How to sharpen a pocket knife

A pocket knife is a useful tool to carry around. However, what happens when your pocket knife becomes dull? This guide will give you some tricks and tips on ow to sharpen a pocket knife.

Pocket knives have been carried for centuries. The oldest known knives go back to around 200 BC. Over the years the knife has improved and the modern pocket knife started to emerge around the year 800. That’s a long history and in that time people have developed techniques to sharpen and hone the knife edge to make it sharper so that it will cut easier. The sharper the blade the safer it is. A dull knife if more prone to cause an accident because you will use more force and it can slip and cut you.

A pocket knife and a sharpening stone

Types of Pocket Knives

There are many different types of pocket knives and believe it or not, they all have names. All pocket knives fold to protect the blade and the user. How they fold and what they consist are what make them different or carry their makers name.

Kershaw Classic Slipjoint Pocket Knife

Slip Joint Knife

The slip joint knife is one of the earliest pocket knives. It features a built in spring mechanism that holds the blade in place.

Victornox Swiss Army Knife

Camper Knife

A Camper Knife is a pocket knife that contains multiple blades and functions. A Swiss Army knife is probably one of the best examples of camper knife.

Canoe Knife

Canoe Knife

A Canoe Knife is a knife that is shaped like a canoe and usually contains two blades.


A Penknife is the British term for a camp knife. It typically has two blades, one of which is a pen blade for sharpening a quill for writing.

Locking Blade Knife

A locking blade knife is essentially a fixed blade knife that folds and fits in your pocket. The modern original locking blade knife was the Buck 110 folding knife.

Ways to sharpen a pocket knife

The first step to sharping a knife is finding a good sharping stone such as Smith’s SK2 2-Stone Sharpening Kit. The stone will remove a microscopic layer of metal creating a sharper edge which is what you are looking for. There are other methods such as pull through sharpeners but as we will see, they do not do as good a job as a sharpening stone.


Sharpening stone

After you find a good stone, you will need to hold your knife at a 25 degree angle or a little less give or take. Some stones will come with a guide to show you what 25 degrees is. You then firmly press the knife to the stone at a 25 degree angle – the back of the knife should be on the stone but the tip will be not be. Slide the knife down the stone and pull so at the end of the stone the front of the knife will sliding off and will be sharpened as well. Depending on how dull your knife is and how much damage is on the knife you may have to repeat this for 10-20 (maybe even 30!) times. You will want to do this on both sides.

Sharpening a knife - notice the angle and how the tip is off the stone
Sharpening a knife – notice the angle and how the tip is off the stone
Here's a pocket knife being sharpened.  This is repeated on both sides.
Here’s a pocket knife being sharpened. This is repeated on both sides.

Pull through sharpener

Because each blade has a unique profile and a pull through sharpener has a fixed angle, they are not always the best choice for sharpening a pocket knife. For this reason we highly recommend using a sharpening stone.

Some Recommendations

Now that we know how to sharpen a pocket knife, here are some recommendations for a few different knives & safety gear from a long time knife enthusiast.


  • Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife – This is a good all around everyday knife for use and abuse.
  • Gerber Gear 22-48485 Paraframe Mini Pocket Knife – This is a great beginners pocket knife, complete with a lock blade.

Safety Gear

  • HANDLANDY Mens Work Gloves – These gloves are cut resistant and will keep you moderately safe while sharpening your knife.
  • UVEX by Honeywell S3200 Genesis Safety Glasses – Safety glasses are always recommended. You never know when something could fly up and hit you in the eye!


Knives are incredibly handy tools to have every day. Pocket knives make for a convenient way to always have a knife with you. Any blade, regardless of price, will dull over time and hopefully, this guide will help you learn how to sharpen your pocket knife and extend the life and usefulness of your blade.