Since we’re in the middle of hunting season I thought that this would be a timely topic. All Outdoorsmen use a knife and yet I’ll bet not 5% can sharpen one. I know this is a true statement or why do shows have me conduct Knife Sharpening seminars from Texas to Vegas and on up to Alaska?  

In the old days all that our dad used to sharpen knives was an Arkansas stone but nowadays, most knives are constructed of metal so hard that you can’t sharpen them on an Arkansas stone so I recommend using a diamond stone. With a diamond stone you’ll be able to obtain an edge within literally 2-3 minutes. Even a hard knife like a Diamond Blade or Buck knife. I’ve had good luck with Smith’s Consumer Products fine diamond stones. Smith has the best stones. 

Let’s get started. You see people grinding their knife in a circular motion, others cutting into the stone and yet others cutting away. Which way is the correct method?

It doesn’t matter, as long as you use the same angle all the way down the edge and do the same number of strokes on each side. If you don’t do the same number of strokes on each side then the edge will be lopsided.

So how many times should you stroke the knife on each side? It doesn’t matter but everyone does three times so just do that or you’ll freak everyone out. 

You will tend to have a smaller angle as you get into the curvature of the blade. You may be starting out on the hilt at 25-degrees but as you get into the curvature of the blade you’re at 15-degrees. You want to use the same angle all the way down the blade. 

To eliminate ending up with multiple angles I recommend lifting your elbow when you start into the curvature. Watch the You Tube below to comprehend what I mean.

If the edge is really dinged up and mushroomed, I’ll slide the blade backwards the first four revolutions to get the metal lined back up and then I’ll start cutting into the stone.

Now, the million-dollar question. How do I obtain the correct angle?  Good questions. Here’s a trick that will help you. Get a semi fine tip sharpie. Mark along the edge of the knife. Now grind on each side once and look at the edge. If only half of the mark is gone, that tells you that you need to drop the spine down a little. If the mark is gone-Perfect! If there are grind marks on hollow grind above the edge, then you have the knife laid too far down. 

More than likely you will find out that you are not consistent at all. You will start out ok near the hilt, then by the end of the tip all of the mark is gone plus some. And in between there will be spots that you somehow totally missed. The mark will tell you what you are doing right or wrong.

To put on a finer edge, after using a diamond stone advance to an Arkansas stone. When using an Arkansas stone apply a few drops of honing oil before you start. 

Use the same procedures as you employed on the diamond stone until the edge feels smooth. When it feels smooth as glass, then test it by slicing a piece of paper.

Most boning knives and fish fillet knives are going to be made of softer metal. So to sharpen one of them you’ll want to start right off on an Arkansas stone. Then to put a wicked edge on them you’ll need to progress to a smooth steel. I’ll talk to Ronald about doing an article on steeling someday.

With practice you can become proficient at sharpening. Use good quality knives. If you try to learn on a cheap knife from China, you’ll get frustrated and lose hope. I’ve had good luck with Knives of Alaska and Diamond Blades. They’re well-made and constructed out of good materials. The metal is hard so they will hold an edge but not so hard that they cannot be easily sharpened.


• Don’t let your knife get super dull and it will be easier to put an edge back on it.

• To clean your diamond stone, use warm soapy water and a rag.

• Buy good quality knives.

• I’ll be doing Knife Sharpening/Choosing the Proper Knife seminars at the Dallas Safari Club Conv. & Expo in Dallas January, 2020, at the SHOT Show in Vegas in Jan. at the Smith’s Consumer Products booth and at the Safari Club International Conv. in Reno in Feb. 2020. 

• I have an article on Amazon Kindle titled “Knife Sharpening” that goes in deeper detail.

• Knife Sharpening video on You Tube. Go to RonSpomerOutdoors. 

 Tom Claycomb is a hunting enthusiast that writes a bi-monthly column for the Humboldt Sun.