Wargaming Tradecraft: Sharpening Knives

Sharpening Knives

An important part of the upkeep for your knives is making sure they stay nice and sharp.

Most people overlook the importance of sharp blades. Blades that are dull or have nicks and such, however, will not only be difficult to use, but it will also catch and skip. This can lead to injury, messing up the mini or even damaging the blade further.
The stone on the left is obviously too rough for knives as fine as we hobbyists use. The two on the right are the type for getting fine edges. I use two stones; while both are smooth to the touch, the middle one is a little coarser so I start with it, then repeat all the steps with the stone on the right which is finer.

  1. Wet the stone and keep it wet while you work.
  2. Place the sharp edge against the stone and tilt the blade back.
  3. Make sure the whole blade fits so you sharpen evenly.
  4. In a smooth motion with firm, even pressure, slice forward.
  5. Lift the blade, return it to it's start location and repeat.
  6. Use a smaller angle to get a finer edge.
  7. Repeat for the blade's other side. (same number of slices)
Typically, I'll make 5 slices at 45 degrees, another 5 at half that, repeat for the other side of the blade then do it all again for good measure.
After finishing with the coarser sharpening stone, I use the finer one and repeat all the same steps.

In the below photo, the angle on the left is too large. The middle angle is what I start with, roughly 45 degrees. On the right is the angle I end with, roughly 22.5 degrees.



When trying for a super sharp edge, don't make the angle too small or you'll end up with the main body of the blade touching the stone and not the edge of the blade.

This all creates a nice sharp edge on your blades. With enough work you can remove nicks, scratches, chips, add serration or even reshape them. I the below photo, I've curved the tip to get a little more usefulness out of one blade.


For concave shaped blades, you can also find rounded sharpening tools. (Similar to the sharpening rods for kitchen knifes) You use these the same as the stones except as you slice forward, also slide your blade sideways to sharpen the whole edge in a single stroke.

As my buddy Hex points out, after you've sharpened your blades, treat them right and protect them from rust:
"3in1 oil if you feel you need to, (machine oil ) otherwise I use a bit of virgin olive oil on mine (plain, not spiced lol). Veggie oil would work too. Wipe off excess"


As reader Loquacious points out, her knife came with a number of extra blades -
"Other than economy (which I do see a value in) what benefit does sharpening have over just replacing a blade?" (I'll assume these extra blades are the same, and not different shapes/sizes as detailed in my all about knives post)

  • Economical reasons are certainly one of the reasons to sharpen rather than replace. Keep the spares for times when you snap the blade.
  • There's a good chance you'll be able to sharpen your blades better than they come from the factory.
  • In the case of high-quality (or surgical quality) blades, these extra blades may be machined and sharper than we humans can easily do.


The tools and supplies talked about here are somewhat specialty items. You can try knife and art stores, (which might be able to order them) but will have better luck at carving (wood working) stores. Hardware and surplus stores that carry sharpening stones probably don't have any fine enough for hobbies, just axes and such.

2 comments:

  1. This might seem oblivious, but my hobby knife came with about 20 spare blades. Other than economy (which I do see a value in) what benefit does sharpening have over just replacing a blade?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for pointing that out. It's not uncommon and I've updated the end of my post to answer your question.

    ReplyDelete

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