Knife Care Maintenance

Knife Care & Maintenance

To complete proper knife maintenance, knife owners will need to take care of the tool's blade, handle and moving parts. By cleaning, sharpening and storing knives properly, knife owners will extend the life of the tool.

Sharpening Tips and Recommendations

Knife blades should be sharpened on whetting stones. When a knife blade requires a touch up, use a fine grit stone to complete the task. With excessively dull blades, be sure to use a course grit stone first. Then, change to a fine grit stone. Do not sharpen a knife blade with an electrical grinding wheel because the mechanism could burn the temper from the blade, which causes the edge to become brittle. An electrical sharpener could also cause the edge to chip or crack.

Diamond stone sharpeners are made from metal or a composite base. The mechanism features an exterior coating of micron-sized diamonds that the manufacturer bonds to the metal surface. To prevent filling build-up, the sharpening tool may have special surface holes. Diamond stones sharpen knife blades fast and effectively. The device is available in different grits, and users can operate the stone wet or dry. However, most knife sharpening experts advise people to use the stone wet. Knife owners can use water or a water-based honing oil to keep the stone wet.

Natural sharpening stones are another tool that knife owners can use to sharpen their knife blades. The stone style is available in different abrasive qualities and grits. Knife owners can use the stones wet or dry, but owners should keep in mind that if they use oil on their natural stone, then they cannot go back to using water. Also, while sharpening a blade, it is important to use enough honing fluid. In fact, the substance should be visible on the stone. When the stone appears dingy, add more fluid.

To sharpen a nicked blade, be sure to start with a course grit sharpener, but keep in mind that scratches occur during incorrect sharpening techniques. Therefore, use caution during the sharpening process. While sharpening a knife blade, follow the same edge and grind angle as when the knife was first purchased. Hold the blade against the stone to cut uniformly across the grind edge as the technique will form an accurately angled edge. If the blade is formed with a high angle, then the edge will lose some of its ability to slice, but it will chop more easily.

Pocketknife Care

Over time, metal will corrode. Therefore, knife owners will need to lubricate the springs and joints of a pocketknife. By maintaining the moveable sections of a pocketknife, owners can make sure that their knives continue to open and close easily. Knife upkeep will also decrease wear and limit the development of rust. Knife owners should wipe the blades down periodically and use an oil-dampened cloth to prevent rust, which is especially important for people who live in humid environments. If the blade should become wet, then dry it thoroughly. When the knife blade is exposed to saltwater or a unique substance, the owner should rinse it with tap water, dry it and lubricate it with oil. Be sure to assess the locking notch of a lockback knife to confirm that the device is functioning properly. Also, sand and debris should be kept out of the interior elements of the knife. Additional maintenance includes cleaning a knife's moving parts and proper storage.

Improper use can damage knives. For instance, don't use one as a can opener, screwdriver or chisel. Also, avoid using the back of the knife as a hammer since the action can break the handle, springs or pin. To maintain a wood knife handle, owners can rub it with oil or furniture polish. Brass sections can be shined with regular brass polish.

Pocketknives should be stored in a dry area. Additional maintenance includes wiping the blade with oil two to three times each year to prevent the development of rust. Knife owners who live close to water should oil their knives more often. If the knife is moved from warm to cold climates, then owners should wipe down the blade when it acclimates to the new temperature. By wiping the blade, knife owners will prevent rust from forming.

Be sure to store knives that feature celluloid handles in a separate area from other knives. Also, owners should inspect knives with these handles frequently because the knife handle is constructed with a petroleum-based substance. The material secretes fumes that cause rust to form. Avoid storing knives in leather holders or sheaths. Tannic acid is in leather, and the substance may encourage the development of rust. When putting knives away, make sure that there are no fingerprints left on the blade.

Lubrication Tips

Consider purchasing a lubricant in an aerosol container as the form is easy to use, and it can be sprayed into small areas. Also, most brands will dry on contact and protect the knife with a thin film. The film will not attract dust or lint, and the substance is water resistant, which decreases the number of applications needed to maintain the knife. Avoid over spraying the lubricant. If too much of the product is used, then the knife owner can wash it off with soap and water.

Lubricate the knife's pivot section by directing the spray straw at the area. After spraying, open and close the blade several times to work the oil into the pivot area. To lubricate slip joint and lockback knives, direct the spray at the tang of the blade. It should be the area where the backspring has continual contact with the tang when the blade is opened or closed. While lubricating the knife, open the blade in a perpendicular angle to the handle and spray the tang.


Be sure to keep knives sharp as dull blades are a bigger safety risk than blades that are maintained properly. Also, with consistent knife care, owners can make sure that their knives are long lasting.