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Knife Sharpening Basics with Patrick Roerhman

Why is knife sharpening a skill you should have? Continue reading and enjoy this week’s Pantry Chat Podcast as we join Patrick Roerhman and discuss “all things sharp,” including the basics of what you need to know to get started sharpening your knives at home.

A man sharpening a knife on a stone.
Image courtesy of School of Traditional Skills

About Patrick

Patrick Roehrman is a knife maker and bladesmith from Missouri whose handmade knives include highly collectible neck knives, custom hunting knives, custom survival knives, bushcraft knives and other hand-forged knives.

Ever since Patrick’s first child was born, he knew he wanted to work from home and maybe even have a business to pass down to a son one day. In 2010, Patrick started making knives as a hobby. He had plenty of work to stay busy, but not enough to quit his day job. This is when, with the help of a friend, he put together a stakeholder option with 100 available spots. He wasn’t sure what the interest would be like, but these spots sold out in under six minutes which told him there was plenty!

In June 2014, he filmed his first video tutorial on how to sharpen a knife, called “Beyond Razor Sharp.” Since then, he’s been featured in Blade Magazine and even had one of his knives auctioned off by Mike Rowe.

In 2023, Patrick was invited by the School of Traditional Skills to teach a class all about sharpening knives and other tools (more on this below). He and his family have also recently purchased 50 acres of raw land. They are working to build a tiny home while they develop the land into their forever homestead.

A man sharpening a knife on a stone.
Image courtesy of School of Traditional Skills

Why Sharp Knives Are Important

A knife is a foundational tool, whether using a pair of scissors, a paring knife, or the sharp teeth of a chainsaw, each one of these tools could be considered a “knife.” It’s safe to say that we all use knives nearly every day of our life, so why wouldn’t we want a good sharp tool for the job?

One of Patrick’s tests to see if a blade is truly sharp is what he refers to as “topping the trees.” Many people will shave their arm with a freshly sharpened blade to make sure it’s sharp enough. But Patrick takes this one step further and actually cuts the hair at the top, not next to the skin. This is his standard for sharp.

Without knives, there would be no homesteading. It’s an essential tool that helps with so many tasks. Why any of us walk around with a dull blade is something I don’t understand. If you’re using force for a cut, your knife isn’t sharp. Once you learn what true sharpness is in your tools, you won’t settle for anything less.

A man sharpening a knife on a stone.
Image courtesy of School of Traditional Skills

In This Episode

  • Why having a sharp knife is so important for any job.
  • How to avoid injury when using any sharp object.
  • Why using task-appropriate knives helps get the job done.
  • Tips for choosing knives.
  • How to start sharpening your knives and the supplies needed.
  • How to tell if a knife can be saved from rust.
  • The tools needed for sharpening knives and what Patrick recommends when learning to sharpen knives by hand.
  • The difference between stones (whetstone, diamond stone, oil stones, etc.)
  • The correct action when sharpening knives (edge leading or edge trailing).
School of Traditional Skills Logo

Want to Learn More?

This brief overview of the basics of knife sharpening is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re serious about homesteading and caring for and maintaining your tools, sign up for the School of Traditional Skills and take Patrick’s class on Knife Selection, Sharpening and Use.

A man holding up a sharp knife.
Image courtesy of School of Traditional Skills

Where to Find Patrick

Overhead view of a garden.
A man and wife smiling.

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Josh and Carolyn bring you practical knowledge on how to Grow, Cook, Preserve and Thrive on your homestead, whether you are in a city apartment or on 40 acres in the country. If you want to increase your self-sufficiency and health be sure to subscribe for helpful videos on gardening, preserving, herbal medicine, traditional cooking and more.

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