How to Sharpen a Knife With Leather

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Using a leather belt on a knife is part of the honing process, but it is not a full-on sharpening process in itself. Find out if a particular knife is suited for being sharpened with a piece of leather with help from a bladesmith in this free video on knife sharpening.

Part of the Video Series: Knife Sharpening
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Video Transcript

How is it going my name is John Hedrick, today's focus is sharpening knife with a leather belt. Ok the common misconception about sharpening a knife with a leather strap is that's the only process involved. That's simply not the case. Ok using a leather belt on a knife is part of the honing process. Not a full on sharpening process. Ok so the first thing you need to decide when you want to attempt this is whether or not the knife that you choose to sharpen is actually suited for being sharpened with a piece of leather. If it does not have the correct geometry or the amount of removal necessary for honing then you will just be wasting your time and you are going to eat up your belt ok. Now once you ascertain that the knife is indeed appropriate for sharpening with the leather belt, the first thing you need to consider is safety. Alright. Always have the blade in movement like this. Ok. And when you are coming this way you bring it like this alright. Not like this. Not like this. Ok that's a recipe for disaster, that's a recipe for injury. Alright. Now what you'll see most people doing when they go to sharpen a knife on a piece of leather is this. Now I guess if it's their knife and their belt, they can do it that way if they want to, but when I do it, in order to maintain a consistent angle, I do a series of repetitions while my wrists maintains the same angle over and over again. Alright when I've counted the amount of strokes that I want to perform then I'll switch to the opposite direction, maintain the same angle and complete the same amount of passes with the knife. Now another thing that you need to remember is that you don't want to localize all of your sharpening in one spot. You want to drag the knife across the entire cutting edge down the entire length of the belt. Ok, that ensures that you have even polishing, even contact and even wear on your belt. Ok. Lets say you do it twenty times, one, two, three, four, twenty alright. Then you do it twenty times one, two, three, four, twenty alright. After you get to that point and you perform a sharpness test and it's almost ready for the final stage, then you start alternating your strokes one after the other to get minimal, minimum removal from each side. So after you do it in a repetitious fashion on each side then switch to an alternating stroke. And what that will do is ensure even removal on both sides to a minimal extent. So that gives you, that achieves a very refined cutting edge that can be used for skinning, shaving or pretty much whatever you can imagine beyond, beyond impact use. Ok appropriate time for this would be about ten to fifteen minutes. If you find yourself going longer then that and the knife isn't sharp then it was not a correct choice for using on a leather belt.

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