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Best sharpening system?

Jan 12, 1999
I'm thinking about purchasing a mid to high end sharpening system to sharpen my knives on. What does everyone think of the different systems that they have tried?

A local army/navy style store has Tri-Sharpeners for public use, but I'm spending more on gas then the sharpener is worth. Besides, I always feel a bit guilty, since I'm not really a customer of theirs (yet), so I don't really take the time to do more than a cursory job.

Let me know what experiences you've had,

Ted Stewart
"A knife is no more dangerous than any other tool. People simply have an easier time misusing a knife then a Bic pen."
I have a Sharpmaker myself. I don't consider it high end, but its been getting the job done for a few years now. I like it because its easy to use, and you don't use any lubricant. No mess. All you have to do is clean the stones now and then. Not a bad set-up at all.


I don't think I have an answer to your question as to what's the best sharpening system. I've tried every system and I can say that all of them work. My brother have the best sharpening system I think, an Edge Pro Apex that is. I on the other hand use Spyderco Sharpmaker almost all of the time, except when I really need to get rid of those pesky nicks and chips. But everytime we compared the results, seemed like mine was better. The answer is still: practice makes perfect.

I used to prefer rod guide system (e.g. Lansky, Gatco, DMT, Apex, etc), because it's easy to keep the angle. But my grandpa taught me free hand sharpening, and I was stuck with it for a while. I use Sharpmaker now just because it's not messy, and I can get useful edge in a few minutes. Like I said I still use other systems, but only when I really need it. Overall, I think the Apex (or the Professional for that matter) is still the best.

I have used the Gatco system for years and it works just fine.

I just got the 204 Sharpmaker, and while I can get the knives real sharp, I can't quite get that "shaving sharp" that comes out of the Spyderco factory.

Anyone with any ideas, feel free to jump in.
Hi RedTwin1!

I use a Spyderco Triangle sharpmaker #203 and I realy like it. I have so and so many other stones, but the easiest way to get good results is the #203. The 204 is the newer version with the option of two angles.
I do not know if it is the best but I like it the most.
Hope this helps
I definitely like the SharpMaker for most ocassions. But when I want a real scary sharp edge, I use a system from Razor Edge Systems (www.razoredgesystems.com). I HIGHLY recommend getting a copy of their book, The Razor Edge Book of Sharpening, and their video. No single book, person, video, manual, etc has more info that I've seen.

I picked up one of those small Gatco triangale sharpeners, and gotten so vored yesterday I honed my cold steel minipal so it would shave
Spyderco stones are excellent.
Norton stones are excellent.
Arkansas type stones are excellent.

The key is having patience.

I dont like any of the "systems" out there. Just take a few minutes and learn to use conventional stones.

Go to Don Foggs Site, there is a good page or two on sharpening.

I have been using the Razors Edge System for about a year. Like the Sharpmaker, it does not require any oil or water. In fact specifically recommends against their use. It puts a very very sharp edge on my Cold Steel Voyager Tanto, but only an adequate edge on my Bench Made knives. I have also tried the Razors Edge System on my new Woo and G-45 with mixed results.

I also have a Lansky System which does an adequate job. I plan to purchase a Spyderco 204 in a few weeks because I have read so many positive comments from forum members.
When I first got started into knives I bought a lansky deluxe system and that worked perfectly, till I got some serrated knives and the guide rods got bent. I use it mostly to sharpen plain edges and I don't use the jig and rods anymore. I use the Sharpmaker more now. It's perfect for serrated edges, but do not drop the stones!
I got assorted alum-oxide and arkansas stones too, not to mention the ez-lap diamond rod and the gerber diamond rod. They all work, but for serrated edges the sharpmaker is tops. I made a pouch for all my shrpening stuff too, so when I go some where, it's all in one container. the best thing to do is get a sharpmaker(either one will do) and the lansky ultra fine stone. we're talkin' sharp now....
Look in the Bladeforums FAQ section they go into gret detail about sharpening and different systems.
Pay attention to RMLamey (above). This human has her/his head screwed on very straight. Get a fair to decent stone and learn to sharpen a knife. No "systems" or other "magic of the month." As I've written elsewhere recently, you can sharpen a knife easily if you keep it sharp, and you can get it at least as sharp as you can with the expensive toys by using a brick and the sole of your boot.
Norton makes fine stones if you run out of bricks.

