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How to Sharpen a Knife

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A sharp knife is undoubtedly the handiest tool you can slip into your pocket, but a dull one is a disaster waiting to happen. Not only will a dull blade limit your effectiveness when you need to come to the rescue to open a box or whittle a stick, but its lack of grip on whatever you’re cutting actually makes it more dangerous than a sharp knife. If you want to keep the cachet that comes with having a handy pocket knife, here’s how to keep your blade in optimal shape.

1) Show Some Grit

To get started, you’re going to need two things: a knife and a whetstone. Whetstones are small blocks with gritty surfaces. Most have two sides: one with a coarse grain for getting your sharpening started, and the other with a finer grain for doing your finishing and polishing work. Set your whetstone on a counter in front of you, coarse side up. You may want to put a towel under it to keep it from moving around.

2) Learn All the Angles

You don’t need to break out your protractor from high school geometry, but it’s important to set your blade on the stone at the correct angle. For most knives, you’ll want to lay your blade on the stone at about 20 degrees. This angle will give you the best combination of sharpness and durability.

3) Take It Easy

Working with a knife may feel like a super manly task, but you don’t want to put too much muscle into your sharpening. Using gentle pressure, glide the blade down the stone away from you, working from the heel of your knife to the tip. If you’re doing it right, it should feel like you’re slicing an imaginary layer off the top of the stone. Once you get to the end, flip your knife over and gently bring it back toward you in the same fashion to sharpen the other side of the blade.

4) Stick With It

Keep working in this pattern for around six passes on each side of the blade. If your knife is very dull, you may need to do a few more rounds.

5) Learn the Finer Points

Once you’re done with the coarse side of your stone, finish putting the edge on your blade by flipping over to the finer grit side and repeating the whole process. You should now have a suitably sharp edge. Stick your knife back in your pocket, and wait for a good opportunity to do some cutting.
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Sharpening a knife takes serious focus. Once you’ve worked to get the blade you want, relax with the beer you’ve earned: an ice cold Dos Equis.

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How to Cross a River Without a Bridge
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Need to cross a roaring river? It’s always best to find a bridge, but if you absolutely must make it to the other side on your own, a few easy steps can keep you high and relatively dry.

1. Scout Around

Invest a little time in finding the best place to make your crossing. Avoid bends in the river, where water whips around the fastest. Once you find a suitable spot, walk downstream a few hundred feet to make sure there aren’t any hazards. It’s always good to know about the pesky 30-foot waterfall around the bend.

2. Don’t Be Narrow-Minded

They look tempting, but narrow crossings can be the most dangerous—they’re often the deepest part of the river. Look for the widest section instead. Keep an eye out for mild ripples—which are safe to cross—and avoid whitecaps, which can be treacherously slippery.

3. Ditch Your Duds

If the water will reach your knees, strip down to your skivvies - your pride isn’t worth getting hypothermia from wet clothes. Even if the river is shallow, remove your socks and put on a second pair of shoes if you have them. If you’re backpacking, unbuckle your front straps so you can quickly slip out of your pack if you fall.

4. Shuffle Up

Face upstream, lean into the current, and move across the river with shuffling sidesteps. You’re less likely to fall while sidestepping since you don’t lift your feet as high. If you’re with a group, link arms. The technique creates more contact points with the streambed and gives everyone a more solid footing.

5. Become a Bump on a Log

If the rapids are too fast, shuffling across may be a bad idea. Look for a log that spans the whole river instead. But don’t walk on it! Wet wood can be dangerously slippery. Instead, straddle the log and scoot along until you reach the other side.

6. Float Away

In situations where the river is deep but the current isn’t very swift, a football or soccer ball can be a handy improvised flotation device. Tether it to your wrist and grab on when you get tired of swimming. Or hug it with one arm as you sidestroke for extra buoyancy.
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Once you make it to the opposite shore, dry off and toast your successful crossing with a round of Dos Equis.

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