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The karambit is an Indonesian knife that resembles a sickle since its blade is curved. Its shape was inspired by a tiger’s claw.
Since it is sickle-like, it was originally used to harvest rice in Southeast Asia. These days, the knife is used more like a weapon and for close combats.
Some women carry this knife for self-defense. They hide it in their hair and you might think it is a hair accessory.
As a weapon or agricultural implement, the knife needs to be kept sharp. Continuous usage without maintaining them makes them blunt.
Sharpening this type of knife will be done differently since it does not resemble a kitchen knife whose blade is straight.
Here are six steps to follow on how to sharpen karambit knife.
Step 1: Wipe the knife
You will need items like soapy water, two cloths, and some cut-resistant gloves. All knives should be cleaned before use.
First, wear cut-proof gloves to prevent accidental injury from touching the knife’s blade. Then you may dip one cloth in water to dampen it.
Use the damp cloth to wipe the entire blade. Use the other cloth to dry the knife. As you dry the knife, ensure your cloth does not leave behind fluffs on the karambit.
Step 2: Use the right sharpening tools
You may have come across a sharpening block. This block will be unable to sharpen a curved knife, so you, therefore, need the right sharpeners for curved knives.
Get yourself a round sharpening stone instead.
Ensure, it is small so that it can sharpen all corners of your knife’s blade.
In case you are unable to get a round sharpening stone, you may also use a non-tapered sharpening rod or a triangular sharpening stone.
If you are using a round sharpening stone, place it on a flat surface. As for triangular sharpening stones or non-tapered sharpening rods, keep them at angles between 15° and 25°.
Step 3: Hold your knife the correct way
The knife should be held firmly but not so tight that you cannot move your wrist.
You should still be able to use your hand to turn, even as you hold it firmly.
Holding the knife very tightly increases the risk of altering the blade’s shape or shortening it.
Being flexible as you hold the knife enables you to make some minor adjustments to the knife you are sharpening. Ensure you have worn the gloves before sharpening the knife.
Make sure the angle you are holding the knife is slightly tilted at approximately 15°.
The angle will enable you to monitor the blade’s sharpness and shine.
Before you sharpen the knife, cut some paper to determine its sharpness. The blade should cut the paper without leaving it jagged.
Cutting the paper will help you determine how long you should sharpen it.
Step 4: Sharpening the edge
Sharpen the knife away from you in a downward direction. Make sure the entire blade gets sharpened equally with one stroke.
Count the number of strikes to ensure all sides of the blade are sharpened equally. You would not want a karambit whose blade is only sharp on one side.
If you are sharpening your knife on a rod, do it slowly while still grasping it firmly. Doing it rapidly means your knife will end up getting drilled into the rod. This means both the rod and the knife get damaged.
Whichever tool you use to sharpen, ensure you do around 20-30 strokes on each side of the blade. Remember to test its sharpness after the 20th stroke as it will help you determine how many strikes it needs to sharpen it.
Step 5: Use a fine grit sharpener
This tool will further enhance the knife’s sharpness. Set it up at the exact angle and height you did with a round sharpening stone.
Once again, apply 20-30 strokes on each side of the blade. When you have finished sharpening the knife, perform the paper test to determine its sharpness.
This tool leaves behind grits on your knife. Clean the grit away with a dry cloth.
Step 6: Clean the karambit and test it
The edge should be sharp by now, but feel free to sharpen it with the sharpening stone or fine grit sharpening tool.
Once you are satisfied with its edge, dampen a cloth with soapy water. Clean it to remove all the residue. Dry the knife with a dry cloth.
You are now ready to use it as a farming tool or weapon.
Sharpening this knife is just as easy as sharpening any other regular knife.
Regularly sharpen the knife using these steps to keep it sharp. You do not need to hire someone to sharpen your knife.
I am an independent safety and survival expert and consultant. I have over 15+ years of experience working with corporations and individuals to help identify, remediate and prepare for threats and and disasters. I help clients understand risks and blog about my thoughts and techniques at DisasterShelters.net