Help with Sharpmaker


May 24, 1999
I just got a Sharpmaker and cant seem to get the good results everyone els is getting. Are
there any tricks to getting a razor edge with this system? I know I must not be doing something the right way but cant figure it out. Any help would be apptreciated.
First, ensure that you are using the same angle every time you slice down the sharpner, otherwise you may as well not do it at all. Consistency is how this thing works.

Second, if doing a straight edge and not a serrated one, you are going to be in for a little work. Every knife maker grinds at a different angle at the factory and your sharpener does not necessarily have the same angle. Preservere, for you are probably changing the angle of the edge, but this is okay. The first time you sharpen a knife will always take the longest time, after that you are simply maintaining the edge.

Third, if sharpening a non-serrated edge, use the corner of the sharpener. It ensures for a new-comer that you are maintaining consistent contact with the edge all the way down the edge. Use the flat of the stone only after you are well practiced.

Fourth, allow yourself some patience. I once spent approximately four or five HOURS (actual sharpening time) re-edging a Benchmade butterfly. The edge configuration was wildly different than the sharpmaker. Not that either is wrong, but I wanted to maintaing the knife myself, so I felt that the time was well spent.

Five, with the serrated knives spyderco makes, DO NOT SHARPEN BOTH SIDES OF THE SERRATIONS!!! ONLY SHARPEN THE SIDE OF THE KNIFE INTO WHICH THE SCALLOPS ARE CUT. Otherwise you will grind the serrations off the knife ( i did this once. Instructions did not tell me to avoid doing this.)

And finally, look at how the edge is on a new factory sharp knife. Attempt to gain that same consistency and then surpass it. I look at sharpening as an art form that takes years to get right. I have been practicing for fifteen years and will soon move on to big fixed blade, and I will have a new part of the art to learn.
I need this info also. Thanks. I can get a good edge, but, not a real fine one. Scrapes hair off but won't pop\cut them off. I'll practice. What do the Spyderco gurus have to say about sharpening their serrated blades with the sharpmaker. Any hints would be appreciated.

Don Juvet, Somerset CA, U.S.A.

Have you guys gone to the Knowledge Base link on the front of Bladeforums, and read the Sharpening FAQ? If you've done that and are still having problems, you need to get Razor Edge's book, and also get the VIDEO! It doesn't matter what sharpening system you're using, the principles remain the same (although they're all laid out in the Sharpening FAQ, too).

The main problem beginners have with the Sharpmaker is getting a burr. The sharpmaker is set at some pre-set angle, let's call it 20-degrees. If the edge on your knife is at 23 degrees (say), then you are going to have to grind of a lot of steel the FIRST time you sharpen. You won't start to feel a burr until after you get the edge down to the Sharpmaker's 20 degrees. So it can take half an hour or more to re-profile the edge in this way, and raise a burr. After that, you just follow the directions in the Sharpening FAQ (or in the Razor Edge book). The next time you sharpen things will go much more quickly, because you've already re-profiled the edge.

If you're sharpening the knife for the first time and want to see how far you have to go, use the magic marker trick. Put some magic marker on the edge bevel, then take a few scrapes on the Sharpmaker. If the magic marker is worn off only at the very top of the edge bevel, then you've got a long way to go. If all the magic marker is scraped off, then you've got the angle you need for the Sharpmaker. If only the very bottom is scraped off, that means your edge angle is even less than the Sharpmaker's angle, and you should get a burr very very quickly.

I didn't use the magic marker, but it did take me awhile to get the hang of it. I finally decided to follow the instructions included with my Sharpmaker (old version). Guess what - they worked!

I found I needed to use the angled side at least the prescribed number of times and then the flat side before going to the next (finer) stick. If you pay close attention to how the edge feels as it goes down the stick, you will get the hang of it before long. Also, I believe my instructions told me to go back and start again if the edge wasn't sharp enough. As Joe says, it may take a bit longer to reprofile the edge the first time.

You might even begin to enjoy it after awhile.

Also, I use a strop and or steel to get a little extra sharpness (edge alignment) after I use the sticks. Seems to work for me. Good luck JT.
joe t.: should you grind one side of the blade only until a burr is formed (using the sharpmaker) then go on to the second side?

jason f.
As you've read, sharpening happens in several stages. When you're removing the shoulder of steel, you're reprofiling the bevel, not actually sharpening the edge. I use relatively heavy pressure on a coarse table hone to speed the removal of this metal shoulder.

When you begin to sharpen the real edge, remember that is by definition the thinnest part of the blade, and therefore the most easily deformed or micro-broken. When using non-flat surfaces such as the corner of the Sharpmaker, I get best results with very light pressure. Actually, I get best results from finishing with light pressure on a table hone, too.

I finish up with a commercial steel the same way Bob Irons does, and that's as light a pressure as I can maintain while still keeping the edge in contact with the round steel. I'm feeling for "drag," sweeping alternately one side and then the other; when the drag is gone the burr is standing up evenly, that's the sharpest I'm going to get it until the next time I create a burr. I usually can get away with five to ten re-steelings before re-honing the edge. (It's still sharp the end of the last steeling, but the edge lasts only a day or two, my signal to re-hone. Pocket steels are easy to carry.)
As much as I like the Sharpmaker, I seem to do better freehand with the DMTs.
After having read the suggestions here though I am going to give it another try, perhaps I was making some mistakes as well.
I do use the marker method and it works great for me.

Thanks for the input, this is one of the reasons I keep coming back....

God bless!

Romans 10:9-10

"Military" Fans Unite!!

Jason: My official reply is: yes, one side only until there's a burr, then switch to the other side.

However, sometimes I don't quite do that. Say I'm doing a major re-profiling job -- maybe the original bevels are at 25 degrees and I want to bring 'em down to the Sharpmaker's 20 degrees. In that case, I'll work one side for 5 minutes, then the other side for 5 minutes, and keep switching back and forth like that until one side starts to burr. As soon as one side starts to burr, *then* I stick with that side until I get a full-length burr, and follow the usual procedure from there.

The reason I switch sides when I do such a major reprofiling job is that your edge can end up way off-center if you don't. This really doesn't affect performance much, but it irritates me. If you do end up with the edge off center (say the left bevel is much bigger than the right), then the next few times you sharpen just make sure you start off grinding the right bevel first. Whatever side you start with tends to end up with a slightly bigger bevel.

I am new to Sharpmaker,
I found I always had bad time
sharpening the curve-up part
of the edge, the tip
part always not sharp, any suggestion?

quickly, there will be many matal powder
on the stone which I think will dull the
edge, did you clear the stone during
relatively long sharpening?

For me, the key to sharpening the curved part is to keep the edge perpendicular to the stone. Let's say I'm sharpening a Buck 110 knife. I'm going to do the stroke starting near the bolster and draw the knife back, so that I'm going from bolster to tip. I start with the knife completely parallel to the table.

Now I start going down the stone, and as I do so I am pulling the knife towards me. As I got to the curve, I start to lift the handle up slightly. As I go along the curve, I lift the handle up more and more -- however much is necessary to make the edge perpendicular to the stone.

The other key, of course, is to keep grinding until you have created a burr along the entire edge, including the curve. As long as you do that, your edge will be sharp. Only people who follow spyderco's instructions -- 20 times per side, or whatever -- end up having uneven sharpness. Use the burr method, you'll be sharp along the entire edge.

When I'm sharpening multiple knives, I usually just keep a wet paper towel with me, and wipe the stone down when it starts to fill up. I rarely have to actually clean the stones (i.e., use brillo pads) in the middle of the sharpening process.