Introduction: DIY Knife Sharpening Kit

Most knife sharpening kits that you can buy can damage or scratch your knife. The professionals always recommend using a set of sharpening stones, such as Arkansas stones, wetstones, or waterstones. However these stones often run $40+ and even more for a good sized one. These stones also have the problem of developing a "bowl" shape after repeated use, which in turn requires you to buy another stone - a flattening stone. As you can guess, buying these variety of stones becomes extremely expensive.
The knife sharpening kit that I made is capable of making a knife sharp enough to shave with, utilizes easily obtainable parts, and never goes bad or develops "bowl"-ing problems. Some quick repair/maintenance and the knife sharpening kit is as good as new, with minimal costs.

Step 1: Materials

So the basic idea behind this, is that you will be attaching sandpaper onto bathroom tiles, in order to create DIY sharpening stones. Simple, and it works. The best part is, that you can replace the sandpaper whenever they get old, really easily.

Materials Needed:
Container of Acetone ~ $10?
Spray Adhesive - $10
A variety of high grit sandpaper - $3/(pack of 5 sheets) * 5 packs = $15
cotton cloths (or cut up an old t-shirt) - Free
rubber bumpers (optional) - $3
smooth bathroom tiles -  $0.80/tile *5 = $4

The high grit sandpaper  can be found at automotive stores, or in the automotive section at Walmart. For those that done know, the higher the grit number, the finer sanding. You'll want 800, 1000, and 2000 grit sand paper at least. 200-400 grit sand paper would be used for a really dull, dinged up, and damaged knife that you want to remove nicks from. Though at 200 grit, you may as well use a dremel with grinding bit. While 2000 grit sand paper will give you a knife that you can shave hairs off with, if you are sharpening a straight razor and actually plan to shave with your blade, you may need to order higher grit sandpaper (4000 grit).

You'll want as large (long) of these sand paper sheets that you can find, and then get the smoothest bathroom tiles that you can find, that will fit these sheets of sandpaper. The sandpaper sheets that I found were 3.5" x 9" and the tiles I found were 4" x 8".

Everything else on the list can be found at a Lowes/Home Depot. The cotton cloths can be found in the painting section there.

Step 2: Prep/Cleaning

So you'll want to do this in a relatively clean area, with no wind. I chose to use my bathroom as it seemed like the best place. Though, word of caution - don't stay in an enclosed area with and open container of acetone for very long, and turn on a vent as soon as you attach the sandpaper sheets.

First, get your cloth rag and put a little bit of acetone on it, and clean the bathroom tiles. You want to make them clean, and free of any fuzzies. Give them a few minutes for the acetone to flash off of the tiles.

Step 3: Attach Sandpaper

Setup an area where you can spray the adhesive. Spray both the bathroom tile, and the back of the sandpaper sheet, and attach them. After messing around with this sharpening kit for a while, I found that I preferred the sand paper to be on the edge of the tile, as shown in the third picture, but you may just have to try it to find out what you like best.

After you have attached the sandpaper to the tile, quickly get your cotton with acetone on it and remove the spray adhesive from the rest of the tile.

Then place something over it that wont attach to spray adhesive or would be easily removed (wax paper, plastic, etc) and put a large flat weight on it to compress the sandpaper sheet onto the tile, and let it sit and cure. I used a sheet of plastic from a package of computer paper, placed a book on top of it, and then put on 20 lbs from a weight set on top of it.

Rinse and repeat for each set of sandpaper that you use. Use a sharpie to label each tile. Remember, when you are sharpening there will be water on these, so you don't want to have to turn them over to see which sharpening tile you are using.

Let the spray adhesive cure for an hour or two before you start using these sharpening tiles to sharpen your knives.

Step 4: Results/Conclusions/Suggestions

I recommend putting some of those little rubber bumpers on the bottom of these tiles, so that you can stack the tiles without worrying about damaging the sandpaper sheets. It also has the added benefit of making it easier to sharpen your knives without the sharpening tile moving.

