How to Sharpen a Pocket Knife Without a Stone

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Knives are an everyday utility that we use frequently for a variety of reasons. The convenience of carrying a pocket knife makes it, among all the varieties of knives, perhaps the most used of all. Pocket knives are useful companions that many people keep with them at all times. They can aid in situations where an emergency cutting tool would be needed.

Because pocket knives are so frequently used, they will get dull over time. As the old saying goes, the only tool that grows sharper with use is the tongue. Spending money on an expensive sharpener or replacing a pocket knife is not necessary. There are simpler hacks that can help you sharpen a knife even in an emergency situation.

These methods make use of household items or, if in an emergency, frequently available objects. Most of these items are also likely to be brought along when fishing or camping. Therefore, these methods are available in practically any situation. So let's take a look at how to sharpen a pocket knife without a stone.

Sharpening Methods That Will Not Work

There are a few rumored methods that should not be tried. Some people may be under the impression that these methods may work, but they could actually harm your blade. Using the wrong means of sharpening a blade may dull it beyond repair or scratch and even notch the blade. This could render your pocket knife completely useless.

Using Two Nuts, a Bolt, and a Drill

This method is applied by fixing two nuts to a bolt that is driven by a drill. The blade is placed in the grooves between the nuts as the bolt is rotated. In reality, there is nothing on the bolt that is able to sharpen a knife’s blade. This may only dull the blade further and is not a proven sharpening method.

Using Two Lighter Flint Wheels

In this method, the flint wheels of two lighters are nailed or fixed on a stable surface so the blade can pass between them. Then, you would stroke the blade back and forth between the wheels. This method will sharpen your blade. However, the surface of the wheels is far rougher than any standard sharpening stone. It will scratch and damage the blade beyond repair. You can use this method, but it is recommended only in dire circumstances.

Best Proven Sharpening Methods

The following methods have been tested and proven to work. They are easy hacks that can be performed with household or frequently available items. They are also simple and easy enough to remember how to do. Most of these methods are ideal even in emergencies or isolated circumstances.

Using A Coffee Mug

A coffee mug is very common and frequently available in any home or at any campsite. Did you know that it is also incredibly handy for sharpening knives? Take note that the mug has to be made from ceramic and should have a rough surface. The best surface would usually be the rind on the bottom.

Mugs may vary in the grit they offer, ranging from coarse to medium to fine grit. Place the mug upside-down on a stable surface. Place the blade at a 10-degree angle on the mug’s rind. Stroke the full length of the blade, keeping the angle consistent.

Lift and turn the blade to sharpen the other side. Sharpen at the same angle and repeat both sides until you feel satisfied. The bottom rind of a ceramic plate or bowl would do just as fine, as well.

Using a Car Window

As strange and odd as it may seem, a car window can be the perfect instrument to use as a sharpening tool. Even in emergency situations, you could likely find a car window. Unlike the rest of the window, the upper part that squeezes into the rubber is unpolished. This makes it an ideal rough surface that can be used to sharpen a knife.

All you need to do is roll it down far enough to access the rough edge of the window. It is possible that not all car windows have rough edges, but if you can find a similar piece of glass, that may work, as well. In the direst of situations, you could find a rough glass edge in binoculars, eyeglasses, or sunglasses.

For these items, though, you would have to fix the glass to a stable surface. Like with the mug, place the blade at a 10-degree angle on the rough edge.

Stroke the full length of the blade on the edge of the window. Turn the blade over and repeat on the other side. Repeat this process until the blade is sharpened to your satisfaction. Broken glass bottles or the edge of a jar could also work. Always remember to stroke the blade at a 10-degree angle.

Using Stone Surfaces

If nothing else is available, you can attempt to find a flat rock, piece of slate, or even a brick to sharpen your knife blade. Only take care that the surface of the stone you are going to use is not too rough. It should feel like finer grit sandpaper to do the job safely and prevent scratching. The process is the same as using a sharpening stone.

Also, be sure to lubricate the stone with water before sharpening your knife. Place the blade at a 10-degree angle, with the blade facing away from you. Drag it firmly but not too hard along the edge and repeat equally for the other side. Remember to drag it for the whole length of the blade. You can also use sandpaper in the same way as a stone surface.

Using Metallic Surfaces

As an alternative to stone, you can use any available rough metallic edge. Metal surfaces include other knives or even a shovel if one is handy. There are two ways to use another knife for sharpening purposes. The first makes use of the blade's edge and then the blade’s spine.

Place the blade to be sharpened at a 10-degree angle on the edge of either surface. Drag it along the edge and repeat on the other side. Drag with one hand and keep the sharpening surface stable with the other. With a shovel, you will use the surface edge of the footrest.

For the best results, it is recommended to use a strong metal surface like steel or titanium. Keep the shovel vertical and hold it stable. Repeat the same process as with other metal surfaces.


In any event, nearly any surface could do as a sharpening tool. As long as the surface has a grit similar to fine sandpaper, it will do. If you use an abrasive material like stone, do not neglect to lubricate it with water before sharpening. This will prevent scratching and damaging the blade. Use the correct technique, sharpen at a 10-degree angle, and use smooth motions. If you follow these steps, you can’t go wrong.

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danny - July 2, 2021 Reply

Thanks for sharing this. Before, I use stone sharpener for my knife but recently I discovered this simple sharpener of RC Lebeau, The Rods will quickly sharpen all knives and metals without destroying them, I’d recommend them, plus, it is very lightweight and safe.

Mia Evans - May 4, 2022 Reply

It’s interesting to know that metal surfaces can also be used to sharpen knives even without stones. I guess there are so many ways for this process, so I should look for mail-in cutlery knife sharpening services that we can trust to fix the one I use for chopping. It can’t slice through the chicken anymore after having it for a year now.

Knife and Carry - October 25, 2022 Reply

Wow! I didn’t know that you could sharpen a pocket knife with a coffee mug. Isn’t there a risk for the coffee mug to break or get scratches?

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