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how to sharpen knife without sharpener

5 Different Ways to Sharpen knives Without a Sharpener

Knife sharpening plays an essential role in maintaining and prolonging the durability and functionality of your knife. For one, it does the obvious, i.e., Sharpen your blade edge. It also retains the blade edge for longer to improve cutting performance and safety.

But, do you know that you can sharpen a knife without conventional knife sharpeners? Our in-depth guide shares several easy-on-the-buck ways on how to sharpen knives without a sharpener.

Are There Any Options to Sharpen a Knife Without a Knife Sharpener?

If you lack a conventional knife, you can still sharpen a knife. You can find several options around the house or outdoors to sharpen your knife. You can use anything from a ceramic coffee mug to an old leather belt or river stone.

Without a Real Knife Sharpener Could a Knife Get Fully Sharp?

You can still achieve a highly sharp blade with spectacular edge retention. You simply have to adequately sharpen your knife and use the right technique when doing so.

Here are common alternatives for sharpening a knife without a sharpener;

01. Sharpen Knife With a Coffee Mug

how to sharpen knife without sharpener
If you don’t have a sharpener, the next best thing for sharpening your knife is a coffee mug, particularly a ceramic mug. The unglazed bottom part of a ceramic mug can be used to sharpen most knives in your kitchen, including chef’s knives.

Here’s how to sharpen your knife using a ceramic mug;

  • Pick a ceramic mug with an unglazed bottom part and place it upside down on a flat countertop to expose the unglazed rim part.
  • Grab the knife you intend to sharpen by the handle and hold the ceramic mug using your non-dominant hand.
  • At a 30 to 45-degree angle, depending on the knife and bevel, place the knife’s blade heel against the rim of the mug. Gently, pull the knife’s edge across the rim from the blade’s heel to the tip.
  • Repeat this step at least 5 to 10 times, flip the blade over and repeat the steps with the other side of the knife.
  • Continue to do this until you achieve the blade sharpness you want. You can test the blade’s sharpness by cutting through a tomato or piece of paper. The cut should be smooth. You will also notice some residual blade metal shavings set at the bottom of the mug as an indicator of its working.

02. Sharpen Knife Using a Car Window

how to sharpen knife without sharpener
As surreal as it may sound, you can actually use a car window to sharpen your knife. This technique is especially handy when you find yourself in the outdoors, whether fishing or camping.

Sharpening a knife using a car window will hone its blade by bending the dull edges and rolling them to where they were. What makes a car window unique and ideal for this method is tempered. So, it can withstand a huge deal of impact and pressure.

Here’s how to sharpen your knife using a car window;

  • Roll the window down halfway and place the knife against the rough window edge. Keep the knife’s blade on the rounded top of the window instead of the side of the window.
  • At a 10 degree angle, move the blade edge gently in a back and forth motion at least 7 to 8 times.
  • Turn the knife on the other side and repeat the steps when done. You can use a tomato or paper to check sharpness. If you aren’t satisfied, repeat the steps until you achieve the sharpness you want.

03. Sharpen Knife Using the River Stone

River stone for sharpening knife
River stones are another excellent option for sharpening your knife if you lack a sharpening stone in your home. They are also a good option for those in the wilderness during fishing, camping, or hunting.

In fact, using a river stone is amongst the most effective methods, yielding a razor-sharp blade. As the name suggests, you will find a fresh river stone on a riverside.  A river stone works similarly to a whetstone.

Here’s how to sharpen your knife using a river stone:

  • Applying mild pressure, place the blade edge at an angle you would place it if you used a whetstone.
  • Brush the blade along the stone forward and backward at least 3 to 5 times and repeat the step on the other side of the blade. Use a tomato or piece of paper to check the sharpness.

Related Post: How to Sharpen Knife With Stone?

04. Sharpen a Knife With a Belt

how to sharpen a knife with a belt
You can use a belt lying around the house to sharpen your knife. This method yields the best results when you use a leather belt. However, it can also leave some damage to the belt. Thus, you want to use an old belt instead of a new, expensive one.

