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Ceramic knives are nifty tools which have attracted many users.
You’ll generally find them in the kitchen but there are some good outdoor ceramic blades, such as the Boker Plus Anti-Grav (which made it onto our list of the best EDC pocket knives!).
Ceramic blades are great.
Until you need to sharpen them.
Then they’re more useless than a knife made from papier-mâché.
However, you can sharpen your ceramic blade!
It does require more care than sharpening a stainless steel blade, which you can do with rocks or even a rope in a pinch.
So, let’s find out how to sharpen ceramic knives, shall we?
Three Methods for Sharpening Ceramic Knives
Ceramic blade knives have super-sharp edges which last almost forever.
“Almost forever” isn’t “forever,” though. The blade will eventually chip or dull.
Either event will require you to sharpen the knife.
I know of three methods for sharpening ceramic knives.
Here they are, ordered from easiest to hardest.
Method 1: Send it Back
This might seem like a cop-out to you but it’s a perfectly cromulent method for turning a chipped or dull ceramic knife into a sharp one!
This knife sharpening “method” takes some time, sure, but you don’t have to buy any expensive tools, spend time learning a new skill, and it prevents any chance of breaking your blade.
Plus, your knife might be under warranty so the manufacturer will sharpen it for you for free.
Boker, for example, sharpens their ceramic knives for no cost other than return shipping. You can even send them a ceramic knife from another company to sharpen but that does cost some money.
Why not take advantage of their expertise?
Related: How to Open or Concealed Carry a Knife
Method 2: Use an Electric Knife Sharpener
An electric ceramic knife sharpener is somewhat expensive.
They also require electricity and so aren’t a good choice for sharpening your knife in the field.
However, they make sharpening ceramic blades easy.
The best electric knife sharpener capable of sharpening ceramic edges is the Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener.
Anything smaller and cheaper is either crappy or only works on kitchen knives, such as the Kyocera Diamond Sharpener.
The Kyocera ceramic knife sharpener works great but doesn’t work with most survival or EDC blades! It’s for kitchen knives only.
How to Use the Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener
The Work Sharp is a miniature grinder complete with a replaceable abrasive belt.
You start by choosing the 40-degree Kitchen Knife Guide or the 50-degree Outdoor Knife Guide, which holds your knife to the proper angle.
Then you turn the Work Sharp on and slide the blade through the guard against the belt half a dozen times.
Start with a coarser (P80) grit if your blade is chipped or a medium (P220) grit if it’s only dull.
Then move to the finer belts until you’ve finished with the fine (6000!) grit belt.
You can use this tool outside by plugging it into your vehicle through a 150-watt or stronger power inverter.
Method 3: Use a Diamond Sharpener
The manual option is to find a diamond sharpening stone.
These have diamond electroplated to the surface, which makes the stone hard enough to grind away ceramic blade edges.
It’s best to have at least three grits:
- Coarse (200)
- Medium (600)
- Fine (1000 or higher)
If you can get even finer grits, good!
You’ll also want non-slip surface on which you can place the sharpening rod or stone.
Manual Sharpening Steps
- Apply water to the knife sharpener.
- Place the knife sharpener flat on a non-slip surface.
- Hold the knife in two hands, one on the grip and the other holding the back of the blade with the sharp edge facing away from you.
- Gently place the knife’s edge onto the stone at the appropriate angle, close to the handle.
- DO NOT APPLY ANY DOWNWARD PRESSURE!
- Check that you are not pushing down on the stone at all!
- Push the knife forward, away from you, sliding from the hilt toward the tip so the entire edge slides along the stone.
- Lift the knife from the sharpener.
- Place the blade back down into the starting position.
- Repeat until you’ve swiped six times.
- Turn the blade over and repeat on the other side six more times.
A coarse (200) grit is for knives with chips or nicks in the blade.
Otherwise, you can start with a medium (600) grit stone.
Proceed with finer grits until you’ve sharpened your blade with the finest grit you own.
Ceramic knives are harder than steel blade knives but this makes them more brittle.
So, their edges will last longer, but sharpening them is harder.
But not impossible.
If you use the right ceramic knife sharpener and take the process slow, without applying any downward pressure, you can give your ceramic knife an edge you can shave with.
Why Can’t You Sharpen a Ceramic Knife Like a Steel Knife?
Ceramic knives are made from zirconia, aka zirconium dioxide.
This stuff is almost diamond-like in hardness. Much harder than a stainless steel knife [source].
This means most steel-sharpening tools aren’t hard enough to sharpen a ceramic knife.
However, ceramic isn’t as hard as diamond, so you can use a diamond stone [source].
Also, you do not want to apply any lateral pressure while sharpening a ceramic knife because the edge is extremely brittle.
You don’t want to add any chips to the knife or even break the blade in two!
Should You Use Oil When Sharpening a Ceramic Knife?
Honing oil is used to hold ground-away particles in suspension so the sharpening stone doesn’t get clogged.
This is fine for metal but ceramic blades don’t use oil. So, you shouldn’t use oil when sharpening them!
Should I Hone My Ceramic Knife?
Sharpening involves grinding away at the edge to acquire the sharpness you want.
Honing, in the knife world, involves aligning the edge to maintain its cutting potential.
Stainless Steel is malleable so the edge can get bent and need honing.
Ceramic is too hard for this and never curls (it’ll chip first) so you don’t ever need to hone a ceramic knife! So put down that honing rod!