Desert Rat

[This message has been edited by Desert Rat (edited 01 July 1999).]
In a way, a lot more energy goes into this than need be. Any of the various jigs and systems will give excellent results, provided you use them correctly. There isn't a single system that doesn't have advantages and disadvantages versus any other system or freehand.

I sharpen freehand or with the Razor Edge system on Spyderco's ceramic stones, DMT diamond hones, and the natural stone set from Knifeart.com. All yield excellent results. I also have a Spyderco Sharpmaker 204, and an EdgePro Apex. I haven't used the Lansky/Gatco rod&clamp style systems, but many people report exellent results with that, too.

As I said, all the systems and stones have advantages and disadvantages over each other. Right now I typically use the Spyderco the most often, freehand on the DMT stones the second most often.

Anyway, sorry this isn't simpler, but there is definitely no "best" sharpening system. Any of the above will work great. However, I bet I can help narrow things down for you if you can tell me what you want to emphasize...

- Do you mind cleaning up after messy oils? Or would you rather keep things clean for now.

- Are you willing to start with a system that works best for smaller blades, or must you have one to start that works with blades of all sizes?

- Are you willing to spend some time setting up your system, or would you rather have a system that's quick to use?

- Do you mind spending some extra time reprofiling the edge the first time you sharpen a knife (easy sharpening thereafter), or do you always want the sharpening bevel to exactly match the bevel already on the knife?

Etc. etc.

The Spydie stones are used dry, thats why i prefer them over the Norton or Arky type stones.
I, too, have used just about all the sharpening systems that come to mind. For years I used the Razoredge stones & Sharpmaker and got excellent results. Also, I had a leather strop I used for the finishing touch.
I now use the Edge Pro "Professional" model for all my sharpening needs and IMHO it is the best I have ever used...by far!!
I agree with Joe totally, all "systems" have their positive and negative aspects, as I have about six different major types. I learned a lot from what he knows about sharpening in the FAQ section of this forum, and by getting Razor-Edge Systems book and video. You really owe it to yourself to get both the book and video to see what you need to do with the edge to make it suitable for your needs. Once you understand what it is you need to do, sharpening seems alot simpler. Of course, you still need some time and patience
! I actively use my Razor-Edge kit and my Spyderco #203, both work great.
For plain-edges, my favorite "system" is a small belt-grinder with a platen and angle-guide. Not trying to make a joke - you can pick up a no-name 1"x30", some belts, and the guide for only a bit more than a Sharpmaker. A leather belt and some jeweller's rouge will let you power-strop for a scalpel-like edge, and your "sharpener" can also re-grind knives, make new ones (if they're small and you're patient) and do a million household jobs.

For serrated edges, my favorite technique is to send them back to Spyderco. It takes me a long while to get these dull, and Spyderco does a fine job resharpening them and does it for free (on their knives).

I still use freehand systems for minor resharpening, and I just adore any sort of V-type sticks. They do a great job and keep a constant angle with no skill required. They'll also handle reverse curves and other shapes that stop most stones and systems cold. I have a couple of different stick set-ups, but no Sharpmaker, which I hear is the best. I should put one on my shopping list, but it'd delay the next new knife


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)
Just get the medium stone(they sell replacement stones) for the sharpmaker. I haven't used the base since I owned my sharpmaker. If you like it, get the set.
My $.02 PR
The only problem with RMLamey's advice above is that some of us appear to be, to use another forumite's expression, "sharpening-impared". I am pretty mechanically and technically adept, but the quickest way to ruin the edge on a good blade is to hand it to me, along with a bench stone. I've been trying for 30 years, and haven't gotten the hang of it yet.

That said, I have had excellent luck with both the Lansky and Spyderco Sharpmaker systems. I use the Spyderco system most of the time now because it requires less setup.


A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes bleed the hand that uses it.
-Rabindranath Tagore


(A simple stone and a hunk of leather)

Desert Rat