(This site is reader-supported. When you buy something using retail links on our articles, we may earn a small commission.)
To many hunters, the gut hook knife is one of the most important tools. It is essential when splitting or skinning a game. To other hunters, it is useless. It depends on people’s hunting styles and needs though. If you do use a gut hook knife, you have probably noticed it tends to lose its sharpness after a few uses.
Unfortunately, you cannot use a classic sharpener to get it back in shape. However, learning how to sharpen a gut hook knife is relatively simple and there are a few ways to do it. Most commonly, it will have to be a manual job, so get ready to face a bit of frustration during the first few attempts. Now, what options do you have?.
Ways to Sharpen a gut hook knife
Using Worksharp original knife and tool sharpener
WorkSharp deserves a category by itself. The WorkSharp original knife and tool sharpener works for most knives – apart from a few specialized knives. It features some premium abrasive belts that imitate sandpaper in three stages – 80, 220, and 6,000.
Apart from your gut hook knife, you can also use this machine for kitchen knives, outdoor survival knives, garden and lawn blades, and so on. The abrasive belts provide quick and consistent results without burning or damaging the steel.
Using a sharpening rod
Get a diamond-coated sharpening rod and you can sharpen your gut hook knife in no time. It is one of the easiest ways out there. The operation is fairly simple – simply run it along the gut hook knife, up and down. Perform the same amount of runs on each side. Stick to the same angle though.
Some professional hunters dislike this idea because it tends to remove metal as well. Most sharpeners do, but this one goes a bit further. It is worth noting that a round ceramic rod – as well as a diamond coated alternative – is not designed to sharpen gut hooks though, hence the drawback.
In terms of versatility, the option is quite good because you can also use it for serrated blades. However, just like for the gut hook knife, it will remove quite a bit of metal off your knife, so you should do it too often.
Using a rat file
The rat file is extremely popular because it is common. Lots of people have one around their homes – it must be there in that box with all your tools. The size is irrelevant – as long as it is stable and in good condition.
Go filing your gut hook knife, then use a bit of sandpaper to finish the process. You do not need to do it manually. Instead, wrap the file in it – maybe use a bit of tape to keep it in place. The sandpaper should be anywhere between 800 and 1,000 grits. Go up and down for a few times on each side.
Using a round ceramic sharpening rod
Some hunting knives come in full packages, meaning you get a bunch of other tools and accessories too. From this point of view, your gut hook knife might have come with a ceramic rod. You can also buy these things separately.
Slide each side of the hook on the round ceramic side at the same angle – make sure you perform the same amount of runs on each side. It is worth noting that round ceramic sharpening rods can also be replaced by triangle stones or gunsmith stones. The sharpening process is identical.
Using a chainsaw file
If you are into hunting, chances are you are into various DIY projects as well. In other words, you probably have a professional chainsaw around your house too. A file in the optimal size will work wonders on a gut hook knife – ideal if you are after efficiency, rather than a shaving edge. Even if you do not have a chainsaw, you can buy a file separately from any hardware store.
There is one requirement though – the metallic file should be in the same size as the gut hook knife. While not always a general rule, the 0.404 pitch chainsaw file is one of the most efficient options out there.
So, how do you do it? Get a slip stone and make sure one of the edges is curved. It should be the same size as the file. File the gut hook knife, but do it slowly and gently. You must maintain the bevel. Also, the file could grab a decent amount of metal, hence the necessity of being gentle. Once you are done, you can finish the procedure with the slip stone.
Again, it is extremely important to be gentle and careful. Chainsaw files can easily damage the blade. It will also affect its shape if you do it too rigorously. On the other hand, using a chainsaw file too often may cause other types of damage too, mostly in the blade surface.
Alternatives and ideas
If you think you will need to sharpen it too often, it might be wiser to invest in a unit with a razor-sharp cutter. There are a few disposable hooks out there and they come with a razor-sharp design. Such blades come with a small hook and can fit most knives. They are replaceable and often made of plastic the price is quite low too.
Sometimes, it is better to double-check with the manufacturer – do they provide a sharpening service? Is it free? Some manufacturers provide a lifetime warranty for the sharpness, meaning you can get the knife sharpened as often as you want.
Last, but not least, you can also head to a professional sharpening service. Sharpening a gut hook knife will not cost a fortune. Make sure the professionals on site have dealt with similar knives before. The process takes a few minutes, so you can use your knife straight away.
There are a few good options you can try yourself – excellent for emergencies or cheap gut hooks. If you have a professional unit that costs you a fortune, professional service would be your best bet.
Hi, I am Jay. I am the creator of Knife Guides, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I am a computer engineer by profession, knife aficionado by passion. Here I work with a group of people who’ve always had a passion for knives and blades. Over the years we’ve kind of become experts and decided to share our knowledge and ideas. I am also an avid hiker and enjoy offshore gamefishing.