopping edge, since its purpose is to cut through thick bushes, branches and vines. If the blade is too thin, there's a risk that it will break off, and if you make it too thick it's going to be more difficult for the machete to chop into wood.
Since the angle will influence its performance, you'll need to choose it carefully. Smaller sharpening angles of about 20-25 degrees are more suitable for light cutting (e.g. cutting grass, soft vines and non-wood), while heavier chopping tasks (e.g. cutting wood branches) require a larger angle of 25-35 degrees.
If there is danger of hitting nails or if you are working low to the ground, where you can hit rocks and sticks and other similar things, you're going to want to expand the angle out. Generally, anything above 30 degrees will get you into the chopping motion, so for example, 30-32 degrees would be ideal for shopping wood.
Tip: A neat trick to determine a 30-degree angle is to place your little finger on top of the blade. About 2/3 of your little finger width will be what you are looking for.
A lot of people recommend that you shouldn't put a Scandinavian (Scandi) grind on a machete, which is basically creating a V- shape at the end of the edge of the blade. They rather recommend a convex grind, because a Scandi grind delivers less edge strength, since there is less steel at the tip of the blade. Sacrificing sharpness will bring you more durability, so a convex grind is better for chopping.
However, some still prefer a Scandi grind, because it is simpler to do. Putting a good convex grind on a thin blade can be tricky, because it requires things like sandpapering the back with something soft, so it's not suitable when on a survival mission in a jungle.
In any case, you'll be the one to use the tool, you know how you are going to use it, so you'll know which angle is most suitable for your needs.
5 Ways to Sharpen a Machete
Tip: Sharpening a machete is an 80-20 rule – invest 20% of your effort should get the blade 80% sharp enough. Remember: more effort is not needed and is not worth it, because you'll start blunting the blade as soon as you start chopping. That's why getting into a habit of sharpening it often, but quick and easy at the same time.
A lot of machetes sold today have incredibly dull edges that are not suitable for any kind of cutting or chopping, so learning how to sharpen your own machete should be one of your top priorities.
There are many different tools and ways to sharpen a machete, but we'll present the 5 most commonly used methods to help you gain more knowledge and choose faster.
The beauty of learning how to sharpen a machete is that you have plenty of blade to play with - if you mess it up the first couple of times, don't worry, as you can just sharpen it again and again until you get it right.
You have a large blade that you can wear down, so it's difficult to mess up so bad that you'll have to throw the machete away. But hey, if you do - you can find machetes for as low as 10 bucks. Experiment and find a way that is comfortable for you.
Machete Sharpening Tool #1: Belt Sander
The main benefits of using a belt sander are that it requires little effort and little pressure, and that makes maintaining a straight edge extremely easy. The most important thing, though, is not running the blade too quickly on the sander, as the blade will get too hot and the heat can damage carbon steel.
Since it is considered both the easiest method for heavy sharpening, creating a convex utility edge and the fact that you can use just about any belt sender (nothing fancy), it is the most popular tool among many machete sharpeners.
Here are 5 easy steps to sharpen your machete with a belt sander:
- Turn on the sander and grab the machete by the handle with one hand and by the end of the back side of the blade with other;
- Run the machete from tip to heel (easier with vertical bend sander) or from heel to tip (easier with horizontal belt sander) in a slightly arching motion. The arching motion will allow you to sharpen both the tip and the entire blade edge. Repeat several times;
- Flip the machete and repeat the procedure on the other side.
- Rinse and clean and check for a burr by running a piece of paper along each side (the rough sound tells you there is a burr);
- Test the new edge by chopping a 2x4.
Another important factor to consider is the belt grit size when sharpening a machete. The higher the grit, the more time you'll save sharpening, but it also means that you'll shave off a lot of metal, so you'll need to be careful. 80-grit belts are awesome for getting the job done quickly, but you might want to start with lower-grit abrasives until you've become more comfortable with the tool and this sharpening method.
Machete Sharpening Tool #2: Grinding Wheel
This method requires a bit more skills and an experience with operating a bench grinder. It definitely requires more work than the belt sander, and it's not much of a problem for well experienced craftsmen.
Grinding wheels are excellent tools for a more aggressive sharpening in situations where it is necessary to eliminate larger nicks or initial dullness, or for repairing a seriously damaged blade. So, use it for removing initial sharpening, large nicks, rusty spots, spots that have become worn out a bit, but avoid using it for regular sharpening.
Important when working on a bench grinder and with grinding wheels is to always gear up and follow safety instructions . Safety goggles and gloves are most important, so make sure you have some on before you begin. Use a safety guard to prevent the sparks flying towards you.
- Clear up the working space and turn the grinder on;
- Place the tip of the machete in front of the grinding wheel. You can rest the back of the blade on the metal holder to avoid wobble;
- Start pressing it against the wheel. Make sure you are producing one fluid, steady motion and maintaining a consistent angle while running the blade across the grinding wheel. If the motion is not fluid, you won't get an even edge. Repeat a few times;
- Repeat on the other side.
Since grinding creates heat, you'll need to pay attention to rpms. The more rpms, the more heat the wheel will produce on the blade. That will eventually lead to overheating and chipping. You can avoid this problem in two ways: either dip it frequently in a cold-water bucket or use lower-rpm grinders.
Machete Sharpening Tool #3: File
The best thing about this method is that it doesn't require any specialized tools, so it certainly the least expensive method. All you are going to need is a file (you can get one for around $10) and a vise to hold your machete and a little bit of practice.
However, it does require putting some muscle into it, so it's not a preferred choice for those who like things done the easy way.
Important to know is that you are not going to pull the file over the edge nor saw it, since the file teeth point away from the handle, so you'll damage your blade if you do. Instead, you are going to push from the base to the tip of the blade. You'll repeat this motion several dozens of times and repeat on the other side.
