1. Welcome to the New & Improved BladeForums. New software info here. Please report problems in Tech Support, and read existing threads before posting! - Spark
  2. I've changed the default forum style to Flat Awesome based on feedback. Don't like it? Click here to change how the forums look Feedback on this is welcome here.

Building a homemade knife sharpener

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by DanMan4142, Apr 4, 2004.

  1. DanMan4142


    Feb 16, 2004
    I am wondering if any of you guys have ever built or modified a knife sharpener. I have a cheap smiths clamp type sharpener, but it doenst seem to work as well as i would like. for one it limits me to 20 and 25 degree edges, and i would like a 15 degree option. I have been looking at hardware stores for stuff i could use to either make this sharpener work better for me or even to make a new one, perhaps a ceramic stick sharpener. it seems to me that i wouldnt be that difficult to make a sharpner similar to the spyderco sharpmaker if I had the stones, but i dont know since i have never used one. I enjoy making things and i like knives, so i figure it would be cool to make a good knife sharpener. if anybody knows anything about this i am just looking for ideas and the like.
  2. RH


    Jan 31, 1999
  3. VampyreWolf


    Feb 12, 2001
    Give you a tip. Sharpens at any angle, sharpens pretty much any steel... called a bench stone and freehand sharpening.:D

    I have a spydie 204, use it for serrations but thats it. Benchstone and strop cover 95% of my needs.
  4. DanMan4142


    Feb 16, 2004
    i have tried freehanding but i havent been able to get much of an edge. I havnet spent a lot of time trying though, maybe I should buy a better stone and work on it. After some practice is it possible to get edges as sharp as the mechanical devices, or at least close?
  5. Matt Shade

    Matt Shade

    Nov 24, 1999
    Free hand will get you as sharp as you want if you take the time to learn and have some decent stones. I only sharpen freehand, and won't carry a knife that won't shave. Shaving the print off newspaper or cutting freehanging string/rope are easy tricks. It did take some practice though.
  6. VampyreWolf


    Feb 12, 2001
    I've been doing freehand for 15yrs, since my grandfather taught me[He gave me my first knife for a 5th bday gift, and taught me how to sharpen when I asked]. I can manage to shave off a 500 grit stone, 800 is at least a clean shave. Spydie ceramics end up like butter.

    I've got a 200/300 combo and a 500/800 combo[both alumina oxide stones], 40 to 1500 grit sandpaper[all AO dry wood paper], 400grit SiC paper, veritas green on my strop[0.5 micron CrO grit], the 204 and 303MF[spydie ceramics].

    It's not uncommon for me to spend 20-30min on a knife, going slow. I can touch up an edge in 5min to get it popping hairs again. I even manage to get the scissors at work to shave at 12.5 deg).

    I only keep one EDC edge shaving, the rest I tailor to my needs. My 3" skean dhu in 5160 sails through 1/4" poly rope in 1 slice. 1200 grit sandpaper and my strop.

    Big thing is experience and taking your time to do it right. I touchup every month or so on my plain edge knives. My 24/7 neck carry is due for a touchup, it was sharpened in August, touched up in January, and needs to hit the strop in the next day or so[was having a hard time cutting open a chip bag today]. Thats only a ss pe dragonfly in ats-55(sharpened on the flats). My absolute sharpest knive so far is a 3" warncliff in 1084 with a LOW bevel on it.
  7. db


    Oct 3, 1998
    AA quick easy and cheap Sharpmaker; Cut any angle you want across a 2x4, glue on what ever grit sandpaper you want, and bammm you got yourself a sharpener.
  8. Crayola


    Sep 23, 1999
    Here's a real good set-up:

    Delta 1x30 belt sander, and the Lee Valley rods mentioned.

    Edges are about shape, and finish. Use the Delta to thin out bevels, then put on a microbevel with the ceramic sharpener. As mentioned, find a bud with a drill press and drill sets of holes at varying angles on a board. That way you can experiment with microbevel angles. The Belt Sander will also let you do convex edges, sharpen lawnmower blades and axes easily, machetes, etc. You can even get 1x30 leather be;ts from Lee Valley, put on their green honing compount, and "power strop" :) Great set-up, not that much money.
  9. T. Erdelyi

    T. Erdelyi Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 3, 2001

    Matt echos my mantra, the satisfaction and peace of mind one achieves when you learn to put an edge on freehand is undesribable.

