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How to Sharpen a Knife Without a Sharpener? 11 Effective Ways

Last Updated: June 10th, 2022

A sharp knife is essential – you just don’t know it yet until you have a blunt one that won’t slice anything and poses a danger to you.

In most instances, you will not have a knife sharpener in your home but does that mean that you should put up with the bluntness? Not at all, and you know why? Because there’s a way on how to sharpen a knife without a sharpener.

Now, you may have heard of this but we are here to help you discover more ways and tricks to do it. Ready? Let us go!

How to Sharpen a Knife Without a Sharpener?

As we have mentioned, there are different ways of sharpening a knife without a sharpener. Here are some of them:

Using Ceramic Utensils

We started with this one because it is the most common one. You or someone you know has tried using their ceramic mug or plate as a sharpening tool.

The bottom of such utensils is usually a bit rough and can therefore be a makeshift surface for sharpening your knife.

You simply have to pick a utensil of your choice but we would encourage you to use a mug. Get your knife and stroke the length of the blade on the rough surface. Do that for the other side and you will have a sharpened knife in no time.

Concrete Does the Trick

Did you know that you can sharpen your knife on a concrete surface? This is great news because concrete can be found virtually anywhere.

Simply, sub your knife’s blade back and forth on the surface and watch it become sharper. Note that the surface has to be smooth for this method to work.

You may also want to do a bit of stropping after that for better results.

Try This Nail File Method

This is another commonly used method although it is not as common as the previous one. You simply use the file you use for your nails to sharpen your knife.

If you have used a nail file before, then you know that it has a rough surface. The fact that the nail file is lightweight and compact also means that it can be used for camping and hiking since it is portable.

To sharpen your knife with a nail file, just place the blade over the rough surface and rub back and forth just like you do with your nails.

With a Rock

We know that knives are sharpened using sharpening stones but you can use just any rock to do that. However, you want to lean more towards flat rocks.

Again, this can be a great tool to carry on your hiking or camping trips. Just find a flat and fairly smooth rock and you are good to go.

As far as sharpening, simply rub the blade of your knife back and forth on the rock’s surface and you will soon have a sharp knife.

Sharpen with Another Knife

If you have more than one blunt knife, you can use one to sharpen the other. Contrary to what most people believe, you shouldn’t use the blade of one knife to sharpen the other.

Instead, you want to use the back of one knife to sharpen the blade of the other.

Try With a Car Window

Yes, you read that right. Your car’s window can also be used as a sharpening tool. For this method to work, you will use the edge of the window as a sharpening rod.

This is because the edge of the window is slightly rough and is not polished. As such, it can easily cut off the blunt edges of your knife’s blade.

 Now, this is not a sharpening method you can rely on if you enjoy outdoor activities but if you do go in your car, it can work.

With a Slate

A slate works almost like a sharpening stone. Try to get a flat slate that is a bit rough. Just lubricate it with water and set the knife on it at a 10° angle to the slate’s surface with the blade facing a different direction.

Gently drag the knife’s edge away from you maintaining the angle throughout the process.

Broken Glass to the Rescue

 We know what you are thinking. Broken glass is dangerous. Well, that is true, but we are not asking you to break glass bottles or utensils for this.

In case you have broken glass lying around you can use it to sharpen your knife simply because the edge is not polished.

Alternatively, you can neatly cut your glass bottles with a glasscutter for that purpose. Simply rub your knife’s blade over the unpolished edge until you are satisfied that it is sharp enough.

With Sandpaper

We don’t know about you, but sandpaper is a bit underrated. Anyway, it has some roughness to it that is quite similar to that of a sharpening stone.

This method of knife sharpening is ingenious and ideal for outdoor trips because sandpaper is portable and easy to use.

Just mount it on a flat surface and sharpen your knife. That is it!

Leather Belt Also Works

We can bet you have never heard of this method but it does work.  It does not have to be a belt. Any leather strap should work just fine.

You will use the belt when you get to the stropping phase of the sharpening process. It can be used to remove the burrs from the honing stage of sharpening.

This method works best when you use rougher leather and if you do it often enough, your knife is likely to remain sharper for longer.

With a Shovel

This method works just like the one where you use a knife to sharpen another one. If you have no other tool you can use to sharpen your knife but have a shovel on you, then you are in luck.

You will use the top edge of the shovel’s blade as a rod for sharpening your knife’s blade. Note that this will work best when using a stainless-steel shovel rather than an aluminum one.

How Not to Sharpen:

As you try to find out how to sharpen a knife without a sharpener, you should realize that some methods simply will not work.

For instance, using a drill, two nuts, and a bolt will not sharpen your knife. Sure, you have probably heard or seen people endorse this method but placing two nuts on a bolt and then rotating the bolt with a drill with the blade between the nuts won’t sharpen it.

This is because the bolt doesn’t have anything that can sharpen your knife. All you can expect is the method to damage your blade.

Another popular method is using two lighters but we are here to tell you that it will not work either. Let us explain why.

You see, with this method, you will be required to remove the spark wheels out of the lighters, pin them down on a flat surface next to each other. Then, the blade will be stroked forward and backward between the wheels.

Now, this method will not work. Instead, it will cause irreparable damage to your knife’s blade. The spark wheels have extremely rough teeth that will either make your blade blunter or scratch it. We assume you don’t want that.

Note that several YouTube videos endorse these methods, but we wouldn’t advise you to try them as they have been tried and found to be useless when it comes to sharpening knives.

Knife Sharpening Tips

Knife sharpening is an art, but it can also be the easiest task whenever you have a dull blade at hand. We have rounded up a few tips to make the process easier for you.

  1. The angle counts. Regardless of the tool, you use to sharpen your knife, you want to keep a constant angle. A 20-degree angle to the surface of your blade usually works best.
  2. Go easy on the blade. Do not exert too much pressure on it while sharpening as that will thwart your sharpening efforts. Low pressure and a light grip is the way to go.
  3. Any rock is not a good rock for sharpening. What you want to keep in mind here is that the smoother the rock, the better the results.
  4. Most sharpening stones can be used dry or wet. Nevertheless, some stones easily break down when in contact with oil. As such, you always want to read user instructions before you begin to sharpen.
  5. Always test your blade’s sharpness before sharpening it. You can do that by cutting a piece of paper. If the blade cuts clean without bending or tearing the paper, then you know it is sharp. Do not try to test the sharpness on yourself as you could end up injured.


All the methods we have covered work effectively especially if you want to know how to sharpen a knife without a sharpener. 

Therefore, if you are ever in dire need of an unconventional way to sharpen your knife, use one of the methods. His usually happens during camping trips or other outdoor adventures.

That said; you want to keep in mind that these methods should only be used when they cannot be avoided. Sharpening your knife with such methods will only damage the blade especially if you do it often. That means that you cannot use the methods in place of a sharpener.

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