As I mentioned before, while trying out this sharpening kit, I found it more convenient to have the sand paper flush with the edge of the tiles, and to have the excess sand paper cut off from the tiles.

If the sandpaper ever becomes damaged or old, its easy to replace. Just peel the sand paper off and remove the adhesive using the cotton cloth and acetone. The spray adhesive seems to be acetone-soluble.

After you've sharpened your blade using the 2000 grit, you feel that it is still not sharp enough - you could get some higher grit sandpaper, or you could lap the the blade a few times using an old belt, or and old pair of blue jeans. Just cut up some blue jeans and lap the blade like you would see a barber do with a straight razor.

Important: recommended sharpening method
So I used this sharpening kit to sharpen my kitchen knife set, and learned somethings doing so. If you don't know how to sharpen a knife using a sharpening stone / whetstone, etc watch some YouTube videos on how to do so. When you are sharpening using this kit, you only want to PULL the knife back as you sharpen it - as in don't push the knife, sharp edge first, forward to sharpen it. This will prevent damage to the sand paper, and extend its life.

Use water as a lubricant. Sharpening stones often required you to use some kind of oil or soapy material, sometimes water. Since the sand paper is wet or dry type, just use water - that's what it was made for.

Final Thoughts:
So I've used this sharpening kit to sharpen all of my kitchen knives, my pocket knife, and a bayonet and have been very pleased with the results. After sharpening 75% of those items, I had to change the sand paper on the 800, 1000, and 2000 grit, because they received some damage while I was learning the above recommend sharpening techniques. Btw, the 800, 1000, and 2000 will be your most used grits/tiles. Anything less than that is more used for major repair.

Remember - be careful with sharp objects! Don't cut yourself. I'm not responsible for any damage to yourself, others, creatures, or objects.

Comments

author
BradO12 (author)2016-05-06

Great idea. I've been using sandpaper to sharpen chisels. I attach the sandpaper to a large sheet of glass (flat surface) and that works great. But this method doesn't work well for kitchen knives because the bolster or heel of a chef's knife prohibits sharpening the blade at the base. By raising the sandpaper away from the work surface using a tile you eliminate this problem. Great suggestion; I'll be using it the next time I sharpen my knives.

author
violetsmuse (author)2016-03-22

As a single lady I was at a loss as to how to sharpen my knives, then I found you!

You're my "hero of the day"!

Thank you,

Violet

author
treesteward (author)2015-03-10

Love this idea! What do you think of attaching oak to a very flat piece of large glass, and then attaching the different sanding papers to that?

author
wizarduss (author)2013-03-13

You should always sharpen a knife by pulling it, moving it AWAY from the sharp edge. This is because most knives dont get blunt by actually losing sharpness, but because the edge will get bent. Most tools to sharpen knives focus on getting that edge straight again, if you have proper knives they should last you a year (at exessive use, ie. restaurant kitchen or something) before you have to sand them down to resharpen the edge.

author
legamin (author)wizarduss2014-03-23

professional kitchen knives are most often now made of the rather soft stainless. These you would pull from the edge. (Also safer kitchen practice). But a hardened-tempered blade of around 60 hardness test should always be pulled towards the edge and never away when sharpening. Then opposite when stropping (so you don't damage your strop). Check your sharpening guides, you will find this correct.

author
legamin (author)2014-03-23

anal Bob, here... I LOVE your kit! But would start at 1000 paper and finish after five steps of 1000-2000-4000-8000-5 micron for dull blades and stay on the micron papers reducing gradual size until friction is not felt when sharpening razor type blades. I suppose, as a tile setter, I would recommend cut and edge sanded pieces of thick plate glass (mounted sturdily on flat wood) as most DIY store tiles are woefully uneven in the surface flatness and the graininess of the glaze finish. My knife blades must be perfect. So must the surface that I sharpen them against.

author
zippetydooda (author)2013-03-31

Now this is one clever idea. Congrats on a great Instructable!!

author
Dbro395 (author)2013-03-17

That's a really cool idea I never thought of doing that thanks man.

