Cheap sharpener.

Oct 9, 1998
I don't think I'll need to save up for buying a spyderco ceramic sharpener. I've found a much cheaper device that seems to work marvelously with all my knives (even serrated). In fact, I believe everyone has this in their homes.
You ready to hear it?
.......................a plate.

I was at my aunt's house for a barbeque and I saw her getting ready to sharpen her knives. I'm wondering what this old lady knows about knives so I just sit and watch. To my surprise she doesn't get any stones or honing rods, but takes a plate out from the dishwasher and flips it around and starts using the back of the plate to sharpen. Even more surprising was that it was razor sharp when she was done.
Now I thought about that, and I realized how stupid I was for not realizing this before! The plate is made of ceramic and the bottom of the plate has a ring thats raised up and makes a relatively flat surface.
Anyways, I tried it out on my serrated ez-out and used it as I would use a normal stone for the plain edge. It came out as sharp as the factory edges on some benchmade knives, and so I got a little more daring and tried it out on the serrated half, and it worked just as well.
So I'm wondering, has this idea been covered here before, because I hear all this talk of expensive sharpeners, but never of using simple ceramic china. Tell me what you think.


[This message has been edited by Comrade Chang (edited 26 August 1999).]
Hey that's pretty cool. I've never heard of anyone sharpening a knife on a plate. Although I already have a sharpmaker, I'm gonna try it. You never know when you're gonna be at a friend's or relative's house and they ask you to sharpen their knives.

Hi, my mother used the back of a porcelain teacup saucer (plate) and on the old rusting steel knives the edge she produced was awsome. By the way that was 30 years ago that I noticed that she did that.
My mother in law just uses a "red" brick outside the kitchen window, perhaps not commenly known to Americans but 99.5% of the Dutch houses are built from solid baked clay bricks. It works fine for kitchen knives not as good as the porcelain though.
Cheers, Bagheera

This is an old, proven, time-tested method. I've also seen my grandmother sharpen like that, and I've used it myself on kitchen knives. The reason one uses the back of the plate is that this is the only part which is usually not glazed. I can only guess that the plates are resting on that edge while in the kiln during glazing.
Thanks Comrade. I like no cost practical ideas like this one. I sometimes strop my knives on paper or cardboard - it works and is also no cost.
Comrade Chang, excellent thought about the plate have seen my mother and grandmother do this time and time again. I guess I never remembered because when I have to touch up an
edge I am never near a kitchen. An electrician showed me a neat little trick, you know those halogen bulbs that go in flood lights, they have a ceramic coating on them.
Works almost as well as a diamond stick for touching up a dulled blade.
This is a subject that's probably near and dear to a certain "brick and sidewalk" sharpener adherent ... that is, the use of readily available resources for sharpening.

Even Spyderco's 204 sharpener video mentions the historical use of a ceramic pot rim to provide not only the unglazed abrading surface, but the curvature also provided a natural angle control.

The plate idea is keen, and I'm sure I'll give it a try one of these days. But I think that the point Spyderco (and other "high-end" sharpeners) try to make is that the consistent angle control they provide will save some time for the novice and provide uniform results with less effort.

That having been said, I'm all for using any brick, plate or pot to do touch-ups, as long as my wife doesn't catch me fouling up her plate bottoms with black metal knife stains!
About 4 years ago I found an unusual kitchen knife at a garage sale. It was made by MAC in Japan and had a thin round-nosed blade with a hole near the tip (for hanging?), but the 'funny' thing about it was that it was really sharp! I've almost never found a sharp knife at a garage sale. The woman selling the knife told me that if I bought the knife I had to sharpen it on the back of a plate only. When she bought it she was instructed (don't know if it was instructions in the box or verbal instructions) how to sharpen with the back of a plate and that that was the only way you should sharpen this knife. She regarded this as virtual magic.

I have generally ignored her direction and sharpened the knife much like any other. It is an extremely thin blade that is fully tapered. I believe that it is made from AUS-8. It takes an extremely sharp edge from my extra-fine ceramic rods.

The composition of stone, brick, and pottery is highly variable. Usually stone is too rough, too smooth, or too soft to be a convenient hone. Common brick is awfully soft. Ceramic pottery is one of the better improvised hones.
Most bizarre I've ever seen was the edge of a car window. That definitely made me look twice with the "what the hell are they doing???" expression

Thanks for the tip!


Thanks too for that reminder. I've read that one before, but havent tried it.

Also read a knifemaker that carrys a piece of emery or crocus(sp?)cloth in his wallet for blade touch up.
in my trade (jeweller)we sharpen gravers, used for engraving & SETTING STONES simply, by wrapping (or taping) 1200 grade wet & dry paper on perspex or best when paper is nearly worn out.stay sharp W