1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

  2. Week 17 of the BladeForums.com Year of Giveaways is live! Enter to win a KaBar Becker BK 15 Mini Camp!

    Click here to enter the drawing for your chance to win a KA-BAR Becker BK 15, or Bladeforums.com swag or memberships!
    Be sure to read the rules before entering, and help us decide next week's giveaway by hitting the poll in that thread!

    Entries will close at 11:59PM Saturday, Apil 27; winners will be drawn on Sunday @5pm on our Youtube Channel: TheRealBladeForums. Bonus prizes will be given during the livestream!

    Questions? Comments? Post in the discussion thread here

Frustrated with WorkSharp KOE.

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by ShelterMe, Sep 15, 2018.

  1. ShelterMe


    Jul 11, 2010
    Hello all, first I apologize for not leaving some thank-yous and replies here and there. I am rarely on here due to work but I do sincerely thank everyone and appreciate all the advice over the years.

    I've had this WorkSharp Ken Onion Edition for about a year. Started off decent, I liked the edges and the mirror polish I could get on it, and then it just got worse over time. It seems that one side of the knife guide lets your knife contact the belt, the other, not so much. I am having trouble getting a bur lately, and the belts have worn fine with good grit left. I was concerned with the belts being stretched over time, maybe the tolerances were not right in the beginning, bad belts? Maybe not unheard of. Machine tolerances slipping? I don't know. It's past the warranty, and every company video has the same frustrating white-haired Darex guy flipping knives through the machine so damn fast it will make your head spin. They also tell you to "read the book," which is supposed to solve all your problems, but the short book only touches on stuff knife guys already all know (types of bevels, how to get a bur, different knives vs applications etc.) and goes into how the controls of the machine work and what the various parts are called etc, but the book (and online resources) are sorely lacking in actual instructional tutorial. Pretty useless for learning the nuances of this machine-- because there ARE nuances that NOBODY will tell you. ***No it is not quick and blindfold easy or idiot proof, if there is a tweak somewhere or something isn't right, you don't get a razor edge.*** The product video is just about as useless as Anne Frank's drum set. I never really liked the way the machine worked even in the beginning, it's supposed to be user friendly and quickly get the job done, but I've learned that (at least mine) wasn't perfect, and I've always had trouble with folding knives (3.5" or less). Once you pull the knife through and the blade runs out of groove to guide it, you're essentially sharpening the last third of the knife freehand on a belt. The blade roller itself is no help so I don't use it for folders because of thumb studs or blade stop on the tang of most folding knives (ones which don't have a stop pin) causing the machine to recurve your edge, the springy blade guides are not much help at that point either because there are several facets to them (which are also rounded) and the preciseness of the rounded springy guide edges does not match the preciseness required for a razor edge (remember we're freehand here on the last third of the knife because the edge guide runs out). No they don't tell you that when the older gent is quickly sharpening a 13" Rambo knife-- and nobody ever asks "how's he getting the third of the knife near the tip sharp?" The system does not guide the blade through the machine from ricasso to tip. It can't, because the guide has to stop before the belt. Problem is, when the guide stops because the belt is there, the machine becomes unguided, leaving it up to the steady hand of the user. I thought I had fixed this problem by just flipping the machine around to do the last third of all of my knives, and that worked great for a while, until I started having this problem where the belt tension was more when using one side of the machine than the other. I don't know what's going on. The only troubleshooting videos there describe how not to sand the point off your knife (which I know already), and how to achieve a bur (which I also know-- which the machine nolonger does). I've tried today and still can't get a proper bur anymore with S35VN (American Lawman), H1 (Spyderco sheepsfoot Salt model), 420HC Bos (112 drop point) , 440C (older Presidio), and 8CR13 (one of the numerous ambiguous bland cheap Kershaws). I used various angles from 17 to 20 degrees and the knives I tried with were full-flat, hollow, saber-flat and saber-hollow. I didn't even attempt a full-convex and the machine is not meant for scandi. Weirdly, for some odd reason I can shave hair off my hands (with some effort, after using the machine and then stropping), but the edges won't push-cut paper *at all.* No problems slicing once started, but push-cutting just crumples the paper (no matter what type the paper is). Getting fairly expensive since I am terrible at consistently maintaining an angle freehand with stones and I don't have the cash for an Edge Pro, a Wicked or a Viper. Who has $800 for a sharpener? Which is why I probably got duped by Amazon's 5,000+ 4 star ratings for this product which apparently everyone but me can use in their sleep. I don't know if I got a bad one, or one that gradually went bad, or if there is a problem with the belts. I was never concerned with sharpness out of the box, or edge retention, because I had this fantastic user friendly sharpener that I could just sharpen anything that arrived a little dull or got dull from use. I talked to Darex's customer service (at least the woman I talked to was not a knife person) and she kept asking if I had read the books and watched the painfully inadequate DVD the machine comes with. No other help. I've watched about 20 YouTube videos where people had no problems at all, and all of them never went into finer details or tips or quirks of the machine. Most lacked explanation or were too fast with fantastic repeatable results (making me think even more that I was the problem). I've also searched every tag I could on here related to Work Sharp Ken Onion or the original model, and read every single word of every BF post even remotely related to these machines. I can't find anybody where their machine slowly got worse despite how good the grit on their belts was. I'm not thrilled about being forced to put a convex on all my edges anyway, which these belts do, but at least the machine was working properly at one point and I had SOMETHING to sharpen with. I know how to use stones, how to get a bur, sharpen, use ceramic, strop etc., I'm just bloody awful at maintaining an angle. I was kind of hoping somebody with the company was a member here that could provide some insight because when I called I wasn't given any explanation other than to buy new belts, buy a new machine (because mine was out of warranty), and make sure I read "the book" because it's probably my lack of knowledge that is causing me to do something incorrectly. Very frustrating for someone to suggest you're an idiot because their product stopped working over time. Any help or insight would be great. Yes, the belts have grit on them. Yes, I read the book. Please don't suggest "just get a Wicked Edge super comprehensive kit for only $1,000" with a thumbs-up icon and a Bro comment. I know this was long but Thanks. Once again, all your help is very much appreciated and respected.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2018
    Pointshoot777 and austexjg like this.
  2. BilboBaggins

