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DIY Sharpening vs. Professional Services

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by BigDogg795, Sep 9, 2018.

  1. BigDogg795

    BigDogg795 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 29, 2013
    Recently I sold my KO WorkSharp with the plan to get a guided system like the KME or EdgePro. I haven't pulled the trigger on either at the moment but it's gotten me thinking...outside of being self sufficient; at what point does one decide to maintain their own edges versus sending them out to be resharpened? The majority of my knives are production blades with various factory sharpening programs (Spyderco, BM and ZT). I have one or two that aren't "factory" so I am on my own when it comes to those knives which means sending those out to say, Josh at REK. Outside of paying for return shipping from the manufacturer, there's no additional cost; whereas buying a system, or even a decent whetstone is $40 or more. That would cover the cost of sharpening at least 6 times.

    I don't know, I guess my concern is me investing in the hardware to sharpen myself and one of two things happens; I either a) make every edge in my house razor sharp and then the hardware collects dust until six months later I need to resharpen again or b) I can't produce a good edge, get aggravated and wind up sending the knives back to the manufacturer or a professional to get it done anyway and I end up wasting money.

    I'm not sure if there's a right answer; I think this was more of a brainstorming session on what to do but if you have any input, feel free to respond!
    bucketstove likes this.
  2. Lapedog

    Lapedog Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 7, 2016
    You have to learn to sharpen your own knives. I suck at sharpening but atleast can touch them up and maintain them. When they get super dull I take them to be professionally sharpened. After that I can maintain them pretty good for a long time. Alot of that is because I need better sharpening materials.

    I just don’t think a knife guy is gunna be very happy until ge can sharpen his own knives.

    I really want to get a Paper Wheels system.
  3. Yonose


    Jul 10, 2017
    If I read this correctly; you weren’t happy with the KO worksharp?
  4. Blues

    Blues Lapsed SuperMod / Cattle Knife Rustler Staff Member Super Mod

    Oct 2, 1998
    If you are not looking for an artistic, highly polished, mirror finished edge...and the knives are for your use and enjoyment, I can think of no good reason not to invest in basic sharpening gear and maintaining the knives yourself.

    Just my opinion. There is no right or wrong...only what you are willing to do about it and how much you are willing to spend or invest in a modicum of effort.
    Lipripper likes this.
  5. BigDogg795

    BigDogg795 Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 29, 2013
    I was; but at the time I felt like I wanted to move to a more conventional method of sharpening, using a waterstone and learning the technique. Then I realized how easy it is to screw up the edge and I don't feel confident in my abilities to freehand correctly lol.

    I think this is the root of it. I feel like, I can maintain the majority of things on my car; hell, even my computers I'm more than competent on maintaining and fixing things but the one thing I carry everywhere I can't take care of myself?

    I'm not looking for artistic sharpness; don't get me wrong if I can achieve that I would be quite pleased with myself. I just know that I want my knife to cut whatever I throw at it with aplomb. After posting this thread I happened across another thread where someone said (to paraphrase) "before you buy another knife, you should be able to maintain the ones you have". And it's true, in the last month or two I've acquired numerous knives and yet here I am worried about spending $200 on a sharpening system. I think I know what I am going to do...
    jpm2 likes this.
  6. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 6, 2000
    Just buy a couple of India stones and some cheap diamond stones.
    Learn to sharpen on cheap knives. First, learn the MECHANICS of sharpening. Then, learn the skill.
    It's not hard, nor does it have to be expensive.
  7. Wowbagger


    Sep 20, 2015
    Oh you shouldn't have said that.