There are different vises and ways and sharpen a machete blade with a file, so you'll probably find the way most suitable for you. Here are 3 easy steps to follow for a fast file sharpening:
- Place the handle on top of a block of wood and secure it with a T-vise;
- Slide another block of wood underneath the blade to provide control and stability while you sharpen;
- Place the tip of the file at the base of the blade at the desired angle and slide up, into the blade, from heel to tip with an even pass over the cutting edge. Repeat several times;
- Repeat the same procedure on the other side.
Here's another way to do it:
- Grab the machete with one hand at the back of the blade and hold it down in front of you while holding the file in your other hand;
- Place the tip of the file at the base of the blade on one side at the right angle, as you'll slide the file down;
- Apply a light pressure and draw the file down and over the edge of the blade, going from tip to heel with the file;
- Check for rolled edges with your nails and repeat with a lighter pressure in case there are some imperfections;
- Rotate the machete and hold the tip with one hand, while the handle is pointing downwards. Repeat the procedure.
You can also use a file for light maintenance, and the procedure is pretty much the same as you would do for initial edging.
Machete Sharpening Tool #4: Dremel & Abrasive Bits
Probably not a single craftsman out there that doesn't know about Dremel hand rotary tools. Operating the tool is quite easy: your either hold the rotary tool in one hand and the machete in other, or you secure the machete in a vise to free the other hand.
There are various bits that can be mounted, including CRATEX bits that fit Dremel that are perfect for grinding, deburring and polishing.
The downside of this method is that you'll do what is called lateral sharpening. Lateral sharpening ruins edges, as you are not sharpening the whole edge of the blade in one stroke. That's why it's more suitable for removing smaller imperfections.
If you are using this method, be ready to go back over it with a file in the perpendicular direction.
Machete Sharpening Tool #5: Sharpening Stone
What is great about this method is that it doesn't require expensive hardware, so it can easily be implemented in field conditions. It does require some effort but is generally quite easy.
It's a traditional way of sharpening a machete, and the procedure is similar as for knife sharpening on a whetstone (see more in Chapter 3). Important to mention is that there is no point in getting expensive water stones, especially if you are sharpening a cheap machete, so don't bother with that. A few easy steps to follow to get this right are:
- Place the stone on a flat surface in front of you (a good trick would be to secure it on top of a piece of wood with 4 nails – 2 in the front and 2 in the back);
- Wet the stone;
- Place the tip of the blade in the bottom right hand corner and push it forward against the stone until you've reached the left upper corner;
- Repeat while keeping in mind that there is no need to lift the machete up after you've reached the top corner to bring it back to the beginning, because the process will be too slow. Simply slide it back and forth while applying more pressure as you go forward and less as you pull the blade back (should more look like dragging). The process should be fast rather than slow;
- Rinse, clean and check the sharpness.
You can also use a whetstone for light maintenance or honing and the procedure is pretty much the same as for sharpening.
Good to Know: Machete Blade Sharpening Tip
You should always leave a part of the machete blade above the handle dull. There are a few reasons for this practice. If you are going to use the machete in the field, you'll want to use a few inches above the base as an alternative grip area, because it will shorten the handle and deliver a bit more accurate chopping action.
Also, you don't want to cut your knee or a thigh when making a huge swing, or you don't want to cut your hand in case it slips forward while getting the machete out of the sheath.
That's why you'll need to either leave a few inches of the edge unsharpened or to take a file and blunt this part of the blade after you finish sharpening it.
If you've already sharpened the blade and want to dull it with a file, follow these steps:
- Grab the blade above the base with one hand to measure the space that you're going to blunt;
- Grab a black tape roll and stick the beginning of the tape just above the base of your index finger. Wrap the tape around the blade;
- Take the file and start blunting off the part between the tape and the handle.
Maintenance & Honing the Machete Blade
After you open up the bevel with any of the sharpening methods, you'll need to hone it. A honing rod will do the trick and the procedure is the same as for honing a knife (explained in Chapter 2) - you have the "rookie" method and the more advanced method for sharpening pros.
Of course, if you feel that the sharpening procedure has left some imperfections on the edge, you can use a polishing or buffing wheel to turn that edge into a perfection. And this one is really easy: simply place the edge flat against the wheel and move across it. Once per side will be quite enough to give the blade a nice clean edge.
My Use of CRATEX
For the "My Use of CRATEX" Project, we received a million-dollar idea from our dear customer Roy, so we wanted to share with all who's machete needs some good sharpening:
"I just wish I had the ability to mass produce these and offer them for sale. This truly is one of those very simple, million-dollar ideas!"
"I glue a strip of 6" x 1" x 1/8" CRATEX oblong stick (product number Q6801-F) to a section of a paint stirring stick."
"I use this homemade sharpener to maintain a true convex edge on my parangs and machetes, that I use for bushcrafting."
"This use of CRATEX, because of the give of the rubber, is truly the easiest, most effective way, to create and maintain a true convex edge on any blade, without creating an unwanted micro edge."
How To Sharpen Pocket Knife
4 Ways to Sharpen a Pocket Knife
A pocket knife is a knife that has one or more blades that fold into the handle, and that can be carried in the pocket. It is also known as a jackknife or penknife. Pocket knives are multilateral tools and may be used for everything, from opening a package, to cutting off clothing tags or even as a means of self-defense.
You can find all types of pocket knives online or in a hardware store. Prices are different, depends on what you want. So, if you're planning to buy one, you need to know something about different pocket knife types, blades and most importantly – sharpening process.
Pocket Knife Types
There are 3 main variations of types:
• The peasant knife or farmer knife is an original design of a folding pocket knife with a fixed blade.
