There are times when you are deeply in need of alternative ways for sharpening knives.
In these cases, there are no pull-through knife sharpeners neither are there whetstones around for you to use.
It is in these situations that you wonder if you can sharpen a knife with a rock.
Certain rocks can be used to sharpen dull knife blades effectively. Due to the irregular shape of rocks, it is impossible to get the right angle on the sharpening right and they might ruin the knives. Thus, they are great as a sharpening alternative but not to be used as a major method for sharpening.
How to sharpen your knife with a rock
If you are outdoors or somewhere else where you don’t have access to your knife sharpener, try using the honing rod first.
While honing is not the same as sharpening, it would help align the knife edge again and can make the knife sharp enough for use in the meantime.
When that doesn’t work, or you don’t have a honing rod handy, the rock method will work.
Given that you can find good rocks to use almost everywhere around you, having this skill comes in handy.
I have found a video that walks you through sharpening a knife safely with a rock for you:
Before you sharpen the knife with a stone
Now that you know how to sharpen your knife with a stone, there are a couple of things that you should know first.
This is not a substitute for proper sharpening
When you get the chance to sharpen the knife right again, make sure to do so.
It is better to keep using whetstones and pull-through knife sharpener or any other form of knife sharpening that you prefer. Otherwise, you are setting the knife up for getting ruined faster than normal.
Choose your rocks right
Don’t get just any kind of rock and think that it works.
Sharpening works on the principle of friction. Thus, you know to get a rock that is not too smooth else the knife edge just glides over it and nothing gets done.
If you just need to do some touch-up job on the edge, a fine-grained stone will work. This is the same as using a finer grit level when working on a whetstone.
For those times when you need to get a dull knife sharp again, though, look for a more grainy/ gritty stone.
Note to sharpen backward
Going with the forward motion on irregular stones will ruin your knives.
I am assuming you know how to properly sharpen a knife before attempting this alternative method at all.
So, with that knowledge, go backward so that the bumps and coarse grit on the stone do not nick your blade’s edge too much. Get that done right and you might save your knife.
River stones are the best
These stones have been in the water for a long time and have been gently eroded. They are not too strong neither are they too soft that they don’t work.
While they still keep a lot of grit on the surface, the erosion would have finetuned this coarseness such that it works great.
Most people I know who have such river stones got them to achieve a finer sharpening on their knives. If you are without options, though they could start the job for you without damaging the knife.
Alternative methods of knife sharpening
I have discussed other ways to sharpen any kind of knife when you don’t have conventional sharpeners around.
While I don’t want you to make a habit of using these techniques alone, I know they will come in handy on some days.
So, if you’re interested in more than six (6) other ways to get your knife cutting right again, that guide is for you.