11-19-2016

Sharpening Knives

This is an amazingly complex subject, with all manner of lore, not to mention gadgets you can buy. You can sharpen free hand, but most people are best served with some kind of jig to maintain a constant angle. There seem to be 3 levels of skill in knife sharpening:

I own the Spyderco "Sharpmaker" and feel it is an excellent choice if you don't want to spend a lot of money on a fancier system. The sharpmaker costs about $60. However, people say the Sharpmaker is more for keeping knives sharp. If you have a seriously dull or abused knife, or want to reprofile a knife, this won't do the job with reasonable time and effort.

I am also getting into freehand sharpening and have some notes on equipment that I have for this.

I also own a pair of DMT Duosharp diamond stones. One is fine/x-fine with 600 and 1200 grit (25 and 9 micron). The other is coarse/x-coarse with 220 and 325 grit (60 and 45 micron). These are big (2.5 by 8 inches) and cost about $60 each. They are for freehand sharpening.

Big Brown Bear

This is Shawn, aka "Deadboxhero" from the Spyderco forums. He knows his stuff.
  • Big Brown Bear
  • 3 best edge steels

    Videos by Murray Carter

    There are lots of sharpening videos online, and probably lots of good ones besides these, but I like what I have seen from this fellow.

    A detour: lubrication

    People use all kinds of things to lubricate folders. I currently use Tri-flow. A product called "Nano-Oil" is recommended. People say the 85 wt is the best, the 10 wt is too watery and tends to go where you don't want it.

    Another product is "Tuff glide". You can also get "Tuf cloth" to go with it. This is marketed as a lubricant, but its real virtue is corrosion protection. Use Nano-oil or Tri-flow on the pivot.

    Beyond the Sharpmaker

    Ignoring freehand sharpening for now, I hear a lot about these "guided" systems:

    The Lansky has been around a long time and is available in department stores. For one reason or other it does not seem to be favored much these days and I will say no more about it.

    The Wicked Edge is wickedly expensive. That is probably all you need to know and all I need to know to move on. It requires you to have two "stones" of each grit, doubling the cost of adding any capability. It might have merit if you are some kind of commercial high-volume sharpening service. Maybe.

    So this leaves us with the Edge Pro versus the KME. These are both well regarded by serious knife freaks. The KME has a clamp to hold the knife. The Edge Pro requires you to hold the knife against a rest. Both are jig systems that sharpen at controlled angles. I am hearing more good things about the KME.

    One tip was to watch videos on both systems to understand the differences.

    DIY knife sharpening systems

    It is not too surprising, but people build their own jigs:
    Feedback? Questions? Drop me a line!

    Tom's Knife Info / tom@mmto.org