There are many ways to sharpen our knives and no one way is better than any other. Actually because our knives are sharpened on one side only, people tend to think they are harder to sharpen. It is actually easier, since you are only dealing with one side. It’s just different, not any more difficult.
We are always asked about different sharpening systems and fixtures. Well, there are so many that we cannot be familiar with them all. We don’t know how they work or how well they work on our knives. Then again, I’ve sharpened knives on pieces of cement, bricks, rocks, steel pipe, car windows and just about anything at hand.
The easiest method that I usually recommend is to purchase a round or oval shaped diamond stick (finest grit possible). You can get them at hardware stores, gun stores, and cutlery stores.
Hold the knife in your left hand with the point facing away from you. With your right hand run the diamond stick out along the blade’s edge away from you. You have to find the right angle to incline the diamond stick so you are affecting just the edge. Depending on how dull your blade is or how hard you press this may take 5 to 25 strokes.
Take your fingernail and scrape towards the edge on the backside of the blade. Run your fingernail towards the edge at 90 degrees to the edge, not along the edge. You should feel a noticeable click as you run your fingernail off of the edge. This is the burr that you produced by sharpening the front side. If there isn’t any, hit the front side a few more times. Now take the stick and just lightly run it along the backside of the edge. You are not trying to sharpen the backside just breaking the burr loose.
At this point you must burnish or strop the edge. You can use leather for this but I prefer the gray cardboard backing from a yellow legal pad. Take the cardboard and lay it down on a stable, hard surface. With pressure, strop the blade back and forth just like the old barbers did. Not fast, but slow and controlled. Remember you have a sharp knife in your hand. Just strop the blade until you can no longer feel the burr on the blade. Your knife should now be sharp enough to tackle any normal chore.
This may sound a little complex but once you’ve done it a couple of times it can actually be done in about 2 minutes. If you come up with any different ways to sharpen your knife please let us know. We are always willing to listen and learn.
NOTE: On the tanto style blades, treat each edge (the main edge and the front short edge) separately. Don’t run the stick out and up the front edge in one motion or you will round off the crisp transition point between the long (main) edge, and the front, short, upswept edge. Sharpen each of these separately.