Here’s how to sharpen your knife using a leather belt:

  • Lay an old leather belt front-facing on a flat surface and place your knife’s blade on it.
  • Maintaining a 10 to 15-degree angle, move the blade edge in a back and forth motion for at least 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Turn the knife over and repeat step 2. You can do so as much as you want until you achieve the sharpness you want.

05. Sharpen Knife Using Another Knife

Spine a knife for sharpening
If you are out of sharpening resources, you can use one knife to sharpen the other. You will use two blunt knives in this case, one as a sharpening tool and the other for sharpening.

Here’s how to sharpen your knife using another knife:

  • Hold the knife to be sharpened on the right hand and the sharpening tool knife on the left.
  • At a 15 to 20 degree angle, gently move the knife blade on your right hand against that on your left hand. This sharpening method works similarly to using a knife sharpening steel.


Even without a conventional knife sharpener, you can still achieve the blade sharpness you want using the right tools in your home. The key is to learn how to sharpen a knife without a sharpener.

Furthermore, with the selection of methods to choose, there’s always the right method for your knife, whether a chef’s knife in your kitchen or a fillet knife when you are out fishing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I use instead of a knife sharpener?

If you find yourself in a situation where a knife sharpener is not at hand, there are a few alternative household items that you can use to bring your blades back to their cutting best. A ceramic mug is one such item; the rough ceramic bottom of an unglazed mug can be used in a similar way as you’d use a sharpening stone. Similarly, a glass bottle with a flat bottom can be utilized as well. Other options include sandpaper, a car window edge, and even another knife. Safety is paramount when attempting these alternative methods; it’s advisable to always hold the knife at a 20-degree angle and to perform slow and careful strokes. But remember, nothing beats the consistent results of a proper knife sharpener!

What are the 3 methods of sharpening knives?

Knife owners and enthusiasts often use one of three main methods to sharpen their knives; honing or straightening, sharpening, and stropping. Honing or straightening doesn’t actually sharpen the blade; instead, it straightens any small indentations or irregularities on the blade’s edge without removing any material. The honing process typically uses a rod-like tool known as a honing steel. Meanwhile, sharpening involves grinding material off the blade to create a new razor-sharp edge. This can be done using a different array of tools, including but not limited to water stones, oil stones, and diamond stones. Lastly, stropping polishes the blade’s edge to get rid of any remaining burr and make it truly shine, typically by using a piece of leather. All of these distinct methods can help keep your knife in its best shape possible.

How can I sharpen my knife at home?

There are a lot of ways to sharpen your knives right in your kitchen! One of the simplest methods involves just a sharpening stone and some lubricant (like mineral oil or even water). Place the stone on a non-slip surface, apply the lubricant, and slide the blade across the stone at a 20-degree angle. You’ll need to do this on both sides until the blade is sharp. For honing, you can just use a honing rod, often found in knife sets, and slide the blade down it a few times on each side. My personal trick is to test the knife on a sheet of paper; if it cuts cleanly and easily, then you know you’ve got your blade back to its prime. Just remember to be patient, as it takes some time to perfect the technique.

What are the 4 main types of knife sharpeners?

Knives are subject to constant wear and tear, necessitating an effective sharpening tool. There are four main categories for these tools including sharpening stones (also called whetstones), honing rods, pull-through or manual sharpeners, and electric knife sharpeners. Sharpening stones provide a hard, abrasive surface to grind against, made from materials such as diamond, ceramic or natural stone. Honing rods are usually made from steel or ceramic and are used for straightening more than sharpening. Pull-through sharpeners, a popular choice for home kitchens, are a simple and often safe way to sharpen knives, using set angles for an easy sharpening experience while electric knife sharpeners work similarly but are powered, allowing for a fast and effortless process. All of these options have their respective benefits; it’s about finding what works best for you and your knives.

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