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How to Sharpen a Knife with a File: A Step-By-Step Guide

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Do you have a blunt, dull, and old knife but can’t find the ways to sharpen it? Go no further, as here for your ease, techniques of how to sharpen a knife with a file are stated.

Systematic Instructions: How to Sharpen a Knife with a File

Apart from cutting and chopping in the kitchen, the knives are also termed as an important survival tool. Popularly known as survival knife, no one knows when it will be needed. Therefore, keeping them sharp for defense and everyday purposes is the wisest thing to do.

So, now let’s go ahead!

1. Positioning the Tools

Grasp the File in a Downward Position (at Arm’s Length) on the Surface

In order to avoid sliding of the file made of steel, make sure to hold it tightly against the surface. In fact, keep it in the vertical direction while placing its tip on the surface.

Tip: For better and safe sharpening of the knife, hold the file in a non-dominant hand at an arm’s length. By this, one can prevent any sort of injury, even if the sharpening file slips during the knife honing action.

Place the Knife against the File between 15o-20o

Now, the next step in how to sharpen a knife with a file is adjusting their (knife and file) angle with respect to each other. This is pivotal for the ideal honing of the tool.

Sharpen a knife
Instructions to know how to sharpen a knife with a file

So, just place the bottom (heel) of the knife against the paralleled file at an angle of 15 to 20 degrees. In simple words, the survival life knife must be positioned as if it would cut the whetting tool. However, if you want a more durable knife then, adjust it at a higher angle or else, for a sharper edge, keep it at a lower angle on the file equipment.

2. Whetting the Knife

Pull the Knife’s Blade towards You while moving until the end of the File

Firstly, maintains the knife’s angle as you move your hand. Then, gently move the knife downwards in such a way that the tip of the knife meets the other end of the steel file.

Tip: Apply less force as you move your hand.

Likewise, for sharpening the other side of the knife’s blade keeps it below the paralleled file. Now, apply the force and technique in the same way, as did earlier.

Repeat the process for both the sides from five to ten times.

Clean the Blade and Test its Sharpness

test the blade
How to sharpen a knife with a file properly! 

Finally, rinse the knife with water and dry it with a soft cloth. Afterwards, take a paper and test the knife’s blade on it. If the paper is cut using the knife this means, the tool is no more nicked, dull, or pitted.

Once learning and following the guide of how to sharpen a knife with a file, it’s equally important to adhere to its maintenance tips. To know about those tricks and tips, look at the guidelines below.

>> Read more: How to Make a Knife Sheath – DIY Guide <<

3. Maintenance of Knife

Once the knife’s blades are repaired, it is important to maintain them for more durability. And in this regard, make it a point to often check the sharpness of the knife. What you can do is, hold a paper, and slice down the knife through it. If the paper is not cut easily this means, the knife is dull and need to be sharpened.

Otherwise, also make it a point to sharpen the survival life knife frequently and store it in a rack or block to protect against other tools damaging it.

4 steps to sharpen a knife with file
How to sharpen a knife with a file with 4 steps 

Word of Caution: While you practice the guide of how to sharpen a knife with a file, be careful with the knife’s blade, especially when you are testing its edges.

How about a weird knife sharping method?

Variety of Files and Their Uses

To purchase the best file, you must be aware of the type of your knife first. This means, depending upon its shape, size, cuts, edges, and material, the type of file is decided.

Some of the common types of files and their uses are,

NoNameDescriptionApplication
1Warding FilesTapered and thin width
Parallel in Thickness
Used for slotting and Flatwork
2Slitting FilesDiamond shaped cross section
Parallel Width
Fill the slots
3Crochet FilesTapered thickness and width
Have two Flats and Radiuses
edges
Fill Slots with Rounded Edges
and junction between flat and
curved surfaces
4Barrette FilesTapered thickness and width
Round points at end
Do all Flatwork
5Crossing FilesEach side half-rounded
With one side having
larger radius than another
Fill curved-interior surfaces
6Equaling FilesParallel Thickness and WidthFilling Corners and Slots
7Nut FilesGraduated ThicknessDress slots, which support
strings of musical instruments
8Dreadnought FilesCurved TeethRemove material from thick metals
9Farrier Rasp FilesDouble Cut on one side
Flat with a rasp on reverse
Used by Blacksmiths
10Pippin FilesTeardrop cross-section
Edge of knife file
Make V-shaped slots and fill
junction curved surfaces
11Plane maker’s FloatSingle Cut files
Straight Float
Cut, smoothen, and flatten
Wood Hand Planes
12Knife FilesTapered thickness and widthFor operations like wedging
and slotting
13Half-round Ring FileTapered thickness and width
Narrower than standard half-round
Fill insides of rings
14Round Parallel FileSame as Round files
Shape-Toothed cylinder
Fill insides rings
15Checkering FilesTapered Thickness
Parallel Width
Grid Pattern Teeth
Checkering work on gunstocks
and make Serrations
16Joint Round Edge FilesParallel Width and Thickness
Rounded Edges
Make Hinges and Joints
17Pillar FilesTapered Thickness
Parallel Width
Shape- Long & Narrow
Used for Flat Filling
18Millenicut Files
Straight Teeth (Sharp but coarse)Remove Plastic Filler

Other Knife’s File

To add on, there is no standard nomenclature for the file but to differentiate, the general names are being given to the varied types of it.Besides this, there are some other files too, which are widely used these days. Some of them are riffler files, machine files, escapement files, dental files, needle files, and diamond files.

Sharpen a knife with file
There are several types of file you can use to sharpen you survival knife!

Now, you can select the one, according to your needs and next, apply the alove step-by-step guide on how to sharpen a knife with a file. This technique will be useful for you when you need a sharp knife for a survival trip in the wilderness.

Hope you find these tips and tricks useful!

Without a sharpener, here are 5 interesting way to sharp your knife!

1 Comment
  1. Antoine Cordet says

    Very nice info. I had thought about using a file as I generally use stones but, sometimes I wish I had something that removed metal more quickly than a stone. Thanks for sharing this blog.

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