On the go sharpening is a little skill that can be invaluable, but is largely ignored by many. In part, I believe this is because to get a really good edge on your blade you have to sit down and really work at it. And by working at it, I don’t mean to say it is hard, but it takes more time than just a casual honing every so often takes. Fortunately, there are some products on the market that can make the job incredibly easy, while at the same time keep your knife blades sharp enough to shave with. In my own little arsenal I have several pocket tools that I use regularly.
One of these products happens to be Smiths PP1 Pocket Pal knife sharpener. A bit bigger than the size of a large thumb, I never leave home without it. It has a set of pre-set carbides, as well as a pair of crossed ceramic sticks for honing your blade. When dullness starts to set in, all you have to do is make three or four swipes on the carbide side, and then a couple of swipes on the ceramics and you’re done. It won’t sharpen a seriously dull blade, but it does a tremendous job with regular maintenance on your blades. I have one particular knife that I use at work for cutting boxes and cardboard sheets, and that knife will outperform any box cutter if kept up to snuff with this little jobby. I picked this one up at a local sporting goods shop last year, and it has accompanied me every day since I first used it. Also, there is a swing out tapered diamond rod on the bottom that you can use for serrated edges. For about nine bucks it was worth every penny and then some. I only wish it had come with a belt sheath to keep it in.
Another little tool I keep in my bug out bag is a square shaped product, also from Smiths. This is the CCKS two step knife sharpener that I picked up at a department store for about five dollars. This one is just as handy, and sports a hole for attaching a lanyard to it. Also, the rubber bottoms will keep it from sliding on slick surfaces, which may be extra handy if you’re on a boat trolling for the big one. It has the same carbide steels and ceramic rods as the PP1, but no rod for serrated edges. Also small enough for your pocket, but I keep mine in a side pocket of the bug out bag with some other necessary tools for survival, like my multi function pocket tool, flashlight and so forth. It also does a great job on almost any knife, but like I said, it lacks that rod for serrated edges and gut hooks. But that’s not a big problem for most as the smart preparedness aficionado will have more than one tool, just in case.
Moving up in size I also have a Smiths #2002 deluxe knife and scissors sharpener that I bought at a big box hardware store for under ten dollars at Christmas time. This one is a little more evolved, but it has the same carbide steels and crossed ceramic rods for rough sharpening and honing. It also has slots for sharpening scissors, and this one I keep in the kitchen. But it is in a drawer that I can easily access when it’s time to go. The fold down cover helps to stabilize it at the proper angle, protects the counter top, and it has rubber tips on the bottom to prevent slippage. The scissors function has what are called floating rods that conform to your scissors edge profile for the perfect job every time. And as a bonus, a neat little set of weights and measures are printed on the cover.
I also have a set of sharpening stones that Smiths no longer makes, but is available in a diamond stone version. This one stays in my pack and is used for the really tough jobs, as well as for tuning up sorely used blades. The kit contains three stones, fine medium and coarse, naturally. There is a clamp to hold your blade, and a set of angle guide to give you that perfect edge every time. The stones are inset into plastic handles, and L shaped rods are screwed into the ends of the stone holders. By feeding the stones through the appropriate slot in the edge guide, you simple draw the stone across the blade in a circular fashion until done. You can start with the coarse stone, if the blades really bad, or the medium if not too bad, and finish with the fine stone. This unit also does a great job. I don’t remember how much I paid for it as I picked it up over ten years ago, as I recall, and it has been with me ever since. I’m hoping those new diamond stones will fit it as my stones are getting a bit worn.
In addition to all of these tools I also have several stones of several grits for various sharpening jobs, a couple of fine tooth files for taking care of serious nicks and I always carry a small bottle of Marvel Mystery Oil for lubricating the dry stones. I may have to switch brands though as I only have a small amount left and cannot find the little bottles anywhere these days. The last time I bought some I bought a case of six small bottles, and that was over ten years ago, if that gives you any indication of how the stuff lasts. But I only use it for sharpening purposes. I use 3 in 1 for everything else.
But these three tools are just a sampling of what is out there. You can by similar tools from different places that do a good job too. The point here is that there is no excuse to carry a dull blade. Always hone the edge on your ceramics after every use, and if your blade gets a heavy use, like mine does, use the carbides as well. If you’d like to learn more about the Smiths product line, check them out at http://smithsedge.com