Knife Care, 101

hA knife is one of the most vital pieces of gear you can take with you into the backcountry. A strong, well-crafted knife will be invaluable in a variety of situations, including shaving tinder, hunting small game, or even sawing branches to create a shelter. Taking good care of your knife will help it to deliver time and time again when you need it. Today we’ll take a look at some helpful tips to help ensure your knife performs for many years.

With so many different uses and manufacturers out there, you’ll undoubtedly notice a variety of materials within a knife’s construction. Differing handle materials are such an example. A knife’s handle can be made from many things, including bone, leather, rubber, antler, and micarta, to name a few. Each material offers its own pros and cons, and most are pretty simple to maintain. Wood handles, however, are a bit different, because they’re not designed to withstand prolonged exposure to water or UV rays, even laminated ones. When it comes time to clean them, do so by hand and dry them immediately with a towel to avoid warping or cracking the wood.

When not in use, make sure you store your knives properly. Even stainless steel can rust, so make sure you’re keeping your knives somewhere dry to avoid oxidation and corrosion.

With folding knives, you’ll want to periodically oil their hinges in order to maintain their smooth opening action. You may also need to apply a small amount of oil to their locking mechanisms, as well.

Occasionally you’ll need to sharpen your knife. Not only does this keep your knife in solid working condition so it can cut safely and efficiently, but cutting anything with a dull blade requires more force, and a dull knife is always more dangerous than a sharp one. We’ll take a more in-depth look at the ins and outs of knife sharpening later this week, but for now, suffice it to say that you’ll want to make sure you’re sharpening the knife’s edge at the correct angle, so take a close look at it before beginning.

Like any piece of gear, keeping your knife in good condition by giving it some TLC now and then will go a long way towards ensuring that it does the job on the trail Be sure to come back this week for a closer look at knife sharpening!