• Slip joint knife has a handle with one or more folding blades. There are so many popular patterns of slip joint knives like barlow, camper, congress.
• Multi-tool knives are variations of American camper style or the Swiss army styles. Multitool knives have more than one blade with other tools such as scissors, bottle openers, and corkscrews.
Top 10 Best Pocket Knives
Here are the some of the best-selling pocket knives that you can find in the market.
- SOG Aegis – made from AUS8steel, with glass-reinforced nylon Diggi grip handle, price $67.11;
- Benchmade 275BKSN – built from D2 steel, with G10 stable, durable handle, price $195.44;
- Spyderco Delica 4 – developed from VG steel, with glass-reinforced nylon handle, price $67.11;
- Ontario XM-2TS – created from N690Co steel, with aircraft aluminum handle, price $112.95;
- Case Cutlery Black Trapper – produced from surgical steel, with synthetic handle price $78.43;
- Kershaw Blur – invented from 440A steel, with Liner Lock reinforced handle, price $69.99;
- Cold Steel Recon 1 – made of AUS8A steel, with the G10 aluminum handle, price $103.86;
- Benchmade 581 – M390 steel quality, with the G10 wear resistance handle, price $203.98;
- CRKT M16 – designed from AUS4 steel, with glass-reinforced nylon handle, price $22.47;
- Buck/Tops CSAR-T – fabricated from ATS-34steel, with proof textured G10 handle, $130.50;
Main Tools to Sharpen Pocket Knife
To sharpen a pocket knife, you need two things: a sharpening stone and a lubricant.
As there are so many ways to sharpen the pocket knife, there are so many different types of grinding stone. These 3 are essential:
- Ceramic stones,
- Diamond stones.
Take a different kind of rocks and choose one that gives you the best result. Most importantly, you don't need so much money to sharpen the knife. You can find a sharpening stone at any hardware stores for about $5. Sharpening stone has two sides: fine grit and a rough grit. Typically, you should start with sharpening using the coarse gravel and finished with honing using the finer grit.
Every knife sharpening expert recommends using some lubricant when sharpening your knife. The lubricant can come in many forms, from oil to water. Experience says that best result for sharpening the blade has honing oil. Because it has the right consistency for sharpening. The best product that you can find in the market is Nathan's Honing oil. You can buy this item at a local hardware store or online.
The lubricant is so effective. Why?
Because, he reduces the amount of heat, and could save your blade edge. Also, stops overheating from the abrasion.
How to Sharpen a Pocket Knife with a Stone
1.Wet Your Stone
You should wet sanding stone because it is the best way of preparation for sharpening. If you are using a stone with a rough side and a fine side, start with the rougher side.
2.Set the Angle
You should hold blade angle while sharpening. The angle depends on the knife you're grinding, and it can be from about 15° to 30°.To find a bevel angle, you need some practice. You should be able to get it by the feel.
3.Sharpen Rough Side of a Blade
Set the blade at the perfect angle. Try to hold your knife at the same position. Then, start with the knife position at the end of the stone, so the blade's edge facing away from you. Pull the knife toward yourself. Now, you reach the end, glide the razor down, so you hit any curved side of your blade. Repeat 15 times. Flip edge over and repeat 15 times.
4.Sharpen Fine Side of a Blade
Do the sharpening of the fine side, as you do with a rough side. Repeat the process.
5.Clean your Wipe Blade
Use wiper or towel to wipe the blade gently.
6. Test your pocket knife for sharpness
- Slicing the paper,
- Shaving sharp,
- Slice an onion,
- Slicing the magazines and phone book paper.
If your pocket knife, can slice paper effortlessly and doesn’t catch and tear paper, then your knife is sharped and ready for work.
If you can shave your arm hair, your knife is sharped.
The skin on onion is very slippery and thin. If your knife can quickly go through into the surface of an onion, your pocket knife is sharped.
A pocket knife that can slice without strength through magazine paper or phone book, especially if it is rolled up, is very sharp.
7. Pocket Knife is Ready for Using
Just remember to sharpen a blade after every 10 days.
How to Sharpen a Pocket Knife Without a Stone
There are many powerful ways how to sharpen a pocketknife without a stone. We are going to show you 5 tips on how to improve your pocket knife without a stone.
Tip #1 Rock Sharpening
If you are camping near a lake or a river, and you need to sharpen your knife here is how to do it?
A water rock can be a great sharpening tool. Just find the flattest rock that fits in your hand, and that has the smoothest surface. Then, move the blade over the flat edge of the rock, precisely the same way you would use your sharpening stone at home.
Fine slow strokes will improve your blade. Do it until you get a fine sharp blade.
Tip #2 Car Window Sharpening
Use the top of the rolled down the car window, because it has a rough surface. By sharpening a blade on this rough surface, you'll cut out the rough edges on the blade, which is stopping your knife cutting efficiently.
Tip #3 Sand Paper Sharpening
Just, put the paper on a fine surface and slowly move the blade over the rough board. What is more effective? Wetting the send paper with water will make work much efficient allowing a scarf to be removed immediately.
Tip #4 Another Knife for Sharpening
Don't sharpen blade against blade. Hold the duller of the two knives and move the edge over another knife in a circular movement.
Tip #5 Concrete Sharpening
Concrete is everywhere, that is the good thing. The bad thing is that he can damage your pocket knife. So, find concrete with an extremely flat surface. Then move the pocket knife precisely in the same way you would do with a sharpening stone.
How to Sharpen a Pocket Knife with a Household Items
You don't have a stone for sharpening anywhere near, but you need to sharpen a pocket knife? These are 5 tips that can help you.
