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About knives, razors, stones & strops
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In a previous column I mentioned possible gifts for the outdoor enthusiast. High on the list for an outdoor related gift has got to be knives, which are handy for countless tasks. You can clean a fish, skin a bear, or whittle shavings to start your fire. Knives are the ultimate outdoor gift.

Fortunately there are a plethora of good knifes out there for very reasonable prices. Of course you can spend a lot of money for a fancy custom knife but it isn’t mandatory. I have owned & used knives made by almost all of the major manufacturers. They are almost all excellent products. Knives made by Case, Buck, Gerber, Kershaw, Schrade are all excellent knives that will serve you well without breaking your budget.

 Here is an interesting bit of trivia for you. About 99% of all knife owners mis-pronounce the name of Schrade knives. Until I was in my early 20s I pronounced it Schrade which rhymes with raid. Then I met State Senator Jack Schrade of San Diego who told me that the correct pronunciation is SCHRAW- DEE. Senator Schrade was the heir to the Schrade knife fortune and if you drive from downtown San Diego to Coronado Island, you travel across the Jack Schrade Bridge. 

Of course, once you’ve got a knife, you have to sharpen it from time to time. If you google knife sharpeners you’ll find there are several types, among them, sharpening stones, electric sharpeners and ceramic rods.  Sharpening stones are the old fashioned way to sharpen knives. You can get them in several different grits: coarse, medium, and fine. If you have an old dull or rusty knife, begin with the coarse grit stone, to get your basic edge and then work up to the medium grit and then to the fine grit stone. If you want your knife literally razor sharp you then use your razor strop to get that razor sharp edge.  Many guys will roll up their shirt sleeve and try to shave the hair on their arm. Years ago, I had a beard and when it was finally time to remove it, I shaved it off with my razor sharp pocket knife.

A great compromise in a sharpening stone is a two sided stone that has medium grit on one side and fine grit on the other. Basically its two different stones glued together. Two sided stones are great to keep in your tackle box, truck, or fishing vest.  At home, I keep an assortment of sharpening apparatus in a cabinet atop my gun safe. 

Other sharpening methods include an electric knife sharpeners and ceramic rods. Actually the electric sharpeners are pretty good and probably fine for the average kitchen knife. They usually have either two sharpening grooves or sometimes three. You slide your knife into the coarse slot, then the medium & finally the fine slot. Chef’s Choice makes a two slot electric sharpener for less than $100 while the three slot models begin at about $150. Although I have used the ceramic rod knife sharpeners, I really don’t like them. I guess I’m too much of a traditionalist 

I must have had an atypical childhood. My Dad shaved with a straight razor and my Mom carried a handgun and a fixed blade sheath. I recall watching Dad sharpen his razor with a sharpening stone & then use a leather razor strop for the final edge.  Before Mom passed away she gave me both her handgun and her Schrade fixed blade knife. Although the leather knife sheath finally fell apart from old age, the knife is as solid as ever & still holds a razor sharp edge. I think maybe Mom is looking down & smiling every time I use it. Well made knives can last a lifetime. They require a little TLC, but are probably an outdoor enthusiast’s handiest tool. Don’t leave home without one.


Until Next Week,

Tight Lines