Are your knives giving you a hard-time cutting while your knife sharpener is nowhere in sight? Don’t panic! All you need to do is to be a little creative and you will be able to solve your problem in a jiffy. You wonder how? With a nail file!
So, can you sharpen a knife with a nail file? Although a nail file is not an ideal sharpening tool, it can be a reasonable substitute in an emergency. The plus point is- a nail file is one of the items that you will always find at home. So, when you are up to your ears preparing a feast, you can come by a nail file without stepping out.
In this blog, I have expounded on how to sharpen a knife with a nail file, the yays and nays of a nail file and the precautions you must take before and during the sharpening process. So, let’s dive right into it.
Can You Sharpen A Knife With A Nail File?
Yes, you can use a nail file to sharpen a knife. It is done by holding the file against the blade at a consistent angle and making back-and-forth strokes along the length of the blade to remove metal and create a sharp edge.
Step-By-Step Process of Sharpening a Knife With a Nail File
Here is how to sharpen a knife without a sharpener using a nail file.
- Clean the Blade
Clean the blade thoroughly to remove any dirt, debris, or oils that could clog the abrasive surface of the nail file.
- Determine the Angle
Hold the blade at an angle that is best suitable for sharpening, usually around 20-30 degrees for most kitchen knives. You can also refer to a sharpening guide or practice with the nail file to get a feel for the right angle.
- Start Sharpening
Place the nail file against the blade at the determined angle and make slow, back-and-forth strokes along the length of the blade. Be sure to apply even pressure and retain the same angle throughout the process.
- Flip the Knife
Once you are satisfied with the sharpening of one side, flip the knife over and repeat the process on the other side. You need to make an equal number of strokes on each side to keep the edge even.
- Check the Edge
Don’t forget to test the sharpness after you have finished sharpening. Check the edge for any burrs or nicks that may have formed during the process. If necessary, use a honing steel or a fine-grit nail file to remove any burrs and refine the edge. You can test the sharpness by cutting a piece of paper or slicing a tomato. If you can make an effortless slit, your knife is ready to tackle the sharpening tasks.
- Store the Knife
Make sure to store the knife safely, preferably in countertop knife blocks or wall-mounted magnetic strips to prevent damage to the blade.
Pros and Cons of Sharpening with a Nail File
Despite being a knife enthusiast, there were instances when I found myself stuck in a situation with no proper tool to sharpen my knives. Although it happened rarely- such events taught me valuable lessons about the use of makeshift tools.
As I have mentioned above, it bears repeating that nail files are not dedicated sharpening tools, so you need to be ten times more cautious while using this tool. Here are a few pros and cons of using a nail file.
Convenience: The top-most plus point of nail files is their convenience. Nail files are widely available and inexpensive, making them a convenient option for quickly sharpening a dull knife.
Portability: Nail files are compact and lightweight, which makes them perfect and easy to carry for an outdoor trip to keep your pocket knife in good shape. So why pack a bulky or expensive sharpening tool that you may lose during the expedition when you can efficiently make do with a cheap filer?
Emergency solution: Nail files can be your saviour when your knives ditch you while preparing a 3-course meal, and it is practically impossible to buy a tool immediately. In a pinch- a nail file can temporarily sharpen a blunt knife until you get your hands on a more suitable option.
Limited Effectiveness: Nail files can scrape the material off the edge to make them sharp enough to cut. But they are not designed for knife sharpening, and their abrasiveness may not be sufficient to fine-tune a dull blade.
Risk of Damage: Using a nail file with a harder material than the blade can potentially damage or chip the edge.
Uneven Edge: Maintaining a consistent angle can be challenging while sharpening with a nail file, and it may result in a rough and irregular edge.
Time-Consuming: Compared to a dedicated knife sharpener, sharpening a knife with a nail file can be a slow and labour-intensive process.
Related: How To Sharpen A Knife With A File
Things to Keep in Mind While Sharpening with a Nail File
Here’s how to sharpen a knife with a nail file keeping all the safety measures in mind.
- Choose Softer Material
If you are using a metal nail file, be aware that it may be harder than the blade of your knife, which could damage or chip the knife. To avoid this, try to use a file that is made of a softer material, such as a diamond grit file.
- Work Slowly
Work slowly and deliberately, applying light pressure to the file as you move it along the length of the blade. Pay close attention to the blade and stop immediately if you feel the file slipping or sliding.
- Maintain the Angle
Holding your knife at a consistent angle is crucial, or else you may end up ruining the blade. The design and shape of a nail file are inappropriate for sharpening a knife. Thus it can be tough to maintain a consistent angle when using a nail file. However, with practice, you can develop a feel for the right angle to hold the nail file.
Start with a moderate angle and gradually increase or decrease the tilt as needed. Count the number of strokes you make on each side of the blade, and try to make an equal number of strokes on each side to ensure that the edge remains even.
FAQ – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
So, Can you use a nail file to sharpen a knife? Definitely. It’s a decent temporary fix when you are preoccupied with chores or have no access to a designated sharpening tool such as a whetstone or a pull-through knife sharpener.
But I suggest you avoid relying solely on a nail file to sharpen your knife. After all, it is only makeshift, no matter how good of a result it provides. Constant use of nail files may damage the edge in the long run and ruin the nail file itself.
Nonetheless, a nail file is a perfect handy tool for a camping trip to sharpen your pocket knives. Wondering how to sharpen a pocket knife with a nail file? The process is the same as I have mentioned above.
So now that you are attuned to the importance of regular sharpening, keep your blades keen-edged and invest in reliable and effective sharpening equipment. Remember, a sharp knife is the key to better food presentation and quality cooking.