Step 4: Caring for a Knife

As with every relationship of give and take, a knife can take care of you, only if you take care of it. The two basic needs of caring for a knife are cleanliness, and sharpening. This does not mean that a knife needs to be sharpened after every use or that a knife cannot get dirty. 

Keeping a knife clean may sound simple enough in theory, but that depends entirely on what kind of knife it is, what it gets used for, its age, or any number of things. When cleaning a knife, avoid fully submerging it in water. Water can get into places that can't be reached easily and begin to form rust. Also if the knife has a wooden handle, or wooden inlays, the wood could swell and warp if it soaks for too long. A soft cloth or a stiff brush with soap and water should be enough for most cleaning. If a knife is beginning to develop rust, a chemical cleaner or light abrasive like steel wool may be in order. Always avoid things like sandpaper or wire brushes, as they could scratch the surface of a blade and create stress points or give rust a place to begin forming. A clean polished surface will be more resistant to corrosion, and make the entire length of steel stronger overall.

Sharpening a knife can take a bit of practice, although there are products that do make easier work of it. Many companies produce stones set at predetermined angles so the blade only needs to be run between them. That is the easy way, but many people still use flat sharpening stones, both for their availability, and the control they offer. If you want to sharpen a knife on a whet stone, the key thing to remember is patience. A basic rundown of sharpening goes as follows. 

Most whetstones will come in sets of two, featuring a rough stone, and a fine stone. The rough stone is used primarily to set the angle of the blade, as well as work out any nicks or chips in the edge. This is the stone to use first. Apply a lubricant to the surface, this can be water but mineral oil is a very popular choice, and set the flat of the blade at a 10 to 15 degree angle. Some kits will come with a plastic wedge to help guide the angle, but it isn't a requirement. The idea of keeping it in that zone will allow the blade to still be sharp and preform as needed, without the angle being so fine that it becomes more likely to chip or break. Patience is key. Try to make steady, consistent strokes, moving the entire length of the blade over the stone with the edge leading and grinding down towards the body of the blade. This makes it less likely to warp or roll the "truth" of the blade, being how consistent and straight the cutting edge is. After the edge is satisfactory, use the finer stone in much the same way. The difference isn't so much that the finer stone will put a finer edge on the knife, but rather will polish the section ground down by the rougher stone. This will remove small scratches and fissures in the knife surface that would develop into stress points, and harbor moisture for rust and corrosion.
Are you a Gerber Fan! you should move over to Leatherman multitools they are very high quality and better. <br>
Have 3 Leatherman tools, just sent 2 back after over 15 years daily use. They replaced the smaller with a newer model, and replaced all the blades in the handle of the Super-had my name engraved on the sides. Leatherman was first, is still top, and all the others are copies. My opinion, but I have several others to compare with. :~)
Hey I asked my dad for a Leatherman on my birthday a year back, because I've been jealous of his for like 14 years. XD He got me the Gerber and its been suiting me well, but I keep entering contests on here.
Yea but I think Leathermans are better made. but anyways lol
Well one day I may win one lol. But until then, it suits me just fine.
just get one off ebay. im gettting a leatherman wave black oxide for $110 when it costs at least $270 in store. huge saving
Hey here in Ontario i can get a wave for $75.00
yeah thats cool but i live in aussie so some things might cost more. and leatherman might be richer in your country
Yea if you want I may be able to hook you up
My high school has a policey that lets you carry a knife as long as the blade is under three inches long. I always carry one.
I forget how things have changed. I've been carrying a pocket knife since I was 6 years old, and never thought about it. Of course, that first one was so I could cut the proper switch, but that seems to be out of favor these days, too. haha Arkansas has a 3 inch 'concealed carry' law for knives, but worn on the belt is ok for longer. Never without at Least 2 knives, plus Leatherman. Feel naked, and everybody knows who to ask to cut whatever, haha. Sorry you guys get the short end of things. :~(
Wow..... My college was like that, but not highschool. I still carry one today and Idk how many times it has come in handy.
no way! my high school wouldn't allow that, since they know someone would be stabbed. <br>
Here's a fun fact about survival knives: Swiss Army knives (real ones) have red plastic sides, or &quot;scales&quot;. These are made from cellulose plastic. Old school, right? Well, there is a good reason for that material choice! Wen stranded at night, snap off the scale and light it with a lighter or other source of flame and it will burn with a BRIGHT ORANGE FLAME! That's right: it an emergency flare... Cool huh?
Nice article with some straight dope. I would add some things: after sharpening with a fine stone, I always strop my edges. This means polishing with a polishing compound on some hard leather. I glue the leather ( a nice thick piece of an old belt would do if its pretty smooth) onto a block of wood for support, smear some polishing compound (I actually use stropping powder) and then slide the knife, away from the edge, with lots of pressure, to polish the honed edge. This will keep your knives sharp about 4 times longer at least, barring stupid moves like cutting on a plate or concrete.
also there are alot of fake damascus blades to be carefull of if the cheap is probably just painted <br>
i have that knife on the bottom
and it is spring loaded which is nice to have
no no no dude gerber is way better they have the niceest saws and i also like my mac mutli tool it has a flash light it is so bright by the way i didt pay for any of them lol

About This Instructable




Bio: Oh wow a lot can change in three years. can't say I forgot about this place but got pushed away from it a little.
More by ElusiveGreen:Upcycled Innertube Watchband Know your knife: a Survivor's best friend Orange Julius: Summer in a Glass 
Add instructable to: