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FAQs about Knives

by Staff Writer

Hunting knife and shotgun in autumn leaves

Whether you're purchasing knives for everyday tasks, such as pocket knives, or looking for hunting knives and tactical knives for your excursion into the woods, you probably have a few concerns about sharpening your knives and protecting yourself. This guide will provide answers to your questions when you buy knives and give you plenty of tips for keeping your knives in great condition.

Questions about Knives:

  1. What is a blood groove for?
    Blood grooves, commonly seen on swords and tactical knives, like the Bowie knife, are thought to be derived from the channel seen on sword blades, called a "fuller." Blood grooves aren't really made to channel blood, nor are they a decoration. When you fuller a blade, you stiffen and lighten the blade. In an unfullered blade, you have only one center spine, but fullering produces two spines on the blade, one on each side of the fuller where the edge bevels come in contact with the fuller. Without fullering, a blade that is 3 feet long, as on a sword, would tend to whip when swung. Fullering lightens the blade because it has less material than an unfullered blade. This important structural function is believed to have led the way to modern I-beam construction.

  2. Should I buy a sheath for my knife?
    If you purchase fixed-blade knives that do not come with sheaths already or if the old sheath wears out before the knife, then you should purchase knife sheaths. The sheath will protect your knife and yourself from any injury or damage. Knife sheaths are also designed to be attached to your belt, making carrying your Bowie knife or hunting knife safer. Most knife makers include a sheath for fixed-blade knives.

  3. What are the different kinds of knife sharpeners?
    The three main type of knife sharpeners are Arkansas stone, ceramic and diamond. For diamond and Arkansas stone sharpeners, you will need a lubricant, unless it is specified as unnecessary by the manufacturer. (Read the instructions included with all knives before sharpening.) Honing oil, or good-quality general purpose oil, is used with Arkansas stone sharpeners. Water, with a small amount of soap, can be used with diamond knife-sharpeners. Remember that the lubricant isn't used to help the knife blade glide; it is used to help remove the microscopic particles of steel that are left behind on the sharpener while knife sharpening.

    Knife Sharpener Specifics

    • Arkansas stone: This knife sharpener is made from a form of stone. It has been used for many generations, and many consider it to be one of the best, despite being inexpensive. This stone comes in grades and usually consists of two pieces of stone with differing amounts of roughness glued together.

    • Ceramic: Ceramic offers a very high degree of durability and lasts a very long time. This knife sharpener isn't recommended for very dull knives, but it is perfect for finishing a knife blade. It usually has a wooden base and two ceramic sharpening rods.

    • Diamond: Diamond sharpeners are durable and make fast work of blades; diamond chips are embedded into the surface of the knife sharpener. It is used in the same way as Arkansas stone sharpeners. They are fairly new and cost a bit more than others, but hunters seem to love them for hunting knives.

  4. How do I sharpen my knife and keep it sharp?
    Determine the correct blade angle. Look at the existing angle of the blade; you want to duplicate this angle. Lubricate the stone, if needed, and place the stone on a solid surface. Draw the knife across the sharpener. Draw the knife blade so that the knife is cutting into the surface and not being dragged backwards. Maintaining the correct angle is as important, and almost as critical, as doing the same number of passes on each side during knife sharpening. You want to keep the edge even, and doing the same number of passes on each side will keep it even. Once you have made a few passes on each side, clean the blade with a rag or damp sponge and test for sharpness. If the blade is sharp enough, clean and oil it. If it is still dull, repeat the process again.

  5. When should I sharpen my knife?
    When you see or feel a difference in the knife's ability to cut, it is a good time to sharpen your knife. The best and safest way to test your knife's edge is to cut a piece of paper. If the blades of your pocket knives glide through without crumbling the paper, then your knives are still sharp. Try cutting a piece of paper when you buy knives so you will have a better idea of what to look for later.

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