I went camping near a river the other day, and realized that my trusty pocketknife was pretty dull. It made my camping experience not too fun. Is there any way to get a knife reasonably sharp without real tools (e.g. dedicated stone, or sharpening steel)? I'm in the wilderness, and don't have these tools with me, nor access to a store where I could buy them.
I saw a Youtube video on this a while back*....can't find it now, but I'll post whatever I remember.
Basically, the way knife-sharpening works is that you shave off little bits of metal, in order to make the edge of your knife V-shaped. Ideally, you'd use a steel or a specialized stone for this, but if you don't have any, here are some things you could use instead:
- Top of a car window
- Bottom of a ceramic mug (see also this article by Lifehacker)
- You might use cement, but only for about two seconds, and only in place of a really coarse stone (=for beginning stage sharpening)
- If you're camping, you might use a straight metal tent-peg in place of a steel (my suggestion, not from the video)
- If you're near a river, flat river stones might help you (but try to find a big one, for ease-of-use)
- Also suggested by Crazy Russian Hacker, if I remember correctly, is to use a leather belt as a strop, basically running the knife backwards over the leather belt, to give it a nicer finish. This may not help you if your knife is severely out of shape, but it could work to make an almost-good knife perfect. I've done this myself when I wanted to show my knife (pictured in my gravatar) to a professional shochet, and although I had my stones with me, I didn't have time to soak them and sharpen my knife properly. I just took off my belt, ran the knife over it several times, and the knife really improved a lot. Kudos to Jon for reminding me of this hack :)
I would suggest that you do NOT
- Use another knife, because you have a good chance of ruining at least one of your knives, if not both of them.
*IIRC, it's by a guy who calls himself "Crazy Russian Hacker," but I can't find that video now
You mentioned that you're near a river and have a pocket knife.
Go to the river and find a flat smooth stone.
Pour cooking oil or water on the stone for a lubricant. Oil is preferable but water works in a pinch.
Put the knife blade flat on the stone then raise it to a 10 to 15 degree angle.
Sharpen the first side of the blade by pushing the blade away from you along the stone with moderate pressure about 6-12 times.
Sharpen the other side of the blade.
Now sharpen both sides, one side each pass.