How to Sharpen a Sword

Two Methods:File Sharpening.Cheating (Easy way).

Whether it is because the sword has become blunt from use or it came without a keen enough edge for your liking, knowing how to sharpen a sword is a skill that every sword collector should learn eventually.

Method 1
File Sharpening.

  1. 1
    If just a slight sharpening is required jump to stage 3.
  2. 2
    Set up on a table with plenty of light and prop your sword up on the wood.Using even, measured strokes at about a 30 degree angle, start to shape the edge with your file, counting strokes one at a time down your, blade one way, then turning it over and doing the same thing on the other side.
    • Make sure not to take too much off of one side, just keep filing and turning the blade over until an edge shows. The edge will be very rough at this point but it will become refined in the next steps.
  3. 3
    Get your whetstone and apply a thin layer of oil to it. This is more polishing rather than grinding. Pass the blade over the stone as if slicing pieces off of the stone, but not so much that it bites into it. Do this at a 30 degree angle, using a slow and flat stroke; you want to making sure you pass over the stone at the same angle every time. Use a good light source to find the parts you've missed or even use a marker and draw on the edge, then sharpen until all the marker is worn off.
    Image titled 670px Choose the Right Sword Step 4Bullet3_kindlephoto 337688994
  4. 4
    Complete the sword sharpening process by blending your newly sharpened blade with the rest of your sword, get some 400 grit and tear off a postage stamp sized piece. Wet with a little water, and carefully run the paper along one side of the edge of the blade with your finger at a 30 degree angle the.
    • This is a dangerous step. You may cut yourself so turn off the TV or radio and focus (it can actually be quite relaxing). If you want a higher polish then get finer and finer grit paper, I generally take it to 1000 grit. Eventually using a cotton rag and buffing compound if you want mirror finish.

Method 2
Cheating (Easy way).

  1. 1
    Get a knife sharpener. It's the easiest, fastest and most reliable. Some say it's cheating but really it's just that it's not traditional so older blacksmiths frown upon it.
    • It will not create as fine of an edge as filing BUT it will ensure you do not mess up on what may be a 500-1000 dollar blade. Accusharp is the most commonly used sharpener for swords being that not all sharpeners fit a sword. It's also relatively cheap.
    • Try polishing the edge with sandpaper after you're done for that extra gleam.


  • Swords can be TOO sharp. A sword that is too sharp will lose its edge quickly or chip.
  • It is not recommend that you use these directions to sharpen an oriental sword such as katana, tanto, etc. Those swords are meant to have 'Niku' (translates to 'Meat') which is a lenticular (rounded) cut. It takes a 10 year apprenticeship in order to learn how to sharpen this way. That's twice as long as the apprenticeship required to just FORGE those swords.
  • Remember, you aren't forming an edge. You are removing metal until the edge shows itself.
  • Practice on smaller knives first. Sharpening is a skill that takes time to perfect.


  • Don't hit hard things with any sword. Swords can break and when they do you don't want to be anywhere near.
  • Keep all blades out of reach of children.
  • Metal shavings will get everywhere and can act like splinters. Make sure to clean them up and not do it on a rug or cloth used for other things.
  • Never swing a sword at another person, even if only jokingly.
  • Don't play with swords, they are not toys.

Things You'll Need

  • Metal file
  • Whetstone
  • Oil or water for whetstone (Cutting oil, Gun oil, WD-40 and Mineral oil all work)
  • 400 grit emery paper
  • Piece of Wood

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Metalwork and Wire Projects