Fun Fact! Besides starting a fire with rocks, sharpening knives using rocks is one of the primary skills humankind developed to sustain their survival.
So can you sharpen knife with rock, still? Imagine what you would do on a camping trip where you need to recondition your blade, but have no access to a commercial sharpening tool. Rock will be your best friend in this scenario.
Rocks have irregular shapes and coarseness—hence not all types of rocks can be equally effective for desired results. On the contrary, some can dull the edge and ruin your precious knife. Therefore, for an optimum blade, you need to find a rock with a smooth surface and even texture.
Moreover, you should not use a rock sharpening device unless you have no other legitimate option—as it needs practice and there is a risk of damage.
In this blog, I will walk you through a detailed explanation of what types of rocks would be best for the task, a step-by-step procedure of knife-sharpening using rock and more tips and tricks. So let’s get into the details.
Can You Sharpen Knife with Rock?
Yes, you can sharpen a knife with a rock, but it’s not the most efficient method. First, find a smooth, flat rock with a coarse surface. Hold the knife at a 20-degree angle and drag the blade across the rock, starting from the base to the tip, using light pressure. Repeat on the other side of the knife until sharp.
What Types of Rocks are Best to Sharpen Knives?
If I find myself stuck in the wilderness with a knife-sharpening emergency- the two types of stone I would look for are river stones and sandstone. Here are the reasons why.
Riverstone is usually smooth and rounded due to the action of water. Although not the best option, we can use river stones to sharpen knives in a survival situation or emergency. With the appropriate technique, a river stone can provide enough abrasion to sharpen a dull knife. To use a river stone, look for a flat, smooth surface and use a circular motion to avoid slipping.
These stones are often made up of tiny particles of sand and other materials. While they are not as hard or abrasive as dedicated sharpening stones, they can still provide some degree of sharpening if you do not have any other options. To use a sandy stone, look for a stable surface and sharpen using a circular motion.
How to Sharpen a Knife with a Rock? The Complete Guide
Knife-sharpening using a rock might sound challenging, but with the correct method and appropriate stones—you can perform the task without a hitch. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to sharpen a knife with a rock.
- Not Just any Rock Will Do
Look for hard and flat rock with a rough surface. River rocks or rocks found near streams or creeks are good options. I suggest you look for a porous stone without large pits and holes. Porous stones have a grainy surface so that the water passes through them—making them suitable for sharpening. If you can not find a fitting rock, try to find concrete or rough pavement which can be a makeshift sharpening surface.
- The Right Grip Matters
Hold the knife at a 20-degree angle to the rock. This angle will allow you to sharpen the blade without damaging it. The knife should be facing away from you, and the handle should be pointed towards you.
- Watch out for Your Angle and Motion
Starting at the base of the blade, place the knife on the rock with the knife facing away from you. Move the blade in a circular motion, maintaining the 20-degree angle. Apply light pressure and repeat the process several times. Make sure to use the entire length of the knife, from the base to the tip.
- Round Two- Sharpen the Other Side
Once you have sharpened one side of the blade, turn the knife over and repeat the process on the other side. Remember to maintain the same angle and apply light pressure.
- The Moment of Truth- Sharpness Test
A sharp blade should be a hot knife through the butter. Let’s see if we’ve nailed it. After sharpening both sides of the blade, carefully test the sharpness by slicing through a piece of paper or cardboard. If the knife is not sharp enough, repeat the procedure until it cuts like butter.
More Methods to Sharpen Knives with Rocks or Stones
Besides the techniques I have mentioned above, there are some more methods that you can apply at your convenience.
- Rock and blade- Rub the Rock on Blade
You have found the best rock to sharpen your knife. It is smooth and porous, and the coarseness is just right— but also small, almost the size of your palm. Use this method instead. Hold the rock and rub it against the edge.
Hold the stone firmly in one hand and use it to run along the knife at a 20-degree angle, repeating the motion several times. Be sure to maintain the angle and pressure to avoid damaging the blade.
- Sharpening Up, Blade First- Rub the Blade on Rock
You have the perfect rock. Great. Lay it on the ground or your leg, whatever you find feasible. Hold the knife with the blade facing away from you and drag it across the rock at a 20-degree angle. Use a circular motion and apply light pressure, repeating the movement several times on each side of the blade.
Be careful not to apply too much pressure or use a rock with an uneven surface, as it can damage the blade.
- Double the Stones, Double the Sharpness
You have two stones of similar size and roughness instead of one- Bravo! Now you can use the v-shape method to sharpen even more quickly. Place one rock on the ground or a flat surface and hold the other stone at a 45-degree angle against it, creating a V-shape.
Hold the knife with the blade facing away from you and run it along the V-shaped edge of the rocks, moving from the base to the tip of the blade. Repeat the motion several times on each side of the blade. This method gives you a sharper edge but requires more precision and patience.
- Edge it up and Use the edge of the rock
This technique involves using the edge of the flat and coarse rock to sharpen the blade. Hold the knife at a 20-degree angle and use the edge of the rock to sharpen the blade, moving from the base to the tip. Apply light pressure and repeat the motion several times on each side of the blade. This method requires a steady hand and patience but is highly effective in achieving a sharp edge.
Tips and Tricks to Sharpen Knife with Rock
Sharp blades are great, but safety is even greater! Never underestimate the need for safety precautions when sharp objects are involved. In fact, you should be even more careful while not working with dedicated sharpening tools like rocks. Here are safety tips you must consider while sharpening knives with stones.
- Always maintain a consistent angle while sharpening. A 20-degree slant is a good starting point for most knives, but some blades may require a different angle.
- Apply light pressure while sharpening to avoid damaging the blade. Excessive force may bend the knife and increase the risk of injury.
- Test the sharpness of the blade frequently while sharpening to ensure that you are making progress.
- Wear gloves or wrap a cloth to hold the blade while sharpening to avoid cuts or injuries.
- Be sure to sharpen both sides of the blade equally to maintain its balance.
- Clean the knife after sharpening to remove any metal shavings or debris.
- Always store your knife in a sheath or protective cover to prevent injuries or damage.
FAQ – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can you sharpen knife with rock? Although not an optimum instrument, a rock can be one of the most effective makeshift tools to sharpen your blades in a survival-type situation. Believe me, you have the knack for this age-old primitive technique—a little bit of practice, and you can master the simple ancient art of sharpening with a stone.
In a nutshell—find the most suitable stones with a smooth and porous surface, wet them before the process and maintain a consistent angle throughout. The task may sound daunting, but trust me! With the right rock and a little elbow grease—we’ll have that blade looking sharp in no time.