TOP TIP

Never al­low your knife to be­come blunt, the editor warns

Air Gunner - - Contents -

It is so im­por­tant to keep your knives sharp, the editor says

As you’ll have seen on page 18, I have a deep in­ter­est in keep­ing my knives as sharp as I can. I al­ways put the work in to keep them in first-class con­di­tion, for rea­sons I’ll ex­plain. The most im­por­tant one is that a sharp knife makes each cut, be it through a piece of string or the skin of a rab­bit, with the least pos­si­ble ef­fort. This not only re­duces fa­tigue, but is also safer. Re­ally? A sharp knife is safer than a blunt one? Yes it is.

The rea­son for this is, if you’re strug­gling to cut through a rab­bit’s skin you’ll ap­ply more and more pres­sure un­til the blade fi­nally bursts through. This is where con­trol can be lost, per­haps cut­ting your other hand or fin­gers. A keen edge that slips through with lit­tle pres­sure is eas­ily con­trolled as the cut is com­plete. We should aim to use min­i­mal pres­sure at

all times, let­ting the edge do the work.

Just a lit­tle work

An edge that’s in good con­di­tion, but just slightly dulled, only needs a few sec­onds’ work to re­cover its sharp­ness, whereas a blade that’s been al­lowed to be­come com­pletely blunt is a big prob­lem. You’ll need to re­move a lot of pre­cious steel to re­gain the cor­rect an­gle, and knives that have this done too of­ten can be­come mis­shapen.

The qual­ity of the blade steel has a big ef­fect on the kind of edge it will give, and also the dura­bil­ity of the sharp­ness. The tough­est and hard­est steels can give incredible per­for­mance, but are much too ex­pen­sive for most peo­ple, so the re­al­ity is that most of us will have knives that ben­e­fit from reg­u­lar main­te­nance to get the best per­for­mance.

Just how sharp your knife ends up will de­pend on how much ef­fort you’re pre­pared to in­vest in get­ting there. Most peo­ple will get a per­fectly good edge with a pull-through sharp­ener, such as the Blade Tech de­vice. This has a pair of tung­sten car­bide blocks set at the cor­rect an­gle, and you sim­ply draw the knife through with very light pres­sure. Like ev­ery sharp­ener, there’s a right way and a wrong way to use it. Don’t press hard as you pull the knife through. Sev­eral light strokes will do a bet­ter job. This ex­cel­lent lit­tle sharp­ener is small enough to keep in your shoot­ing bag or gun slip pocket to keep your knife in tip-top con­di­tion, even in the field. The old adage of lit­tle and of­ten re­ally is the right way to look af­ter your knives.

“The re­al­ity is that most of us will have knives that ben­e­fit from reg­u­lar main­te­nance to get the best per­for­mance”

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