Understanding the difference between strength and toughness can help...
A sharp knife is one of the most important tools in any survival situation, so it’s not something you should cheap out on. However, with the proper technique and tools, even the cheapest and dullest knife you can find can be sharpened into a razor-edged instrument. It’s just a matter of time, and in a long-term survival situation, that’s probably the one resource you’ll have more than enough of.
To prove the point that even an extremely inexpensive knife can be transformed into a precision cutting tool, a YouTuber known as Kiwami Japan purchased a $1 knife and set out to get it as sharp as possible. This “Galaxy” blade was purchased at Daiso, the Japanese equivalent to a dollar store, for 100 yen. That currently equates to 0.88 US dollars.
The video host then takes this cheap knife to a $300 professional-grade set of whetstones to produce a mirror edge. The process starts with 120 grit, then moves on to 220, 1000, 2000, 6000, 8000, 12,000, and finally 30,000 grit stones. After stropping the knife on the side of his apron, he shows off the extremely high polish of the edge and demonstrates several cutting tasks. The entire process took more than eight hours of continuous sharpening.
Obviously, using $300 whetstones for 8 hours on a $1 knife is overkill, but it proves the point that even a cheap knife can be made razor sharp with enough patience and skill. This process could be accomplished using one or two much cheaper whetstones, though the results would be less impressive.
It’s also important to note that the low-quality steel used on this knife may wear quickly and is likely to need frequent re-sharpening. A higher-quality steel would be much more effective for long-term use, but that would also drive up the price. So, when you choose a knife, remember to balance the price with the quality of its steel and heat treatment — if you’re skilled with whetstone sharpening, you can finish the rest by hand.