Sharp knives

bruce moulds

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rather than invade other threads, I thought it better to star a new one.
I have always believed that sharpening knives should only require a good stone or diamond tool, with the blade "slicing" into the sharpening device.
I can usually get a blade to shave arm hair dry this way.
of course keeping the angle the same for each slice will speed up the process no end due to not wasting slices, and some form of jig is the easiest way to achieve this.
however I have come across guys that think their knives are blunt, but are sharper than mine.
they all use a steel.
I have recently discovered that a steel is not meant to remove blade material to sharpen a knife.
this is why a new aggressive steel is bad news.
knife edges bend or roll over, and the steel re straightens them so the sharp edge is not pointing sideways.
god users of a steel starting with a sharp knife rarely need the stone. all they need to do is keep the sharp edge pointing in the right direction.
then comes the strop.
strops seem to contain some abrasive, but the blade is dwawn backward over them rather than slicing like the stone.
I suspect they do remove some metal, and also act as a fine tuned version of the steel at the same time..
no knife edge is smooth, but is more like a saw when looked at microscopically.
I have started skinning and or field dressing only to have the blade seem blunt very quickly.
I now realize that it has probably bent the cutting edge, and or as garry says become blocked by tissue.
I remember skinning numbers of donkeys and thinking that dirt and sand in the skins had dulled the blades.
it was quicker to have 4 knives than stone one often.
from now on I will experiment with a steel and removing tissue from the cutting edge.
the other thing to consider is sharpenability vs edge holding.
gain one and you lose the other, so it is a balancing act to suit the individual.
and the harder to sharpen, possibly the more likely the blade is to snap.
don't ask me how I know this, but spyderco is part of the story.
I will sacrifice stainless steel to have easier sharpening, better edge holding, and a non snapping blade in the overall balance of things.
bruce.
 

Bill DeHaan

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This is an interesting topic that merits study and conversation. We’ve probably all learned the lesson in the field as I have (bent over a downed elk with a flashlight in my teeth) that there is no such thing as too much sharp knife. Following that early lesson I started carrying multiple knives; eg a field dressing:butchering blade and a skinning blade. This works well but no one has ever said “hey, I need to find more things to go into my pack!” I’ve also carried the more modern disposable edge knife kit. This works very well in the field for most tasks. However, I truly missed the relationship that one forms with edged tools, their materials, craftsmanship, and surprisingly also with the edge maintenance.

However I can’t invest a lot of time on maintenance. This thread has me thinking.... Watch a meat butcher, a pro, at work and you’ll see exactly what Bruce pointed out. That is their heavy reliance on and frequent use of a steel. Their work station will have two or three knives, but you rarely see them set one aside for sharpening. You will see them steel the same edge multiple times during the butchering of a single animal.
Can anyone recommend a packable steel that is effective and may allow me to carry a single knife in the field?
 

BeeMaa

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I've been using a Lansky Blade Medic for years.
My wife and I each carry one.
We will also take them as gifts for the trackers, guides and kitchen staff.
71LPwzhmFhL._AC_SX425_.jpg

Lansky also makes the Tactical Sharpening Rod.
I've never used it, but it's closer to the "steel" you are looking for.
I just find the preset edge easier to use for minor upkeep in the field.
31mA8V3q6VL._AC_.jpg
 

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375 Ruger Fan

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BeeMaa

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Also the type of steel used to make the knife makes a big difference.
Without getting overly technical, high carbon steel holds an edge longer than stainless.
The downside is that carbon steel does rust and requires more maintenance.
Also because high carbon steel is "harder" than stainless, it can be honed to a finer edge.

That being said, I have both stainless and HC steel hunting knives.
I prefer the HC because I sharpen them less and they are still wicked sharp.
 

BeeMaa

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For professional level sharpening I highly recommend Tormek.
Take a look at the T-8.
Not exactly a "field" item, but a very useful bench tool.
 