    But seriously . . . where do I begin :
    If you have to ask you have made up your mind. (send 'em out :))
    If you don't have the passion to learn to sharpen . . . well I can't imagine what that is like so I'm out of my depth there. (send 'em out :))

    ? ? . . . now let me get this straight . . . you are willing to be without one of your favorite EDCs for days ? A week ? A month? (somebody tell me how long it takes to send out a knife to get someone to sharpen it (I've never done that ). (just sharpen them your self ya wimp :mad::p)

    ? ? . . . now let me get this straight . . . you are willing to toss one of your favorite knives into the unpredictable world of the postage system and expect to ever see it again ? ? ? . . . oooooohhhhhOOOOO K dude . . . you are more brave than I am. Once I have finally found a knife that doesn't suck too much I hang onto it with both hands. (just sharpen them your self ya wimp :mad::p)

    ? ? ? . . now let me get this straight . . . you have a perfectly good excuse here to buy new knife stuff . . . an excuse that she who holds the purse strings could even see her way clear to endorse . . . and you are wasting time in a knife chat room rather than shopping and clicking BUY buttons ? (just sharpen them your self ya wimp :mad::p)

    Do you have safe queens / collector knives as well as user EDCs ? (send out the ones you can't see a good out come from self sharpening . . . sharpen the ones you don't plan to show to your buddies :( :confused: ;))

    It's simple.
    I hope I helped.
    BruceMack likes this.
  8. Spideyjg


    Nov 7, 2017

    If you get the mechanics down then depending the steel of other knives you may need different abrasives. I have people bring knives to me they are frustrated with and I ask if they sharpen their others. Most cases they have a high vanadium blade like S30V and their stones aren't up for the task.

  9. Wowbagger


    Sep 20, 2015
    Not afraid you would miss the impressively large piles of metal filings afterward ?
    Feeding a knife edge into a belt sander to do a touch up is like feeding branches into a wood chipper to make weenie roasting forks.
    . . .
    er . . . IMO.
  10. bgentry


    Aug 3, 2009
    Learning to sharpen isn't a monetary decision. There's no easy math that will equal "Hey I should get a sharpening system and learn it." You and others have touched on the important points:

    Self sufficiency for this task. Minimal delay to a sharp blade. The ability to have a razor sharp edge, every day, if you feel like it. ...and of course the satisfaction of knowing that you did it yourself.

    Good luck with your decision.
  11. Railsplitter

    Railsplitter Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 31, 2010
    Before I learned how to sharpen I was afraid to use my knives because I didn't know how long it would be before I could get them sharpened again. That was absolutely unacceptable.

    Take the advice of others and buckle down and learn how to sharpen. Do whatever it takes and don't quit until you know how to sharpen and maintain your own knives.

    You will feel a huge weight off your shoulders and you'll always have a sharp knife in your pocket. Even if you just dulled it yesterday on some hard task.
  12. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    A set of good diamond bench hones will last for decades. An angle guide helps maintain an even bevel. That's basically all you need.
    Dangerously and Yonose like this.
  13. bucketstove


    Sep 23, 2014
    At the point of use?
    I know first hand, if you cant sharpen you dont develop knife skills, you develop dull knife skills ;) chopping/slicing/cutting (sharp knife) is much easier on the arm than stabbing /smashing/sawing (butterknife)

    If your budget is $40 why are you looking at the most expensive niche of the imported sharpening gear?

    To get started with freehand , get an idea of the basics, it doesn't take more than one kitchen paring knife thats been "sharp" sometime within the past 1-3 years, and one coffee cup and about 5 minutes maximum of rubbing the knife on the bottom of the coffee cup

    If you're looking to save money,
    DIY precision sharpening
    thats $0 to $3 for wood/nails/screws/pen/pencil/popsiclestick/binderclip to assemble the machine
    add in basic coarse abrasive
    $1 stone or $1 sandpaper (will sharpen hundreds of knives)
    add $5 sandpaper for fancy mirror polish
    The final apex the $2-$3 snap together knife sharpener :)

    or generic sharpeners ( $20 + magnets(?$10) + 2-4 diamond pastes(~$1 each) for fancy mirror polish)
    Sharpening system: Lansky Deluxe 5 stone or Edge Pro Chinese clone ???
    Regarding the terrible stones they come with :) bodog: if you call this crap
    edge pro magnet hack

    an actual lansky or smiths system can be had for $30, supplement with ~$1 diamond pastes for the fanciest of mirror polish

