How to Sharpen a Deer Skinning Knife

Written by fred samsa
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How to Sharpen a Deer Skinning Knife
Deer-skinning knife (hunting knife image by Alx from

A dull knife increases the time required to properly clean and skin a deer; it can also be dangerous, requiring more force to complete the job. Nonetheless, many people hunt with dull knives, assuming that maintaining a sharp blade requires specialised equipment or know-how. In fact, sharpening a deer-skinning knife--or any cooking or camping knife--is a fairly simple procedure. With a little practice and the appropriate equipment, you can sharpen a knife at home in about 15 minutes.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Sharpening stone
  • Sharpening oil or light machine oil
  • Sharpening steel

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  1. 1

    Lubricate the stone. Apply a few drops of sharpening oil or light machine oil to the surface of the stone, spacing your drops evenly. Smooth the drops over the surface of the stone with your finger or a cloth. It is not necessary to soak the stone; apply just enough oil to coat the surface.

  2. 2

    Hold the knife over the stone at a 90-degree angle, as though about to cut the stone. Rotate the blade to half of that angle, or 45 degrees. Rotate the blade once more to halve the remaining distance between the blade and the stone. This will obtain the desired angle (about 20 degrees).

  3. 3

    Slide the blade against the stone in an even arcing motion, maintaining an even pressure on the blade with your non-dominant hand. Try to keep the entire cutting edge against the stone throughout the arc.

  4. 4

    Sharpen the blade ten times on one side, and then sharpen ten more times on the other side. Repeat the process five times on the first side, and then five more times on the second side.

  5. 5

    Hone the blade. Set the sharpening steel point downward (at 90 degrees). Set the blade of the knife against the steel at the same angle used for sharpening--about 20 degrees. Glide the blade of the knife downwards along the steel, pulling the blade toward you to hone the entire edge.

Tips and warnings

  • Some sharpening stones are designed to be used without oil, or with water instead; follow the manufacturer's instructions for your stone.
  • Never test a blade for sharpness with your thumb or finger.

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