Sharpening and mantaining your survival tools.
Back some time ago, I posted my opinion for survival knives in another of my ‘tested gear‘ posts. Other edged tools useful and even vital to our survival in the wilds (be it in the deep woods, or suburbia, after the SHTF) will also need their business ends worked over now and then to keep the efficiency and usefulness of the tool to the maximum. For instance, skinning game or chopping trees with dull tools is much more work than with sharp tools. So, this post will cover my personal choice for knife sharpening as the primary coverage, then I’ll add some other tools that look very promising and versatile to also consider.
Once upon a time I made a video demonstrating my Lansky Sharpening System , but then I reconsidered for 2 excuses. First, OPSEC (operational security, or keeping your privacy) then, I sound, to myself, rather like ‘Leave it to Beaver‘ big brother Wally as I ramble on.
Now, if you remember that bit of Americana TV trivia, you too, are an ‘ol’ geezer’. 🙂
So, I ventured forth to Youtube and sifted through the endless pile of videos out there and found one, apparently put out by Lansky, that properly demonstrates the use of the kit.
This USA made product has a minor secret to get such fantastic edges on blades, in that it has angle guides to keep one consistent as the sharpening procedure goes along. With about 8 or 10 minutes effort, going from a dull blade to a better than razor-sharp one is straightforward and simple. You can literally transform a blade that will barely peel a potato to one that will slice a sheet of notebook paper end to end while you hold it in the air. I have also used my Lansky kit to save a blade that had about 1/4″ broken off the spear point tip. Using the coarsest stone, and the upper angle guide slots, in about 15 minutes work, I had transformed the tip back to a functioning sharp point. It was a different shape, of course, because of the missing material of the original tip.
The limitations of the Lansky system sharpener is the length of blade it will handle and is limited pretty much to knife blades. A 6 or 7 inch blade is about the limit, unless you want to try it in segments. If this is all you require, you can’t do much better.
Another interesting looking sharpening tool is the “WorkSharp Guided Field Sharpener”
The WorkSharp also has ‘guides’, but they only start you out at the proper angle as you begin a stroke with your blade that needs work. You must make the follow through freehand. I have not personally tested this one, but the added versatility of dealing with axes, hatchets, larger blades and fish hooks is well worth considering. I value any survival tool with multiple functions, and when the tool does them all well, even more so.
As far as hatchets, axes and machetes, they too can be made sharp enough to split a sheet of paper held in the air. They may be sharpened very effectively with just a good file. The key to hand sharpening a tool in any case, is to maintain the proper angle towards the blade edge as you sharpen the tool. Using the proper method to sharpen an axe shown here is the safe and effective way to get a razor-sharp edge using sharpening stones. Now, that my friends is a sharp little axe! Using axes, hatchets or other tools sharpened to this degree, or even a dull tool for that matter, can easily take off a finger tip, a whole finger or give a life threatening or fatal in the wilds wound to a careless or distracted operator. BE CAREFUL.
You can split small diameter wood with your survival knife. This technique is known as ‘batoning’ for unknown reasons, as you don’t twirl anything or whatever. The full tang knife just needs to be longer than the wood diameter. You must also have a REAL survival knife, not a $9.95 hollow handle phony baloney “survival knife” passed off onto rookies, and you must ONLY strike the back of the blade to drive it through the wood.