If you are a tool lover, you can’t deny the fact that dull tool is the cause of frustration and discouragement.
Dull tools often result in poor work and cause injuries. According to Los Angeles Times, many failures and possible injuries result from a dull cutting edge because the tool can no longer function as it was intended.
Sharpened tools work like magic. There is no better feeling than, chopping a log with one stroke, cutting thin onion slices with kitchen knives, or a sharp pair of scissors and pliers.
It is a must to learn tool sharpening techniques. The basic science behind sharpening your tools is to reduce the surface area. This comes with practice by following different methods.
In this article, we will learn how you can sharpen your cutting tools and the different methods to sharpen them.
Let’s get started…
Why You Should Sharpen Your Cutting Tools
When was the last time you sharpened your tools? If you haven’t for a long this, these reasons will make you realize the importance of sharpened tools.
Using dull cutting tools poses a serious risk to your safety. Contrary to popular belief, blunt blades can potentially be more deadly than sharp ones.
To get the blade to cut through thicker materials, you’ll have to exert greater force, which could slip while cutting and injure a user’s finger or hand. If the tool is extremely sharp, that’s considerably less likely to happen.
2. Clean Cuts
If you have got sharp tools, then they will give you cleaner cuts giving you a much more professional-looking finish.
Investing your time and money in sharpening tools is worthwhile if you desire to be a perfectionist in whatever work you do.
3. Saves Time
Your work will go faster and easier with sharpened tools. You will have to spend more time getting precise and sanding the edges because dull blades cut through the material more slowly and don’t provide a smooth finish.
4. Tools Last Longer
You you are investing in your tools, you would definitely want them to last longer. Maintaining your tools and sharpening them frequently will increase your tool’s lifespan.
Having dull blades can make them perform slower, which puts more strain on the edges and can make your tools overheat. This not only risks a breakdown but can significantly shorten the lifespan of the tool you’re using.
How To Sharpen Your Cutting Tools
There are many methods and techniques to sharpen your tools. But no matter what tool you are using or which sharpening method you are following, these are the common steps that need to be followed.
Step 1: Clean The Blades
Make sure to remove all the dust, dirt, or other debris from the tool surface before sharpening using a stiff wire brush and soapy water. If any rust, make sure to get rid of the rust.
Step 2: Examine The Sharpness
Check for the sharpness of your tool. You can choose the sharpening method depending on the tool type and its condition. Blunt tools will require more sharpening at a greater sharpening angle while a quick fix will do for less damaged ones.
Step 3: Choose The Sharpening Method
The choice of sharpening tools is largely a matter of preference and the tool you want to sharpen. A whetstone or diamond stone is good for knives and chisels, honing rods (sharpening steel) are a good choice for scissors and pliers while a flat file will be good for spades and other gardening tools.
Step 4: Lubricate Your Sharpening Tool
If you are using whetstones, remember to apply water or a lightweight oil to the sharpening surface. Oil is usually a better option because water will evaporate quickly.
The oil will act as a lubricant and carry away all the grit produced during sharpening. This will help you get a correct and constant angle while giving smooth strokes.
Step 5: Choose a Coarser Grit
Start off with a coarser grit. This will help to grind the steel down before you move to a finer grit for further sharpening.
Sharpen the knife by dragging it across the stone until you slice a thin layer of the stone. Flip your tool and continue grinding until you create burrs a new edge on the tool surface.
Step 6: Move To a Finer Grit
Now it is time to move to a finer grit. Your goal is to eliminate the burrs created by the coarse grit and smoothen out the surface thereby creating a sharp edge.
First, sharpen one side of the tool and then turn over to the other side. Once you think your tool is sharp enough, give alternating swipes flipping it again and again with a single stroke each time for razor-sharp results.
Remember not to reduce the sharpened edge to less than 1 mm thickness. A sharper edge will not improve the ability to sharpen, but will instead make the blade more brittle and vulnerable to fracture.
Step 7: Test The Sharpness
Test the sharpness of your blades before you end up the process. Start by cutting with the tool. If your blades are sharpened properly, they will make clean, easy cuts.
The blades are not sharp enough if they pull or catch. Then keep using the fine whetstone or switch to an extra-fine stone to finish honing. Test again as necessary, taking extra care to avoid oversharpening the blades.
Step 8: Finish With a Coat Of Oil
Finish off by rubbing your tool with a light-based oil for rust protection. Also, protect the wooden handles with a coat of linseed oil or varnish.
Your tools’ dirt behaves like a sponge, soaking up moisture and rusting as a result. So make sure to clean off any dirt from your tools when not in use.
Tips To Sharpen Cutting Tools
The steps discussed are the basic steps you need to follow while sharpening your tools. However, depending on the type of tool you wish to sharpen, there may be some slight variations in the process.
- When anvil-style pruners are being sharpened only one blade should be sharpened on both sides
- Before sharpening shears, make sure to separate the blades apart. This will help with easy sharpening and handling.
- When sharpening bypass lopping shears, only the outside of each blade should be sharpened.
- Sharpening a saw requires special skills and energy. So it’s better to opt for a professional unless you have experience. Otherwise, you will end up damaging the teeth.
- Axes and hatchets have more metal. Don’t try to make an axe razor sharp as they need a blunter edge to hold up to the tremendous forces put on them.
- Perform routine maintenance of your tools so as to avoid sharpening them again and again.
Ways To Sharpen Your Tools
Sharpening edged tools are one of the more useful skills, and it has a glorious payoff in the home and anywhere else as well. It is easy to sharpen your tools using these methods.