author
bruce5000 (author)2013-03-16

good information here ,,check messages

author
blaze.ninja42.0 (author)2013-03-14

yes, and the fold of metal your taking off can fold over the egde and make it seem not sharp

author
joen (author)2013-03-12

Great instructable! This is definitely on my to-do list. One thing, when I need some little rubber bumpers as you call them, instead of buying them I use a dab of hot glue. When you put a dab down it self sticks (obviously) and spreads out to form a nice round rubbery cushion. It also resists sliding on almost any surface. I couldn't see if this instructable is entered in a contest. I would like to vote for it.

author
Quad89 (author)joen2013-03-12

Good idea with the hot glue gun, unfortunately I don't have one. I could see there being a potential problem with inconsistent glue blob sizes though, which might lead to an uneven or wobbly tile. I haven't entered into any contest. I looked through some of the ones going on and didn't really see anything too applicable. If you have a contest in mind, I'll enter it.

author
nanosec12 (author)2013-03-12

this is a great instructible, and a good set of instructions if you want to DIY...
However, for less than you spent on supplies you can buy a professional sharpening setup from various online retailers or your local big box store. I use a smith's kit that I picked up from a big box store for about $20. It only has 3 grades, but one of them is an ultra-fine diamond stone.

just my thoughts

author
Quad89 (author)nanosec122013-03-12

I've used a Lansky kit in the past - essentially the same as the Smith's. The problem I had with it, is that the clamp used to hold your knife can often scratch the finish on the blade, but you're right it is a cheaper option. I more or less wanted a set of sharpening stones without having to pay the crazy cost of $40+ per stone.

author
stubbsonic (author)2013-03-12

I've used sandpaper to sharpen my knives for years now. That's a good selection of sandpapers for this purpose. At first, I fastened the sandpaper to flat surfaces, but now I just put the sand paper on the edge of a flat table. A knife with no edge takes some work. I use 600 grit to get the edge shape. 1200 to smooth it more. 2000 for a great finish. Once I get a good edge, only requires the occasional touch up with 2000 grit. I also learned that you can use corrugated cardboard to strop a blade though it takes a little more time. "Anything that can make a knife dull can make it sharp." --kinda makes sense.

author
Quad89 (author)stubbsonic2013-03-12

Thanks for your comment. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only crazy SOB doing this. What kind of flat surfaces did you use and how did you fix the sandpaper?

author
l8nite (author)2013-03-10

The back of the tile would make a great hone just like the bottom of most coffee or tea cups. This is a good idea for occasional use but if you really care about your knives a decent stone is well worth the expense but they can often be found at yard sales or flea markets as well. Several of my stones were once my grandfathers so they tend to last a while

author
Morte_Moya (author)l8nite2013-03-11

I will second that. One of my stones was my great grandfathers. I have only ever bought one stone. All the rest are family stones. In fact my best ones are the oldest ones.

author
Quad89 (author)l8nite2013-03-11

Yeah, I would like to get a nice stone set, but you know - poor college students and all that. I haven't had much luck finding a second hand sharpening stone that was worth buying, but I'm always on the lookout. The sharpening kit that I grew up using was my dad's lansky kit, and I always found the results disappointing.

author
russ_hensel (author)2013-03-11

Good idea, using tile is new to me, sometimes this is done on plate glass. ( plate glass is very flat ) You should note the paper should be "wet or dry" type. This is sometimes know as scary sharp method. Google it for more info.

author
Quad89 (author)russ_hensel2013-03-11

You know, I've heard of people using (or talking about using) high grit sand paper to sharpen their knives, but I could never find a case where someone had described how, or shown how they did it. I actually wanted to use glass instead due to the flatness and smoothness, but I was worried about the fragile aspect of it. I couldn't find thick enough glass at lowes/homedepot where I wouldn't be worried about it shattering. Plus tiles come in convenient, pre-cut sizes.

author
sunshiine (author)2013-03-11

Thanks for sharing your hard work! Have a splendorous day!
sunshiine

author
abottoms (author)2013-03-10

this is an awesome idea, thanks

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