How To Sharpen A Pocket Knife – The Easy Way


Using a pocket knife with a dull blade is the same as using a gun without any bullets! This is why you have to know how to sharpen a pocket knife after using it for some time because they are a crucial part of camping gear. Fortunately, modern knives are usually technologically developed enough so they require less sharpening. 

Sharpening a pocket knife is actually an easy task. But, you have to follow specific steps to avoid damaging and dulling the knife further. In this article, we will show you how to safely and easily sharpen a pocket knife. 

How to Sharpen a Pocket Knife – Guide 

We need to make it clear that there are a lot of ways you can sharpen a pocket knife. Different tools and techniques are used and all of them usually give similar results. We will try to show you how to sharpen a pocket knife easily. This technique is good for beginners and for those who are looking for something basic. The most important thing is that this method works. 

Before you start sharpening a pocket knife consider what you are going to use it for. There are different methods of sharpening for cooking, whittling, cutting, etc. Your pocket knife doesn’t have to be as sharp as an expensive chef knife, so there’s no need to use expensive sharpeners for it. 

Tools You Need

  • A sharpening stone. We already mentioned that people developed different techniques for sharpening different types of knives. The same goes for sharpening stones – there is a huge variety. Stones with different grades of grit, stones with diamond encrusted surfaces, and Japanese water stones are among the most popular. All of these have different functions, so consider that when choosing the right one for you. You can always try out a couple of different types to find the one that gives you the best results. Obviously, avoid using cheaper sharpening stones if you need to sharpen high-quality knives, such as camping knives or fishing knives. Still, there’s no need to waste a lot of money if you’re just starting with a sharpening pocket knife. 

Stones usually cost about $10 and you can find them at most hardware stores. They usually have a fine grit and a rough grit side. There’s one general rule of thumb – the finer the grit the sharper the blade will get. This is why you usually need to use the finer grit only when you are finishing the sharpening. 

  • Lubricant. Using lubricant is not obligatory but most sharpening experts recommend it. Like stones, lubricants also come in lots of different varieties. Oil and water-based lubricants are the most popular, but when it comes to sharpening a pocket knife, mineral oil lubricants prevail. There’s a lot of friction when you’re sharpening a knife, and lubricant helps to reduce the heat from it. You can accidentally bend your knife permanently if you’re not using a lubricant. Also, it helps to clear out the swarf, or debris, that is created due to the friction. Most hardware stores sell lubricants for about $5. 

Still, a lubricant is recommended, but not essential if you’re using a basic stone. So, don’t stop yourself from sharpening your knife if you’re in the wilderness just because you don’t have it with you. 


  • Use the rough grit first. Always start with the rough side of your knife is really dull. You should be able to recognize which is the rough grit size, even just by looking at the stone. Of course, you can always test the surface with your thumbnail. Just scratch the grit sides gently and you should be able to differentiate them. Finer grits usually have fewer pores than rough ones. So, you can also test the surface with water. Just wash the stone and wait for the sides to drink the water up. The rougher side will always drink it up first. 
  • Stone preparation. Use the lubricant if you have one with you. Don’t be afraid to use a sufficient amount of the product all over the surface of the stone. Of course, there’s no need to use the whole bottle, but don’t be stingy either. 
  • Lay the knife flat and raise it to a 15-degree angle. Maintaining a constant angle is crucial when sharpening a pocket knife. But, you will need to find the right angle for every single knife you want to sharpen. About 10-15 degree angle is usually pretty good when it comes to pocket knives. This angle is optimal for a knife that you use for your daily tasks. Go with a sharper angle and you will have a knife that’s too sharp which is something you might want to avoid with pocked knives. It takes a lot of practice to keep a constant angle by hand. So, to learn how to sharpen a pocket knife, focus on this step. 
  • Start with the first side. You will be ready to start sharpening once the blade is set at the correct angle. Think about the surface of the stone and imagine you’re carving off a slim piece of it. Some people push the blade into the stone and others pull away from it. The important thing is that both techniques work, you just need to try out both to see which one fits you better. Try making a few light strokes to be sure you are comfortable with the grip and the stone. You will need to sweep the blade sideways if it is longer than the stone or if it is curved. Sharpening the entire edge evenly is the main goal. There’s no need for a lot of pressure but you have to apply some to control the friction. Repeat the same stroke up to 15 times. 
  • The other side of the blade. Once you are done with one side you just need to repeat the same process all over again, just on the other side. Flip the blade and start stroking. You may test it by gently touching the sharp side of the blade, but be careful not to cut yourself. If you’re not sure that the blade is sharpened well, flip it again to the side you sharpened first and repeat the strokes. Do this 2-3 times until you are sure that the blade is sharp enough. 
  • Simultaneous strokes. Make a couple of alternating strokes, flipping the knife each time after a stroke. This will even the blade and reduce the risk of it getting bent. Repeat the process for about 5-6 strokes. 
  • Fine grit. Use the fine grit once you are sure that the knife is sharp enough. Using fine grit is an important step when learning how to sharpen a pocket knife. The idea is the same – make strokes over the surface to make friction. But, you need to put less pressure and make the strokes lighter and gentler. 

Your knife should be sharpened properly and ready for use once you’re done with the fine grit.



Q: What is the best knife sharpening method?


Although there are many different techniques and methods for sharpening pocket knife, using the knife sharpener is still the number one. It is also the easiest to do it with a knife sharpener for numerous reasons. Traditional methods are still useful, but not as effective.

Q: How do you sharpen a knife without a sharpening stone?


Sharpening a knife without a stone or a knife sharpener is dangerous, so be careful not to get hurt. Still, if you’re in need, you can use a porcelain plate or a mug to get your knife a bit sharper. Turn the plate upside down and make strokes at the bottom side.

Q: Do you sharpen both sides of a knife?


Yes, you need to sharpen both sides of a knife to achieve the best results. On the other hand, if you don’t sharpen both sides you may not get the optimal sharpening effect. Also, you will be risking bending the cutting surface of the blade, damaging your knife permanently.

Q: Can you sharpen a knife with sandpaper?


Yes, it is possible to sharpen a knife with sandpaper. In fact, it is recommended to learn how to sharpen a pocket knife with sandpaper before you try doing it with a knife sharpener. Hold the blade at a 22-degree angle and make gentle strokes over the sandpaper. Apply mild pressure and push the knife away from you.

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Having a sharp pocket knife is necessary for a couple of reasons, such as safer cuts, easier, and faster cutting. It is actually a very easy process that requires just a little bit of effort and time. Keep in mind that no matter if you’re using a sharpening stone, knife sharpener, or sandpaper, safety comes first. Don’t apply too much pressure and make sure you push the knife blade away from you to avoid accidental cuts. 

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!