    BilboBaggins Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 14, 2016
    Paragraphs. I need paragraphs.
    hexenjager, jeepin, colin.p and 2 others like this.
  3. 4mer_FMF

    4mer_FMF Basic Member Basic Member

    Jun 9, 2016
    Ok. I don’t mean to be flippant, but that was a BIG wall of text.

    I’m not perfect, but here are the tips I’ve picked up so far, some of which you may be aware of.

    Tape your blade so it doesn’t scratch.

    BLUF: The blade guide is just that. Think of it as a guide that helps you set the angle between the knife and the belt, nothing more. Then work as if you were freehanding on a belt sharpener.

    If you plop your knife down into the recess of the blade guide and press GO, the belt will pull the knife deeper on the down-side of it’s path, and shallower on the up-side of it’s path. The result is an uneven grind, wider on the down-side.

    Use the guide to approximate the angle you want, and then imagine it’s gone and you’re free-handing on a belt sander. I’ve developed a “feel” for how much tension the knife has on the belt, and try to keep the same feel from side to side. Trying to keep the same tension and angle while arcing the tip is my biggest challenge.

    Anyhow, I’m sure someone can explain that concept better than me.

    In my experience, it generally takes longer than expected to raise the initial burr on a “virgin” blade. I think the belts, even the coarse ones, loose cutting ability while still feeling coarse to the touch. Last weekend I took 8cr13 to my coarse belt (which still feels quite coarse) and it took 3 times longer than expected to get a burr. Perhaps we both need new belts.

    I agree the book is worthless. Someone on here long ago convinced me it’s all about raising the burr with the coarser belts. He was right. (Thanks mystery forum sharpening guru!)
    Bull71 likes this.
  4. cbwx34


    Dec 27, 2004
    Forum member bgentry has a video on using thw WorkSharp freehand...