Tip #1 Sharpening with a Coffee Mug
Every house has ceramic coffee cups. Spin the mug upside-down, find the raw side of the cup, and move the blade across mug until you get the sharpened edge. If it's working properly, you will see some small defect on the mug, which means the ceramic is removing steel and sharpening the blade.
Tip #2 Scissors Sharpening
Look for good scissors. Set the angle of the pocket knife. Close the scissors till you get the edge you want. Move it back and run a few times, pressing it steady against the scissors. Avoid angle of 90°. The best angle is usually 70°. Lay your knife on the nail of your thumb. If it sticks, you got a sharpened edge.
Tip #3 Sharpening with a Leather Belt
Of course, you have a leather belt in your closet. The best belt for sharpening is the one without stitching. Move the knife away from the cutting edge, over the blade. Many professional bladesmiths use leather straps for sharpening the knives.
Tip #4 Nail File Sharpening (Emery Board)
This tip is suitable for women. Find the nail file. Put the nail file on the smooth surface, and move a couple of times blade across the rough board. That's all.
Tip #5 Sharpening with a Nylon Strap
If you don’t have a leather belt, a nylon strap will help you. Move the blade against the nylon strap away from the cutting edge. You just got yourself a sharper edge.
Sharpening a Pocket Knife with a File
You should use a single cut file of one of the following 3 types: mill, hand or flat. We will show you complete process of grinding a pocket knife with a file in 5 steps.
Step #1 Secured the Knife in a Vice
Put the handle of the pocket knife in a vice, so that the blade is parallel with the ground, showing away from you. Because of the shape of the knife handle, you should use a thick part of a textile before then wooden file block, to secure the handle from a breakdown. Your knife shouldn’t be able to move backward or upwards.
Step #2 Use a Lower Angle.
Holding your file angle lower as possible you can, almost horizontal. Run the file over a full length of a blade. This requires more than one stroke.
Step #3 Turn over the Blade in a File
Twist your knife over, and do it again on the other side of the blade. Make sure that you are away from the blade in the vice, so that you can find a lower angle.
Step #4 Take off the Foil
Filling like this causes a special type of burr called a foil, to form the whole edge of the blade. This can seem like a thin part of the metal string. Now pull the knife away from a vice safely.
Step #5 Testing a Pocket Knife
Simply test it, by checking how blade cuts through paper.
How to Sharpen Scissors in a Few Steps
Scissors are a cutting instrument consisting of a pair of metal blades linked so that the blades meet and cut materials located among them where are the handles are gathered. They are used for cutting many different materials like sheet metal, paper, wire, cloth, rope or metal foil. There are so many types of scissors, and they're made to do various jobs.
2 best tools for sharpening the scissors are:
Best scissors are sharpener scissors. We will show you 9 quick tips on how to sharpen scissors.
Step #1 Get in Sharpening Stone
You can buy sharpening stone at any hardware stores and can be used for any blade. Sharpening stones have regularly 2 sides: a rougher side and a fine side.
- If your scissors are very dull, you should first use a rougher side, and then use a fine side to finalize sharpening.
- If you want a fine sharpening, you should only use a fine side of a stone.
Step #2 Sharpening Stone Preparation
Put a towel beneath your sharpening stone and cream it with a honing oil or either water.
- Best oil for the sharpening stone is honing oil, but you can use any oil or water, it works good enough for lubricating the stone.
Step #3 Take Apart your Scissors
Remove the bolt that keeping your scissors blades together. You must do this so you can sharpen the blade separately, and have more mobility when sharpening the blades.
Step #4 Inner Side Sharpening
Put the inner side of the one blade on the stone facing down. Sharp angle between the cutting edge and the inner edge. The area where the two edges meet is the place needs to be sharp to cut stuff. Hold the handle of the scissors blade, and softly drag the blade over the stone facing you, carrying the edge of the blade versus the stone.
- Do it again nicely and slowly, as far as the blade has been sharpened. This requires about 5-15 pulls.
- Perform this step with the other blades of the scissors.
- Exercise with some old scissors until you are utterly skilled for the sharpening the scissors.
Step #5 Cutting Edge Sharpening
Keep your handle of the scissors blade and lean the blade ahead of yourself while the cutting-edge lay on the stone. Position the blade horizontal to you, slowly drag the blade over a stone in your direction, holding that chamfered edge flat vs. stone. Fit the angle and carry on moving the blade progressively. Rerun this operation precisely till the blade is sharpened.
Step #6 Get Rid of the Burrs
When you end with sharpening the scissors, you'll notice specific rough burrs of metal across the sharpened edges of the blades. Burrs can quickly be removed by setting the scissors back together, and opening and closing them a few times.
Test your scissors by cutting through some material like paper or fabric.
Step #7 Clean the Scissors
Use a paper towel to clean down the blades and wipe off any stone scraps that may have piled on the blades during sharpening.
How to Sharpen Scissors with a Dremel
Step #1 Scissor Blades Separation
Take apart the two scissor blades. You can separate them by disconnecting a screw found in the middle of scissors.
Step #2 Position of the Scissors
Put one of the scissors blades into the vice with the sharp end turn outside. One side of the blade should be tilted downward positioning in the sharp edge as at the same time the other side will not be tilted. Setup the scissors, so that angled side faces upward.
Step #3 Start a Dremel
Put the disc into a dremel and get started.
Step #4 Keep the Angle
Control the dremel versus the top of the scissors blade at a 10° angle and abrasive
Step #5 Grinding the Scissors
Carry on rough along the length of the scissors at that angle as far as the whole edge is sharp.
Step #6 Scissors Removing
Take out the scissor blade from the vise.
Step #7 Repeat Steps
Perform the steps from 2 to 5 again with the other scissor blade.
