How to Sharpen a Knife Without a Sharpener: DIY Methods
Knives are an incredibly versatile and useful tool, but they can quickly become dull if not properly maintained. But what do you do when you don't have a sharpener on hand? In this blog post, we will discuss some tips and tricks to effectively sharpen their knives using common everyday household items.
Methods of sharpening your knives at home (with steps)
If you've ever experienced the frustration of cutting with a blunt knife, you know the importance of keeping your knives sharp. A sharp knife not only makes cutting easier, but it can also help prevent accidents. While some may think that professional knife sharpening services are necessary to achieve a sharp edge on dull knives, there are actually several methods you can use at home.
Using a Coffee Mug
Using a coffee cup to sharpen your kitchen knife might seem unconventional, but it’s actually a quick and effective method. Just make sure to clean the mug thoroughly before using it for coffee again!
The method: The coarse bottom of a ceramic coffee mug is abrasive enough to create a makeshift knife sharpening stone.
Step 1: Simply hold the ceramic mug upside down, with the bottom facing up.
Step 2: Drag the blade along the unglazed rim at a 20-degree angle.
Step 3: It’s important to apply light pressure and work in one direction only, as a back-and-forth motion can damage the blade.
Step 4: Repeat the process three to five times on both sides equally, and voila - a sharp knife ready for all your needs.
Using a Leather Belt
When it comes to sharpening your knife, using a leather strap or belt may seem like an unorthodox approach. However, it can be a highly effective method to make your knife razor sharp, if done correctly.
The method: The key is to use a good-quality leather belt and ensure that it's not too thin or too thick.
Step 1: Start by applying some honing oil or water to the belt and then holding your knife at a 20-degree angle against the leather.
Step 2: Apply pressure and draw the knife back towards you.
Step 3: Repeat this process several times on each side of the blade.
Step 4: As you continue, the leather belts will help to remove any microscopic burrs on the edge of the blade, leaving it sharp and polished.
Using a Sandpaper
Using sandpaper is one of the oldest and most effective ways to get your knives honed to a near-surgical sharpness without requiring you to purchase any extra tools.
The method: To sharpen successfully with sandpaper, start out at a lower grit paper and gradually increase to a coarser grit as more sharpness is needed. Make sure to track progress by regularly feeling along the length of the blade - once you achieve your desired edge, cease sanding and enjoy your razor sharp knife!
Step 1: Start by selecting the right sandpaper. Choose the grit depending on the dullness of your knife blade. A good starting point is 400 grit sandpaper for removing the nicks and 1000 grit to finish the process. Apply water onto the sandpaper to lubricate it. This will help the sandpaper remove metal particles and prevent it from clogging.
Step 2: Cover your worktable with a towel or newspaper to avoid creating a mess.
Step 3: Place the sandpaper on a flat surface and secure it with tape or clamps to prevent it from moving around during the sharpening process.
Step 4: Hold the knife at a 15-20 degree angle to the sandpaper with the blade's edge facing away from you. Start with the coarse grit sandpaper and move in one direction along the blade's edge. Repeat the process on the other side of the blade until the edge is sharp enough. Gradually move on to finer grit sandpaper until the knife edge is polished and razor sharp.
Using a Nail File
If you don’t have a sharpener at home, fear not - you can still achieve a sharpening steel a blade using nail files.
The method: It may sound strange, but using a nail file and with small back-and-forth motions, you can sharpen the edge of your knife.
Step 1: Choose a metal or diamond file as they are harder, and their grit is suitable for sharpening knives.
Step 2: Hold the knife at a 15-20 degree angle to the nail file with the blade’s edge facing away from you. Secure it with your non-dominant hand to prevent it from moving while sharpening.
Step 3: Start with the coarse side of the nail file, and move it down the blade’s edge from the base to the tip in one fluid motion. Repeat the process on the other side of the blade. Do this for about 5-10 times, or until you see a burr created on the opposite side of the blade.
Step 4: Once the burr is formed, flip the file to the finer side, and repeat the process on both sides of the entire blade until sharp. Lightly stroke the edges of the blade a couple of times to smoothen the newly sharpened blade.