To get the best from them we need to show them a little tender loving care. Treat them well and there’s no reason they shouldn’t last for many years.
So here are the 5 ways you can use to sharpen your tools.
1. By Using Wheatstone or Diamond stone
Sharp Pebble Premium Whetstone Knife Sharpening kit comes with a double-sided (#1000/ #6000) whetstone knife sharpener. One side has coarser grit and the other finer.
The kit comes with a rubber base to keep the stone in place inside a non-slip bamboo base. This arrangement will keep the whetstone Fixed In One Place while sharpening.
You can securely apply constant pressure and maintain the Correct Angle while honing the blade with the aid of a knife sharpening angle guide provided.
You get better cutting performance with the unique combination of aluminum oxide and sharpening chemicals.
- Choose the right angle to sharpen your tool.
- Lubricate your Wheatstone or diamond stone with mineral oil.
- Using the angle guide to control the sharpening angle throughout the length.
- Start sharpening by using the rough side of the Wheatstone giving swipes.
- Use the finer grit side to sharpen or hone the knife.
- Repeat the same on the other side.
2. By Using a Honing Rod
The Diamond Carbon Steel Professional Sharpener Rod ensures efficient sharpening of dull knives and tools.
The oval shape of the rod is designed for higher sharpening efficiency and therefore requires much less force than most sharpening rods.
- Place the plastic tip of the rod on a stable surface.
- Lightly press downward to prevent slippage when using.
- Hold your knife at approximately 20° in relation to the honing rod.
- Sharpen the knife from heel to tip and repeat 2 – 3 times.
- Then turn to the other side of the knife until the blade is sharp.
- Clean the knife with water and dry it after use.
- Clean the knife sharpener with a non-abrasive brush.
3. By Using a File
The SHARPAL Dual-Grit Diamond Sharpening Stone File is made up of stainless steel with very high hardness.
It has dual grit of #1200 and #325 and is suitable for Knives, Axe, Hatchet, Lawn Mower Blades, Garden Shears, Chisels, Spade, Drills, and All Blade Edge.
The handle is made up of ergonomically designed comfortable rubber for a firm grip and better control.
- Select the coarser grit or the finer grit according to the condition of your blade.
- Place your tool on the heel of the file at an angle.
- Push the blade away from you like you are trying to carve a thin slice off the top of the file.
- Repeat the strokes several times with a consistent sharpening angle.
- Sharpen the other side of your blade with a pull in a similar manner.
- Move to a finer grit and repeat till your tool is completely sharp.
4. Using a tool sharpener
SHARPAL All-in-1 Multi-Sharpener is the market’s most versatile sharpener for both single and double-beveled blades, including knives, mower blades, pruners, loppers, hedge shears, axes, machetes, hatchets, scissors, edged tools.
In order to provide the best sharpening performance for each blade or tool edge, this item is made up of 5 sharpening parts.
The large handle makes it possible to utilize gloves and the large hand guard to keep blades from cutting your hands. The handle and base are over-molded in rubber for a safe and cozy grip.
- For Knives, insert the blade in the notch of the sharpener and pull the knife from heel to tip until sharp.
- For single-beveled blades, position the head of the sharpener in the heel of the blade, and with moderate downward pressure, pull the sharpener across the cutting edge.
- For an axe, hatchet or machete clamp it with a vise with a cutting edge upwards. Place the sharpener in the V-Notch and pull it with moderate pressure.
- For Scissors, stroke the sharpener along the cutting edge maintaining an angle of 20 degrees.
5. By Using a Ceramic Bowl or Mug
If you don’t have any sharpening tools at home, a ceramic bowl or mug can serve as an effective knife-sharpening tool.
- Place your bowl upside down on a firm surface.
- Place the sharpening edge of your tool at an angle of 20 degrees with the bowl edge.
- Sweep one side of the blade along the grit of the bowl giving several strokes.
- Flip your tool to the edge and continue sweeping again.
- Repeat this till your tool is sharp enough.
Safety Precautions To Follow While Sharpening Tools
- Wear protective gloves and long sleeves.
- Hold the cutting tool away from your body.
- Work in a well-lit place.
- Do not use excessive pressure while sharpening.
- Make slow movements.
- Maintain good visual contact while sharpening.
- Don’t swipe your fingertips on the knife edge to check if it is sharp.
Sharpening your tools and regular maintenance not only maximizes the cutting capacity but also increases the lifespan.
If you want to keep your sharpness intact for a longer period, you have to follow a daily, weekly or occasional tool maintenance schedule.
We really hope that our detailed and informative guide has helped you to find the methods to sharpen your tools according to your needs.
And if you have any questions or doubts about any of these methods, please let us know in the comments below.
FAQ: How To Sharpen Your Cutting Tools
As many people are really frustrated by their tools and desperately want to know how to efficiently sharpen them, they are searching a lot of questions on the internet. Here I have tried to answer some of the most commonly asked questions in the FAQ section.
1. Should The Blade Be Pushed or Pulled While Sharpening?
Ans: While maintaining an angle of 20 degrees, first push the blade with repeated strokes. Flip the other end and then pull the other edge till you achieve the desired sharpness.
2. Is Wet Sharpening Better or Dry Sharpening?
Ans: Wet Sharpening using a light oil or water is always better than dry sharpening because it dissipates heat while ensuring smooth and better sharpening.
3. Should You Start Sharpening With a Coarse Grit or a Fine Grit?
Ans: If you want to sharpen a very dull and old tool, then start off with a coarse grit and then move to a finer grit. Else, you can directly use a fine grit.