Bushcraft Tips And Advice

Welcome to the tips and advice section, where we have gathered information on a variety of topics related to Bushcraft and Outdoor Survival.

Gransfors Outdoor AxeCaring for your Axe
Woodlore Leather BeltCaring for your Leather Products
How to Sharpen a Knife
Using the Gransfors Axe FileHow to Sharpen an Axe
Woodlore Canada Jay Sleeping BagSleeping Bag Comfort Temperatures
British Army Bivi BagWhat is a bivi bag?


How to Sharpen a Knife

While this guide will no doubt help, the best way to learn how to sharpen a knife is to see it done in person. The safe use of cutting tools (including knife sharpening) is covered in our Fundamental Bushcraft Course.

The above video clip has been taken from the DVD extras of the Ray Mears Bushcraft Survival Series 1 DVD, while the following guide is an extract from the book Ray Mears Essential Bushcraft:
To sharpen your knife you will need a set of abrasive stones ranging from coarse to fine. At home you can indulge yourself with a set of large bench stones, while in the field you will need a small, lightweight alternative. Abrasive stones are manufactured from a wide range of materials. Ray's preference is to use Ice Bear Japanese water stones which work fast and conveniently to give a razor edge. Use three grits - 800 for coarse, 1200 for medium and 6000 for fine. In the field carry a combination 1200/6000 stone sawn in half.

To use these stones soak them in water before use. Only use the coarse stone if really necessary, when you have seriously blunted your knife or damaged it. Lay your knife on the stone and raise the back until the bevel of the blade lies flat on the stone and now push the blade away from you as if trying to cut a thin layer from the top of the stone. Do this eight times before turning the blade over and sharpening the opposite face towards you.

Now make eight more strokes alternating the faces of the blade. As you do this a paste will form on the stone, do not wipe this away as it helps to speed up the process; keep the stone wet by splashing it with water throughout the process. Move on to a finer stone and repeat the process. The 6000 grit stone need not be soaked, just wetted; preferably create a slurry on the stone prior to use with a small nagura stone (these are specially made for the purpose and can be purchased with your stones).

After using the 6000 stone clean the blade, then strop it on the inside of a leather belt 50 times, alternating the blade face on each stroke. This will help to ensure a sharp and durable edge. To complete the process run the blade very lightly down the finest ceramic sharpening rod to give the edge more bite. If you do not have a ceramic rod use the edge of a car window.

In the field, employ a simpler approach: wet the small field stone and sharpen each side with a slicing action with pressure on the slicing stroke only. Do one face, then the other, then alternate as usual. If possible strop the blade; if a leather belt is not available a smooth piece of wood can also be used.
After sharpening your knife, Woodlore recommend the use of Camellia Oil to protect the blade from rust and corrosion.

Frequent Questions

You might also like to take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions where you will find advice on everything from contacting Ray to Ray's earlier TV programmes. We even provide some useful Camping Equipment advice.