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Knife Sharpeners.

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Mike45ACP, Dec 17, 2014.

  1. Mike45ACP


    Nov 29, 2014
    Hi all, my names Mike. *I've lurked awhile trying to read and learn, but this is my first post. (hope I don't make a fool out of myself).*
    ** * * * Little about myself....I'm a millwright by trade, love to hunt, fish, fly, and race bikes. I shot IPSC competitively for years and love everything to do with guns and knives. I've always had knives for hunting and fishing but in the last year or two have started collecting. Now I'm hooked much to my wife's chagrin.*
    ** * * So here's my question. What's your favorite knife sharpener? I currently have a spyderco triangle *sharpmaker. I get very good results on some knives but much less so on others. Not sure if it's got to do with different blade steels? I sometimes think I need a corse set of ceramic sticks. Mine came with medium and fine. What do you guys use or recommend. I'd like something fairly simple and easy to use. Most of my knives are folders or smallish fixed blades if that matters. Thanks in advance for any help.

  2. jfk1110

    jfk1110 Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 9, 2013
    I've had great success with the worksharp by darex. When I purchased I figured knifemakers use belt grinders why not. I love it. Lot of good info out there on it. Worksharp, leather strop and a little practice made me a happy camper. Good luck
  3. marcinek


    Jan 9, 2007
    Tie. Sharpmaker and Wet/dry sandpaper on a smooth, slightly soft substrate (like a strop hone).
  4. Mike45ACP


    Nov 29, 2014
    I've seen this but thought I may not be skilled enough to operate it. I could see myself ruining a wonderful knife! Did it take you long to get the hang of it?


  5. NeilB


    Jul 26, 2013
    I like my Edge Pro Apex. No power equipment, no way for it to get away from me. Just stones in a fixture that sets and maintains a good angle to the blade. I have it set up in my kitchen right this second.

    Edited to add: I also have a Sharpmaker, but in my mind, there is no contest. It's the Edge Pro all the way.
  6. jacktrades_nbk


    Feb 7, 2007
    Use the sharpie trick.
  7. Mike45ACP


    Nov 29, 2014
    Looks good!


  8. Mike45ACP


    Nov 29, 2014
    What's the sharpie trick?


  9. mrdabble


    Jan 23, 2014
    Hey there mike. The sharpie trick is just marking the very bevel you are removing metal from to sharpen so you can see exactly where you are, and aren't hitting as you sharpen.

    I would recommend you pick up a set of diamond rods or cubic boron nitride rods or both! for the sharpmaker. They will cut through the metal more aggressively.

    My guess it that some of the knives you sharpen are closer to the angle setting you are using on the sharpmaker, where as some may be farther from it, making the unexpected result you are receiving.

    I could be wrong, but if that is in fact the issue all you need is one of the sets of aggressive cutting rods to set the bevel of your edge to the bevel of the sharpmaker. It's called re-profiling the edge.

    It will take a bit of time, but not nearly as much as using the medium stones to re-profile a blade. Using the sharpie method to make sure you are contacting the bevel evenly. judging by how evenly the stones cuts away the mark, you will know when your re-profiling is complete when the marks are being evenly cut away with each swipe.

    I hope I didn't go too in depth there on ya. I forgot to mention that I tried the edge pro before the sharpmaker...and while the EP doesn't require much skill it does require a steady hand to hold the blade on the table OR some modification to make it stay on the table unassisted. I think I should have just started with the sharpmaker and worked my way up to the edge pro eventually, but the results I get with the sharpmaker are more than enough to keep me happy until I learn to freehand sharpen.

    Good luck to ya!
  10. atavist


    Nov 29, 2012
    I've used a veriety of sharpeners and never found one that can compare to the concistent shaving edge of just a simple slack belt and strop.
  11. HwangJino


    Dec 2, 2012
    Just water stones for me.

    I do almost everything on a Japanese 8000 grit.

    New knives get the 400 1000 2000 4000 then 8000.
  12. Spey


    Apr 15, 2012
    Welcome to the forums, and thanks for posting. I think I learn most revisiting things I thought I knew ...
    Sounds like we share many the same passions (bikes or motor-bikes ? either would be shared ... ).

    Spyderco Sharpmaker is great for touching up an edge (so long the cutting angle of the knife is less than the setting on the Sharpmaker, or that the user compensate by angling the knife slightly as needed to get the apex of the cutting edge in contact with the stone). I still use an old set of the original Crock-Stick much the same.

    From what I read in your OP, I would suggest:
    1. The first "knife sharpener" implement you buy/use to be a Sharpie (felt tipped pen). Use it like a layout dye (Prussian Blue, UltraBlue, etc.), by coloring the entire edge before making contact with a sharpening stone (in the same manner an engine builder uses Prussian Blue). Check how/where the dye is removed after 1-2 passes on a stone. Adjust the angle to the stone accordingly (towards the cutting-edge to develop a bur if sharpening is the goal or towards the shoulder between secondary & primary if re-profiling is the goal). Use the layout dye as any other tool, to make your job easier and your results better.
    2. The second thing to buy would be a 10x loupe (magnifying lens) that will allow you to see your work much better. The better you can see what's going on the better your results. By seeing the edge under magnification, you will better be able to understand what the edge feels like when testing it for sharpness (personally, I like to use a 10x-30x lighted loupe).

    Sharpening and/or re-profiling is more dependent on the tool using the tool (the person) than it is on the tool itself being used. One method or system that works for one person may not for another. I have worked with a number of people new to "sharpening", and most struggle (buying multiple different sharpening tools wasting money & time) until they begin to understand the importance of knowing where, and how to control where the steel is being removed during sharpening. One that understands how to get to the end result, can use most any tool to achieve desired results.