    Investments are supposed to make you money.
    How much is your time worth? Waiting time?
    A dollar worth of abrasives goes a long way (hundreds and hundreds of sharpenings).
    Decide how much dollars you're willing to burn, and spend no more than that.
    Sharpen while you're watching tv and the like, and then time isn't an issue.
  14. on_the_edge

    on_the_edge Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 31, 2006
    If Josh at REK lived next to me, then sure, I'd show up over there from time to time, take him my knives and maybe a beer or some donuts, and then I'd sit around and shoot the shit with him while he did his thing. And, he'd probably start running in the other direction when he saw me coming, lol. But, that's not happening anytime soon.

    So, like everyone else here has pretty much said, go make a small investment and start doing it yourself even though you have self-doubt. You will get the hang of it, and you will be glad you tried and did it yourself.
  15. Dangerously

    Dangerously Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 8, 2013
    Sharpening blades is a lifetime skill. It’s worth the time and frustration to learn.
    Lipripper and willc like this.
  16. bucketstove


    Sep 23, 2014
    Last for decades if taken care off and not damaged,
    But so will the "consumable" sharpening stones
    from the basic $1 dollar tree stone
    to the fancy $60 japanese waterstones
    (like a hundred+ passes to spend one cent, 1000+ sharpenings to wear stone out)
  17. CasePeanut

    CasePeanut Gold Member Basic Member Gold Member

    May 25, 2018
    @bucketstove where do you find diamond pastes for $1? I haven’t been able to find them for less than $15
    bucketstove likes this.
  18. eKretz


    Aug 30, 2009
    DIY. No question. If you have a blade you really want a nice edge on before you're proficient yourself then go ahead and send it out, but don't let that stop you from learning. Personally I strive to learn everything I can. I probably look stuff up on the internet just to find out about it several hours a day - but then I've always been extremely curious. Guess it's good I'm not a cat...:D
  19. cbwx34

    cbwx34 Basic Member Basic Member

    Dec 27, 2004
    To me... not being able to at least put a basic edge on a knife, would be like sending your car to the shop every time it needed gas.

    Like others have said, too much can go wrong sending blades out... they get lost, etc. Also, while you may think a good sharpening will last "6 months"... it's just as easy to dull a blade the first time you use it.

    While I'm not a big fan of the cheapo clone sharpeners... if money is an issue... they work well enough to at least put a reasonable edge on a knife... just have to learn their nuances... and you can invest in better equipment over time. (The EP clone with the single triangle looking suction cup seemed the "best of the worst" of the ones I tried). :eek:
  20. Eli Chaps

    Eli Chaps

    Apr 20, 2018
    You're correct in that there is no truly right or wrong answer but I agree with the majority of others in that I believe you'll find a great deal of satisfaction in sharpening your own knives.

    I have the KME system and love it. I learned to freehand as a kid but wasn't really all that good at it. But, I put off getting the KME for a long time because I thought it was just too expensive, and I already can get a decent edge on a knife and so on and so on. Well, I wish I would've just invested the money a lot sooner! It is well made and repeatable. I personally think buying cheaper stuff just leads to more frustrations and self doubt for a lot of folks. With the KME, you take some time and figure out what you're doing and find the process you like, and you're good to go. You'll be putting very nice edges on knives in no time and feeling pretty dang good about it.

    Then, you can explore the world of freehand sharpening. You'll have time under your belt with the KME and have a far greater understanding of mechanics of sharpening. And, you'll have the KME there for when you want it or as a bit of insurance that even if you screw something up freehand you can most likely fix it on the system. YouTuber Dean O has some great KME videos.

    I'm surely not against starting out freehanding though. It's about the approach you want to take and how feel about your own desires and learning path.

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