“You’re only as sharp as your bushcraft knife” might not be exactly true, but it does have an element of logic to it. When out in the woods looking after your knife and maintaining its edge can make the difference between and enjoyable and miserable experience. In a survival situation looking after your bushcraft knife becomes an even more serious affair. In this blog, we’re going to look at what we mean by ‘bushcraft knife’, and how to keep it sharp at home and in the field. As always, feel free to read the entire blog or skip to the section that interests you the most.
Before we go any further though, take a look at our blog on knife law in the UK.
- What do we mean by bushcraft knife
- Equipment needed to sharpen your knife in the field
- Sharpening your knife in the field
- Sharpening your knife at home
- A video demonstration
- How often to sharpen your bushcraft knife
- Kit list
- Further reading
What do we mean by bushcraft knife
At Wildway Bushcraft we look at knives like tools. Provided they do the job that they are intended for then we’re happy. We don’t fetishise knives and we believe that the best bushcraft knife is the one that does the best job. It is also about skills, in the hands of a knowledgeable woodsman more can be achieved with a penknife than with a machete in the hands of an amateur. When we talk about bushcraft knives in this blog we’re talking about knives such as the Morakniv Heavy Duty Companion. This will only set you back about £25 and is all you need to get started in Bushcraft.
What do we use?
We’ll cover the kit that we use at Wildway Bushcraft at the end of this blog but we use our own knives, the-wildway-knife. If you’re interested in one of these knives, let us know and we will see what we can do.
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Equipment needed to sharpen your knife in the field
It is most likely that you will need to sharpen your knife in the field, especially if you are out in the woods for an extended period of time. In order to sharpen your bushcraft knife in the field, you will need, apart from a knife obviously, a small sharpening stone. The one that we would recommend is the DC4 from Fallkniven. This small sharpening stone easily fits in the pocket, doesn’t weigh much at all and is perfect for sharpening your knife in the field.
Sharpening your knife in the field
The principle of sharpening your knife in the field is the same as to sharpening your bushcraft knife at home. The knife should be placed on the sharpening stone so that the bevel is flat against the stone. In the case of using the DC4 in the field hold up the knife, place the sharpening stone against it, so that the bevel of the knife is flat against it. Then move the sharpening stone in small circular motions on the blade of the knife. Be sure to swap sides so that both sides are sharpened equally. One tip to help is to draw along the point of the blade with a marker pen. Once the marker pen has been erased you will have sharpened the blade equally.
Sharpening your knife at home
The same principles used when sharpening your knife in the field applies when sharpening your knife at home. The primary difference is in the sharpening stones. Without taking into account weight considerations when sharpening your knife at home you can use water stones. We suggest waterstones such as the Ice Bear Waterstones , choose two of different grits, for example, the 1000 and 6000. Before using the waterstones they should be submerged and filled with water. Again, place the bushcraft knife on the stone, with the bevel flat against it, push the knife away from you in smooth strokes. It is easiest to sharpen your knife in strokes of eight, eight on one side, eight on the other. For a more practical demonstration watch our video in the section below.
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A video demonstration
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How often to sharpen your bushcraft knife
When it comes to how often you should sharpen your bushcraft knife the simple answer is, as often as it needs it. You should always check your equipment before heading out into the field and keep in maintained to the highest possible standard while out there.
Here are some pieces of kit that you might find useful when out and about in the woods.
Please note that, with the exception of Bear Blades, Wildway Bushcraft is not associated with any of the products or manufacturers listed below; we don’t get anything from them if you choose to buy anything.
- Fallkniven DC4
This diamond/ceramic whetstone is perfect for use in the field.
- Ice Bear Sharpening Stones
Other wet stones are available and Ice Bear stones are available from other sources. https://www.axminster.co.uk/ice-bear-waterstone-sharpening-kit-810204https://www.raymears.com/Bushcraft_Product/1286-Ice-Bear-Japanese-Combination-Waterstone-1000-and-6000-Grit/
- Bear Blades
Wildway Bushcraft use Bear Blades.
“Constructed from superb quality D2 steel this knife is ideal for bushcraft and wood crafting. Our most popular knife due to its versatility and functionality, suited to tough daily use in the woods.”
Mora is the quintessential bushcraft knife manufacturer. We even visit their factory on our Swedish canoe expedition. Find out more about the Mora Heavy Duty Companion via the link below.