    I for one would suggest that you stay away from powered-sharpeners (no offense jfk110). I get a number of knives from people that have used these types of sharpeners, after they have simply taken way too much material off their edges, being unaware the machine is taking more material off the cutting edge than the area between the primary & secondary (effectively creating a relatively fat or heavily convexed cutting edge where the ogive curve is more elliptical than tangental or spitzer shaped). In no way do I mean to say "convex" edges are bad, just that the person doing the sharpening should have an idea the profile of the convex curve or "ogive" they intend to put onto an edge before they put the blade to a belt and that it is repeatable when time comes to sharpen that blade in the future. (These comments are specifically related to convexed cutting edges not primary grinds that may be convex.)

    Sorry for the rant, it's just that I've seen a number of folks buy into a sharpener system that they just really can't get decent repeatable results because they have missed out on the basics related to apexing the edge and being able to sharpen and/or reprofile based on needs/goals of how the blade will be used.

    Favorites: DMT Aligner, Gatco, or Lanksy portable blade-clamp designs (for extended travel) and Edge Pro Apex customized version (for home-use, etc.), for larger blades and or fast work a platen belt sander of some type. And for the love of god NOT a pull-through design!

    Regards and good luck on this journey,
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2014
  13. Mike45ACP


    Nov 29, 2014
    Thank you very much Mrdabble and Spey! You both should be teachers! If you can explain it so even I get it and I did then your good! I will definitely try the sharpie method (I use dykem Blue at work all the time). I'll also try to find the more aggressive rods for my sharpmaker. Does spyderco sell them? I understand about reprofiling. Spey I race road bicycles, keeps me in shape.
    Thank you all very much. Very helpful!

  14. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    Get a set of diamond bench stones and learn to freehand -- with your professional skills that should be a cinch. There are lots of good books (and free advice on these forums) on sharpening if you feel you need them.
  15. ginaz


    Apr 19, 2001
    too late, nvmd
  16. Sonnydaze

    Sonnydaze Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 6, 2009
    Early on, I watched a lot of jdavis882 on YT videos. He demonstrates free-hand sharpening, as well as Wicked Edge and Edge Pro. A very bright fellow, and I believe he now has his own company and is producing custom blades. He whittles a hair with his blades, on camera, so yes< he is competent>
    computer just went nuts>>>sorry>
  17. razor-edge-knives

    razor-edge-knives Moderator Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 3, 2011
    Great post Spey! I would suggest staying away from power equipment as well unless you have the time to practice and some cheap knives laying around. Even then you have to be very careful not to damage the temper of the blade.

    So that being said I have two suggestions:

    1. the CBN (cubic boron nitride) rods upgrade for your sharpmaker: I have heard these do a good job at heavier sharpenign tasks than even the diamond ones do, although I do not have any direct experience.
    2. Get an edge pro apex. Although i have and use the Wicked Edge, it is a good bit more and the Apex will be fine for personal use =) One downside is that you have to be very careful to not scratch your blade while sharpening if you care about that sort of thing.
  18. onojoe

    onojoe Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 4, 2013
    I like the edge pro apex. I tried free hand sharpening on whetstones, but unless you do it a lot you will not build up the muscle memory to get a consistent edge.

    The edge pro helps beginners (like me) understand edge geometry and how important that is to a good edge. It has course to very fine stones. But be careful, you will start becoming obsessed and will want to start whittling hair and crazy stuff like that. I find that getting a edge pro and a strop will produce some scary sharp edges. Good luck
  19. bfwhite


    Jan 7, 2013
    I use the wicked edge. It is a great sharpener.
  20. Spey


    Apr 15, 2012
    Yes, there are possibly a couple additional options you may not already have for your Sharpmaker.

    White Stones - Fine
    Gray Stones - Medium
    204UF - UltraFine
    204D - Steel w/Diamonds
    204CBN - Cubic Boron Nitride

    Keep in mind; just like a sharp edge of a knife cuts better the more acute it is, the corners of a stone cut much faster than the flats. Any time you use the corners of a triangle stone, use even steady pressure so-as not to grind unevenly - and always follow up on the flat stone to remove any high/lows created when using the corners (test for a consistently even bur along entire edge of both sides b4 progressing).

    Remember to clean your stones, diamonds, abrasives, etc. frequently, and if you buy a &#8220;system&#8221; (including the existing Sharpmaker), read the directions from the manufacturer.

    Great comments by many who have posted here:
    Add to razor-edge-knives #2 Comment:
    Yes, if you care about blade scratching using Apex Edge pro - protect the blade (blue painters tape,etc.), don't use stones that require messy water-slurry, and consider this design allows for very low edge angles (way below most other sharpening systems). On some knives I run progressive asymmetrical edges that vary down to 10-dps (steeper/thicker in areas of high load). I think you'd be hard pressed to find another fixed-angle system that allows 10-dps and lower angles (granted most users may have no need of this, but some do depending on project requirements). I think this is one of the most univeral base systems, and allows for a fair amount of customization to further expanded applications.
    And to mrdabble:
    The short-comings mentioned related to the EdgePro "require a steady hand to hold the blade on the table" can be overcome with various modifications as mentioned (neo-magnet, etc.), and/or a little training & use are also attributes in that being able to easily move the blade laterally when sharpening allows the user to eliminate the issue of stone contact angle-to-blade changing as the distance from the pivot increases (bevel flattening as pivot distance increases).

    Once again, it simply comes back to being smarter than the tool. Most everything being discussed here could be done on flat stones, belt system, fixed-angle-system, a brick, a slab of flat concrete, a door window, a ceramic coffee cup, and a piece of cardboard, etc. in hands of someone with appropriate experience.

    For me, for sure >> The more I learn, the less I know.


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