​How to Sharpen a Knife without a Sharpener When You Don't Have It

​How to Sharpen a Knife without a Sharpener When You Don't Have It

May 16th 2019

A dull blade is not only ineffective, but also highly dangerous. A proper sharpening and maintenance routine can keep your knives ready for action. However, there may be times when you don’t have a sharpener available to give your knife a razor’s edge. In these cases, it’s important to know how to sharpen a pocket knifewithout using a sharpener.

DIY Sharpeners from Everyday Items

If you are at home or out in the wild and you find yourself with a dull knife and no sharpener, there are plenty of everyday objects you can use to sharpen your blade. However, some of these items are unsuitable for custom knives.

man white shirt holding coffee mug

1. Coffee Mug

Perfect for sharpening your kitchen and pocket knives at home, a coffee mug is the easiest and quickest way to get a sharp edge on frequently used knives.

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Find a mug without a glazed bottom, as this method will not work if the ceramic is completely polished. Place the mug upside down on top of a table with a cloth underneath for stability.

Place the blade at a 10° angle and draw the length of the blade along the rough part of the mug in a single, smooth motion. Repeat the motion eight to 10 times before flipping the blade over and performing the motion on the other side.

Wipe down the blade and wash the mug when you are done to remove the swarf.

2. Car Window

If you ever find yourself in the car with limited resources and a dull survival knife, your car window is the perfect makeshift sharpener. Most of your car window is polished, but the edge of the window is often rough enough to be used as a sharpening rod.

Open your car window halfway and check if the edge is polished by running your finger along the top of the window.

Position your knife on the edge of the window with the blade facing away from you. Stroke toward the car interior several times and then flip the blade over. Drag the knife back toward you an equal number of times to achieve a consistent edge.

three nail file

3. Nail File

A nail file is the household item closest resembling a whetstone, and nail files often have a coarse and smooth side to help you refine your knife blade. However, unlike a whetstone, you can’t use any lubricant. Instead, you will need to clean the knife and the file after you have finished.

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Place the nail file on a stable, flat surface on top of a towel with the rough side facing up. Angle the knife blade at around 10°-15° and stroke the length of the blade along the file, away from your body. Repeat five to eight times and then sharpen the opposite side of the blade. Flip over the nail file so the fine grain side is facing up and hone each side of the blade another five to eight times.

4. Broken Glass Bottle

Ideal for campers in the wilderness without sharpening tools, broken glass bottles are, unfortunately, abundant along hiking trails and camping grounds. Take added precautions when handling broken glass, such as wrapping your non-sharpening hand in a cloth. You can also make a glass bottle sharpener at home for a cleaner bottle edge.

Hold the blade of the knife at a 10° angle to the bottle and stroke away from your body five to 10 times until you feel a small burr develop on the other side of the blade. Flip the blade over and repeat.

stylish leather belt

5. Leather Belt

A leather belt is a valuable tool even if you have a sharpening kit. It is ideal for keeping your blade honed between sharpening sessions, and it can be a great backup if you are stuck somewhere without your sharpener.

Lay the leather belt on a hard surface at a 10° angle with the blade facing towards you. Run the length of the blade along the belt, moving away from your body. Alternate the side of the blade with each stroke and continue for 10-15 minutes.

Hire a Professional

While these DIY sharpening methods are a suitable makeshift alternative to an authentic sharpener, using DIY sharpeners too often could damage your blades and reduce their edge retention. To achieve a long-lasting, razor-sharp edge, buy a quality sharpener or hire a professional.

There are many reasons why a pro should sharpen your knives. Pros have the tools to grind and hone any type of blade, achieve better results and can give you tips on how to maintain your knife between visits.

If you have a valuable knife collection that includes custom or Microtech knives,but your sharpening skills aren’t up to par, a professional can keep your collection in top condition and potentially improve their value.

If your knives are beyond help, you can find a wide range of custom knives on sale at eKnives. High-quality blades have better edge retention so you can spend less time worrying about sharpening your knives.

Buy High-Quality Knives and Custom Blades at eKnives

At eKnives, we carry the best range of knives that offer superior cutting action and edge retention. Explore our wide selection of knives on our online catalog or call us at (432) 525-9477 to inquire about custom blades or the eKnives loyalty program.