Step #8 Scissors Mounting
Mounted the scissors blades by screwing them together again.
How to Sharpen Scissors with a File
Step #1 Obtain a File
It's best to use a medium file length for sharpening scissors. Because the scissors are small, and you don't need a big file.
Step #2 Prepare a File
Use a 10 inches file length.
Step #3 Disassemble your Scissors
Remove the bolt that connects the scissor blades. Do this, so you can sharpen each blade once at a time, and have more flexibility while sharpening the blades.
Step #4 Sharpening Scissors
Hold the file in one hand, and the scissors in the other hand and drag across the inner blade of the scissors, from the base of the blade until reach the tip. Do it 5-10 times.
Repeat that action with the other blade.
Step #5 Mounted the Scissors
Screw the bolt in the middle of the scissors mechanism that connects blades.
Step #6 Wipe the Blades
Take a paper towel and wipe off any metal bits that appear on the blades during the sharpening with a file.
Sandpaper Scissors Sharpening
Step #1 Acquire a Piece of Sandpaper
Use medium grit sandpaper if you want smooth edges of scissors. Bend your sandpaper fifty-fifty, with the rough sides turn outside. Have the rough edges turn out, so the sandpaper scrapes over two blades while you cut the paper.
Step #2 Cut Through the Paper
You need to cut through sandpaper, cutting long slices, about 15 times. You'll see that blades become sharper with every slice you're cutting. Use entire strokes of the scissors, start the cutting at the begin of the scissors going up to the top.
- Sandpaper cutting is suitable for scissors that aren't extremely dull but need a little bit of sharpening.
- Sandpaper is also useful for taking off the cuts and kerfs.
Step #3 Clean up the Scissor
Clean up the blades of the scissors using a damp paper towel to remove any sandpaper scraps that may have appears on the blades during the sharpening.
Scissors Sharpening with Aluminum Foil
Step #1 Grab the Foil
Use a bit of aluminum foil, about 10-15 inches long, and bend it in lengthways several times, so you have a folded and a tick foil.
Step #2 Foil Cutting
Cut ribbons of the aluminum foil with your scissors until you cut the whole of the thick aluminum ribbon. Start cutting at the base of the scissors and move it to the top.
- According to the area of the ribbons that you cut, you can sharpen your blades a lot by cutting many small ribbons or a little by cutting several, thicker ribbons.
Step #3 Scissors Cleaning
Use a paper towel get slightly wet by warm water. This will wipe off any aluminum remains that may have collected to the blades during your cutting.
Sharpening Scissors with a Sewing Pin
Step #1 Purchase a Sewing Pin
You can buy a sewing pin on any store or order online.
Step #2 Pin Cutting
Hold the scissors closed and pull the pin out away from the blades as the scissors close. Use not such heavy pressure to close the scissors, allowing the sewing pin work sharpening for you. Do it a few times more, as far as the blades have a flat, sharp edge.
Step #3 Clean the Scissors
Use a wet paper towel and clean the scissor blades from any metal remaining's that may jump on the blades during the pin cutting.
Sharpening the Scissors Using Glass Jar
Step #1 Position of the Scissor Blades
Spread the scissors as much as you can, and set the blades around the glass jar sides.
- The glass jar should be at the position that it can go between two blades.
- Keep the jar in one hand, and the scissors in the other hand.
Step #2 Cut the Jar
Hold the scissors closed and move the glass jar out of the blades as the scissors close. Close the scissors with low pressure and the glass will sharpen for you.
- Rerun the action up till you get a flat, smooth edge.
Step #3 Clean the Blades
During the sharpening, many small glass parts may have collected on the blades while cutting the glass jar. Because of that, you should use a wet paper towel to clean the scissor blades.
How to Sharpen Scissors with a Knife Sharpener & Special Scissor Sharpener
Sharpeners are safer, and they are much more accessible for use. It depends on what type of the scissors you have.
You can use a specially designed scissors sharpener or a knife sharpener.
Scissor sharpeners are fine for use because it keeps the blade safely, and they can sharp the two blades instantly.
Knife sharpeners are good for sharpening because they can be used for a different type of blades.
Follow these few steps to learn how to sharpen scissors:
- Take apart your scissors. Use the inner side of the blade and put in the knife sharpener. Drag the blade over a knife sharpener about 10 times. Repeat that process with the other blade. Do it until you get a sharp edge that you need.
- Hold scissors and just put them in the gap of the scissors sharpener mechanism and press the scissors handles as you cut 10-15 times and you have a razor-sharp scissors.
How to Sharpen a Sword Like a Lord
Sword is used to be a weapon of close combat. Today sword has a ceremonial purpose, symbolic meaning and decoration usage in the modern armies. However, in 21st century the swords are mostly used by athletes in fencing matches and practice.
It consists of tapered single-sided or double-sided blades, hitched to the holder and protect by a metal cover. The blade can be flat or curved. The swords wary by weight, shape, epochs when they are made and the special purpose which they are made.
By purpose, they can be divided into combat, sports, decorative, ritual, dance (as a requisite) and others.
Of course, the essence and symbol of the sword are to be sharp, regardless of the time in which it is used.
Follow these instructions on how to sharpen sword with a different tool.
Tool #1 Bench Grinder Sword Sharpening
A bench grinder is a suitable tool for everyone who does a large quantity of sword repair. A bench grinder contains a grinding wheel that is reel at a very high speed. It can be used to take off the metal as well as to sharpen blades of all types. This tool is useful for a significant number of sword sharpeners. Sharpening of the sword blade is often cheaper than buying a new blade. Following tips will help you how to sharpen a sword like a professional.
Don’t Use the Vise
Why? Because the vise fixed the blade in the one position as it is facing down to a sharp edge. This doesn't work because the sharpening a blade is not a linear (straight line) process. So, to get an appropriate edge, you should move the blade consistently with a grinding wheel.