Bill DeHaan

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impressive piece of machinery BeeMaa. The beginning segment when he took the edge off the knife was painful and disturbing. I will be starting therapy next week. ;-)
 

Standard Velocity

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In the field splitting hairs over sharpening vs honing becomes moot pretty quick. The Lansky sharpener above will fix most any knife for field butchering. Go ahead and take a little steel off the knife if you have to. If your knife is at a different angle (chisel grind, V grind or asymmetrical) you may have to use each side of the sharpener separately. I have used the spine of a second knife as a makeshift “steel” as well.

At home I use a steel and stones when necessary. I also use a mildly abrasive ceramic rod and a diamond rod on cheaper knives.

upload_2020-3-22_11-47-33.jpeg


Ceramic rod, steel, diamond rod
 
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jeanes

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Has anyone ever used Warthog sharpeners? I saw a V-Sharp demoed at DSC. Seemed to work well.
 

Shootist43

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I am a little perplexed by some folks statements that they need to sharpen their knives in the field. It makes me wonder what use and or abuse they put them through. I'm not a guide and I'm pretty sure that three white tails was the most we ever field dressed during a day's hunt. I know for a fact that we used my Cold Steel Carbon V Master Hunter on 11 deer without any kind of touchup or sharpening. My sharpening system was made by Luray which was later bought out by Lansky but for all practical purposes is identical. I did resharpen my Master Hunter but have only done so once and to this day still works just fine. That being said, because of this thread and others like it, I thought I'd take a look at Lansky's field and or pocket tools to see what they have to offer. This one intrigues me, have any of you used it? https://lansky.com/pocket-sharpeners/d-sharp/
 

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JimP

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On sharping knifes you will find that even a butcher who's livelihood depends on sharp knifes will turn his knifes over to a professional every now and then to put the keen edge back onto them. There are people that make a living by doing just that.

As for me when I am hunting and once my knife is sharp I don't use it for cutting wood, food, or anything else besides dressing and skinning the animals. For other uses I pack a Leatherman that will get the wood cutting and the food slicing is left to the other knifes in camp.

For sharpening I have started to use the Worksharp sharping system. Once I have established the angle and fine edge all I use is the finest grit belt that is one it and with just a few passes I have a knife that is once again sharp enough to shave with. Now if I do need to touch it up in the field I have a ceramic rod that does quite nicely.

There is no excuse for a dull knife.
 

Standard Velocity

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I am a little perplexed by some folks statements that they need to sharpen their knives in the field. It makes me wonder what use and or abuse they put them through. I'm not a guide and I'm pretty sure that three white tails was the most we ever field dressed during a day's hunt. I know for a fact that we used my Cold Steel Carbon V Master Hunter on 11 deer without any kind of touchup or sharpening. My sharpening system was made by Luray which was later bought out by Lansky but for all practical purposes is identical. I did resharpen my Master Hunter but have only done so once and to this day still works just fine. That being said, because of this thread and others like it, I thought I'd take a look at Lansky's field and or pocket tools to see what they have to offer. This one intrigues me, have any of you used it? https://lansky.com/pocket-sharpeners/d-sharp/

That Lansky tool looks interesting. Haven’t seen a touch up sharpener that pays such particular attention to angle. A slip stone or small rod of medium grit should suffice when away from home.

I keep a separate skinning knife and a pocket knife. This way I always have a clean, sharp knife for game. Since most pocket knives are used primarily for opening Amazon boxes I’ve found that the majority of the time my pocket knife has a thin layer of packing tape goo on the blade. An otherwise sharp knife has all manner of debris stuck to the goo.
 

Art Lambart II

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I own three tools for sharpening a knife in the field but I must confess I have never needed them. Most of us carry a sharpening tool with us every day but we never think about using it, the back side of your leather belt makes a great strop. If you start with a sharp knife all you need is a strop to return your edge to shaving sharp.

20200322_125246.jpg


On the top I have a Victorinox ceramic rod, in the middle is a Lansky diamond rod and on the bottom is a three sided Gerber stone.
 

sgt_zim

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I use a lansky kit for both kitchen knives and field knives.

