How to Sharpen a Knife Without a Sharpener

Knives are an essential tool for any prepper and their every day carry gear, but you might not always have a knife sharpener on hand. So, you need to find other ways to sharpen knives, especially during a survival situation.

If you have some of these objects lying around, you won’t even need to buy an expensive sharpener because these work just as well. Having a sharp knife is an excellent tool and option to have for safety, starting fires and more.

Bottom of a Coffee Mug

If you don’t have a knife sharpener, a ceramic coffee mug with a rough surface on the bottom works just as well. To make this work, you must hold the knife at a 20-degree angle and rub the knife blade against the bottom of the mug. This will sharpen the knife quickly.

The same idea works on the bottom of ceramic plates or anything that is made of ceramic, such as large flower pots. It doesn’t work if the mug is entirely sharpened. Make sure you switch to the other side of the blade to properly sharpen the knife.

Use a Nail File

Nail files are a common household item, and you can use it as a sharpening tool for your knife. Nail files are rough; they have to file down your nails, so they need to be rough. The texture is similar to that of a knife sharpener and sharpener stones, so you can use it to sharpen your knives.

Carrying a nail file is a smart idea. They’re lightweight, small, and perfect for hiking trips or survival situations.

To use a nail file to sharpen a knife, place the nail file on a table or another hard surface. Tilt your blade at a 10-degree angle, pointed away from you. Use one hand to hold the nail file in place while you move the knife down the length of the file. Continue to sharpen in one direction several times, switching sides of the blade, until you think it’s sharp enough.

Slate or Cement

Sometimes in survival situations, you’ll have more access to cement or slate than a coffee mug. All you need is a flat surface that you can swipe your knife back and forth a few times. You can practice this method whenever you want to get a feel for how it works.

You can use this method on other household objects like stone and bricks that are laying around. If you use a brick, be careful to ensure the brick isn’t too rough. Excessive roughness can damage your blade, rendering them useless. That’s not what you want either. Slate is the closest thing that you can find to a sharpening stone when it comes to household items.

Broken Glass Bottle

It doesn’t have to be just a broken glass bottle. Any glass edge works to sharpen a knife. To sharpen your knife, tilt the blade at an angle and swipe it against the side of the broken glass in the same direction several times. It’s one of the easiest ways to sharpen a knife.

No doubt, this method can be dangerous, and you shouldn’t break a glass bottle to sharpen a blade. The most important point is that the glass bottle shouldn’t be polished. A polished glass isn’t a good choice for sharpening.

TIP: Don’t feel like finding a broken glass bottle? That’s fine! The edge of an empty jam jar works just as fine as well.

Another Knife

You might have seen this method in a movie or a cooking show on TV. It offers great results! All you need is another knife to work as the sharpener. You do want to be careful with this method because you’re using two knives. It can be very easy to mess up and accidentally cut yourself. So, be cautious and try to point it away from you!

Using another knife is great when you have to two slightly dull blades. One will sharpen the other edge.

Word of advice: don’t use the blade of a knife to sharpen the other edge. This is the wrong method, and it’ll damage both knives. The right way to use a knife to sharpen another is to use the back of the second knife to sharpen the first blade. It’s hard to damage the back of a knife than the blade, so it’s not a huge deal.

Car Window

If your car is near you, then you’re in luck! Go over to the car window and use the uncoated part of the window, just like you would with a broken glass bottle. The key to success is ensuring that the window you select isn’t polished and is slightly rough. It acts as a sharpening rod.

You can’t carry a car window around with you, so using this method isn’t ideal for hiking and camping. It is useful if you’re on a long road trip or if you’re stuck in a bug out scenario.


Sandpaper has the roughness that a sharpening stone or rod would have, so you can use it as a short-term solution if you don’t have a knife sharpener nearby.

The best way to use sandpaper is to place it on a block of wood or something flat. It guarantees that you won’t accidentally cut your leg or arm. Hold your blade at a 10-degree angle with the edge facing the opposite direction. Stroke away from you into the course of the sandpaper, rotating sides for even sharpening.

A Sharpened Knife Matters

A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife – seriously. Cutting anything with a dull blade is a pain in the butt, and you have to apply extra pressure to make the cut you need. More pressure on a knife can be dangerous if you make the wrong move.

Taking care of your tools is essential, and you need to know how to sharpen a knife without a sharpener. A time may come when you don’t have your trusty knife sharpener nearby. You can use any of these methods to sharpen a blade in no time.

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