As every hunter knows, a hunting knife needs proper care, and there are countless methods for sharpening a hunting blade, depending on how the knife is used in the field or on the trail. The experts at Diamond Machining Technology (DMT) have composed a “how to” article below to help knife users understand which sharpening techniques are best for different hunting-knife tasks. If you enjoy the below, you’re also certain to like: “Sharpen a Knife & Care For Your Collection.”
Two Ways to Sharpen Your Hunting Knife
By Stan Watson
The hunting knife, whether the folding or fixed-blade type, is an invaluable tool for hunters since its hard, strong steel blade is made for cleaning and butchering game. But, truth be told, many outdoorsmen like to carry a hunting knife as an all-purpose cutting tool. So, when you think about the best way to sharpen your hunting knife, first think about how it will be used.
If you plan on using the blade for gutting and field dressing animals, you need a razor sharp blade. The hide of an animal is tough and you want your knife to make easy, smooth cuts through the skin and muscle. To get that result you want to sharpen at a shallower angle.
I always recommend manual sharpening on a diamond stone, because it removes only the necessary amount of metal—protecting your knife and prolonging its life. With diamond stones from DMT Diamond Machining Technology, you never need oil. If you want to moisten the stone, you can use water, but it’s not necessary. Start with a coarse grit diamond stone and, holding the knife so the blade meets the stone at a 20- to 22-degree angle, stroke the blade with modest pressure across the stone six or eight times; then change direction (if you began by stroking away from you, switch and carefully stroke the blade towards you using the same motion). Diamond stones sharpen blades quickly, so there’s no need to rush your strokes. Take the time to handle your blades and edges in a safe manner.
Once you’ve finished with the coarse grit, move on to a fine grit and repeat the process. Then, to get the razor edge you need, give the blade a few strokes along an extra-fine grit. Remember, the finer the grit, the lighter your strokes should be. The result will be a blade that has a straight, true sharp edge for cleaner cutting and dressing.
For those of you who like the feel and performance of a hunting knife, but want to use it as an all-purpose cutter, you don’t need the razor sharpness that comes with an extra-fine grit stone and a shallow sharpening angle. It’s better to have a micro-serration on the blade.
To get that result, use just a coarse grit diamond stone and hold the knife so the blade is at a steeper angle, about 24 to 28 degrees. This will give your blade greater strength to stand up to tough cutting tasks. A surface with tiny serrations allows the blade to work in a sawing motion—unlike the straight razor-sharp cuts you need when gutting a deer, for example.
Whether you’re a pro or novice hunter, it can be hard to maintain a precise and consistent angle throughout the sharpening process. One solution is DMT’s Aligner Blade Clamp, which provides for guided sharpening to help you set and keep the correct angle for the task at hand. The Aligner is easy to use, offers seven-angle adjustability and accommodates wider and thicker blades. Plus, the clamp won’t damage your blades.
A well-made hunting knife can last for years, especially if you keep it sharp. With diamond sharpening stones from DMT, you will be able to quickly, simply and safely get the edge that keeps your knife working to its fullest potential.
Stan Watson is the technical director for Diamond Machining Technology, manufacturer of a full line of Made in the USA diamond sharpening tools for use in woodworking, camping, fishing, hunting, outdoor and winter sports, culinary arts, gardening, police/security and industrial applications. He is the holder of 11 engineering patents in the sharpening industry. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you enjoyed the above, you’re also certain to appreciate: “Sharpen a Knife & Care For Your Collection.”