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  • Knife Maintenance

    If you're like me you carry a knife everyday, sometimes more than one. If I leave home and forget my blade nine times out of ten I turn around to go get it! I simply cannot imagine not having my knife. I have numerous knives, if we lived in England they'd call it an arsenal, but each has its place. Like a lady picking out jewelry to go with her outfit I select the correct blade for the days activities. That finely machined piece of carbon steel, sometimes stainless but not too often, is like a friend that you can always count on. Of course like all good friends, from time to time the two of you will spill a little blood.

    Having an object that is so familiar and ever present we can sometimes begin to take them for granted. it's kind of like the battery in the car, you don't think much about it until it's dead. A knife is the same, you may not think twice about it as you pull it out of your pocket to cut something only to find out it won't cut. What? You look down in disbelief at your most trusted companion with genuine curiosity, why won't you cut? Maybe you went to flick the blade open and it only swung out ninety degrees, or worse yet, didn't even budge. Suddenly your old friend has your complete and undivided attention. Then you remember cutting that foam rubber mattress at the hunt camp (amazing how fast that stuff dulls a blade), or that you used it for cutting bait over the weekend and didn't clean it, which also explains that mystery smell from the nightstand.

    Just as we clean our weapons after a trip to the range, our knives can surely benefit from some of the same TLC. Obviously when talking knives we think of sharpening devices, and there are as many of these as there are styles of knives and I've tried a lot of them. There are everything from good old stones to diamond, ceramic and even motorized. This last one caught my attention last year and I bought one, a Workshape WSKTS.

    I was really exited about it when I got it and immediately put it to work. It does a good job, especially on really dull blades but I found I needed to finish them on a diamond hone to get the edge I was used to. The WSKTS is a belt style sharpener and comes with three different grades of belts. It has a detachable guide set to twenty-five degrees to hold your blade at the proper angle. Another really nice feature is a setting for scissors, one of the hardest things for me to sharpen. The head also rotates to use on other tools such as axes or garden tools. Overall it's a great item, the drawback would be it's 120 volt and not exactly convenient to carry around.

    While we're talking about Worksharp I want to mention another great little item by them, the WSGFS221. This is a fantastic little pocket sharpener that easily fits in your pack or EDC bag, a great go anywhere sharpener. Equipped with a medium and fine diamond hone as well as two ceramic rods it has everything you need, even one thing most people do not realize they need, a leather strop. Stropping a knife after working a blade on a hone is the most overlooked step in the sharpening process, but this little gem has one built in. The main ceramic rod has a fine and coarse side, the two distinguishable by the grooves on the coarse. A nicely sized knob easily rotates the rod. There is also a small, about an eighth inch diameter rod, that serves to work on serrations, though it is only about an inch or so long. Overall this is a great piece of kit, if you only have room for one sharpener, this is the one to have.

    But I'm old school and like to use a hone. In recent years I've moved towards diamond versions, I still have a soft spot for a good ceramic. For the heavy work or if I'm out at the cleaning station filleting some fish I use a EZE Lap with a walnut base on it. It's a nice hone and makes quick work of tuning up an edge. In my EDC gear I like to carry the diamond cards. These are great for keeping a blade tuned up on the go and they can fit in your wallet, little thick and heavy for me to put in mine but to each his own.

    Our knives also need some oil from time to time. Whether it's because it's a folder or a nice piece of carbon steel for our fixed blade, oil is essential. I've started using mineral oil. Since my knives are just as likely to fill in as a steak knife as they are to cut anything else I want an oil I don't mind ingesting. On our folding knives, when it comes time to oil them they should be cleaned up first. Living in our pockets folders accumulate all manner of gunk, pocket link and who knows what else. I like to use one of the GI style cleaning brushes and the wooden Q-tips to get into those small places. Once the blade is cleaned up you can oil the hinge or blade or both.

    Another handy tool I carry in my EDC bag is a small Multi-tip torx driver made by Husky. It is great for tightening the screws on most folders as it seems nearly all manufacturers have gone to these fasteners. The application of a little blue thread lock can help hold screws in but sometimes you just need a driver. One of my knives in particular, the Benchmade Adamas is notorious for the pocket clip catching on something and being stretched out. When that happens it's a simple enough job to use the driver to take it off and straighten it with my Leatherman Tool and out it back on, all with what I carry in my bag.

    A knife, like any tool needs maintenance. I do not own anything that I use as often as a knife. Sure I carry a gun everyday, but thankfully I've never had to use it. It's hard to open a box with a pistol or cut that slightly tough piece of steak, but your knife will always get the job done and be there when you need, provided you didn't leave it at home and were too lazy to go back and get it, so take care of it.