On the Edge

Trout Whisperer

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  • Prostaff Member Trout Whisperer

Putting a file to the blade of an axe with slow strokes will let you develop the sharpness. If the steel to steel is done correctly you will remove the dullness. Strong measured filing will generate shavings glinting as they fall to the floor.

This is a patient art. Replacing the factory kerf or fine tuning it to your individual taste has a lot to do with the quality of the initial purchase and the file you use to resharpen.

Someone, along time ago, came up with the phrase that goes, ” you’re more likely to cut yourself with a dull knife than a sharp one”. A caveat however, speaking from personal experience, I can tell you a cut from a sharp knife is always much worse that the blade skipping, dull hack I acquire when using the less than surgical sharp knife.

Skinning beaver pelts from beavers will take the edge off a good blade. For practical purposes, I’m only speaking from now on about high quality (good blades), upscale knifes or axes. You get what you pay for will always hold true. Some of what a high quality knife or axe provides has been titled edge retention or hardness.

Bone, hair, and fur will dull the knife edge (Reduced slicing action). Fat or tallow buildup on a blade will dull the cut. (Plowing or pushing instead of slicing). A better chance for injury.

After gutting and caping our deer, my daughter and I switch from the standard fixed knife (as opposed to the folding knife or pocket knife) to a fillet knife. This is my personal preference. I just like fixed over folding. At this point, we are harvesting tallow for suet feeders and removing silver skin. Detail work if you will.

Once this is accomplished we get out the blades for boning out the meat. Back to a fixed blade with a terminal point - but we go from a blade length of six inches down to four at that most. I'm no longer making long slashes between fat and fur to remove the animal hide. Now, I’m cutting meat away from the bone. With less macho muscle and a bit more slow and feel as you go, you once again will not cut or knick into bone and dull the knife at a much slower pace.

Fleshing an animal is different than gutting one. Gutting is to make cuts intentionally through the entire animal hide to eviscerate or remove the entrails. When fleshing, you’re out to save the hide, the fewer holes the better. But both cuts dull the blade and at different rates. Two different jobs so we use two different knives.

Here's some do and don'ts:

Using power grinders or wheels to sharpen knives if done incorrectly can remove blade temper or hardness if overheating occurs. Most major knife sellers will instruct you to hand tool your knives. The same applies to axes as well.

Don't oil folding knives, get a good wax lubricant. Keep any knife dry after cleaning. Water or oil left for long periods can rust or oxidize the finish. Chemical sprays for oiling or rust removal will get the job done. But if you wash the knives with warm soapy water and dry properly you won't taint the blades or diminish the finish. As the saying goes, “An
Ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

If you’re using a stone to put an edge back on, hold the knife. Filing a knife, hold the file and secure the blade in a vise. Files are for removing big dents in blades. Stones replace or resharpen the blade.

Fine grit - fine edge.

Choose the correct knife. Knives are not intended for use as a pry bar or screwdriver, chisel or punch.

Here's a noose we can all stick our necks in. Different knife manufactures will set file or stone edge sharpening anywhere from 10-16 degrees. So get out your protractor or angle measuring device and have at it. My other suggestion is that this is a patient art. Practice and practice slowly.

Posted by Trout Whisperer under Hunting Stories on February 3, 09 09:03 AM | Permalink

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