There are various reasons why you might need to learn how to sharpen a knife without a sharpener.
On the one hand, you might not see the importance of shelling out all that money for a knife sharpener. While that is not uncommon, it might also be that you have not found the best one for you yet.
On the other hand, you could be outdoors (camping, on a road trip, etc) or elsewhere with a dull knife that needs sharpening.
No matter which it is, I’ve got you covered today.
Here, we discuss a series of interesting ways to get your knife blade highly functional again with everyday objects you can find around you.
Method #1 – Use a Porcelain Mug
This sounds out of place, but I love it!
There is a high chance that you will find a mug around you in the home or even when outdoors.
Now, we all know that ceramic is brittle and you don’t want to lose your favorite ‘knife bender of the year’ mug. Don’t worry about it, though.
Turn the porcelain mug upside down and drag the knife over the rough bottom edges. Tension the knife at an angle against the bottom of the mug and drag it back and forth. Repeat the same motion for the other side of the knife and it gets sharp in no time.
Here’s a video guide to this approach:
Method #2 – Another Knife
I’m not about to go all Sunday school on you, but the bible did say that iron sharpeneth iron in the book of Proverbs.
That is age-long wisdom that works with knives also.
I discovered this one from when I go out to get meat from the butcher’s market. Before they cut any size of the meat, they had this habit of running one knife over the other. It was almost like a reflex action for them, but it does help to keep the blades sharp.
If you happen to have another knife around, run the dull knife over the back of the other knife and it should get sharp enough for temporary use.
Method #3 – An Old Brick
If you happen to have an old brick lying around, that would get the job done too.
Most times, the old brick has to have at least one of its edges intact. This is best for beginners who are just learning how to sharpen their knives with other objects.
Since getting a dull knife back to sharpness works on the principle of friction, grinding the edges of the stone brick against your knife will make the difference here.
Should this method interest you, find a detailed guide on getting it done safely and carefully here:
Method #4 – Concrete Steps
Again, this will probably be the step that would be taken by someone who was outdoors.
If you were making barbecue in the park, for example, and one of the knives turned out dull, you could find a set of concrete steps around to sharpen the knife with.
The procedure here is similar to that of using a piece of brick so watch the video above and adapt it to this process.
Method #5 – Leather Belt
Yes, that belt around your waist or the waist of someone else in your party could make all the difference.
Before you go for this approach, though, know that leather belts do not necessarily sharpen the knife. Leather helps realign the edges of the blade so the knife is better for use till you can get to a good sharpener.
Likewise, make sure that the leather belt does not have any stitching or special patterns along the surface since the blade, even though dull, could damage such a belt.
Now that we have that out of the way, make sure you watch the video below. I won’t be responsible when you ruin a friend’s leather belt otherwise ?♂️?♂️?♂️
This stropping guide contains everything you need here.
Method #6 – Sandpaper
You won’t find sandpaper everywhere, but there is a chance that you have some lying around.
Even if you didn’t, you can easily get one from nearby hardware stores for a very small price. In some regions, you could also get same-day delivery on Amazon for them, so pick one up for when they will come in handy.
I did say that knife sharpening works on the principle of friction. The surface of sandpaper is one of the best definitions of friction that there is so there is little surprise here as to why it works.
Here’s a video to help you do this step better:
Method #7 – Cardboard
Do you still have the cardboard packing from when you ordered that knife from Amazon? Great!!
Now, you can get more value for your money by using its edges to strop your knife.
Watch how to make that happen here:
Method #8 – Car Windows
Before anything else, I am only including this because I found it when I was researching different methods of sharpening a knife without a sharpener. I have not tried it out for myself simply because I don’t think the damage that could result from doing this is worth it.
If you are strapped for options, though, it is something you can do.
From all the various applications I saw, I prefer how this guy safely sharpens his dull knife with a car window:
Method #9 – Nail File
A nail file is a quite common tool that many people carry around with them. The premium ones are strong enough to handle a knife too.
If you have used a normal file to sharpen a tool before, you might not need to watch the video below. Apply the same principles and you are good to go.
But then, you might learn a thing or two in the video still. So, here goes:
Method #10 – Shovel
Depending on what parts you live in, shovels could be abundant or scarce.
This method is preferred for sharpening knives among construction workers and other professionals who sometimes have to work on remote sites. When they capture small games and find their pocket knives not sharp enough, the shovel comes in handy.
Don’t worry if you don’t believe in any of such professions. There is no fine for using a shovel to sharpen your knife regards your professional choices.
Method #11 – Stone/ Rock
No, not the manufactured knife sharpening stones.
You could also use normal stones around you to sharpen your knives.
The output is dependent on the kind of stone that you use and how you approach the sharpening also.
Fortunately, I found the right video that shows everything from the right stone to how to use the stone to sharpen your knife.
Should you sharpen a knife without a sharpener?
Left to me, the answer would be no.
Checking with chefs and knife experts too, the answer is still no. Since we agree on that, why?
There is a high chance that you do not know what you are doing when sharpening your knife with items other than the recommended sharpeners. Thus, you stand the risk of damaging the knife or even hurting yourself.
People still hurt themselves when using knife sharpeners (well, people who are yet to read my guides), talk more of going the unconventional way.
Now and then when there is no knife sharpener handy, though, it is safe and cool to use any of the methods above. When you have the chance to run the knife blade through a sharpener, though, I don’t see why you should go for alternative approaches instead.
If you’re torn between what knife sharpening tools to buy, look at this single resource:
All those tips on how to sharpen a knife without a sharpener will come in handy when you are yet to buy your preferred knife sharpener, find yourself outdoors without a conventional sharpening tool, or for any other reason why you might need these tips.
The list is also diverse enough to include different items that you are sure to find around, depending on where you are.
If you found the guide helpful, share it with a friend/ family of yours who is always fussing about getting their knives sharpened.