Outdoor & Pocket Knives  

Outdoor & Pocket Knives get used to do work, and the guidance provided below is based on that. If you are sharpening for collection, other angles should be considered, based on the desired outcome. If you are sharpening the blade for activities like filleting fish, sharpen the knife as if it were for the kitchen.

Guidelines shown below are for Included Angles (α).
The Bevel Angle (β) is sometimes called “degrees per side” or DPS.

A knife's worth is measured not by its blade alone but by the hands that hold it.


General Guidelines
Blade Type Blade Thickness α Notes Recommended
Tormek Jigs

Drop Point Blade

Double Edge Blade

up to
23° - 24°
This is a very common blade shape.

When sharpening a Swiss Army Knife (or knives with similar blades), no micro bevel is added. This is due to the blade's overall thickness being thinner (roughly 0.063" / 1.6mm).

Morakniv knives are shipped with a Scandi Grind and often with a micro bevel. The resulting cutting edge angle is 35° - 45°. The micro bevel is 0.05 - 0.5 mm wide. This is done to make the edge less fragile and enable better edge retention.



1.6mm -
25° - 30°
30° - 35°

Wharncliffe Blade

(any) 40° - 45° This is a blade often used for scraping actions. Thusly, it is sharpened to a higher angle, and no micro bevel is added.

Sheep's Foot Blade

(any) 30°
This blade is sharpened to a greater angle. This is to allow for its use on tougher materials.

If the sharpener wants to add a micro bevel, an additional 2°-5° should be sufficient.

(This is sometimes called a “Spey Point Blade”.)

Use same α angle for both setting the apex angle, and for edge-leading honing (up to 8,000 grit).

Deburring Guidelines
Type 1st Deburring 2d Deburring Notes
Angle Grit size Angle Grit size
Harder steels -0.1° to -0.3° 3 to 6 3° to 6° 0.25 to 0.5 Edge Angle Stropping - for steels which are brittle, have high hardness, are high carbon or carbide steels.
Softer steels 3 to 6 0.4° to 2° 1 High Angle Stropping - for steels which are tough or ductile, have low hardness or low carbon, or are fine carbide.

Grit size measured in µm (aka, microns)

Notes & Comments

The shape of the grind used is a call best made by the tool's use, based on your own experience. Additional notes are available for Grind Profiles.

I find that usage of calculators for setting specific angles to a high degree of accuracy are not critical. It is much more critical to resharpen often.

If you choose to use a calculator to achieve a specific angle to a high degree of accuracy, CB's USB Projection Calculator is recommended for calculating setup for Tormek knife jigs. There are a number of online calculators that can also be used for sharpening knives.

I've not found value in adding micro/secondary bevels to pocket knives which get used, so that is not recommended here. If the sharpener wants to add one, an additional 2° should be sufficient. (More notes are also available on a different web page for Micro / Secondary Bevels.)

The Knife Angle Setter jig is greatly useful if using the WM-45 Knife Jig to hold the blade.

Good Guidelines Regarding Edge Angles

This information was posted on the Tormek forum and has been copied here as it is a good reference.
β Comments
<10° Edges in this range are good for cutting softer materials.

For example, razor blades are sharpened at angles of five to nine degrees. This does result in a delicate edge which is easy to damage.

10° - 15°

Knife edges in this range of angles can be applicable in providing a smooth cutting action for knives which are used to slice meat or cut other soft items.

This is why fine Japanese knives are usually sharpened is in this range. It is also common for some woodcrafts knifes and fillet knives.

Do note: many Japanese and carving knives are only sharpened on one side. I that case, α = β.

Also note that a knife which is sharpened at such an angle has an edge angle which is too weak to handle any chopping motion type of work. And, if the steel is harder (such as with Japanese knives), such a sharp angle will easily fracture if used in chopping activities.

15° - 17°

With an α angle of 30° to 34°, these knives will cut quite easily.

