Image of the June 2014 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
June 2014 Issue
Home / Articles / Skills

Swiss Army Knife WOF

Just five minutes’ TLC can rejuvenate a neglected knife, By Ian Barnes

Open/close
Make sure all blades open smoothly. This could be important when your hands lack dexterity due to the cold. Open the main blade and test the locking mechanism.

Dirt, sand, food particles and a lack of lubricant can inhibit blade opening and also compromise the blade locking system. Use a pair of tweezers and a piece of cloth to clean around the blade pivots and all nooks and crannies inside the knife. Then give it a good wash with warm soapy water.

If you use your knife for preparing food, add a drop of cooking oil to the pivots and moving parts. Go gently with the oil or it will act as a trap for dirt, gumming things up again.

Sharpen the blade
Your knife should be able to cleanly slice photocopy paper. Many knives languish unsharpened because owners have no equipment or little experience with sharpening. Here is a cheap, effective technique which can only improve the blade’s cutting ability.

  • You need a base of 400 grit wet/dry paper, splashed with water
  • Rest the blade on the paper and lean the back of the blade on a coin to gauge the correct angle for sharpening (20c coin for small blade, two 50c coins for medium blade and a 50c coin and $1 coin for large blade)
  • Grind the blade over the paper in a circular motion while maintaining the correct angle
  • Grind for two minutes, then turn the knife over and grind for another two minutes at the same angle
  • Keep alternating from side to side until the edge approaches the desired sharpness. At this point, lighten your strokes so the knife is barely touching the abrasive
  • Practise makes perfect

Can openers and reamers
If performance has dropped off, a little tune up may be in order.

The edges of can openers and reamers are designed to last a long time, but both have bevels which can be sharpened. Use a small diamond stone or file to match the edge bevel exactly. A revived can opener will be a joy to use.

If you study the reamer you’ll notice that one bevel is flat and this is the one to sharpen. This is a great tool and will quickly make a hole in wood, plastic or leather.

Scissors
Over time play develops between the blades of the scissors. A small screwdriver can be used to tighten the screw connecting the blades. As a last resort a quick squeeze in a vice could fix the problem.

Now that you’re here, why not subscribe?

As a subscriber, you can browse all web content including more than 610 trips. You’ll also receive our Wildcard, offering discounts at more than 20 partners throughout New Zealand.

Subscribe from as little as $7.00/month for instant access to all articles, trips, gear reviews and gear guides.

View all our subscription options and join the club.

Already a subscriber? Login Now.