Using a Nylon Strap
This sharpening technique works best with smaller blades, such as pocket knives or fillet knives. Make sure you clean the blade and remove any metal particles or dust after this process. Remember, while using nylon straps, ensure that it does not wear out or become too smooth.
The method: You can slide the blade across the strap, using only light pressure and alternating angles, but be sure to go in one direction only and keep your fingers away from the direction of the blade.
Step 1: Choose a relatively wide strap, and make sure that it is made of nylon and not any other material.
Step 2: Hold the strap taut between both hands, with one end grounded while the other end is held away from the body. You can secure the strap by sliding it between a hand-held object, like a cutting board or clamp it to a table edge.
Step 3: Hold the knife at a 20-degree angle to the strap with the blade’s edge facing downwards. Secure the knife with your non-dominant hand.
Step 4: Starting from the base to the tip, stroke the blade on the nylon strap diagonally. Repeat the process on the other side of the blade evenly until it is sharp enough. Make sure that you do it evenly on both sides of the blade.
Using a Cardboard
One simple and effective method to sharpen knives is using a piece of cardboard. Cardboard boxes are readily available and inexpensive material that can help you sharpen your knives quickly and easily.
The method: Cardboard fibres act much like those of honing steel and help realign the blade's edge. Grind along both sides simultaneously as you bring them towards each other in a sawing motion. Be warned that too much pressure can cause damage to your paring knife’s edge.
Step 1: Cut the cardboard into the shape of the blade. Using the rough side of the cardboard, the blade can be sharpened without removing too much metal or damaging the blade.
Step 2: Place the cardboard on a flat surface and hold it securely. Run the blade down the edge of the cardboard, moving it away from you in a sweeping motion. Repeat this process a few times and flip over the knife and repeat the process on the other side until the blade is sharp.
Step 3: Alternatively, you can also use the back of the cardboard to sharpen blade edge of the knife. The surface containing the corrugation lines of the cardboard is rougher than the finished side. Place the blade in the inverted position and repeat the process mentioned above.
Step 4: Rub the polished side of the cardboard with polishing compound, this will increase the abrasive capability of the cardboard. Then repeat the stropping process mentioned above to sharpen the blade to a mirror-like finish.
Using a Car Window
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to sharpen your knife, but you don't have access to a sharpening stone, there is one unlikely item you can use to get the job done- a car window. A car window has the perfect level of abrasiveness to help sharpen your blade. You should also remember that only ceramic blades will benefit from sharpening with a car window, so make sure to check that your knives are compatible before attempting.
The method: You can produce a sharp blade by scraping your knife against the clean edge of a side window in your car. It is important to thoroughly clean the window beforehand, as dirt particles can damage the cutting edge and dull your knife.
Step 1:Look for an unused car window. The side or rear window coverings made of grittier tempered glass make them ideal for sharpening.
Step 2: Spritz water onto the glass, use your hand or a sprayer bottle. The water will lubricate the surface and reduce the risk of the blade getting overheated.
Step 3: Hold the knife, blade downward, at a 20-degree angle against the edge of the glass. Move it along the edges from the handle to the tip in long strokes. Don't apply too much pressure or angle the blade too sharply. Repeat the process multiple times until the blade is sharp enough.
Step 4: Wipe the blade with a clean cloth to remove the dirt and metal dust after sharpening.
Spine of Another Knife
To start, lay the spine of another knife flat against the edge of your own knife and rub it back and forth in small increments. It helps to apply pressure to add friction and grind down the blade’s edge.
The method: You’ll want to hold both knives at a consistent angle—try to keep them between 20 and 30 degrees for optimal sharpness and rub back and forth.
Step 1: Start by using pocket knife and selecting another knife with a spine that has a straight and sharp edge. This other knife will be used as a sharpening tool.
Step 2: Hold the first knife that requires sharpening in your non-dominant hand by the handle. Hold the sharpening knife in your other hand with your fingers wrapped around the handle and your thumb placed on the spine.