    ... (I also ran across this one looking for his)...

    the "Blade Grinding Attachment" is another alternative
  5. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    I can definately say the belts may feel good to you and still not have enough abrasive left to get the results you used to get ... which will cause you to apply more pressure trying to get there which throws it all off ...

    if you were getting good edges even mirror polished edges and were happy with it before ... then chances are new belts would be the first issue I would change ...

    I have only used the KO WorkSharp on kitchen cutlery and a couple old hatchets or tools ... I freehand my knives on stones and strops.

    But for the cost the KO is a great tool ... I can tell you are frustrated and sharpening can cause that ... sometimes just sharpening a different steel can make you feel like you've forgotten how to sharpen ... but it's just another thing to learn.

    I doubt you need a new machine but if I were you and you were happy with the results you orginally got using your KO WorkSharp ... I would try new belts and the basics and see if it makes a difference before giving up on it completely.

    If you want a guided system but don't want to spend the money on a Wicked Edge ... there are several out there now that you can get for far less and many like as well or better than the Wicked Edge.
  6. Minnesota Man

    Minnesota Man Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 30, 2014
    Email WorkSharp and ask that Brian Curran respond! He's helped me several times and is very patient! Don't give up dude!
    colin.p likes this.
  7. bgentry


    Aug 3, 2009
    My video, a few posts above, is pretty long for a single knife sharpening. But I tried to talk about many of the not-so-obvious techniques I had learned along the way sharpening quite a few blades on this little machine freehand.

    About your belts: You say they have a lot of grit left. Do they appear to be grey or slick? Metal loads into the spaces between the grains and will reduce the cutting power quite a bit. You can get a belt cleaning "stick" that looks like a giant flesh colored eraser from many places, including Harbor Freight. I think I paid less than $10 for mine, but it's been a few years and I've forgotten.

    I can tell you FOR SURE that using the belt cleaner really pulls off a lot of debris and seemingly keeps my belts cutting pretty strongly. I was using the P120 for a while and now mostly use the X200 or X100 stiff Norax belts. I've sharpened something like 225 to 250 blades on mine and most required extensive work. All 3 belts are still going strong, though I pretty much never touch the P120 any more; just the X200, X100, and VERY occasionally, the 80 grit or 60 grit ceramic belts.

    Reading your description of the problems with the guide you make it pretty clear how difficult it is to actually be guided by it. You seem like an ideal candidate for freehanding on this machine. You might try what I did: I bought 5 knives for $1 or less per blade at a thrift store. Then I sharpened them freehand, starting with a fine belt and a sharpie so I could see what I was doing. A very short time later (like 3 minutes) I moved to an X22 belt. ...a bit later I moved to the P120 belt and went to town. All on the same cheap blade.

    After I got it phonebook paper push cutting sharp, I did another cheap blade. ...and another. At that point I felt pretty good and started in on other people's cheap knives (beat to hell kitchen knives mostly).

    I hope you find set of methods and techniques that work well for you. Good luck.

  8. Pointshoot777

    Pointshoot777 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 16, 2001
    Interesting & useful thread. I see the OP has the Ken Onion edition. I will watch the above posted videos when I get the chance, but is there any advantages to the KO edition compared to the standard model ? It doesn't sound like having the more expensive model has helped the OP. If its advisable to treat these machines as small portable belt sanders that you use freehand, does the standard model work as well ? I hope the gentleman who posted this subject is able to get the results that he desires. Thanks
    mycough likes this.
  9. Bob6794


    Apr 21, 2013
    Spend some time with a beater knife or knives (kitchen knives?) and practice. I took a good 2hours or so training myself how to use the normal non ken onion version. A good deal was how to freehand the last portion properly.

    Use the sharpie trick still if your not and see where your hitting while practicing.

