How to Sharpen a Pocket Knife Using a WhetStone and Leather Strop

RON HAZELTON: You know, whether you’re making a wooden carving or you simply want to cut a piece of string, having a good sharp edge on your pocket knife will simply make the tool work better.  And who better to show us how to sharpen a pocket knife than world class bird carver, Rich Smoker.  Rich, what’s your technique?

RICH SMOKER: I’d be glad to show you Ron.  I use a tri-stone method with coarse, medium and fine stones.  First thing I do is I take the honing oil, you can use cooking oil at home, it’s for the same thing and this is what we do. 

RON HAZELTON: Beginning with the coarse stone, Rich strokes the blade several times in each direction.  He adds oil every time he changes the stone.  Rich, how much pressure are you using here?

RICH SMOKER: I’m pushing down on this as if to cut a piece of the stone off with each swipe of the knife.

RON HAZELTON: That’s quite a bit of pressure.

RICH SMOKER: Definitely, it’s the only way you can work the steel down.

RON HAZELTON: Now how do you know you’re holding the blade at the right angle?

RICH SMOKER: What I do is I match the bevel, like the pocket knife and on my push stroke, I’m angling with my thumb and on the pull stroke, I’m using my index finger to match the bevel. 

RON HAZELTON: Rich finishes off the process with a leather strap, two pieces of leather glued to a piece of wood.  This removes the burrs and puts a mirror polish on the knife-edge. 

RICH SMOKER: There you go.

RON HAZELTON: Well that ought to make a big difference Rich.

RICH SMOKER: I hope.

RON HAZELTON: Thank you very much.

RICH SMOKER: You’re welcome.