You know that it is time to sharpen hunting knives when they will not slice or cut without making crinkles in the object that is being cut. The cut should be smooth with no rippling while the blade is slicing.
Some people foolishly test the sharpness of their knives by running the blade over the pad of their thumb to make sure that it does not slice the skin. This is certainly not the wisest test for sharpness. What if the knife cuts the skin?
After determining that it is indeed time to sharpen hunting knives, you need to decide on the right blade angle. Ideally, you should try to duplicate the blade angle, but most hunting knives should be sharpened on a 23-degree angle.
There are three basic kinds of sharpeners that can be used to sharpen hunting knives. The Arkansas stone sharpener comes in grades of roughness and is usually sold as two stones glued together. It is most like the small pieces of whetstone used for ages by scouts and older men who carry pocketknives.
Many experts have advised running the blade across the stone as if you are trying to slice off a thin layer. You really should try to be consistent and shoot for that 23-degree angle, however.
Ceramic is also used to sharpen hunting knives. The ceramic sharpener is best for light sharpening, but it will not do the work that is required for a dull blade.
Diamond sharpeners look line wide, long nail files and have diamond chips embedded onto the flat surface that is rubbed against the knife. The diamond sharpener is the most expensive, but is becoming more popular.
The nature of sharpening (with lots of friction and possibly shavings) requires most sharpeners to use water or oil on the blade as you sharpen. This is done to keep the small, microscopic shavings that come from the knife from sticking to the blade and become a hazard.
You should be able to use honing oil with the stone and ceramic sharpeners. The diamond sharpener uses water and a small quantity of soap.
It is ideal to sharpen hunting knives until you can do something referred to as raising the burr. This happens when you grind the beveled part of one side of the knife until the bevel on the opposite side of the knife is raised. The only knife that will not allow you to raise the burr is a ceramic knife.
It is advised you hold the stone and press that against the knife instead of holding the knife to the stone. After you get the correct angle with the stone you can take it to your steel and run it over that to get all the burs off of it.
Clean your knife and you should be able to shave the hairs off your arm if it is sharp enough.
Remember that a sharp knife is always safer than a dull knife. Contrary to what you may think. With a sharp knife you don’t have to apply as much pressure so you are less likely to slip and cut yourself.