How to sharpen a hawkbill??

Dec 13, 2000
I have a Sharpmaker 204 and I want to sharpen my plain-edged Kershaw Talon. For those who haven't had experience with this knife, it is not a very pronounced hawkbill shape compared to the the Spyderco Harpy for example. It is just slightly more curved than a wharncliffe shape. My question is, should I sharpen it with all four steps like a regular plain edge knife or should I just do step 3 like Spyderco recommends for hawkbills?
I would use just the angles and do steps 1 and 3. Should work really well.

~Greg Mete~
Kodiak Alaska

Buck Collectors Club-Lifetime Member
Do not let the tip of the blade slide off the stone, or you will ruin the sharp tip.
You should take care to stop the sharpening stroke just before it reaches the tip, and then do the last bit of the blade carefully on the edge of the stone, like you would on a bench stone.
I am not familiar with the Talon, but have sharpened Hawkbills before. If you just work it like a plain edge you will not grind a constant angle along the edge. Now this may not be important in regards to use, and it does in fact have advantages. However if the person who ground the NIB edge put a constant bevel on the blade, you are going to do a lot of grinding before you hit the edge on the forward and rear curved parts.

Unless you are using power equipment, it is difficult to get a constant grind except by working section by section and keeping the hone perpendicular to the edge. If you can do the latter smoothly in one stroke right along the edge then obviously you don't need to work in sections. But this is not that simple to do.


[ 03-26-2001: Message edited by: Cliff Stamp ]
Hey Guys,

This is actually bass but I had to re-register with the new format because I could not find my old password info. After repeating step one with the Sharpmaker, I was not making any progress after about 60 strokes on each side. I got impatient and decided to try the flat side like in step two for 20 strokes on each side. Can I still bring the edge back now if I just keep working step 1 for a very long time. What can I do to get this tuff steel sharp with the Sharpmaker?
Use a marker to color in the edge and take a few strokes to see where along the blade you are actually grinding. If it is along the edge you should be able to sharpen it fairly quickly. If it is above the edge you will want to either keep it up for quite some time until you have ground all the necessary metal away, or curve the blade along the rod on the stroke so as to keep the edge perpendicular to the rod. This should get you grinding along the edge over its full length. Assuming of course it came with an even bevel in the first place.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 03-28-2001).]

When you mean curve the blade along the stone you are talking about tilting your wrist up as you move down the stone right?
Thank you for the help.
It may just be my clumsy hands but I have difficulty using the angle fixtures in the Sharpmaker on my Talon. I've had much better luck sharpening freehand with the edges of the ceramic sticks (Steps 1 & 3).

Most times, i just use the white (fine) to touch up the edge. If it needs more work, I go to the grey (medium) sticks first, then the fine. I hold the blade horizontal and move just the ceramic sticks along the bevel. Seems to work pretty well for me but you may wanna experiment a little.

Andrew L

"Praise not the day until evening has come;a sword until it is tried; ice until it has been crossed; beer until it has been drunk" - Viking proverb
Thanks for all the responses. I just have one more question. If I do the marker test and curving the blade along the stone doesn't work then should I rebevel the edge with the 30 degree slots?? And if so when will I know to move back to the 40 degree angle?? Thanks guys.
Bass, yes. If you can't match the curvature this way, and I would be surprised if you could as it is very difficult. You can either work in stages, or live with an uneven bevel along the edge. If it is the latter, then just pull the blade straight through for a long time until the stone is removing metal the entire length of the edge. Work at the more abtuse angle to speed this up. You can always thin the edge back some (back bevel as Joe Talmadge calls it) bit by bit later on.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 03-29-2001).]

Thanks again for another great response. I was just wondering what you meant by working in stages. Thank you so much.
Working in stages just means that you sharpen the edge a little at a time. The more pronounced the curvature, the smaller the bits you work with. For example on this blade :

I took it in I think three parts. The first part was the flat bit near the start. The second the part inbetween it and the start of the hook, and the last part was the hook itself.

Just take the edge and see it as a few straight lines instead of a curved profile. Then take each bit in turn and sharpen it. Turn the knife until the part you are working on it straight across the hones. You then work on this part until sharp. Then move to the next bit.

If you have access to power equipment then you can sharpen curvatures even like the above easily. I have found it much easier to get a smooth edge with a belt sander than trying to do honing by hand - which seems odd.

Another method is to use sandpaper on a soft backing. I have tried this and it will sharpen even odd curvatues easily. The edge will sink into the backing (I use thick leather or foam insulation), to the correct amount and thus you automatically match the angles without really trying.

The last time I sharpened the Machax from Camillus I did this and it has a more pronounced curvature than the above Hawkbill (from Neil Blackwood).


Thank you so much for the help. Taking it piece by piece had it sharp in 10 minutes.
I don't have a hawkbill like that or a sharpmaker, but sometimes its easier to sharpen edges like that if you do it on a draw stroke like your stropping.It seems like the blade moves along the stone easier so you can maintain your angles and you don't drag the tip across the stone and grind it off so easily. Just a thought.

I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer... but I've got the sharpest knife in the room.
Two ways on a sharpmaker.
1) If you use it with the rod in place in the holder then push the front (curved) part of the blade through, then pull the backside as you would normally
2) Take the angle rod in hand, place the knife and blade on a solid surface and do your work with the blade stationary and move the rod through with your hand. You can go either direction as long asa you are consistent.

As with all curved blades, just don't let it get that dull to begin with and you can consistently keep it sharp by stropping instead of cutting at the sharpening material. blade will last a lot longer as well.

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