Old Knife Sharpener for Vintage Knives: Restore and Sharpen Precious Antique Finds

September 24, 2021

The greatest achievement of any avid knife collector is to have the rarest and the oldest knife on their shelf. It is as precious as Olympic gold.

However, knives are practical tools meant to fulfill slicing and cutting tasks, so keeping them sharp is still necessary. Besides, you can better flex your gems if you use them in the kitchen or outdoors instead of leaving them inside glass cabinets.

If you are a collector who wants to use your antique knives more often, you need a reliable vintage knife sharpener. It takes more care to sharpen old knives, so you must do it right. Check out the following details to help you.

Old Knife Sharpener Choices

Picking the correct sharpening tool is key to ensuring your vintage knife still cuts like any brand new blade. The combination of your chosen tool and your ability to sharpen with it will ensure you achieve this goal.

Sharpening stone

A whetstone is an old-fashioned knife sharpener as it is one of the classic sharpeners used by many. You can choose from coarse, medium, and finishing grits depending on the state of your vintage knife. Coarse stones are best used for old blades that are chipped and have nicks.

Sharpening steel/honing rod

If you have a vintage knife that is already restored and needs only a bit of sharpening before use, you can use a sharpening steel/rod. This tool is best used when you are cutting meat. It provides a pre-cut sharpener before you slice thick pork, beef, or chicken meat.

Manual sharpener

You can use modern knife sharpeners conveniently by inserting the blade into a narrow slit with a tungsten steel blade, rough ceramic grinding, and fine ceramic grinding. Then, slide the blade back and forth until you achieve the desired result. It is a more portable version of a whetstone.

Electric sharpener

You will encounter several electric knife sharpener designs, but the most common ones have a moving belt mimicking a grinding wheel and an electric version of a handheld knife sharpener.

Turn on the sharpener motor, and start sharpening your blades. The process is faster and less stressful compared to manual sharpening.

Tools at home

If you do not have the mentioned sharpeners, you can improvise using a ceramic mug or plate. Just use the bottom of the mug or plate to sharpen your knife. It is best used for restored vintage knives that need only a bit of sharpening before use.

Using Antique Knife Sharpener for Knives

There’s no better sight than having well-matched kitchen tools, so we are giving extra attention to vintage sharpeners!

Do you ask yourself whether using a vintage knife sharpening steel, a vintage wood handle knife sharpener, or a vintage Rolit knife sharpener is okay? Let’s check out the answers below.

Advantages of using an old-time knife sharpener

Creating a vintage-inspired kitchen is always a welcome idea. Having antique knives and old knife sharpeners will enhance the vintage feel of your kitchen walls, utensils, and appliances.

If anybody visits your kitchen, they will surely be unfamiliar with some tools, so prepare yourself for some Q and A. That’s another blessing of having vintage tools: instant conversations.

Disadvantages of using vintage sharpeners

You do not need to Google “How to use vintage Cutco knife sharpener?” Just make sure that the sharpener you have is well-restored, and it will be perfectly functional.

Nonetheless, using old sharpeners can cause accidents and may even put your fingers at risk of being cut. Using a wood handle knife sharpener also has a particular disadvantage. If the wood handle is not restored properly, it may be a source of food contaminants. In a nutshell, if you want to use vintage sharpeners, restore them properly as much as you would restore old knives.

old fashioned knife sharpener

Restoring Old Knives Using Different Sharpeners

You now know your different sharpener choices and even have the chance to use vintage sharpeners. Next, equip yourself with the knowledge on how to restore old knives so that you can do it yourself.

Step 1: Remove the rust.

Getting a rusty vintage knife is good, as rust signifies old age. You can remove the rust by creating your formula at home using citric acid and water, or you can buy over-the-counter rust remover.

Scrub away the rust with steel wool after soaking the knife in the liquid formula for a few minutes.

Step 2: Restore the handle.

Then, it’s time to restore the handle. Remove the dirt first using a wet cloth and sandpaper to smoothen the handle and see the original patterns. Apply mineral oil to protect it and bring back the vibrance of the color.

Step 3: Reshape the edge.

The best sharpener for reshaping a chipped edge is a coarse whetstone. Angle the knife and start grinding it until the chipped edge smoothens. If you have manual or electric sharpeners with coarse grit, you can try using them too.

Step 4: Sharpen the blade edge.

Your blade is now in perfect shape, so the next step is to sharpen it and give it a nice finish. Here’s how to sharpen the edge.

  1. Use either medium stones or finishing stones.
  2. Angle the blade and start grinding.
  3. Perform a sharpness test by cutting paper to know if the knife now has a razor-sharp edge.

Final Reminder: Check the Vintage Knife’s Authenticity

You now know the different sharpeners to use for your vintage knives and how to use them in restoring your old knife. Still, we have a final reminder on picking vintage knives. Look for the following characteristics to ensure that you are getting 100% legitimate collector’s items.

Signs of aging

The prime sign you can see from a vintage knife is the sign of aging. Whether you get a rusty knife or a restored one, you will notice the blade or the handle has slight discoloration. It is because most vintage knives develop patina or blade corrosion despite being restored.

Rarity of design

Old knives also have rare designs. For instance, a vintage fish pocket knife includes two blades, and they usually have a hook remover, a scaling blade, a smooth-edged blade, and a small whetstone on the side of the handle. You will not see these in modern fish pocket knives.

Old brand logo

Finally, check the knife’s logo. You can particularly look for renowned brands manufacturing for a hundred years now like Case Knives, Dexter Russell, or Boker. You can also look for knife collection logos that were manufactured in limited numbers a long time ago. These are great signs the knives are legitimately vintage.

In Closing

Vintage knives are like gold because they are so rare to find. If you spot the signs of authentic vintage knives, you can find them more easily and more often.

With their rarity, getting ahold of vintage knives is like finding pieces of treasures, so make sure to use the correct knife sharpener in restoring and sharpening them. You can use modern sharpeners or antique ones; it’s your choice. Just make sure to do the restoration process right!

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