Anyone who owns one needs to know how to sharpen a pocket knife.

It’s a waste of money to let your knives go dull.

If they fall into a severe state of disrepair, you can damage your knife to the point where you can no longer use it.

It’s expensive to replace your knives every time they wear out, and a little maintenance can save you a lot in the long run.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on RiflePal. For more information, read full disclosure here.

Using the Right Sharpener

After you’ve thoroughly cleaned your blade and its casing and allowed it to completely dry, it’s time to break out your knife sharpener.

Most pocket knives can easily be sharpened in a small sharpener – usually, ones that are designed to be portable and sized to fit in a tackle box or carry bag are perfect for most pocket knives.

The best sharpener will have at least two sharpening slots, and some of them may include stones, diamond rods, and sideways medium grit sharpening surfaces for oddly shaped tools.

You can sharpen a pocket knife with a kitchen knife sharpener, but you might need to be a little more careful.

Sharpeners with slots that are too deep for a small pocket knife blade may destroy the grind, so you’ll need to use light pressure when working with these kinds of sharpeners to prevent damage.

A Quick Guide for Sharpening Regular Folding Pocket Knives

It’s easy to sharpen a regular folding pocket knife.

Ideally, you’ll want to sharpen this knife before it becomes completely dull. If you wait too long, the edges of the knife can become too dull to actually sharpen.

Sharpening a knife that’s long overdue can actually cause the blade to crack and chip.

You’ll know it’s time to sharpen your pocket knife when it starts to drag slowly through cardboard. Check your knife every few weeks so you’ll know when it’s time.

Pocket knives, like every other knife, require a dual-phase system to be completely sharpened.

You’ll need a sharpener with two separate slots – one with a coarse grit to actually sharpen the knife, and another slot with a fine grit (usually made of ceramic) to hone the blade.

If you sharpen your knife without honing it through a fine slot, you’ll wind up with jagged edges that can snag on the things you’re cutting and damage your blade.

Knives with serrated edges require a different kind of care, and that specialty maintenance is covered in a separate section.

If your knife is serrated in the back, just sharpen the front as normal and stop short of the serrations.

Treat the beginning of this edge as though it were the handle of the knife and save the back for later.

A Quick Guide for Sharpening Swiss Army Knives

Even if you know how to sharpen a pocket knife, you might not know how to sharpen a Swiss army knife.

Sharpening Swiss army knives is a little more complicated. The blades are very straightforward, but the tools can make things tricky.

Some tools on a Swiss army knife, like a corkscrew or a nail file, don’t actually need to be sharpened. It’s the things like the can openers and scissors that will need special care.

The best way to sharpen a pocket knife with attachments is by treating each of those attachments differently.

Scissors should be treated like two small knives. Fully open the scissors from the casing, and lock them into place. Sharpen and hone one side at a side, exactly as though they were two miniature knives.

Focus the sharp edge against the stone first. You can use this same method for sharpening wire strippers.

Can openers won’t fit through a regular sharpening slot, so you’ll need a diamond rod for those.

Rotate the edge of the blade around the diamond sharpener, or use a rounded sharpening stone to get into the bend of the attachment.

Some knife sharpeners have small, single stone attachments built into the side. These are designed for knives of irregular shapes, and they may work for things like irregularly shaped or curved blades.

Knowing how to sharpen a Swiss Army Knife will also help with taking care of your survival multitool.

Sharpening Knives with Serrated Edges

The best way to sharpen a pocket knife with serrated edges is to use a diamond rod. Many portable knife sharpeners include a small diamond rod attachment that folds out of the bottom.

This rod is tapered down to a thin end, and the changes in diameter are what make it possible to sharpen serrations of all different depths.

If you try to run a serrated knife through a regular knife sharpener, you will likely destroy both the blade and the sharpener itself.

The sharpener won’t be able to reach the depths of the serrations. It will merely shave off the flat parts that maintain the edge of the blade.

If you’re rough on the knife, they might even snap right off. This will ruin the entire knife, and there’s no way to fix it.

Slide the tapered end of the diamond rod into the serrations of the knife, and stop just before it gets snug. Drag and pull the rod through the serrations carefully.

It’s difficult to do and it’s very time-consuming, but it’s the only way to sharpen a serrated knife where you don’t risk wrecking the blade.

Keeping it Easy

Always sharpen each surface and each attachment in the way it was intended to be sharpened. This will keep your pocket knife durable for years to come.

pocket knife and sharpener on table

If you sharpen your knife frequently, it won’t take very long to perform small touch-ups. Just make sure you don’t sharpen it on a daily basis because you could cause the blade to prematurely weaken.

It’s good practice to maintain your knife whenever you have a few minutes. Always put it away clean and dry, even if the blade is covered in a coating that protects against rust or stains.

When your sharpener stones start to wear down, it’s time to replace them.

There’s no sense in sharpening your knife with a sharpener that isn’t going to work to its fullest potential.

And I think we can all agree that knowing the right way to take care of your knife is one of those skills, that can come in very handy not only when it comes to survival, but in everyday life as well. Just like other military transferable skills.