You should always aim to use a knife sharpener to sharpen your blades, and I’d suggest you use the tried and tested water stones if you’re up for learning how. But not everyone wants to learn how to sharpen using stone, so for these people you have electric and pull through sharpeners to choose from.
Using a good sharpener (and mind you there’s a lot of bad ones!), can be the difference between an edge that is average to one that is wickedly sharp. Think of it this way: If you wanted to make a hole in the wall, you’d probably use a drill with a specific sized bit. However, you don’t necessarily need a drill and a bit to make a hole in the wall. You could use a screw and work your way slowly. The drill bit is likely to give you the best results, but it’s unlikely you’ll get terrible results with a screw! This analogy applies to knife sharpening as well. A knife sharpener should always be used, but there are alternatives to sharpen/hone your knives without one. Below are some quick and dirty tips to help restore your edge without the use of a sharpener.
#1 Sandpaper Works Wonders!
Sandpaper along with baking soda have got to be two of my favorite household items. They’re insanely versatile and can be used for a plethora of different things. I’m not going to go through a list of what they can do, as that warrants a post of its own. But I will say that sandpaper is pretty useful when it comes to restoring a dull edge. Here’s what you need to do:
- Buy Some Sandpaper From Your Local Hardware Store: If you’re in Canada like me, you can find a 5 pack for about $4 in Canadian tire. This comes with various grits ranging from fine all the way to extra coarse. Ideally, you will want to have the different grits as it gives you the flexibility to really polish your edge. You can also find sandpaper online on Amazon for pretty cheap, if you don’t want to get it from the store.
- Cut To Suit: Sandpaper comes in various sizes, so you’ll need to cut to suit. Here’s a little tip to help you decide how much to cut: think of the sandpaper as a sharpening stone. Some stones are big and can accommodate large knives, while some are small and work just fine for small pocket knives or even utility and paring knives. Cut according to what you will be sharpening. Try and estimate how much room you will need and go with that. Again, this doesn’t need to be perfect!
- Think Outside The Box: Okay, here’s where you need to get a little creative! You will want to attach the sandpaper to something sturdy so there is no slippage when you sharpen. A block of wood would be perfect. But if you’re lazy like me and don’t want to build a little jig, here’s a simple solution: use one end of a hardcover book you have lying around. Attach the sandpaper using clips on either end, and you’re ready to rock and roll!
Books Aren’t Just Great For Reading!
- Sharpen Away! This is probably the hardest part, because you’ll require a couple attempts before you get the technique right. You’ll want to sharpen your knives the same way as you would using stone. If you’re unsure about the technique, head over to YouTube and school yourself. There’s tons of videos showing how it’s done. Good luck!
#2 Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones, But They Can Also Sharpen My Knives!
If you’re a 90’s kid, then you’ll definitely have had the privilege of owning a Swiss army pocket knife. I remember being so envious of my friends when they had one and I didn’t……so I begged my parents to get me one! If you can relate, do you remember how we used to sharpen them? Try jog your memory 20 years ago, and you’ll find that we used to sharpen our pocket knives on just any stone or rock we could get our hands on! And back then we never considered angles, technique or any of that. We used to scrape our blades back and forth hoping by some miracle that we’d profile a wicked edge. Sadly, most of the time you’d end up with a nicked blade full of scratches. Here’s the truth: you can achieve decent results when sharpening a knife on a flat stone, if you do it correctly. Just as with the sandpaper above, you will sharpen on any rock/stone as if you’re sharpening on a perfectly shaped water stone. This improvised technique works well when you don’t have access to a sharpener.
Rocks & Stones Make For A Great Improvised Sharpener!
#3 It’s Too Hot, Roll Down Your Window!
Did you know you can sharpen your knives on a car window? Sounds crazy right! I’ll admit I didn’t know about this until I watched a video of someone demonstrating it. And to be honest I was a little skeptical that it would work…. until I tried it. I tried it out on a dull blade, and the results were actually alright! Not a method I’d use often, but it works well for a one off! Go ahead and give it a try, you don’t have anything to lose.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Identify The Cutting Edge – Look at your blade and identify the surface that has been ground to form a cutting edge. This is what you will want to sharpen.
- Roll Down Your Window – The top of your window is unglazed, and great for restoring knife edges. Avoid sharpening on the curved portion of your window, and instead choose an area that’s mostly flat.
- Match Your Edge Angle – You’ve identified your edge in #1, so now all you need to do is match your edge angle to the glass and sharpen from heel to tip.
- Rinse & Repeat – For every pass you make on one side of the edge, do the same for the other. Try a total of 4 on each side and check for sharpness. Complete more passes, as required.
But, One Thing You Should Always Remember!
While these 3 tips will serve you well, I only recommend you use them if you don’t have access to a knife sharpener. They should not be implemented as long term sharpening solutions. If you’re uncertain about what knife sharpener to get, you may want to check out this article. It explains some important things you should consider before buying one. I hope you enjoyed reading, and if you did, a share would be appreciated! Let me know if you have any questions.
Today’s guest blogger is fascinated by sharp knives, and all the different ways to help you get a blazing edge. Meet Irvan, a Canadian blogger who strives to compare and contrast modern day sharpening to old school, traditional methods. Sharp knives aside, he loves to travel and explore, dance, and is a self confessed foodie. For product reviews and cool how to posts, check him out at myelectricknifesharpener.com