Japanese knives and newer Chef's Knives are usually sharpened at this angle from the factory. Although less durable than those with higher angles, their cutting power makes it an appropriate tradeoff.

17° - 22° Knives in this angle are common in kitchens and outdoor activities. It is also a useful edge angle range for pocket knives.

This is a common sharpening angle when you are looking for a general-use blade, and is the typical sharpening angle for most standard kitchen knives. These knives are often built of tough material that can withstand a sharpening edge of this angle and still cut well without any issue.

22° - 30° Edges in this range are more durable, and are appropriate for forrest and hunting knives, pocket knives, and tougher applications. This is a typical edge angle for durable knives.
>30° Edges past 30° are very durable, although their cutting ability is significantly reduced. Most knives won't benefit from this sharpening angle.

These angles are common in tools and cutting blade such as cleavers, machetes, and axes, especially as these tools are made from softer steel.


More Information

Books & Papers

Videos & Presentations

Published Articles

  • Research Articles, Other Information, and some Final Thoughts. Some key ones for this topic are below.

    • If you want to get truly sharp, Dr. Vadim Kraichuk with KnifeGrinders has a really good method and has adapted the Tormek system to these wheels. The KnifeGrinder method is one that is proven, and has great tools to assist with making it easy.

    • Dr. Vadim Kraichuk posted a great analysis titled, "Edge Stability in Butcher’s and Kitchen Knives as a Function of Edge Angle and Initial Sharpness" on the BESS EXchange.

    • Click on either image for bigger size.
      Images courtesy Todd Simpson
      via Dr. Vadim Kraichuk of KnifeGrinders
    • Polished or "toothy" bevel? An article by Larrin, "How Chipping of Edges Happens at a Microscopic Level" (on Knife Steel Nerds), debunks the idea of coarse edges due to the increased propensity for chipping and faster dulling of the blade. As noted by Dr. Vadim Kraichuk, "Meat plants are well aware that knives with coarse edges worsen product presentation and increase operators' fatigue and repetitive strain injuries. On the contrary, polished edges improve product quality through higher value cuts and increase throughput.".

    • It is a common, but quite bad, practice of drawing the newly sharpened knife edge through a piece of wood or some other media to "rip off" the remnants of the burr. When this is done, the ripped off metal builds up on the front of the slice, and you then drag the rest of the edge through this crud. This crud, together with breaking off of ledges of material along the edge, will roughen the edge and worsen sharpness.

      The scanning electron microscope (SEM) images to the right show the burr on a knife in the 1st image, that was then "ripped off" by cutting cross-grain into a piece of redwood in the 2nd image - loss of the sharp edge is obvious.

      Key take-away from these photos : don't skip the honing step.

Web Sites

  • Jigs, Fixtures, & Modifications. One of the key ones for this topic is below.
    • Jan Švancara posted a design for using a knife sharpening platform in 2015 on the Tormek Forum. This is certainly worth reading, and there are also pictures of this in the jigs section.

  • Science of Sharp - a web site which uses “electron microscopy to physically observe the geometry and polish of the edge and to quantify the edge width and bevel angle. The goal is to provide an understanding of what is happening a the blade's edge. The centuries old design of a straight razor provides the ideal system for scientific study of sharpening.”

Tormek is a copyrighted logo of Tormek AB. Its presentation on this site is used to help the user quickly understand when specific Tormek tools, jigs, or setting are being used. For specific information regarding Tormek AB, or its products, please refer to the www.Tormek.com.

About this site
Remember : The goal of sharpening is to produce sharp tools, and these tools can injure you if mishandled. Safety measures should be followed to protect yourself and those in your shop. Be sure to read and follow all instructions from the manufacturer, and and utilize proper safety equipment. Never consume alcohol or anything that could impair your judgement before sharpening tools, or using sharp tools. Comments can be sent via eMail to me at SharpeningHandbook@Gmail.com.