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How to Sharpen a Pocket Knife + the 4 Best Types of Pocket Knife Sharpeners

The market for pocket knives has exploded over the last 10 years. There are some incredible pocket knives at great prices being sold by a number of reliable brands. In other words, there is really no reason not to carry a quality pocket knife.

While a pocket knife is different than a survival knife, it is still a great tool. You should know how to sharpen a pocket knife, if for no other reason than the fact that a sharp knife is a safe knife.

Learning how to sharpen a pocket knife

There are a few principles that go into learning how to sharpen a pocket knife properly, but frankly, it is a process that is very easy to learn. We are going to discuss things like sharpening tools, the sharpening process, and how to best store your blades so that that sharp edge lasts.

We will also discuss the process of honing a blade that can extend the life of your knife blade while also keeping it razors sharp like it just came off the sharpening stone.

How Sharp is your Knife?

When it comes to finding out how to sharpen a pocket knife, you’re probably already asked yourself if your knife needs to be sharpened. This is a question that many do not know how to answer. When does your knife become dull and do you know? There are a number of crazy tests out there to help you judge if your knife is dull.

Everything from shaving your arm to slicing through toilet paper. These always seemed like a parlor trick to me, though you do need a sharp blade to do them.

A sharp point after learning how to sharpen a pocket knife

Inspecting your blade under a strong light is probably a better method for understanding why your knife needs to be sharpened. Under close inspection and even with a small magnifying glass, you can really see the condition of your knife.

Using your knife is another great way to tell if it is dull. What do you do with your knife? Take your knife out and use it to open something, trim some bark, or do some other activity that you use it for. If it is not performing properly then you need to sharpen it!

Even if your knife blade is sharp, you should still know how to sharpen a pocket knife.

Choose a Sharpener

There are a variety of sharpeners that you can choose if you want to learn how to sharpen a pocket knife.


Electrically powered sharpeners that use a belt to sharpen the knife are very effective tools when it comes to sharpening the entire blade of your knife. These are plugged in you control the angle and the pressure.

Work Sharp - WSCMB Combo Knife Sharpener

 in stock
as of February 29, 2024 7:58 pm

Some of these machines give you guides for getting the best edge you can.


Powered knife sharpeners can carry a pretty high price tag. Whereas manual sharpeners can be a much more affordable option.

Wanbasion Knife Sharpener

 out of stock
as of February 29, 2024 7:58 pm

These sharpeners are very easy to use and could be just what you are looking for to sharpen your own pocket knife.


I really like sharpening stones because they last so long and have been a solution forever! With a powered sharpener your belts wear out and you need to replace them. They also have to be powered by electricity.

Work Sharp WSBCHBSS Benchstone Knife Sharpener

$49.95  in stock
as of February 29, 2024 7:58 pm

Manual sharpeners are great but they will wear down much faster than large stones.

If you can learn how to sharpen a pocket knife on a stone then you will have a tool that can sharpen knives for the rest of your life and maybe beyond!


Diamond is one of the hardest materials on earth. Diamond sharpening kits are used for sharpening knives because of this attribute. They work really well but they also carry a serious price tag. You can find some stones that are topped with diamond, or claim to be, but diamond sharpeners are usually around $!00.

Double-Sided Diamond Whetstone

 in stock
29 new from $30.55
Free shipping
as of February 29, 2024 7:58 pm

However, it is a buy once cry once kind of situation.

Hone the Blade

The process of honing a blade is often missed by many knife owners. This is a shame because honing a blade effectively can bring a knife that seems dull back to being sharp again. The honing process is also less abrasive to the knife and will increase the lifespan.

A sharp knife has a blade that is consistent across the entire edge. Knives get dull when that edge gets bent a bit, gets burs on it, gets chipped or damaged. When you hone a blade using honing steel it realigns your blade and brings the edge back. If you are not dealing with a completely dull knife then you can oftentimes make huge improvements.

Swipe your blade down one side of the honing edge at the correct angle. This is usually around 15 to 20 degrees. Then run it down the other side of the honing steel. Do this over and over until you feel a sharp edge return to your knife.

How to Sharpen a Pocket Knife in the Wild

Knowing how to sharpen a pocket knife in the comforts of your own home is one thing. When you are surrounded by all the best tools and you have no pressure to get that blade sharp, these are ideal conditions.

Knowing how to sharpen a pocket knife in the wild is another skill set. It is sharpening a blade that now has greater importance and you must do so in less than ideal conditions.

Let’s assume you are not carrying a knife sharpener with you. The first thing to know about how to sharpen a pocket knife in the wild is that rocks are what you are going to use as a sharpener. If you find a glass bottle then the outside of the bottle can be used as a way to hone that blade.

Look for rocks that are consistent and flat. A coarse rock is great if you have some real work to do on a dull blade. Otherwise, you can seek out a smoother, flat river rock. This might be all you need to run your knife over.

You can hold your knife and run the rock down each side or, if your rock sits flat, you can glide your knife across the rock at a 15-20 degree angle just like you would on an ordinary knife sharpener.

I recommend dipping the rock in the creek or lake and getting it wet. The water will help you glide the knife over rock with less resistance. It might seem crazy but using a rock you can sharpen up a dull edge.

Take your time with learning how to sharpen a pocket knife. Pay close attention to how the edge runs over the rock and look the blade over after every few strokes. Also, be careful not to cut yourself when sharpening this way. The last thing you want in a survival situation is to also have a bad cut!

Proper Knife Storage

There are many things that you can do to avoid dull blades. However, nothing has more of an impact on your knife than how you store it. Where and how you store your pocket knife when it is not in use can have a serious effect on your knife’s edge.

Just because you know how to sharpen a pocket knife, doesn’t mean you should be doing it every single weekend! Take care of all your knife blades. If they have sheathes then they should be sheathed when not in use.

How to properly store pocket knives

Keep your pocket knife closed and dry at all times when it is not in use. Leaving it open can leave your edge vulnerable to dropping or other kinds of damage. A closed pocket knife is essentially in its sheath.

This goes a long way when it comes to sharpening your pocket knife.

Wrapping Up How to Sharpen a Pocket Knife

Learning how to sharpen a pocket knife or any blade is an important skill. When managing edged weapons and tools it is important to look at the full picture. How is a knife stored, does it need to be honed, or is it time to sharpen.

Never forget that when you sharpen a knife you are removing some of the metal. Over time that means the knife changes and become less effective. Of course, having a sharp knife is important, but sharpening more than necessary is just killing your knife for no reason.

Once you get proficient at sharing knives you should teach someone else how to sharpen a pocket knife. That is how these skills travel from generation to generation. And if you’re now on the hunt for a pocket knife sharpener, check out this post on the Best Pocket Knife Sharpener.