Avoid setting the blade flat on the grinding wheel. If you want to have a sharp blade edge, you should curve forward to the grinding wheel. The 45° is the best angle for sharpening a blade.
A lot of sword blades has a deflection. That is why you must always keep track of the natural curve of the blade. While you're sharpening the blade, the grinding wheel instantly drags the blade into it by that following line. Don't be aggressive with a grinding wheel. You should never be at one position when you are holding the blade on the grinding wheel. Since the wheel moves the blade, you should move too. Don't try to decrease friction of the blade and the wheel, but keep it in control. Maneuver with the blade up the grinding wheel softly and gently. This will enable the blade to get sharpened equally.
Allow Grinder Wheel Works for You
Don’t apply a lot of strength onto the blade during it is grinding. That can produce the blade break off and to lose control over the blade. The wheel is rotating very quick and doesn't need your assistant to sharpen your blade. Just put the blade on the grinding wheel at a right angle and set it to work along the curved line of the blade. At the end of the process, you get a sharpen sword like a brand new.
Tool #2 How to Use a Whetstone for Sharpening
Choose your Whetstone
You should choose a whetstone that is ranging from 700 to 1300 grit to get a well sharpen blade. Bigger grit, the less possibility to you damage your blade while you sharpened. It is crucial if you are at the fresh start. If a sword is in bad condition or easily seen scraps on the surface, you should use whetstone down to 700 grit.
Keep the Angle
Use a 30° angle and move the blade across the stone repeating the action 10-15 times. Do it forth and back, avoid circular movements.
Double-Check the Blade
Control the blade, again and again, to make sure you haven't skipped any spot. You complete your work and have a sharp blade like a razor.
Sharpening a Sword with a File
Working Area Preparation
You need working area with a plenty of free space, so you could naturally move the sword safely.
The Position of the Sword
Put the sword on the work surface or the table, and using plywood support the sword into the place and secure it.
Set the Angle
Set the 30° angle, and then you should start sharping the edge of the blade. Drag a file about 10 times on each side of the blade.
Hold the file and slowly twist the blade over up until you create a rough edge on both sides.
Sandpaper Sword Sharpening
Pick the Right Sandpaper
The best to use is 500 grit. It will mix in the freshly sharpened edge to the rest of the sword and produce a high-quality finish.
Begin and Finish the Process
Rip off a 3 inch by 3-inch bit of the sandpaper and start a final phase by following these steps.
- Pour a bit of water over the sword..
- Move the sandpaper down on one edge of the blade, by finger, using at a 30° angle.
- In this stage, the blade will be very sharp, so be calm not to slop your finger over the blade. You will cut yourself.
Sharpening a Sword with a Knife Sharpener
This is the quickest way of sharpening a sword.
- This tool doesn’t produce a nice edge similar to another tools, but at least you’ll not ruin the expensive sword.
- Accusharp is the best because the sword can fit in it and also has a great price.
- After you finish, use the sandpaper to make it like a super shine.
This was a guide on how to sharpen a sword, follow the lines below to find out how to sharpen a katana.
What is katana? It is “soul of the samurai” a Japanese two-handed sword which was used by members of the Japanese warrior class called samurai. It usually wore in a pair with a similarly short sword named the "wakizashi." In pairs, these 2 swords are called the "daisho," and they have represented the social status and honor of the samurai. The long sword was used for combat, and short usually for the execution of ritual suicide "sepukku" due to defeat and lost the honor of the samurai.
Katana consists of a squared or circular guard, long trip to place two hands and single-edged curved blade.
How to Sharpen a Katana with a Stone
Water Stones from Japan
Japanese water stones are natural or artificial. Natural stones are much expensive, but artificial stones can be used for polishing. Artificial stones operate with a grader abrasive suspended in clay or ceramic item. Natural stones use water for lubricant.
Sinking a Stone
Japanese water stones must be soaked in a water to work correctly. Stones need from 10 to 25 minutes to becomes saturated depending upon the stone. Some stones should be stored in water while others must be stored dry. You have a few options to sink a stone:
- You can save stones dry,
- sink stone for 25 minutes,
- or drop off stone into the water.
Don’t forget to add a quarter cup of sodium bicarbonate into the water. Why? Because baking soda will change pH of the water and protect your sword from rusting during you’re sharpening. Some stones shouldn't be soaked but just drenched with the water before using. In case, they were soaked, the stones will make things worse.
Japanese Water Stones permanently waste during use. This is natural and helps to control an aggressive cutting area. Some stones waste very fast while others are stronger. Sharpening stones should be a little curved outward and have round corners.
After this, the stones will become concave during use so it should be reformed after or before using. Make sure the edges are rounded or beveled because that protects the stone from fracturing and supports you from grinding a groove in the blade.
Set the Working Area
Use the working base that fits over a wooden basin like a Japanese. You should have a firm platform that stands up to water. Use a special clamp that held down with your foot.
The Blade Straightening
You should have straightened the blade before you sharpen it. Because, when you begin sharpening, the geometry will be lost. The easiest way, but hard to perform is merely folding over your knee after looking down its length. You should use the slotted wood sword straightening tools because it helps you to isolate the curve simpler. Do it slowly and gently.
Handling the Grip
Take apart a sword and sharpen the bare blade. Take off the "habaki" (shaped metal that keeps the sword from falling). A part of the used towel about 10x10 inches shrouded around the blade ensures a nice grip. It should be tight, so it doesn't slide.
Start working the “monuchi” (maximum force area, approximately 6 inches from tip of point section toward the base of the blade) with the right hand hold the sword and the left hand to balance the weight of the sword and stable the “kissaki” (point section).
