How to Sharpen Titanium Knives: Can it be done?

The titanium knife is one of the most important survival tools anyone should have their kit. It is tough, corrosion-resistant, and lightweight. I find it very handy when I’m diving, angling, and hunting. But there are a few drawbacks to it. When used a knife, titanium is a tremendous material, which lessens cutting fatigue due to its softness. 

Although it makes a good handle material, I find titanium knives to be a terrible blade since it can’t take the kind of edge that tempered steel does. It gets dull after a few uses. Thankfully, I’ve done some research on the best methods for sharpening titanium knives so that I never have a hard time cutting plants, vines, and skinning animals when I’m out hunting in the woods.

What are titanium knives?

Before talking about how to sharpen a titanium knife, let’s take a look at what it is and why this super metal has received a whole lot of mentions across the web. The single, most-important distinguishing factor of titanium knives is its resistance to corrosion. It’s the first characteristic of titanium knives that you’ll see on metallurgy journals and knife blogs. Titanium blades are so corrosion-resistant that they will remain unscathed if soaked in seawater for four years!

Titanium is named after the Titans, the sons of the Earth goddess in Greek mythology is the 22nd element on the Periodic Table, and is used to make aerospace engines, dentures, medical equipment, cutlery, jewelry, fasteners, and cosmetics.

While the metal’s original discoverer, Reverend William Gregor failed to name it in 1791, it was the German scientist, Martin Klaproth who called the unnamed mineral titanium in 1795. It was not until 1910 that the New Zealander, M.A Hunter isolated pure titanium from its ore by heating titanium tetrachloride and sodium metal.

Most titanium blade manufacturers make use of Grade 5 titanium alloy (Ti6Al4V or Ti4Al4V). It contains anywhere around 90% titanium, 6% vanadium, and trace amounts (less than 0.3%) of oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen.

Titanium knives like the Camillus feature lookbacks, with a liner lock to allow one to secure the blade into a fixed position. Fillet knives, used in underwater hunting, are made with titanium blades. 

Titanium is as sturdy as some steel knives but is generally less dense. This means that titanium blades are useful everyday carry blade (EDC) activities such as fishing, hunting, backpacking, box opening, rope cutting, and quite disgustingly, picking food lodged in-between the teeth. 

Characteristics of Titanium Knives

  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Temperature-resistant
  • Abrasion-resistant
  • Toughness• Lighter than steel
  • Non-magnetic
  • Temperature-resistant
  • Abrasion-resistant
  • Toughness
  • Lighter than steel
  • Non-magnetic

Advantages of Titanium Knives

Titanium Knives are useful for divers who carry the knife for long periods of time in highly corrosive seawater. Its lightness is used by fishermen to cut sea bass. When scuba diving or spearfishing, a titanium knife can come in handy when you encounter an emergency such as being entangled in discarded fishnets in the sea, or when you’re held back by kelp and seaweed. 

Titanium knives may be difficult to sharpen due to its hardness, but it holds its edge for long and is characteristically maintenance-free. Titanium knives usually come with full-tang construction that gives a solid-feeling when wielded. They are non-magnetic, and a typical titanium alloy has a very low amount of iron.

For anglers, titanium knives are strong and flexible enough to allow for much-needed maneuverability to skillfully fillet and debone your catch. Its handle is designed to provide a great ergonomic control grip when conditions get wet or slimy.

Disadvantages Of Titanium Knives

One drawback or titanium knives is that they are difficult to sharpen. As a blade, it is very lightweight and can make its workability on other tasks like beef cutting or chopping difficult; hence, you may need other knives for high leverage tasks.

Generally, titanium knives are poor cutting tools and are not eligible working knives because it is not wholly enabled to adequate cutting levels. The titanium knife is widely considered a last-ditch tool for short-term cutting or use in marine/aquatic environments as a dive or fillet knife. 

They are prone to galling. Titanium alloys have poor-surface-to surface wearing characteristics, denoted by friction or seizing at a molecular level, during contact with the various metals of the knife. This can be a real bummer for titanium knife owners when handling one with folding and locks with moving parts like a pivot.  Titanium knives tend to be expensive. 

