Try to slice a piece of paper. A good sharp knife makes a clean cut. A dull knife makes either a ragged cut, or worse, just pushes the paper to the side. I like this article: https://www.fieldandstream.com/articles/hunting/2014/08/paper-cut-testing-blade-sharpness#page-4 and YouTube is full of videos of people showing off their knives via this test.
The back of a fingernail can be a good rough indicator while you're sharpening - see if it "catches" when you apply very gentle pressure at ~45 degree angle. This can also be a good way to check if the edge still has any dull spots.
The best method in my opinion is one that must be learned, and involves moving your thumb across the blade, perpendicular to the blade not down it! It's very difficult to describe the feeling but if you do it on enough dull blades and sharp blades you will begin to be able to tell the difference.
One other thing I will do if im sharpening a knife for a ...
Slice a tomato with very little pressure. This is almost always when I notice a knife needs sharpening, and the difference is profound.
Edit: I should have added ripe tomato; a sharp knife will slice it, whereas a dull one will smash it or rumple and tear its skin.
Generally I categorize sharpness into 3 levels:
The tomato test - being able to slice through a tomato skin. Not use the pointy end to break the skin and then slice but directly slice the skin all the way through. This is sharp enough for cooking.
The paper test - being able to slice thin phonebook paper or magazine paper or newsprint. For general carving ...
My advice is to always use the entire length of the the stone, to make sure wearing is even, and it's easier to be slow and steady.
Also, some good information on cooking.SE.
How often you sharpen depends on how often you use them and the type
of steel. I use Globals and Mundials and the Globals require much less
Here's a ...
While it can be useful if you are really out in the wilds, say in the Amazon jungle, and using a machete to clear every step, I wouldn't expect to carry a knife sharpener for a trip under a week.
For short, non-jungle expeditions, A swiss army knife with a couple of blades is often enough for most people.
To summarise - it can be necessary for longer ...
You need to use a sharpening rod.
Example: AC134 Smith's Pocket Pal Multi-Function Knife Sharpener.
The rod just slides in the groove and sharpens it.
Here is another sample:AS028C AccuSharp 4-in-1 Knife & Tool Sharpener.
And an image from Amazon:
The next time a Gun & Knife show or an Outdoor Gear show comes to your area, take the knife. Visit a vendor who is selling knife sharpeners and giving demonstrations. Use the line,
Your sharpener won't be able to get THIS knife sharp.
If the knife comes out sharp, then buy the product. You will then have a sharp knife and a method to keep it that ...
You are right about using the rough side first and then some polishing with the finer side.
Holding an angle is a real tricky part and needs some stability and skill.
To prevent the blade from getting damaged, you can run an ink marker over the cutting bevel. This way you'll have a reference to manage the amount of tilt you need to have. The typical angle ...
Cheap, disposable sponges. Unlike paper, they can be tested on while wet, which is a big advantage when sharpening with waterstones. Don't use the scrubby side (some people like using it as a deburring aid, though)
Something dull will not be able to cut into a sponge. Something sharp will easily slice into it. Something d... sharp can push-cut into the ...
You can use a fine sandstone with a little water on it. Sandstone works the best because of its fine grain and good abrasive quality. Using water smooths the sandstone surface.
Drag the stone slightly diagonal away from the edge on one side
Change the side with each stroke
Check the sharpness with your thumbnail once a while
If you can't find ...
Ray Mears has produced videos on sharpening knives. In particular, sharpening them in camp and in the field.
The teqhnique is pretty much as @WedaPashi explains it, but it's good to see a video of the correct approach.
It's not necessary, but something that you probably would want to carry, especially if you plan on using your knife much. Buy a diamond file, very small & lightweight, and you can resharpen your knife with little effort.
I like to use something like this to keep my knives sharp:
EZE-LAP L PAK Set SF/F/M Color Coded Diamond Hones
I typically just ...
Honestly it's pretty tricky. The other answers have good info but I thought I'd add a tip:
Once you think you've found the correct angle, you can use your thumb on the back of the blade as a guide to keep it at this angle against the stone. Rest the bottom of your thumb on the stone as you move the knife across it and it will keep the knife at a fairly ...
According to the owners manual here, it says to
Always clean your sharpener after use. Clean with damp cloth or mild
brush. Do not rinse with water. Store in a drawer or cabinet.
Since you have a build-up of material that can't be removed, the manual suggests,
When the carbide blades or ceramic stones stop removing metal from the
knife blade, ...
For me, I'm fairly experienced at sharpening knives by eye. If you don't have access to a guide, which is not something that immediately comes to mind when you're packing for a hunting or camping expedition, it's a good idea to learn how to do it by eye. For some cases, such as butchery and knife restoration, a guide is essential. Also know that sometimes,...
There are two options.
First you can sharpen it with a single bevel (per side), this requires sharpening with the wide bevel flat to the stone.
Alternatively you can sharpen with a small second 'micro bevel' at a slightly steeper angle than the primary bevel. this makes it much easier to give the blade frequent touch-ups but you will still need to ...
That looks to be what is known as a flat "Scandi" grind on the edge. There are a lot of good resources online about how to sharpen this type of grind, but basically this is considered a relatively sturdy grind and simple to sharpen because there is no secondary bevel. The angle of that "edge" is your sharpening angle.
Regarding the grit, that will depend ...
If you want to go the DIY route, use a stationary/bench grinder.
These often have adjustable guides to help you set an angle equal to the original.
After getting the angle back on both sides of the knife and getting rid of all the dents in the blade you can use a whetstone to sharpen the rest of the knife.
You sharpen the secondary / backbevel (the 15 degrees) when you do not get that hair-popping sharpness form the 20 degree angle.
Or you use the 15 degrees to get a knife with a thick bevel to razor-sharpness and then use the 20 degrees afterwards.
I think the CD that comes with the sharpmaker has some more hints.
A visual for your target bevel from ...
If you are only carrying a knife for emergencies it is unlikely that you are going to need to sharpen it over the course of a few days, assuming of course that it is properly sharp to begin with.
However as studiohack rightly points out a diamond file is so lightweight and a sharp knife is so important that it does make a certain amount of sense and you ...
A number of kits have guides for angle. I happen to like the Sypderco but it is not cheap.
Hopefully you can get angle from the manufacturer. 40 degrees is common (20 each side). 30 degrees is also common. Even a combination of 30 degrees followed by a 40 degree micro bevel.
On a stone you could just cut a guide using cardboard. Consistent is more ...
There are also ways to use sharpening stones for this purpose in some cases.
Probably not useful for gut hooks, but if the radius of curvature is large enough, you can use form stones, which are available for woodworking tools, such as these. There's a combination of convex and concave form I have (the "Kegelförmiger Bildhauerschleifstein" in the link), ...
For odd sharpening tasks like this I have a dremmel tool (handheld rotary tool) and a set of inexpensive diamond hones. Use it wet to keep from clogging, and use very light pressure.
You can also use an electric chainsaw sharpener.
What you want is a guide in a knife sharpening kit that will hold the knife in place and the stones at the correct angle.
Mine looks like this,
you can see the angle marking on the left side of the holder (they are on both sides).
The way it works is like so (pictured without the knife for clarity),
The guide rod keeps the stone at the same angle to the ...