Choosing The Right Sharpener For Your Hunting Knives

Humans are wild for tools – which is understandable, since the use of tools is our genetic advantage over all other species on the planet. People love to have specific gadgets for different purposes; they may even have several different varieties of the same tool.
Knife sharpening tools are no exception to this rule; there are several different types of knife sharpeners on the market. Each category of sharpener has its own strengths and weaknesses, as outlined below. If you own a hunting knife or any number of other high-performance knives, you’ll want to be familiar with the different types of sharpeners so as to understand which is best for your needs.
Whetstone
Sharpening stones, also called whetstones, are versatile and effective hunting knife sharpening tools. Composed of extremely tough material such as diamonds, silicone dioxide or ceramics, sharpening stones are powerful enough to take quite a bit of material off of a kitchen or hunting knife. This is a good thing for extremely dull knives; however, inexperienced sharpeners can wind up removing too much material with a whetstone. Hunting knives, like all knives, can be ruined if too much steel is removed from the edge, so make sure you have a strong understanding of how to use your whetstone if you select this type of sharpening tool.
Professional knife sharpeners recommend sharpening stones because they are available in a several grades: hard, medium or soft. Switching between different grades of whetstones allows expert sharpeners to work toward an ever-sharper blade. One specific variety of whetstone is a carborundum sharpening stone, which is composed of silicon carbide. As the carborundum stone is used, the carbide slowly wears away. Carborundum sharpening stones usually have a rough side for initial knife sharpening and a smooth side for finishing the blade once it’s been sharpened.
Another type of whetstone is composed of natural stone; this is the kind of sharpening tool our ancestors wore around their necks for honing their hunting knives on the fly. However, because most modern wielders of knives aren’t experts in sharpening with natural stones, it is not recommended that you choose this kind of whetstone for sharpening your hunting knife.
One final advantage of whetstones: They can be used to sharpen other objects, as well, such as scissors.
Sharpening Steel
Sharpening steels are not actually meant for sharpening knives; rather, they simply bend the edge of the knife back into place temporarily. As a kitchen or hunting knife is used, the edge of the blade folds over in a sporadic way, leading to dullness. Chefs and other knife connoisseurs use sharpening steels to “fold back” their knives’ edges between full-on sharpening sessions. Sharpening steels are usually composed of a rod of steel with a handle at the bottom.
Knife Hone
Knife hones are very similar to sharpening steels in that they act as a stopgap for increasing sharpness between full-on sharpenings. Knife hones are available in various sizes and styles; one design offers slots you can run your hunting knife through to sharpen it.
Electric Knife Sharpener
Electric knife sharpeners are beloved by many for their convenience; however, hunting knife experts often claim that electric knife sharpeners are too ham-handed for sharpening tactical and hunting knives. Basically, an electric knife sharpener looks like a box with three or four slots in the top. The blade of the cooking or hunting knife is placed in one of these slots, and the machine’s electrical components turn an internal wheel, which sharpens the edge of the knife.
Benefits of electric knife sharpeners include the fact that they are convenient and fast; however, they work best for kitchen knives and may not be able to provide the kind of sharp edge hunting knives require. Avid chefs appreciate how electric knife sharpeners can sharpen serrated knives as well as smooth blades.
Ultimately, the best way to sharpen your knives is to take them to a professional knife sharpener. Assuming you use them regularly, it is wise to take your hunting knives to a pro sharpening shop at least once a year. While the tools listed above can allow you to maintain your knives over the course of the year, only a professional knife sharpener will be able to get the kind of perfect blade every hunting knife should have.