How to Sharpen a Knife With a Sharpening Rod

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When sharpening a knife with a sharpening rod, or honing rod, the most important aspect is the preciseness of angles and the consistency in removal. Use a sharpening rod on any type of knife 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

My name is John Hedrick and I am going to talk today about using a honing rod to sharpen a knife. It works on any type, pocket knife, kitchen knife, hunting knife, it doesn't matter. What does matter is the preciseness of your angles and your consistency in removal. First I want to talk about some safety aspects. There are hand guards on this for a reason. What that is is it is a natural motion to continue your motion as you are doing it so you are going to fight that natural feeling of your follow through and just stop. The same thing coming over here. You are winding up and coming across here. It looks kind of stupid in slow mo but when you are going fast you won't even know you have cut yourself until about three seconds afterwards. So kitchen rods vary. You have got diamond coated, you have got ceramic, you have got steel. Each of them produce different results. It just depends what is the job that you need your knife to do and that determines what you use. This one is a medium grade removal rate. That means it doesn't leave a rough edge but it is not high polished either it is just right there in the middle. So I am going to start out by positioning my right hand with the guards over my thumb and forefinger and take the base of the knife and I want to maintain the same angle, roughly 26 degrees as I take the entire length of the blade down the entire length of the pole. Now you will see people doing it like this. That is not right because what they will do is as they are coming out they are changing the angle at which they are sharpening, that is not an acceptable cutting edge. So what you need to do is to maintain it with your wrists and you keep your wrists straight, make your movement from the elbow. See how my wrist is straight, only my elbow is moving. So you make about ten passes and then I will switch positioning to the other side, here. I will repeat that as a set, like let's say ten swipes on each side is a set and I'll do three sets. That should be more than sufficient for a moderately dull knife. After that is over I will go to stage two which is based on the same principle, maintaining the same angle but I will alternate between sides. That means I am getting close. You want to do that probably about 15 times on each side so that is a total of 30 passes. If you do that to a knife it should be decently sharp as far as being able to shave hair or anything else you might encounter. Another thing is these steel poles with the ridges and diamond coats they wear out so if you are having a hard time sharpening a knife with the kitchen knife it may be time to buy a new one. The stone ones don't wear out but due to their porous nature they become clogged with the knife material so they have to be soaked in acid either nitric or muriatic acid in order to be fully functional again.

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