Hunting Hacks: Learn How to Sharpen a Pocket Knife With a Whetstone

July 6, 2022

Pocket knives can be your reliable outdoor tools, especially when you’re a hunting enthusiast. It's the one all-purpose knife you’ll pull out when cutting ropes, making fire, blazing trails, or slicing up fresh game. A dedicated knife subject to various tasks will need more than your typical honing rod—it will need a gritty whetstone.

Whetstones are awesome sharpening tools for a pocket knife. This edge-refining tool is what you use if you want to bring your pocket knife's edge back into its outdoor-ready condition.

They may seem like plain blocks, but whetstones have their interesting intricacies. We'll explore what those are. Plus, we'll give you instructions on how to sharpen a pocket knife at home and outdoors with this sharpening device. 

Whetstones Are Not Always Made of Stone

While the origin of the whetstone is stone, it has branched from a single material to man-made ones. This led to different classifications of a "whetstone," such as oil stone, water stone, synthetic, and natural. But what do they mean? Let us explain how it’s made.


Original whetstones are made of abrasive materials such as novaculite, quartz, and diamond. These materials are mined from the earth, cut into shape, polished, and sold to end consumers as natural sharpening stones.


This process involves minerals in grain form, bonded to form solid shapes that look like their natural sharpening stone counterpart. The graininess of these minerals, as well as their strong properties, is what gives them their abrasiveness.

Types of Sharpening Stones

Oil Stones

The primary material of these synthetic stones is Aluminum Oxide or Silicon Carbide. The grains are bonded together to create a sharpening stone. These synthetic stones are called oil stones because the oil's swarf gives the stone the right mix of smooth gliding and rough sharpening better than water. Stones like Norton NTFB1 work well with oil and give a fine edge on your knife.

Water Stones

This stone is made of synthetic materials such as oil stone, although ceramic is also used as a base material. Water stones are bonded with a different adhesive than oil stones, allowing them to grind edges faster. On the other hand, the faster the grind, the more particles are removed from the stone, so you'll have to flatten it more often than oil stones.

Arkansas Stones

These are natural stones extracted from the Ouachita mountain bedrocks in Arkansas, where their name is derived. The stone material mined for Arkansas stones is called novaculite, which is lubricated with oil or water. What's amazing about Arkansas stone is that it polishes the blade while you run it on the sharpening stone's surface.

Belgian Stones

The Belgian stones are mined from Ardennes in Belgium. This stone is lubricated using water and has two kinds: the Belgian Coticule and the Belgian Blue. The Coticule has the most grit, while the Blue is half its rough grit level. Belgian stones can grind fast while also giving a fine edge.

Diamond Stones

Diamond stones are synthetic sharpening tools and the hardest of all the sharpening stones mentioned. The Diamond sharpening stone grains are mixed with nickel, making these stones tough (except for thin variations wherein diamonds are placed on steel). Diamond stones can grind fast and give your knife a sharp edge quickly but at the expense of scratching your blade, which you need to polish afterward.

how to sharpen pocket knife - Different kinds of sharpening stones and rods

Why Choose a Whetstone as a Sharpening Tool for Your Pocket Knife?

Stone blocks are like miniature grinders that bladesmiths use to perfect a blade's edge. And you can also have that edge-altering power for your pocket knife if you use a whetstone.

Aside from the sharpening stones' edge-grinding ability, using them also gives a therapeutic feeling. You'd feel like a monk tracing curves on Zen garden sand as you push your pocket knife's blade across the stone's surface. It's also fulfilling to see your knife's shining edge once you're done, as it assures you that it can cut anything.

How to Sharpen Your Pocket Knife With a Stone

Now that we've established there are different kinds of stone sharpeners, and it's the best tool for your pocket knife, it's time to know how to use it. So here are the instructions on how to sharpen your pocket knife.

  1. Most homes already have a sharpening stone stored in the kitchen. If that's the case, check your stone block first for any presence of oil to determine whether it is an oil or water stone. Once you have identified the lubricant used, you can lather the stone with the same liquid substance.
  2. Take out your pocket knife and place the edge near the stone’s corner. You want to angle the dull blade at around 20 to 25 degrees for effective sharpening. If you don't have a way of measuring, simply find the angle you think would sharpen the edge optimally.
  3. Hold the pocket knife's handle steady. Then, use your other hand to pinch the blade's spine. Push the knife gently across the other end of the stone. As you're pushing the knife forward, you're pulling the handle simultaneously to the side, creating a diagonal forward motion that covers the entire length of the knife's edge.
  4. Repeat the same movement until the lubricant coating is spent. Then, coat the stone again with the lubricant before sharpening your knife's edge again. Do the same thing on the opposite side of the pocket knife's blade.
  5. To test the sharpness of your pocket knife, get a piece of paper and try to slice it. If there's little resistance and the paper is cut smoothly. Your knife edge is sharp and is ready for your everyday use.
how to sharpen pocket knife - three pocket knives laying on a piece of whetstone

We Recommend Always Using a Stone for Sharpening Pocket Knives

Pocket knives used frequently need a more thorough sharpening treatment. Only a whetstone can deliver the kind of sharpness worthy of any outdoorsman.

Compared to modern sharpening methods, traditional sharpening stones give the best edge to your knife. While the whetting process can be time-consuming, the amount of effort is worth the result you'll get. You'll have fine edges that can last a longer time. That's why we recommend it for pocket knife users who frequent the outdoors for a hunt and want to make the most of their time.

If you want to explore different sharpening stone products and their specifications, you can read more reviews and blogs on our website. We've got several sharpening stone products with in-depth and objective information to help you make the best buying decision. Check them all out today.

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