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What Is The Best Way To Sharpen A Hunting Knife?

Hunting knives are a tool that has to be cared for and maintained appropriately in order to remain in good condition and usable. A well-sharpened hunting knife will get a job done fast and efficiently, but it needs to be sharpened on a regular basis.

To sharpen a hunting knife, you need a sharpening stone and a honing steel, the latter of which is quite easy to make at home. Once you have your honing steel, it’s simply a matter of working your way through the knives in your collection.

You can decide to sharpen each knife to a specific angle, or just sharpen it back to its original sharpness. The choice is yours.

What’s more, if you’re not happy with how the blade looks after being sharpened, you can always go over it again using an oilstone.

Beginner’s tips for sharpening hunting knife

Hunting knives are one of the most essential tools used by outdoor enthusiasts. But if you’re worried you’ll lose your edge or that you’re not using it right, then don’t be!

Here are some tips on how to use and maintain your hunting knife so you can get the most out of it. Firstly though, let’s take a look at what makes up a hunting knife:

  • The handle

This part holds everything together; from the grip down to the tip. It should feel comfortable when holding the knife, as this means you won’t drop it easily.

You also want something that feels sturdy enough to withstand heavy usage. If you find yourself dropping your knife often, consider investing in a better quality handle.

  • Blade length

Hunting knives come in different lengths, ranging anywhere between 6 inches and over 30 inches. The longer the knife is, the more versatile it will be for a variety of tasks. A good hunting knife should have an overall balance and weight that feels comfortable to you when using it.

It shouldn’t feel like a brick or too light either. You want something with just enough heft so that your hand doesn’t tire out while cutting through thick branches or skinning animals.

Next time you’re shopping around for a new hunting knife, keep these things in mind.

  • Handle material

There are two main types of handles available today: wood and plastic. Wood handles tend to hold their shape much better than those made of plastic.

They also provide a great deal of comfort during long periods of work. However, they do require maintenance such as cleaning regularly.

Plastic handles last longer and are easier to clean. Some people prefer them because they’re lighter and less bulky.

Hunting knife sharpening process

Knife sharpening can be a tricky process. Here are a few tips to make it easier for you.

The first thing that comes into mind when we think about knife sharpening is the idea of using an abrasive stone, like sandpaper or emery paper. While this method works well in some cases, there are many situations where it doesn’t work as expected and may even damage your knives.

In fact, if you use too much pressure on the blade while trying to sharpen it with sandpapers, you will end up damaging the edge of the blade.

In order for a knife to be properly sharpened, you need to understand how blades actually get their shape. The process starts by heating the steel until it becomes soft enough so that it can bend easily.

This allows us to create our desired profile. Afterward, we cool down the metal and harden it again. When we do this, we have created a very strong yet flexible material which has been shaped according to our needs.

Know the angle of your blade to properly sharpen the knife

Knife sharpening is an important part of any hunting trip.  It is necessary to know the angle of your blade to properly sharpen the knife.

To find the angle of your blade to properly sharpen the knife, hold it at a 20-degree angle to the stone. This should be the angle between the blade on your knife and the stone.

Equipment required before you sharpen hunting knife

  • Soft cleaning cloth

The beauty of keeping your knife clean is that you can use it again and again, so long as you maintain the right kind of care. Keeping your knife clean is very easy, and it shouldn’t take long to become an expert and start curing your own blisters.

The most common way for this to happen is with a cleaning cloth.

  • Pocket sharpener

Pocket knife sharpeners are ideal for use in a variety of situations. If you are in the bush, you can use it to sharpen your hunting knife.

You can find a pocket sharpener for your hunting knife in the same location you purchased it. It is also available in many sporting goods stores.

Use a whetstones to sharpen your hunting knife 

Hunting knives have a reputation for being dull, but the truth is that a sharp knife is much safer to use. Why? Because it prevents you from cutting yourself, and in the case of a hunting knife, it gives you better control of a larger blade.

Whether you’re using a chisel, a sandstone, or a whetstone, the aim is the same: you’re going to use it to create small, but precise, scratches on the blade, from the point of the knife, to the very edge.

This will help sharpen the blade and make it easier to cut through animal’s flesh, which will ultimately result in a better performance on the hunt.

Types of Whetstones:

  • Diamond stone – diamond whetstones

The diamond stone for sharpening your hunting knife is a coarse stone that can be used with water to sharpen your knife. It can be used for resharpening or for creating a new edge.

  • Oil stone

If you need an oil stone for sharpening your hunting knife there are a few things to consider like the grade of the stone and the grit.

  • Finer grindstone

A finer grindstone is perfect for the final sharpening of your hunting knife. A finer grindstone produces a very sharp edge and is a smooth stone. It is also the final step to finishing your hunting knife.

  • Coarse grit diamond stone

The “coarse grit” for knife sharpening is the first step in the sharpening process. You can use a coarse-grit stone to remove chips, dents, and other imperfections from the blade of a knife that will not be visible after you’ve sharpened it.

Coarse grit diamond stones are used for sharpening your hunting knife when the blade has become chipped or deformed from hard use.

  • India Stone

A India stone is a stone that is capable of sharpening your hunting knife. This stone is commonly used to sharpen hunting knives; its abrasive quality makes it effective for sharpening knives over a period of time.

  • Ceramic stones – ceramic whetstones

Ceramic whetstones are best for sharpening your hunting knife as they are capable of holding their sharpness for an extremely long time.

  • Diamond sharpening stone

A diamond sharpening stone is used for any kind of knife blade, including survival knives. Diamond sharpening stones will help you achieve the sharpest edge on your blade.

  • Japanese water stones

The two most popular stones for Japanese knives are a synthetic stone called the Shapton and the famous Japanese water stone. The Shapton is a great stone for beginner and intermediate sharpening.

In contrast, Japanese water stones are unique. They are the only true sharpening stones currently on the market. With the combination of the Shapton, you will have a very easy time sharpening any knife you want.

Use the right grit for sharp edges

It is recommended that you use a fine-grit stone to achieve a razor sharp. You may also need to affix a fine-grit or ultra-fine-grit stone to a stick to make it easier to sharpen the blade.

You can do this by using several simple methods.

  • Finer grit

There are different kinds of hunting knives with different levels of sharpness for different purposes. You should have a set of knives with finer grit for skinning and a set of knives with a coarser grit for cutting bigger objects like the bones.

Finer grit is usually the last grit in a series of fine grits, with coarser grits on either side. Finer grits are the most common.

  • Medium grit

Medium grit is between coarse and fine knife sharpening. It is much closer to fine than coarse and is used to reshape edges and remove deeper scratches from the previous grit.

  • Extra-fine grit stone 

Extra-fine grit stones are used to sharpen and hone the edge of a knife by making sure the blade is smooth and sharp when you use it.

The stone should be as hard as possible, but not so hard that it will damage your skin or clothing if accidentally dropped on them.

The ideal hardness for an abrasive surface is between 60-80 Rc. If you have access to a diamond wheel this can also be used to polish knives.

Abrasive surfaces like sandpaper work well too, although they tend to wear out quickly.


In conclusion, there’s no one perfect way to sharpen a knife. There are many ways to get good results depending on what type of knife you’re working on. 

Carl Slay

Carl Slay

I have a fascination with the blade. Ma being a Chef and Pa owning a steel plant, it was inevitable some would say. From Chef knifes to Butterfly knives, to machete's - I know my blade! TheKnifeGuide was started as a means to serve enthusiasts like me in learning vital information. Whether it is for survival when indulging in the great outdoors or for your culinary needs, you've come to the right place!

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