    There's a learning curve with everything and learning how to make it work for you. Powered sharpening systems like this tend to have faster learning curves because your results are faster.
    Pointshoot777 likes this.
  10. Pointshoot777

    Pointshoot777 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 16, 2001
    I have the standard model. I haven’t used it much. I should have played with beater knives first. Guess I was a little over confident. I sharpened a few knives with it including a Fallkniven F1. Went a little too far and rounded the tip on the F1; it happened fast. Oops. I later fixed that knife by hand. Haven’t used the WS since. I thought it might be handy when time is short & like how compact it is. I was curious about the KO model, but doubt that I’ll buy one.
  11. bgentry


    Aug 3, 2009
    The biggest advantage of the KO over the regular is the variable speed. You can run the KO model quite slowly. This can be very helpful in a number of different sharpening situations. The wider belts are a bit of an advantage also. The variable speed is the big difference.

    mycough likes this.
  12. Pointshoot777

    Pointshoot777 Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 16, 2001
    Thanks Brian !
  13. aquaman67


    Jan 27, 2012
    I know exactly how you feel. Being left handed I found the WSKOE awkward at best. I thought I was the only one who couldn’t use it.

    I got mine the Christmas after they came out. It sat in my closet after only a few knives.

    Last week, on a whim, I ordered the Blade Grinding Attachment.

    I have a Wicked Edge for EDC knives. My thought here was to use the Blade Grinding Attachment for kitchen knives.

    All I can say is, for me, the Blade Grinding Attachment is a 100% improvement. So much so I may even use it on my EDC knives.

    I watched this video and followed his technique. Heel to tip and back to heel.

    Last edited: Oct 7, 2018
  14. 45Shooter


    Mar 30, 2001
    The slower speeds, if maintained for too long, will also cause the motor to overheat and burn out. Ask me how I know. Luckily, it was replaced under warranty with the proviso that they would only do so once. So I wouldn't fall in love with the slower speeds without paying very close attention to the heat coming off the motor.
  15. Goose 7279

    Goose 7279 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 22, 2015
    Agreed i had 2 burn out so i dont buy those anymore i use a true belt grinder also i seen lansky had aworksharp clone it appeared
  16. muslmutt


    Dec 7, 2017
    I discovered many of the issues described above. For these reasons I moved on to the Blade Grinder Attachment. I am pleased with that decision. I can get knives considerably sharper, shinier, produce a more even bevel, and not leave scratches on the blade. I still have the original guide and a set of belts, but I will never go back.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2018
  17. bgentry


    Aug 3, 2009
    I hadn't heard of this before. I've run my WSKO at around half speed for most of the time I've used it. Which is quite a bit. I only use the really, really low speeds every now and then. Also, I generally don't run the motor continuously for all that long. Probably less than 5 minutes each time, though I'm certainly not timing it.

    I'm curious how slow you were running yours and how long.


    mycough likes this.
  18. MittenStateMashers

    MittenStateMashers Basic Member Basic Member

    Dec 12, 2018

    Thanks for these. I’ve owned the KOE worksharp for a few years now and didn’t like it because you couldn’t really get the entire edge on some folders because of the guide. I saw this video a few years ago but was a little timid about trying it.

    Today I was reading sharping threads and came across this video again and gave it a go. This is a much faster way to sharpen knives then what I was doing before. I had a few crappy stones that didn’t work well. This is a much better option for me.

    I’m so glad I found this thread today, for years I thought I wasted knife money on that thing and here it worked the whole time.
  19. Bill3152


    Nov 27, 2018
    Mine is sitting in the box for about a year. My harbor freight is all I need as far as sanders go. The reason many buy this is because th guides and angles are supposed to be easier. But that's the weak link. You have to end up using it like a belt sander. And slow speed I hear for prolonged use can kill the motor? IMO get a harbor freight sander for $50 and a leather belt. They do sell an angle guide for it. I modded mine yesterday to allow me to thin blades behind the bevel. Its about 5 degrees for that and up to 35 degrees I think. With 2 set screws. Anyway my 2 cents.

Share This Page