Be cautious of sliding your left hand of the blade, or you could cut off your fingers. Use two parts of a towel to grip the sword with your hands when manipulating on the other area of the blade. This operation prevents cutting yourself.
You should pass the blade across the stone using a medium strength stroke, to get a smooth polishing. Move the blade forwarding and backward to do the job. Do it slowly and check the blade frequently. Double-check that you have run a stone along the whole surface area while you supervised the geometry of a surface.
A Sample of the Scratch
The first stone must be used up till the scratch sample comes to the edge. The only time when you don’t work this is when you must take off the scratches or when the edge has been flattened. The geometry should be based on the roughest stone, and the next stone should refine your surface area.
Edge of the Blade
The typical mistake is paying too much attention to the edge. You must pay attention to the surface of the blade. Removed the surfaces to expose the edge.
The first stone is crucial. The surfaces should be performed as far as the scratch sample come to reaches the edge while managing the wanted geometry of the surface.
You should carry on working with the first stone till the scratch sample ranges the edge. You may see a tiny polished surface, that reflects the light, so look very precisely. If your edge is chipped or flattened, proceed forward.
Powerful Tips for Katana Sharpening
When you set the form with the roughest stone, apply 80 strokes for two sides of the single stone blade to polish the surface. Take a long stroke that covers about 10 inches of the blade. The geometry comes out more consistently this way.
That means that whole “monuchi” (maximum force area, approximately 6-inches from tip of point section toward a base of the blade) can be covered in one stroke. The blade is spinning very lightly to cover the whole surface from “hasaki” (cutting edge) to “shinogi” (longitude ridgeline).
The “Shinogi” Rounding
It is important to not round over "shinogi" (longitude ridgeline). This is the line that moves down the length of the blade determining the cutting surface. The blade must work straight up to "shinogi" line but is very easy to spin blade overmuch and damage the blade geometry.
The blade has a habit to overturn and round the "shinogi" because of his curvature. You should hear when the stone is working "hasaki" or "shinogi." The volume of the scraping changes lightly until you reach the edge. Be cautious!
Lubrication of the Stone
Density is created on the top of the stone if it cracks down. This paste works as a lubricant and as abrasive. The stone needs to be rewetted from time to time. Water with dissolved baking soda is good to keep the stone wet. Don’t wash the paste of the stone.
You should use your hand to soak the stone and provide the blade clean. Use a small old rag but be cautious not to leave the thread or the other parts of ruins on stone or the blade.
Sword Sharpening Kit
If you want to be like a true professional, you must have the suitable equipment. Sword sharpening kit will help you. It is a box made from wood or other material that contains everything you need for sharpening, polishing or shaping the swords.
One most commonly sword sharpening kit includes two wet stones, one fine grit for final polishing, one coarse grit for sharpening, water bucket, and sanding paper.
Best sword sharpening kit for polishing the swords is Mini Block Kit No. 128B
Best Sharpening Stones on the Market
How to Sharpen an Axe Step by Step
Abraham Lincoln said it best. Given six hours to take down a tree, he would take four hours to first properly sharpen the axe. That goes to show just how important having a sharp tool for a job really is. So, if you want to know how to sharpen an axe, the first and the most important advice we have for you is take your time, don’t rush it.
What good is doing the most important part of axe maintenance quickly, only to find yourself struggling to chop off the tiniest of branches? A bit of head-scratching later and you’re back to the sharpening table, so to speak. Again, do it slowly and with great care. An axe is your friend and companion, and it deserves careful and respectful treatment.
So, back to the question of how to sharpen an axe. We are going to take you through the story slowly, carefully explaining every step of the way, leading you by the hand to the end of the road where the sharpest of axes awaits buried in a tree, waiting for your hand to grip it tightly.
Too poetic? Perhaps, but we’re just trying to illustrate the importance of proper axe maintenance and sharpening. So, there are four crucial steps, and we’re going to explain them all. Next, we’re going to take you through the tried and proven method of axe sharpening, step by step. Hopefully, by the time you’ve finished reading this, you’ll be a couple of steps closer to never again having a blunt axe in your hand.
So, to begin with, let’s explain the first step in the process. Shaping is a good way to start off the sharpening, as it remodels the edge to its original shape and size. Also, shaping is a crucial step if the axe head is severely damaged. In this situation, you have to first reach the perfect shape, and reinstate the bevel edge.
So, basically, start off with your best file and reinstate the edge. The trick is not to overheat the edge while doing this, as it can lose its properties. Cool often and make pauses while working with the file.
The second step is grinding. This can sometimes become the first step, if the axe head is only slightly worn or damaged. You can afford to skip the shaping with a file, as there sometimes is no need for that.
You will usually use a bench grinder for this step. Basically, the component that is different is the whetstone itself. Whetstones are usually made of silicon carbide or sandstone.
Whatever the whetstone of your choice is, just make sure to keep the bevel shape. The axes whose heads are straight also have to be just a bit convex in order to do their job properly. Too straight and it can break while performing a task. The trick with grinding is, again, to work slowly, and pay close attention to the curvature of the edge.
The final step in the way, honing, or, as many people perceive, the actual sharpening of the axe. If you’ve been wondering about how to sharpen an axe, this is the step where you actually do it in the basic sense of the word. Everything up to now has been the preparation.
So, this is where your axe becomes the perfect chopping machine, ready to tackle any tree you put in front of it. For this step, you will need different whetstones, each used one after the other, getting the edge to that final sharp glisten.
An optional final step is to use a leather strop. You should still take your time and make your axe the best it can be, so why skip anything? All right, now that you know the basic parts the process, time to get into the details. We will explain every step of the way of the process we think is the best, and we hope you will find it useful too.
