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Gatco/Lansky Hones

Mar 20, 1999
I'm considering buying a Gatco/Lansky type rig. Any comments on the quality of
the hones used in these systems? I know both systems use "man made" hones, but I
have been unable to find any information regarding the quality.

Also, has anyone used the diamond hones from either Gatco or Lansky? What
about the Arkansas stones from the Lansky?

Any comments welcome. Thanks.


[This message has been edited by PeteC (edited 28 March 1999).]
I use the Lansky diamond set for sharpening. I have been using it for about 4 years now and it works quite nicely for me. As far as quality, I'm not really sure what you mean... There really is not a whole lot to the Lansky system....
I'm also not really sure what you mean by "man made" hones, either. I thought diamonds and Arkansas stones were naturally occuring phenomena.
As far as the quality of the actual stones, I did have a coarse diamond stone that came unglued from the plastic sheath. I just glued it back. I have been through an entire set of Lansky stones and am working on a set of Lansky diamond stones. I have had to replace a few along the way due to normal wear & tear and I only had this happen once. The Lansky system is a great sharpening system. I have no experiences with the Gatco system, though I'm sure it's about the same.

Hi Orion.

Thanks for the information about your experience with the Lansky. That was
what I was looking for.

>>>As far as quality, I'm not really sure what you mean<<<

Oh, what I meant was how good, or not so good, do they sharpen and how
long they will last before they need to be replaced.

>>>I'm also not really sure what you mean by "man made" hones, either.<<<

According to the Lansky www site (http://www.lansky.com), three different
types of hones are available; "man made"; diamond; Arkansas. The hones used
in the 'regular kit' are "man made". Though they do not say what the hones are
actually made of.
Hence my question.
Pete, I use the Lansky diamond system pretty much exclusively now. Before that I free hand sharpened everthing. Get the Lansky 4 diamond hone system and you won't go wrong. Very high quality and easy to use. As for the diamnods contained on the hones they are industrial diamonds. Not precious diamonds. One is naturally occuring and one is not.
The precious diamonds are naturally occuring and are judged according to clairity and color. The industrial diamonds are man made.
Man made diamonds are used for alot of different things most notable among them is cutting or sharpening.
I find the Lansy system superior over the Catco IMHO. I have both the diamond stones and the standard set and it's a very reliable system, easy to use and produces a sharp knife. I would review Joe's sharpening section in the FAQ since he passes on good advice.

A few things I don't like about Lansky:
-The carrying system is a piece of C _ _ p. I bought one and it wouldn't close, I returned it and the others wouldn't close either. Makes it kind of pain to travel with it.
-Rods. The more stones you get the more rods you will need unless you want to spend have of your sharpening day changing rods. Smokey Moutain Knife Works offers a package of 4 spare rods for less than $2

Get the plastic pedestal mount. For less than $5, makes sharpening a heck of a lot easier since you won't have to hold the clamp.

I hope this helps. One thing I like about the Gatco is that the rods slide into the stone mounts and are easier for attaching than the Lansky. I have both systems but for actually sharpening, I feel Lansky is better.


Hi Longbow.

Thanks for your impression of the Lansky system. Now if I can get a Gatco
owner's perspective I'll be all set.

As for the second part of your post {As for the diamonds...}, perhaps I'm not expressing myself as clearly I as I would like. But I am trying.

My last query was about the quality (i.e how well do they sharpen and how long do they last) of the regular hones of either the Gatco or the Lansky as these
are more reasonably priced.

For reference:

From the Lansky site:

Lansky Universal Kit - LKUNV

From the Skylands Cutlery site:

GATCO Edgemate Professional Knife Sharpening System

Sorry about any confusion.

Hi Greg.

Thanks for your review. Since you have owned both, your comments are very

I do have one question for you though. When you say {...but for actually
sharpening, I feel Lansky is better...} is this because of hones or angle
or both; or something else?

I will take a look at the FAQ (why didn't I think of that
). And your tip about the pedestal mount makes sense.



I have been using the GATCO system for at least 1 year and find it to be a VERY easy to use sharpening system.


First ,I picked the Gatco over the Lansky due to ease of use.

Place your blade in the holder,and tighten the screw.

Slide the rod out of the middle of one of the 3 supplied hones(coarse,medium,fine),put a little honing oil (also supplied)on it.

Place the rod in one of 6 desired angles in the blade holder,and go to it.

I can easily put a razor sharp, very even edge on any folder or small fixed blade.

I have used it to sharpen many blades ,both custom and production (my BM Leopard Cub is hair popping sharp),and I just did a Gigand Spectrum for a buddy(he was amazed at how sharp it was).

You can also get a serrated hone and a diamond hone too.

For the money, I don't think you can go wrong.

[This message has been edited by Jailhack (edited 28 March 1999).]

[This message has been edited by Jailhack (edited 28 March 1999).]
I think the Lansky sharpens better since the stone handles are smaller and easier to use, thus giving me more control.....I guess that's the reason why I think it works better.

Jailhack is right about the Gatco being easy to start sharpening though since the rods fit directly into the handle of the stones and they don't have to be alligned like the Lansky.

Either one will do you fine, just make sure you get an extra course stone and extra fine stone to complete the kit.

Of course the diamond sharpeners are available, too.......


Hi guys.
Anybody tried the DMT Aligner kit yet? I just got one from DK, and have yet to test it out... but I think it works the same as either Lansky or Gatco. I did try sharpening a knife with one of the diamond whetstones, and ended up blunting the edge.. agghh!!! I guess one has to be really careful with diamond stones.. it's a different method altogether..

hmmm.. just a thought, has anybody heard of a sharpening kit called Blademaster? I saw it on the Knifecenter's catalog... looks like a breed between a Lansky and a Gatco (mongrel?) hehhehehe...

