Survival Knife Care – Keeping Your Special Knife Pristine

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If you own and regularly use a survival knife, perhaps whilst hiking or hunting, you will appreciate just how robust and versatile these knives are. However despite the fact that they are designed to withstand a high degree of hard, regular use, with a little regular care and maintenance they will continue to give years of faithful service.

The simplest form of survival knife care is keeping your knife clean. If available wash your knife in running water and dry thoroughly, either in the sun, by using moss or leaves, or a cloth which you have brought with you for this purpose. It is important that the knife is dried well to keep it rust free. Never leave the knife to stand in water for any length of time for this reason also. Whilst cleaning your blade you can also examine it for any nicks or burrs that will need attention. Don’t forget to clean and treat the handle at the same time. This will depend on the material that the handle is made from- a rubber handle will need no specialized cleaning but wood handles will need to be treated with linseed oil, a leather handle with a propriety leather cleaner and bone handles need to be washed and dried well in water, but never soaked.

An important aspect of survival knife care is giving regular attention to the sharpness of the blade. Traditionally in the U.S. this has been done by the use of Arkansas Stones. Made from Novaculite, a silicon quartz found in the Ozark mountains, Arkansas Stones come in a variety of grades to help keep your blade in top condition. For day to day re sharpening most people use a soft stone. Should your blade have had a day of heavy use, perhaps you have used it to help construct a shelter or set traps, then a hard Arkansas Stone should be used to restore a really keen edge. Should you find any nicks or burrs in your blade an artificial stone called a Carbo Ark Stone can be used to quickly remove enough metal to restore the edge to your blade.

A more modern alternative to Arkansas Stones for survival knife care are diamond plates.These are steel plates with diamond grit bonded to the surface and have several advantages over the more traditional honing stones. They are much more efficient than traditional honing stones when used dry, an important quality in a potential survival situation where access to water or honing oil may be limited or non existent. Also they are generally about the same size and thickness as a credit card and are therefore light and easy to carry. Another important advantage they have for survival knife care is that they are able to be made with different grades on each side for the ultimate versatility. Although a little more expensive than a traditional stone a diamond plate will not wear away as fast with regular use, in fact they should last you a decade or more.

A little light oiling of the blade will complete your survival knife care and help to keep it lubricated and rust free.

Between trips store your knife in a dry, well ventilated, spot. Make sure that you remove it from its sheath to allow the air to circulate around it to reduce the chances of any moisture or condensation which could lead to rusting.

With a little regular attention your survival knife should give you many years of good service even with the hardest use.

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