Step 1 – The Assessment
To begin with, assess the state your axe is currently in. Sometimes, an axe needs just a quick touch-up, a quick sharpening to return it to its not-so-distant glory. Mind you, not that this quick touch-up should be done quickly. It only means it’s a process that doesn’t take as long as the full how to sharpen an axe routine.
So, inspect the head of your axe for any potential dents or even crack in the edge. This constitutes serious damage, and if this occurs, you should always begin by reshaping the bevel edge with a file. Although we always recommend this step, it can sometimes be avoided in its entirety.
If the damage is less severe, it means your axe is in pretty good shape and you don’t have to worry about not being able to sharpen it properly. Ok, so you’ve assessed the state of the axe, now let’s get on with it.
Step 2 – The Preparation
Now, we need to prepare the field for your axe to shine again. We’re going to be sharpening our axe mostly by hand, as not everybody has advanced tools at their disposal. You can call this the everyman’s how to sharpen an axe guide.
The first thing you need to do is place a wedge of any kind beneath the head. We prefer to use wood, but you can use anything else instead. Just try not to use anything plastic, as the heat can increase during the process, and you don’t want that smoldering smell rummaging around your nostrils.
By slightly elevating the head, you increase the stability during the process, while also making it easier for yourself to reach every angle of the blade edge. The head should be horizontal with the table, the edge protruding over it, to ease the work you’re going to be doing.
Next, clamp the handle of the axe to the workbench or worktable. You can secure it to a vise as well, but, as we’ve said, this is the everyman’s guide, and some folk don’t have that. Secure it nice and tight, as you don’t want your axe to move about while you’re tending to the edge. This is also the point at which you should start wearing gloves. Cuts sustained while sharpening an axe can be serious, and they can certainly spoil the entire experience. Why ruin the fun?
Finally, if you see a need for it, you can use a permanent marker to mark the edge. We recommend doing this if you’re a beginner, as it is easy to lose sight of where the edge of the axe should finish. This way, you will save yourself the trouble of potentially having to reshape the axe blade again after going to deeply into the head.
Step 3 – The Filing
Now it’s time to begin the actual process of sharpening. We know you’ve been eagerly awaiting to really get your hands into it, but we have to note this once again – the assessment and the preparation are just as vital as taking a file and starting the “actual” work. Without proper preparation, chances are you’ll end up doing a less than satisfactory job.
So, take the file, position it at an angle corresponding with the angle of the bevel edge, and start filing by moving your hand in the opposite direction to the edge. So, away from the edge, toward yourself. Adjust the angle during the process if necessary, so as to always move file perfectly along the cutting edge.
The perfect angle of an axe that will primarily be used for tasks such as chopping is between twenty and twenty-five degrees. You can angle guides to measure the angle if you’re can’t roughly determine the angle by looking at it. Not many people can actually, you need a ton of experience for that.
It is during this part of the process that potential chips in the edge will be revealed. Don’t fret, you can remove them. Small chips are normal for an axe that has seen its days in the woods, but if there are any larger ones, you may need to straighten that part of the edge. You can do this by skating the file along the edge, truing-up the cutting edge, removing the chips. Even if some smaller chips endure, you will remove them later, no need to worry.
When finished with one side of the edge, simply flip it over, secure it and tighten again, and repeat the process, removing any chips along the way. The perfect time to flip the head over is after filing about ¼” from the edge. The only trick to all of this is to count your file strokes. Try to use the same number for both sides of the axe. This way, they will be as close to identical as humanly possible during the sharpening process.
And voila, the filing is finished. As mentioned a couple of time before, if you maintain your axe properly and frequently, you can skip this step. We feel you should never skip it, just to make sure your axe is always in tip top shape.
Step 4 – The Stoning
Just kidding about the name of this step. This is the part where you grind the edge of your axe in a finer manner than with a file. As said, this is where you use the whetstones to get your axe closer to perfection. However, although we have mentioned bench grinders earlier, we are going to skip that step here and go straight to honing.
Not everybody has access to a bench grinder, and this guide should serve everybody. Don’t think that you not using a belt or a bench grinder will make your axe unworthy. Far from it. Such machines just make the entire process a bit faster, that’s all.
So, take a coarse stone, and start honing your edge. The direction you should move the whetstone in should be identical to the direction you filed in. Do it slowly, paying close attention to the angle, as it should never be too steep. Do this on side, then flip your axe over and do it again. Also, as with filing, try to count the strokes, and make sure you use the same number for each side.
Once you finish honing both sides with a coarse whetstone, repeat the process again, but using softer and smoother whetstones along the way. Medium grit will fit perfectly. Once you finish using the smoothest of whetstones at your disposal, you can stop and admire your axe. It should be glowing with sharpness, while you should be glowing with pride of making your axe breathe a new life.
Or, you can continue if you want to, and we know you want to. Shy stop when you can sharpen your axe a tad more. Yeah, we know you would continue reading. So, the final step of the final step – the stropping.
Use a good piece of strong, sturdy leather, place it on the table, and work the edge of your axe by pulling it away. This will remove any bur that may still plague the edge, while also adding that final speck of sharpness to it. The only thing to make sure while doing this is to hit every point of the cutting edge. Just a couple of strokes on both sides and you’re finished.
Lastly, if you really want to see just how sharp your axe has become, to see if our how to sharpen an axe journey has yielded results, you do have to test it. And let us stop you right away. You don’t have to go running about, trying to find a sequoia worthy of being chopped. All you need to do to test your axe is to roll up your sleeves, and treat your arms to a bit of as dry shave. An axe that is truly sharp should take the hair right off your arm, without so much as a scrape. Only then are you ready to put on your plaids and go out into the wild.