I think the quality of the standerd hones on both systems are good. I have had the Lansky for a few years and after grinding alot of metel I have had to only replace the extra course and the course hone. This could be for 2 resones. 1 I do not use oil at all. 2 I seem to press down alot more than I should with the course hones. Note my medium and fine hone work just as well as they ever did. So, I think resone 2 is the real problem.
One thing I did not like on the GATCO that I notised is the rods seemed to be a little shaky. This may or may not be a problem with keeping a strait grind, I don't really know but think it is worth mentioning. The Lansky seemed to also have a stronger clamp. Also, I have had no problem with my carrying case at all.

Hints for useing the Lansky. Read Joe's FAQ on sharpening. Also, try this. Hold the hone steady don't move it at all. With your other hand hold your knife, with the clamp on it, by the handle. Start sharpening the same way you would sharpen free hand, letting the clamp and rod hold the angle for you.
This will do 2 things. 1 I believe you get a better feel for how the hone and edge are grinding. 2 It helps you learn how to sharpen free hand for when you need to do a little touch up or edge maintanance.
Btw I just got a extra course diamond hone and it seems to work well. Its a little to soon to say for sure.

I use DMT Aligner, Lansky, and Gatco. After 8 months using all of them, I found the Lansky better for touching up knives, despite the initial setup time. I haven't tried Lansky Diamond stones tho', so I won't comment on that.

DMT is very good if you want to restore an edge on a really dull knife. Boy, it's so fast. One thing I don't like about the DMT Aligner is that the clamp couldn't fit on my thick blades, as I have several blades with 1/4" stocks. Another thing: the plastic thumbscrew will untighten itself sometime due to lack of friction (it's only plastic). To remedy the situation, I usually use my Lansky clamp, and use the DMT rod/stone. But in a hurry, the DMT is ace. On some certain knives that need micro serrations, and not polished edge, I only use the coarse (blue handle). Took only 5 strokes a side the last time I did that.

Take care,

The Lansky system puts a razor sharo edge on anything. As far as how long they last... I sharpen swords with mine, so I replace some of the hones quite often (especially the Extra Coarse). Sharpening a katana is equivalent to sharpening 6 or 8knives. I think in the course of 3 years I have replaced my extra coarse stone twice and a few others only once. I also have 2 of the table clamps (good for holding swords when sharpening) and I have also never had any problems with the cases closing (I have 2, one for the regular set and one for the diamond set). Now I see what you mean by the difference between the man made stones and so forth. I would guess that the first set I had was the man made version. They were very good, but I like the diamonds better. I have never had any of the Arkansas stone hones.

I thought all diamonds were naturally occurring, I just thought some were formed more perfectly (the ones that are cut for precious stones) and the ones that were formed not so perfectly (the ones that are used for industrial drill bits, hones, etc.). I know the precious stones go through more refining, but I thought both were actually formed naturally. How are the man made diamonds made? I would guess they start with raw coal but what do they use to apply that kind of pressure and how long does it take to form a man made diamond? Just curious......

Hi JailHack.

Thanks for your review of the Gatco system and, in particular, pointing out the
differences in the rod attachment method. That helped quite a bit in making up
my mind.

BTW, what was your impression of the Gigand Spectrum? I was thinking of getting
one for the toolbox and car work, mainly because of the price.

Hi Greg.

Thanks for the clarification on why you prefer Lansky over Gatco. From your post I gather that using the Gatco involves one less step (guide rod alignment); and for me that means one less thing to go wrong.

Hi db.

Thanks. Your post along with Orion's assures me that the longevity of the hones
is quite acceptable for the price.

>>>One thing I did not like on the GATCO that I notised is the rods seemed to
be a little shaky.<<<

By this do you mean that the rods deflect/bend while in use, or that the rods
come loose?

Also, I appreciate the tip on sharpening freehand.

Hi Orion.

Thanks. If you're sharpening a Katana with it and have only replaced the hones
a few times, then I think the hones will last me quite a long time.

Thanks for the input, Reynaert. I am thinking about getting a Lansky too (actually, it was my first choice). You're right, since everything is plastic, I'm afraid it might break, I even had it slip from the knife itself while I was sharpening, and flew away with a loud snap. I thought I broke it, geez... Yep, the thumbscrew loosens up pretty quickly, even if you accidentally nudge it a bit. I think the Aligner Kit was made for small knives only, like 4" to 6" blades at most. It is a good piece of guide though, if you want to sharpen a bigger knife on a stone directly.

The thing I hated the most was the fact that there was no clue as to what the angles were, and that you'd have to manually try to check and see what bevel your knife has, then adjust the aligner kit to a point that closely matches the bevel. I see this only as ending up creating a new bevel altogether.

How would you rate the Lansky, btw? In terms of durability and stuff like that? How about the regular stones it came with? I am thinking about getting their diamond kit instead of the regular one, but would appreciate any suggestions out there.

Sheesh, for the price of these rod-guided kits, I could have just gotten myself an Edge-Pro Apex.. hahahaha..
oh well..

Hmmm, ok lets see if I can explain this right about the GATCO hones.
The rods are wobbley. They are just stuck in a hole in the hone. This hole seemed to be about 1/8" deep and then it was a hollow space in the hone that provided room for the rod to slide in for storage.

This may loosen up over time and I do not see how you can tighten it if it does. The one I looked at was new and never used and was loose enough for me to notice it could be a problem. For an example drill a hole in something and then only stick the end of a drill bit one size larger than the hole in it. You will notice that it has some play, because of the leverage.
Like I said in my last post, this may not be a problem. I got the Lansky mainly because it seemed to be a sturdier system over all. BTW the Lansky rods are held in place with a screw, and are very easy to put on.