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How To Sharpen Your Camping Knife (5 minutes or less)

There is nothing more frustrating to use while camping than a dull knife. My dad used to say, “Son, a dull knife will cause you to get cut faster than a sharp one.” He was right. I found this to be true while trying to cut open a can of beans. Because the knife was very dull, I was putting too much pressure on the knife blade that my hand slip and as you can guess the edge of the can top slice open my finger. Those was the days before we had fancy can openers like we do today. And unless you brought tools to sharpen your knife, you stuck with a dangerous knife.

In this article, I'm going to show you how to sharpen your camping knife in 5 minutes or less. So that you can either sharpen your knife at home before you leave or right after you set up your next campsite.

Place the whetstone on a flat surface. Lubricated the whetstone with a light oil. Let the oiled stone sit for one minute. The oil will soften the whetstone. Wipe off any excess oil from the whetstone. The stone is now ready to use. Slide the edge of the knife blade across the whetstone at a 20-degree angle to sharpen.

Choose the Whetstone

The best camping knife sharpener for a beginner or experience camper is a whetstone. Whetstones can be made of natural stone or ceramic stones with a bonded abrasive compound on the surface. You don’t need a lot of knowledge or training when choosing a whetstone. Your best whetstone is a combination of two different grit. I recommend a 1000-grit and a 6000-grit stone. This whetstone has two sides, one for each size grit. I personally like this whetstone. It’s only $21 and will last a long time.

Lubricate the Whetstone

After choosing your whetstone now it’s time to lubricate it. Generously rub a light oil over the surface and simply let it sit for about 60 seconds then take a cotton cloth and wipe off of any excess oil. This allows the grit to really sink into the metal of your knife blade while sharping and will help carry away swarf which is the fine pieces of metal and stone that come from the honing friction between the two surfaces. I like to use Smith’s Honing Oil found here at Amazon for less than $10. But check with the manufacturer of your whetstone to see what oil they recommend.

Start Sharpening

When you start sharpening your camping knife be sure you have plenty of light because you will want to closely watch the angle of attack of your knife blade as it slides down the whetstone. Your first step is to lay the blade flat on the whetstone. Then slowly raise the blade until you see the angle of the blade’s edge become flat against the stone. Most knives have a 20-degree edge on them.

After you have the blade at the right angle, move it as though you were sliding the knife blade backwards down the stone. In other words, you are move the blade away from you if the stone is perpendicular to you. This movement cuts the metal from the blade towards the blades edge.

Don’t worry, it does take practice. Patience like all other new things we learn is the key.

After you’ve made 6 passes on one side of the blade do the same for the other side. You will switch sides of the blade about 4 times with 6 passes each using the 1000-grits side. Then you can switch to the 6000-grits side and do the same. The 1000-grit is for getting the edge angle. The 6000-grit side is for removing any small swarf from the new edge and fining tuning the edge even more.

Time to Test the Edge

And finally, the quickest way to see if you got a good edge is to cut through a sheet of notebook paper. If the blade is sharpened it will slice through the paper without tearing it. Another that I DO NOT recommend is what my crazy uncle use to do. He would shave hair form his arm to see if his knife was sharp. But like I said, he was bit nuts. sharp

I’ve been sharpening knives for many years and unless your camping knife blade is not badly chipped or damaged some other way it should take you around 5 minutes. It may take you a little longer at first to get the hang of it but it’s the quickest and easiest way I know to sharpen your camping knife. It’s the smartest and safest path to take your time to learn how to properly sharpen your camping knife. But it certainly worth it.

I recommend you watch this short Youtube video.

Well, that's all I got for you today, I hope this saves you a little time and gets the job done. And if you’re looking for a good all-around camping axe, I got one for you. Check out this article I wrote entitled, How to Choose A Camping Axe. and How To Sharpen Your Camping Axe In 5 Minutes or Less.

Thanks, so much for reading this old guy's articles. I really appreciate it.

All the best,


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