Handmade Hunting Knives: Better than Factory Knives?
For most of us, almost all the hunting knives we’ve used, or are familiar with, are factory-made knives. Not that there’s anything wrong with them. Just like everything else, technology has caught up with the knife-manufacturing industry.
Modern knives made in factories are great, and often, they are just as good as their handmade counterparts. Even the price can reflect this as many high-quality factory knives can command prices as high as those for many handmade hunting knives.
Why Go For Handmade Hunting Knives?
A lot of people collect handmade hunting knives. There are several popular reasons for this:
• Handmade knives are made from a wider variety of materials. Some of them are extremely exotic. Specialty steel may be used instead of stainless steel, and very rarely a handmade knife will use stainless cheap steel. Even the handle may be made of some exotic wood, or it can use horns or ivory.
• The steel used for handmade knives are often superior. They can be much sharper, they can hold their edge for longer periods, and they are often resistant to moisture.
• The materials are usually much more refined.
• Sometimes, they may have special embellishments and decorations. It may have some nice engraving, or it may use a gemstone as decoration.
• The value of these knives doesn’t really depreciate all that much and they are very collectible.
Collecting Handmade Knives
As they are usually superior to regular knives (and often much prettier to look at), collecting knives have become a very popular hobby. There are literally thousands of knife makers around the world who make knives by hand. Most collectors try to specialize on a type of handmade hunting knife.
• You can collect the knives of just one or a select group of knife makers. It’s a bit like collecting Mustangs or muscle cars, except knives are much more affordable.
• You can collect according to the style or pattern.
• You can perhaps collect knives with the same type of handle material, such as ivory knives.
• You can focus on a specific area, such as the knives made in Germany or Japan.
Tips on Collecting Knives
If you are new to the hobby, it’s very easy to make a mistake if you want to acquire a collection that turns out to be valuable. Don’t make the mistake of paying too much for a knife that no one else wants. The price is ultimately decided by the demand, and the lack of demand means the price will be lower.
• A “unique” handmade hunting knife is not necessarily valuable. If you have a one-of-a-kind knife made by some minor knife maker, no one else will care about it. Instead, you may want to focus your attention on rare versions of common knives.
• A knife made by a dead knife maker doesn’t make the knife more valuable. Most collectors prefer the new knives, and old knives are regarded as merely old-fashioned. The exception here is if the knife maker is historically famous.
Remember, if you are collecting knives, your own enjoyment is the most important. And if you also manage to get a valuable collection, that will be still better!
How to Sharpen a Hunting Knife: Sharpening Techniques
A hunting knife (or any knife for this matter) is at its best when is sharp. Not only it will cut better, but also will be safer. Consider how a dull lawn mower blade can mangle the grass on your yard. With a sharp knife, everything’s much neater, including any accidental cuts.
So let’s examine three of the most popular ways to sharpen a hunting knife:
Whetstone or Diamond Stone
Here, you will first have to determine the angle at which you will sharpen the knife. You can always go online and check the recommended angle for your particular brand. Presumably, the manufacturer’s website should have this info or perhaps you can investigate online.
Usually, the angle should be between 10 and 30 degrees. You will maintain the sharpness of the edge for a longer period of time if you use a steeper angle. A 20 degrees angle is a good compromise.
Your problem will be maintaining the correct angle, and the best solution for that is to use a sharpening guide. This is something you place under the knife when you scrape it on the stone.
Using a stone may require you to lubricate it. In this case, you need to check the stone manufacturer’s guide on what lubricant to use. Stones usually have two sides: the rough grit and the fine grit. You may use the rough grit to grind the blade, and the fine grit to sharpen it.
This is a tool you can use to turn a dull edge into a sharp one. This is what you need to use in order to keep a knife sharp. You can use the whetstone from time to time but keep in mind that it can shorten the lifespan of the blade. The whetstone shaves metal from the edge, while the honing rod does not. It just massages the nicks and indentations.
You just hold the honing rod in your non-dominant hand (your left hand, for example) and then you use your right hand to hold the knife. Then you just sweep the knife over the honing rod. Don’t forget to do both sides. You can check on Youtube for more info about this sharpening technique.
Grinding Wheels and Electric Stones
This is a very quick way to turn a dull edge into a sharp one, but you need to be careful. The stone or wheel may generate a bit of heat, and this can soften the steel enough so that it loses its edge very quickly.
Actually, you can use any of these techniques to sharpen any knife. They’re not just for hunting knives. As long as you give your knife a normal use, you can just do this process twice a year or so.