How To

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From Xplor: July/August 2019

A pocketknife is the perfect tool to cut rope, fillet a fish, or whittle a stick. But a dull knife is dangerous. You have to push harder to cut with a dull blade, and the knife is more likely to slip and slice your finger. Ouch! The good news is that it's easy to keep your knife sharp.

Heads Up!

Always get permission from an adult before using or sharpening a pocketknife.

Here’s what you need

Sharpening stone

You can find a sharpening stone — also called a whetstone — at most hardware stores. Look for a stone that has rough grit on one side and smooth grit on the other.

All-purpose oil

Heat can damage the blade of your knife. Applying oil to the sharpening stone reduces friction, which cuts down the heat you produce while sharpening your knife.

Here’s what you do

Run your finger over both sides of the sharpening stone. One side will feel rougher than the other. Lay the stone on a sturdy table with the rough side up.

  • Drizzle oil on the stone. There’s no need to drench it. A thin layer of oil will do.
  • Place the blade of your knife flat on the stone with the sharp edge pointing away from you. Raise the back of the knife (the unsharp edge) so that the blade forms a slight angle with the stone. For you mathematicians: Try to shoot for a 10- to 20-degree angle.
  • Keeping the angle constant, glide the knife away from you smoothly down the stone. Use light pressure and pretend that you’re trying to shave a thin layer off the stone. If your knife is longer than the stone’s width, sweep the knife sideways so that every bit of the blade, including the tip, gets sharpened in a single stroke.
  • Repeat the previous step five to 10 times, then flip the blade over and sharpen the other side using the same process.
  • Turn the sharpening stone over so that the smoother side is facing up. Add oil to the stone and repeat steps 3 to 5 to hone your knife to a razor’s edge.

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This Issue's Staff

Bonnie Chasteen
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Angie Daly Morfeld
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White