The Titanium Blade Sharpening Problem

All over the web, I found resources where people tried a whole bunch of different methods for sharpening titanium blades. Commenters make use of anything from scissors, whetstones, Japanese water stones, aluminum oxide stones, and ceramics. However, these methods have downsides. 

First off, titanium blades tend to gum up stones. Swarfmay develops on the stone board you’re using to sharpen the titanium blade and ruin its usability to sharpen other knives you may have. Scissors may maim you, and ceramics are just plain primitive. Durable and sturdy, corrosion-resistant titanium blades require some extra effort to bring to a fine edge, but once it’s sharp, it requires little maintenance from there on in.

Many users also feel that titanium sharpening skills are elusive always run to the farmer’s market for a quick fix.

How To Sharpen A Titanium Knife

1) Using a Diamond Rod Knife Sharpener 

An inexpensive tool sharpener with a diamond Rod can be used to sharpen a Camillus titanium knife. To sharpen the edge of the blade, incline the tool sharpener at a nice angle and it across the blade, without applying much pressure. Maintain this sequence for a little while to put a really nice edge on the blade. 

Serrated titanium knives hold their cutting power long after the straight-edged blade gets dulled. However, they are very difficult to sharpen. A DMT diamond sharpener will sharpen titanium knife serrations effectively. 

Hold the sharpener at the level that matches the original edge angle. Hold the knife with the edge away from you and the serrated edge facing up. Place the diamond sharpener in the serration in a way that fills the indentation. Drag the sharpener towards the edge. This exercise should be done in about 10 repeats.

2) Using an Abrasive Pad

The demonstration video shows the sharpening of titanium fillet knives from the Pharus Group. The abrasive pad used is an 8” by 2” pad. 

Take the knife, put it on one edge of the pad, while giving it a level of about a quarter height (any angle less than 45°), and stroke it slantingly across the pad towards you so that it whole blade slides all the way up to the tip. Stroke it gently; slow and steady, and you’ll start to feel the grabbing. Repeat this 4 to 5 times using the same technique. Afterward, stroke it back the other way to take the residues off for finesse, and then you have a really sharp knife. This works on any type of titanium knife at the same bevel angle. This method is safe as it doesn’t go towards your fingers and bruise you. 

Tips For Sharpening A Titanium Knife

Here are some tips you need to have in mind when sharpening a titanium knife.

  • The ideal sharpening angle is 22- 45°.
  • Serrated edges of a titanium diving knife must be sharpened one-by-one.
  • Apply cut-resistant gloves.
  • Do not use electric sharpeners for titanium knives.
  • Maintain sharpening bevel angle at all times

General Care and Maintenance For Titanium Knives

It is vital to keep your blade edge sharp. There is even a general adage amongst knife connoisseurs that states: “it’s a dull knife that will cut you.” A dull titanium blade requires additional force and is potentially more dangerous when in use than the slippage of a sharp one.

For Fixed Blades Titanium Knives

Under average usage, the titanium blade may be wiped with any cleaning solution like dishwashing liquid, or car soap, due to its inertness. Shake the knife lightly to remove excess moisture. Oil is needed on the titanium blade. It is 100% corrosion-proof and will never rust. In addition, the sheath and handle can be scrubbed or wiped with any cleaning solution.

For Folding Blades Titanium Knives

Ensure that the pivoting and locking parts of your titanium knife are clean. Accumulation of dirt and debris can hamper the locking mechanism and result in an unsafe knife. Due to the intricate architecture of the folder’s handle, the entire titanium knife can be cleaned by placing it in a sink of soapy water or by running water with a hose over it to force the dirt and grime out. You can apply a small drop of oil from time to time as titanium blades often gall against the washers.

Summary

Titanium knives are super blades with handle and locking mechanisms suitable for most utility work like diving, angling, and hunting. They make for a superb everyday carry blade due to its resistance to corrosion and indestructibility. With all the tips described, you should be able to cut away gleefully and with zero risks.

Sources to Learn more about Titanium Knives and Blades:

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