Step 3: Hold the sharpening knife at a 20-degree angle to the blade with the spine facing the blade's edge. Place the spine of the sharpening, without a knife sharpener on the blade of the knife you want to sharpen.
Step 4: Starting from the base to the tip of dull knife, stroke the blade on the spine of the sharpening knife diagonally. Repeat the process on the other side of the blade until it is sharp enough. Make sure that you do it evenly on both sides of the blade.
Using a Slate/River Stone
Starting from the base to the tip, stroke the blade diagonally on the stone. Make sure to maintain the blade's angle and apply even pressure. Repeat this process on the other side of the blade until it is sharp enough. During wilderness you can also sharp your hunting knife using a stone.
The method: Moisten the stone with water and run your knife back and forth in one direction along its length while maintaining the proper angle of the blade away from the stone.
Step 1: Choose a slate or river stone that is flat and has a fine to medium grit.
Step 2: Soak the stone in water for about 10 minutes before using it. This will help keep the dust down and prevent the blade from overheating.
Step 3: Hold the knife at a 20-degree angle to the stone with the blade's edge facing downwards. Secure the knife with your non-dominant hand. Now stoke diagonally maintaining the same angle throughout.
Step 4: After sharpening the blade, wipe it down with a clean, damp cloth to remove any metal particles or dust left behind.
Using a Concrete
Working on a concrete surface is an effective way to sharpen up blunt blades in no time, as the density of the surface makes it ideal for quick results.
The method: Using small strokes and repeated motion against the material you can sharpen the knife. However, ensure that the concrete you use is not too abrasive.
Step 1: Ensure that the concrete surface you're working on is flat, dry and clean.
Step 2: Using small strokes, start off at one corner of the knife and work along it towards the other side.
Step 3: Remember to repeat your motions steadily for multiple times.
Step 4: With an appropriate surface and patience, you can sharpen knives using concrete without much ado.
Using a Flat Rock
Sharpening a knife(whether it a bowie knife or any other) using a flat rock and some finesse is a traditional knife sharpening method that can be just as effective as modern sharpeners.
The method: A flat stone with medium abrasive can act as the perfect sharpening tool if you stoke your knife against it at the proper angle repeatedly.
Step 1: Select a flat rock with a fine to medium grit. Wet the rock with water before using it to sharpen the blade.
Step 2: Hold the knife at a 20-degree angle to the rock with the blade's edge facing downwards. Secure the knife with your non-dominant hand.
Step 3: Starting from the base to the tip, stroke the blade diagonally on the rock. Maintain the blade's angle and apply even pressure. Repeat the process on the other side of the blade.
Step 4: Wipe down the blade with a clean cloth or towel to remove any metal particles or debris.
Using a broken glass bottle
A broken bottle is an emergency sharpening method and not a long-term knife sharpening process or solution. Additionally, sharpening knives with broken glass requires a great deal of caution and care to prevent any injury or damage.
The method: If you are in a survival situation and don't have access to any sharpening equipment, a broken glass bottle can work as an emergency knife sharpener. Here's how:
Step 1: Look for a glass bottle with sharp edges and broken shards. Make sure the glass is clean, and only use a broken edge that is relatively flat and free of chips.
Step 2: Hold the bottle at a 20-degree angle with the sharp edge facing up.
Step 3: Starting from the base to the tip, run the blade smoothly on the edge of the broken glass. Be very careful when doing this as the edge of the glass can be sharp enough to cut you. Repeat the process on the other side of the blade until it becomes sharp enough.
Step 4: After sharpening the blade, make sure to clean it with a clean, damp cloth to remove any metal particles or debris.
Over time, even the best knife can become a dull blade, and less effective. The good news is that you don’t need to buy a sharpener or learn professional techniques in order to sharpen your own knives—it’s possible to do it with basic items found right in your home! With a little bit of creativity and patience, you can use items found around your home to sharpen your knives effectively. Just remember always to prioritise safety, use caution when sharpening your knives, and test the sharpness of the blade frequently.