    All ya gotta do is practice, and another suggestion buy a 10X loupe so you can see a magnified view of the edge, once you learn the difference between what sharp looks like and dull looks like you'll be puttin' hair poppin' edges in no time.
  10. me2


    Oct 11, 2003
    Is a sharpmaker considered "free hand?" You are still judging and holding the angles yourself, but the point of view is different. The sander is a good idea, but it takes practice to develop enough confidence to go at a >= $60 knife. Thats what got me to the point that my Benchmade Ares needed a new blade. Right now, I use a 4x4 cut at 17 degrees on a power miter saw and screwed to a base. I have one set for 12 degrees too. I thin edges on a stone on the 4x4, then do a final honing on my sharpmaker and a strop. My stone right now consists of an old DMT stone with 180 or 220 grit wet dry paper spray adhesived on the face. I also dont use the strop for more than about 2-3 strokes per side, as it tends to round the edge the way I do it. For cheaper knives and machetes I use a 1x30 sander with a 320 grit belt, then a leather belt for the sander loaded with white buffing compound from Sears. This produces an edge equal to the sharpmaker plus stropping in about 1/10th the time, however, I reduced about 4 knives to little piles of dust learning to do it. Luckily, they were old knives that I had either worn out or damaged.
  11. zeus36


    Jan 28, 2004

    I got a set of 8" paper wheels from Koval knife supplies for under $25
    they mount on a grinder and you can sharpen all kinds of tools/edges fast.
    you can get a super polished edge with the slotted wheel.
  12. Matt Shade

    Matt Shade

    Nov 24, 1999
    Had any luck?
    Didn't mean to just tell you to suck it up and sharpen freehand, just wanted to assure you it could be done quite effectively and is more a matter of practice than anything else.

    Had another thought for the homemade sharpener.I've seen drill press vises that are set up to twist the jaws to different angles and then lock them down. Haven't seen a cheap one yet or I'd have bought a few ;) but if you had something similar you put just about any stone you want in there and then clamp it at an angle sharpmaker style, only the choice of angles would be infinite.
  13. DanMan4142


    Feb 16, 2004
    Thanks for all of the ideas guys, I have been busy and I havnet had the chance to try out anything yet. My plans are to purchase a couple of decent stones to practice freehanding with my junky knives, but i also still plan to try and make something to help me set the angles and to use on my better knives until i am ok at freehand or until i decide which way i like the best.
  14. ctdair


    Mar 31, 2004
    Razor edge systems buy the book and practice free hand. I am getting better each time but the book explains in plain simple terms and the pictures make it stone(pun intended) simole
  15. ctdair


    Mar 31, 2004
  16. bladeartist


    Feb 12, 2009
    Sorry, but I don't understand how to use a 2X4 and sandpaper as a knife sharpener. Just can't visualize it without more info. Thanks.
  17. cultivateitnow


    Aug 21, 2010
    That 20 Degree will shave hair, I have one. I sharpened free hand for 30 years and all my knives whould shave. I decided to by a Smiths Diamond set to use on my tool steel blades. After seeing the results I reprofiled all my blades o 20 degrees. You can get a lansky which will go down to 17 degrees, I believe. I suspect if you are not happy with the 20 degrees it really isn't the angle. The blade most likely needs more time on the stones. Make sure you have a bur on both sides befoe switching to the next size down and repeat.

    If you want 15 degrees with the Smith all you really need is a drill and another hole, provided the clamp doesn't get in the way.

    There are also adjustable angle sharpeners on the market, table top systems, etc. They all work the same way though. Diamonds will get you where you want to be quicker, but you still need to polish the edge with a very fine stone.
  18. cultivateitnow


    Aug 21, 2010
  19. Nathan Ihrke

    Nathan Ihrke

    Sep 28, 2008
    Somebody just had on here the steps they went through to freehand sharpen a factory edge all the way to mirror. I wish I had seen that and started learning like that before I got a sharpmaker.
  20. hiwa


    Jun 7, 2009
    Something to consider when doing free hand is to keep the knife stationary and move the stone on it at the appropriate angle. I even do this with 8" benchstones no problem. Just keep your fingertips in a safe position. For myself anyways , I find I can keep a more consistent angle than if I had the stone sitting on the bench and trying to hold my knife at an angle. Practice with different setups and see what works for you. Practice on cheap knives first.

Share This Page