How to sharpen a knife and keep it that way
We review two knife sharpeners and report back.
Q: Can you recommend a knife sharpener please? I cannot find a decent one for my rabbiting and stalking knives.
A: I get asked this a lot and it is an area I still struggle with — that of getting a keen edge to a blade and, better still, keeping it.
I tend to have several cheap sub-£5 sharpeners in coat pockets and the car that are available at any time to re-sharpen a dull blade. These are simple cross-bladed ceramic-type sharpeners that have a coarse and fine-honing edge.
Alternatively, I use a Havalon knife, which uses interchangeable scalpel blades so you always have a sharp edge to hand.
However, I have just been recommended the Swiss Istor knife sharpener and it has transformed my sharpening skills. It can be used for knives, plain or serrated blade types, secateurs, tools, in fact anything with an edge. It is 4in long and looks like an old Pez. The long slim base forms the handle and at the top is a profiled head to support the knife, and make contact at the correct angle to the honing block.
This sharpener is made from an amalgam of two hard materials that give a perfect edge. It is easy to use, fits in a pocket and instantly revitalises a dull blade. It is also dishwasher safe so hygiene can be maintained.
A wet stone knife sharpener?
There are many sharpeners on the market. One of the best methods of sharpening a blade is by using a wet stone. The results maybe fantastic, but using this method takes a lot of time and skill. The stone has to be soaked and the sharpening process can take up to two hours. If you get it wrong you could end up with a knife that was more blunt than before and has to be reground.
This is why various companies brought out small hand held sharpeners that use tungsten carbide blades. Arranged in a V-shape, you drag the blade across the blades and the V-shape holds the blade at the right angle to get an edge on your blade.
Sporting Gun reviews the Anysharp
We tested the AnySharp suction cup knife sharpener from the Knife Sharpener Guy to see what it was like at keeping our hunting knives sharp. This model uses a suction cup, meaning it can be attached to any non-porous surface.
Many people say that these type of sharpeners (that use tungsten carbide blades) take too much metal off your blade. However, this only happens if you put too much pressure on the blade when you are pulling it through the sharpener. You should not put any downward pressure on the blade as you pull it through the sharpener because the weight of the blade will be enough to keep it in contact with the sharpening edges.
Iain Watson and Chris Rogers debate whether highland stalking or lowland stalking makes for finer sport
The tomato test
The first test was a hunting knife. After pulling the blade through the sharpener we tried cutting a tomato. We chose a tomato because it has a fibrous skin that really sorts the men from the boys when it comes to how sharp a blade is. The rather thick blade of the knife cut easily through the tomato. After this we tried a Swiss Army knife and again the blade came out of the sharpener like a razor.
Having already sharpened two knives in super quick time, we decided to have a bit of fun and really put the suction cup knife sharpener to the test and test its claim that it can sharpen serrated edges. Many hunting knives come with a part serrated edge for cutting through bone on larger animals like deer, so this facility would be useful. Sure enough it revitalised a rather dull serrated edge on one of our hunting knives. But we thought we’d really put it to the test and sharpen a bread knife, which had loads of serrated teeth. Sure enough the old bread knife’s blade emerged from the Any Sharp as good as new.
This really is a useful bit of kit, and the fact that it sticks to hard surfaces, means it is a more heavy duty sharpener than one that is hand held. It is also safer because you don’t have your hand near the blade.
It will sharpen any type of blade, whether it’s serrated, carbon steel or stainless steel, making them as sharp as new. This is regardless of steel quality. All we will say is that a cheaper knife, made of cheaper steel, will not hold an edge as long as an expensive knife with a better blade.