How to Sharpen a Gut Hook: 2 Simple Ways To Do It

Have you ever tried cleaning up a carcass, only to accidentally puncture the guts?

Doing so will not only unleash a horrible smell, but it could also ruin your kill. That’s why you need to learn the proper gutting technique.

Or, you could use a gut hook.

Gut hooks make dressing game so much faster and easier. But, like everything else we talk about here, it needs to be razor-sharp.

How do you sharpen your gut hook?

Let’s find out.

What are Gut Hooks?

Gut Hook Knife

Hunting is one of America’s greatest pastimes. According to Statista, over 15 million people go hunting every year in the US alone.

If you’re one of those, you know that hunting is quite demanding. You have to be sharp, careful, and you also need the best tools. Without good tools, you may just be wasting your time out in the woods.

One tool that is absolutely necessary is a knife – a good, versatile knife that has a gut hook.

Gut hooks are hooks you find at the tip of some hunting knives. They’re small but extremely useful for cleaning up your hunt.

Having a gut hook will make your hunting experience a lot better. Plus, they’re also very versatile. You can use them for a number of tasks at your campsite.

Gut hooks were invented during the 1960s. They were completely blunt and were used for removing coffee pots from fire. The hook allowed them to get the hot ladle without using their hands.

Since then, gut hooks have come a long way.

People soon found that aside from picking up pots, it could be also used for cleaning game.

Back then, the only way to do this was to learn the proper technique for gutting animals. People would have to practice and practice before they got this right.

That’s why the gut hook was a godsend.

With it, even beginners could remove all the intestines and organs without puncturing any of them.

Plus, people also started using these hooks to cut ropes, pry nails, and peel fruits. That’s why a lot of hunting knife manufacturers started incorporating gut hooks.

How to Use a Gut Hook

Gut hooks are great, no doubt… but how do you use them?

The main purpose of the gut hook is to slice the belly of your kill without cutting any organs. You can use this for deer, elk, fish, or any other critter.

To do this, you’ll first need a hole. Use your knife to make a small incision at the bottom of the belly.

Then hook your gut hook into this hole and pull across the entire belly. This should split the carcass in one smooth motion.

Plus, it’ll never slice the organs. Only the hook is sharp, the topside of the knife is blunt. It’s truly an ingenious design.

However, you might notice that a lot of professional hunters don’t use gut hooks. What’s this all about?

For them, gut hooks aren’t necessary. They’ve gutted so many animals the hard way, they can do this with their eyes closed.

But for beginners who don’t want to spoil their hunt, gut hooks are the way to go.

However, no matter how clever gut hooks design is, it’s no use if it’s dull.

Can you imagine trying to skin thick hide with a blunt hook? You’ll pull and pull, and you won’t split anything.

It’s so important to keep your gut hook razor-sharp.

The Sharpening Problem

But there’s a problem…

How on earth do you sharpen a gut hook?

One glance is enough to tell you that ordinary methods won’t work.

If you try to use a sharpening stone, you’ll end up destroying your gut hook. Gut hooks are thin and round, meaning your sharpening stones are no good here.

Those pull-through sharpeners are no good either. Besides, how are you even going to get your hook into one of those?

The good news though is that it actually isn’t that difficult to sharpen a gut hook. All you need is the right tool.

How to Sharpen a Gut Hook

There are two tools you can use to sharpen a gut hook.

• Sharpening rod
• Small belt-sander

Let’s take a look at each one.

How to Sharpen with Sharpening Rod

For this method, you need a thin sharpening rod. Ordinary sharpening rods are quite wide, so you won’t be able to use those.

You need a sharpening rod that your hook can wrap around. It’s a good idea to get a tapered rod. This way, no matter how wide or narrow your hook is, you can get the perfect sharpening.

Tapered rods are also great because they’re also easy to bring along. If you’re out camping, you don’t want to carry big, heavy sharpeners do you? A small tapered rod can fit in your pocket.

To use this, you first need to identify whether you have a single or double-beveled gut hook. Then you need to check the angle.

Getting the perfect angle is easy. All you have to do is rest your sharpening rod on the bevel and adjust until the rod is flat upon the entire bevel.

Then, there are two ways to sharpen. You can either slide the rod down from above or pull it from below.

Whatever you choose, always remember that you want to push or pull against the edge. Never push or pull towards it. This will damage both your rod and blade.

Also, make sure you sharpen the entire curve of your hook. A lot of people only sharpen the center area, which is a big mistake.

As always, feel for a burr to know when you can stop. Burr equals a sharp edge. Once you feel it, flip your knife over and start working on the other side (if your hook is double-beveled).

Once that side is done, don’t forget to finish off with stropping. Take a leather strop, or your belt if you don’t have one, and rub your hook against it. This will not only remove the burr, but it will also polish your knife.

Then you’re ready to go! After stropping, your gut hook should slice through thick skin without any problems.

Don’t have a tapered sharpening rod? There’s another way.

How to Sharpen with Belt Sander

Belt sanders are incredibly useful machines. Even if you aren’t into woodworking, there are so many ways that you can use this.

One way you can use this is to sharpen knives. If you’ve read my article on how to sharpen knives with a belt sander, you’ll know this by now.

What you might not know though is that belt sanders can be used to sharpen gut hooks.

But wait!

How can they do this when their belts are straight?

Good question.

The trick here is that these belts are bendable.

When you’re installing the belt, don’t tighten it too much. You want it just loose enough to conform to the shape of the hook.

Be careful not to make it too loose though. If you do, the belt might fly off when you turn your machine on.

Once it’s the right tightness, it’s time to sharpen. Press your knife against the belt until it conforms to the shape of the bevel.

Then, turn your belt sander on at a slow speed. This will grind off metal and get your edge super sharp once again. Remember, sharpen away from the edge, not towards it.

Be careful when using a belt sander. These machines can eat steel fast. It only takes a few seconds to get a sharp edge, so don’t take too long.

Once you stop, feel for a burr. Then flip your knife and work on the other side. If your knife is single beveled, you’ll be good to go.

Don’t forget to strop for the finishing touch.

Tips for Sharpening Gut Hooks

As always, here’s my cheat sheet sharp Your gut hooks:

• Check if your gut hook is single or double beveled first
• Use a tapered sharpening rod for best results
• Wear gloves for safety
• Find the angle by resting the rod on the bevel
• Sharpen away from the edge (NOT towards it)
• Feel for a bevel to know when it is sharp
• Flip knife over and work on the other side
• Always strop after sharpening

For belt sanders, you’ll want to :

• Make sure the belt isn’t too tight or too loose
• Use gloves for safety
• Press the hook against the belt until it conforms to the shape
• Sharpen away from the edge (NOT towards it)
• Run the belt at slow speed
• Feel for a burr, then work on the other side (if double-beveled)
• Strop once you’re finished

Just another tip, make sure you clean your gut hook after every use. This way, you won’t have to worry about rust and corrosion anymore.

Best Sharpening Rod & Belt Sander To Sharpen a Gut Hook Knifes

Last update on 2024-05-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2024-05-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Gut hooks. Super simple yet remarkably useful. With them, skinning animals has never been easier. And now that you know the proper ways to sharpen one, you’re more than ready to go hunting!

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I’m Ahmed, the guy behind I’ve owned several types of knives and sharpeners over the last few years and have become obsessed with everything to do with knives. I’m always trying to improve my cleaning and sharpening process, and always on the hunt for the next best knife. But when I’m not spending time with my hobby, I’m here, writing about Knives and Sharpeners on KnifePulse to share with you what I learn along the way.

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