How to Sharpen a Knife With a File The Easy Way

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It is never a good idea to use a dull knife. It is dangerous since you have to work harder to cut through whatever you are slicing. Because of that, you are more likely to get cut and hurt. It’s a good thing that it is not that difficult to sharpen a knife by yourself. In this post, let me tell you how to sharpen a knife with a file, the easy way.

Is Using a File to Sharpen Knife a Good Idea?

Is Using a File to Sharpen Knife a Good Idea

But first of all, do you think a file is the best option to sharpen a knife? Honestly, you will fare better if you use a whetstone or a tabletop sharpener. Even sandpaper is good. A file is too coarse and takes too much edge material too quickly for it to be effective for sharpening a knife.

However, it can be a good material if you really need to sharpen your knife but don’t have a ready whetstone or sandpaper to use. Remember to be careful when using it and not expect that it will yield the best results. Now, if you really want to use a file to sharpen your knife, below are step by step instructions to do that.

What You’ll Need;

In how to sharpen a knife with a file, you will need the following items:

  • File
  • Kitchen knife

Step-by-Step Instructions

How to Sharpen a Knife With a File

Knives are an essential survival tool. It’s not only because you need them for cutting and chopping food. There are many uses to it, especially if you are in the wild. That makes it crucial to keep them always sharp, which is one of the wisest things you can do. You will need your knife for everyday purposes and, sometimes, defending yourself.

Either way, below are the steps to sharpen it with a file.

1. Position of the File

Start by placing the file in the right positions. Grasp it in a downward position on the surface. It should be around your arm’s length. It’s important to hold it tightly against the surface to avoid it sliding down. You can even just keep it vertically with the tip placed on the surface, the same way you hold a honing steel.

Sharpening a knife is a dangerous task, which is why proper positioning is crucial. In this case, it may be safer to hold the file with your non-dominant hand. This way, you can better control the blade, preventing any injury even if the knife slips during sharpening.

2. The Angle of the Knife

It is also vital to have the knife placed against the file at the correct angle. The recommended positioning for this is to place the blade at an angle of 15 to 20-degree. Put the heel of the knife against the file at that angle. It should look as if you are cutting the sharpening tool.

But if you want a more durable knife, it is recommended to adjust the blade to a higher angle. On the other hand, keeping it at a lower angle when sharpening should you give your knife a much sharper edge. This is because the angle controls how much material is removed from the blade as you sharpen.

3. Actual Sharpening

Actual Sharpening

The most crucial step – the actual sharpening. Remember to keep the knife and file in the position mentioned above. While in that position, pull the blade towards you while moving to the end of the file. Ensure that you keep the angle of the knife as you move downward, with the tip of the blade meeting the other end of the file.

Here is one thing to keep in mind – make sure that you apply less force when moving your hand. This is because aggressive sharpening against the coarseness of a file will result in damage. Also, gentle motion ensures that your blade stays at the same angle. While performing the movement, keep count of the number of times you move.

After this, you can:

  • Move to the other side of the knife.
  • Move the blade again, following the same technique, force, and movement the same as before.
  • Keep doing the motion while making sure that it is the same number of times as on the other side.

This way, you can be sure that both sides are evenly sharpened.

4. Clean the Knife

Once you are done sharpening, don’t forget to clean your knife. You can wash it with water and soap but don’t forget to wipe off the moisture. Remember not to store it damp, or it might lead to rusting, especially if you have a carbon steel knife. Before storing it, you may also want to test its sharpness first.

5. Test Sharpness

In testing if you did well in sharpening your knife, you can use paper. Place the paper vertically on a surface. Take your newly sharpened blade and cut the paper standing in front of you. If your knife goes smoothly through the paper without getting caught up, then you did well in sharpening it.

6. Maintaining Your Knife

Besides sharpening, it is also vital to maintain it to increase durability. First, always check the sharpness of your blade. You can do this by performing the same paper test as before. If your knife continues to cut the paper smoothly, it is still sharp. If not, then it is time for another sharpening.

It would be best if you also made it a point to hone your knife. This is done using a honing steel, which you might also know as the sharpening steel. It doesn’t necessarily sharpen the time but refines it. You can do this by following the same steps mentioned above but using a steel rod instead of a file.


There you go. How to sharpen a knife with a file? It’s nothing too tricky. You almost only need to follow the same instructions when you sharpen using a whetstone or honing steel. However, you must apply even less pressure than with the other sharpeners, given that a file is a much coarser sharpening tool.

Knife sharpen tips:

How to Sharpen a Butcher Knife The Professional WayHow to Sharpen Knife with Dremel – Here Are 3 Easy Steps

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