Whether you’re out in the wilderness with only a few pieces of gear or can’t find a sharp knife to save your life, a knife sharpener isn’t always there when you need it the most. Fortunately, knowing the basics of how to sharpen a knife and using a little quick thinking and ingenuity, you can use a variety of household tools to sharpen your knives.
Before we delve into things, we must make it clear what we’re talking about when we say sharpening. The general term for “sharpen” is to give something a keen edge. The knife term for “sharpen” is a bit more specific. It means making a knife sharp by actually removing metal from the blade to form an edge.
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Not all of these objects will sharpen a knife in the truest sense of the word like a traditional knife sharpener. Some of them will merely hone or strop the edge. While honing and stropping will indeed sharpen a knife by realigning an edge, it’s not what knife experts typically deem as sharpen.
With all that being said, here are 10 everyday items you can use to sharpen your knife.
Household Items You Can Use to Sharpen Knives
We’ll start off with something that actually sharpens a knife by removing material from the blade. Ceramic coffee cups are readily available in most houses. Simply turn the mug upside down, search for the raw part of the cup (which is the rougher part of the bottom that prevents the cup from sliding around), and run the knife across the mug until you get your desired edge.
If it’s working well, you’ll see some discoloration on the mug, which indicates the ceramic is removing steel and sharpening the blade.
Although stropping does not technically sharpen a blade, it does make a blade keener by realigning the edge. A leather belt, which is something you might be wearing right now, is a quick and easy item for stropping a blade. In fact, many professionals use leather straps for stropping.
If you’re an ardent user of knives, the unfortunate reality is that your favorite knives will become damaged. Sometimes when it’s a cheap knife you bought online, it’s easier to buy another one. But if it was your dad’s knife or a really expensive custom-made knife, going through the trouble of repairing it seems reasonable. Take a look at these tips to figure out the process you should go through when trying to repair your knife.
The first step is to determine whether the knife is factory-made or custom-made. Knives that you buy from companies like Gerber, Cold Steel, Kershaw, etc. are factory-made. These are mass-produced knives that come in packaging. You should start by contacting the manufacturer to see whether they will repair the knife for you. If it’s a new knife, the chances are pretty good they’ll repair the knife at no cost, depending of course on the damage. As it gets older, the odds diminish. However, some manufacturers offer lifetime warranties on certain damages, so it’s a good idea to contact the manufacturer either way.
An important thing to remember is that when the knife breaks, don’t attempt to repair it by yourself because it could void any warranty. Once a factory-made knife needs repair, immediately contact the manufacturer.
If the knife was commissioned to be made with modifications or from an original design, it’s a custom-made knife. These types of knives are a bit more complicated because the cost of repairing could be astronomical—sometimes even more than the knife is worth. But you should first go back to the original knifemaker. If you’re not sure who originally designed it, take it to a local expert or ask on a knife forum. Sometimes a knifemaker will give a lifetime warranty—as long as they’re still alive. Once the knifemaker is gone, however, you will have to go to the next step.
When you imagine the blade of a knife, chances are you picture a solid piece of quality stainless steel. However, an old material is gaining popularity—especially in kitchen knives—as an alternative to steel: ceramic.
Most people associate ceramic with those old Chinese vases with intricate flower designs, but the material has evolved tremendously over the centuries into a hard, sharp and brutal nonmetallic solid.
Ceramic knives often get a bad rap from diehards because they’re considered dainty or weak, but that’s the farthest thing from the truth. If you’re considering picking up a ceramic knife, these are some things that will help nudge you in that direction.
Stays sharp for years
The most important aspect of a blade is its edge and how sharp it is. Whereas stainless steel knives tend to lose some of their keenness pretty quickly, ceramic knives keep a speciously sharp edge for much longer. Zircon is the key material in ceramic blades because it makes them significantly harder than steel. When the blade eventually loses its edge a bit, most ceramic knife manufacturers will sharpen the knife for free.
It’s crazy to think how something so light and thin can be so sharp and dangerous. It’s easy to not take a ceramic knife seriously because of its weight, but that’s what gives it an advantage over steel. With minimal weight, you won’t be burdened when doing mundane tasks like slicing cheese.