I only sharpen 2 knives at 20º - my butcher knife and my boning knife.

All other knives get a 25º edge.

I hone the kitchen knives every time I use them, the other knives get honed as needed, certainly prior to skinning.

I've discovered there's almost nothing I need a 20º edge for, save cutting meat. Skinning/butchering and every day use, 25º and ad hoc honing is more than adequate for everything else.

Unless you've notched a blade, or done so much cutting between honings that a rod won't straighten out the cutting edges (likely because they've broken off), I have gotten to where I only need the lansky medium-fine-extra fine stones maybe 2-3x/year to get them back in shape.

There are few things I hate more than a dull knife.
 

Ray B

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The main rule on keeping a knife sharp when dressing game or any big mammal is DON'T CUT HAIR. Very little is faster at dulling an edge. With the point of the blade insert it at each end of the animal and at the ankles/knees. Turn the blade so the edge is up and push the blade to make cuts from between the skin and flesh. Once the guts have been removed grip the sides of the hide and pull it away from the flesh, using the knife to cut the tissue that holds the skin to the flesh. If the animal is healthy you should be able to pull the hide apart more than cutting the tissue. If the animal is gutted and skinned in this manner you shouldn't need to sharpen the blade during the process.
 

Standard Velocity

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The main rule on keeping a knife sharp when dressing game or any big mammal is DON'T CUT HAIR. Very little is faster at dulling an edge. With the point of the blade insert it at each end of the animal and at the ankles/knees. Turn the blade so the edge is up and push the blade to make cuts from between the skin and flesh. Once the guts have been removed grip the sides of the hide and pull it away from the flesh, using the knife to cut the tissue that holds the skin to the flesh. If the animal is healthy you should be able to pull the hide apart more than cutting the tissue. If the animal is gutted and skinned in this manner you shouldn't need to sharpen the blade during the process.

100% this
 

zephyr

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For those that have spent anytime in a "Skinning Shed" in Africa watching or participating in the processing of your Trophy you may have been somewhat surprised to see your prized Kudu being caped with a $1.00 knife from the gas station and a soft river rock used as a sharpening stone
SaOxN3E.jpg

RRKfhGa.jpg
 

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Bill DeHaan

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Seems even this old dog might need to learn new tricks. Hearing your methods, experiences and expectations have me thinking. My current practice is as follows;
I keep my knives sharp, and only used for game. (I have a pocket knife for all else).
I put a 20 degree edge on my hunting knives (boning and skinning) and a 25 on my pocket knives. - too steep?
I hang field dressed big game for 2-3 days if I can, then skin and bone while hanging. (skining is tougher, but..?)
I use the same hunting knife from my pack for field dressing and rough boning (final trimming is done in the house with another fine bladed boning knife).
I almost always use a dedicated skinning knife for caping, and skinning the carcass before boning.
After processing two deer my hunting/boning knife can benefit from a touch up.
I sharpen and hone edges with a WorkSharp.

Your thoughts?
 

Standard Velocity

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Seems even this old dog might need to learn new tricks. Hearing your methods, experiences and expectations have me thinking. My current practice is as follows;
I keep my knives sharp, and only used for game. (I have a pocket knife for all else).
I put a 20 degree edge on my hunting knives (boning and skinning) and a 25 on my pocket knives. - too steep?
I hang field dressed big game for 2-3 days if I can, then skin and bone while hanging. (skining is tougher, but..?)
I use the same hunting knife from my pack for field dressing and rough boning (final trimming is done in the house with another fine bladed boning knife).
I almost always use a dedicated skinning knife for caping, and skinning the carcass before boning.
After processing two deer my hunting/boning knife can benefit from a touch up.
I sharpen and hone edges with a WorkSharp.

Your thoughts?

Sounds like a good method to me.

Hanging game for a few days with the hide on is ideal. It’s never quite cold enough down here so I use a very large cooler with hide off. I do all the boning on the dining room table or the in-laws kitchen island then vac everything up.
 

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