Sharpening Systems, all of them and your opinions please...

Oct 8, 1998

We have at our disposal a large number of sharpening systems.



Razor Edge


Free Hand

V systems including the Spyderco SharpMaker

What do we use and why and what sort of results do we get?

Do most of us sharpen our own, or do we take them in to have them done professionally?

Marion David Poff aka Eye, one can msg me at If I fail to check back with this thread and you want some info, email me.

Check out my review of the Kasper AFCK, thougths on the AFCK and interview of Bob Kasper.

I have used a Lansky for 10 years now on my folding knives, the standard package with 3 stones (course, medium & fine) and the swivel desk mount. That's plenty enough to get a shaving sharp edge.

I get ragged a bit about my sharpening bevels (approx 20 deg.) on some of my knives, but I think it is more due to the knives being too thick at the cutting edge, resulting in a pronounced bevel.

I was really keen on the EdgePro (got all their brochures, etc) but then saw that one needs to support the blade with one hand, and operate the stone with the other. I can't do that because of a physical disability, I need to hold the stone with two hands and have the blade firmly held down in a clamp.

Regards, HILTON
I've used the Lansky for about a year on small knives and it works well. I use a small diamond "fine" stone for rough work on large knives followed by a Norton polishing stone to finish the edge. It's a little too polished an edge, but the Norton was free, so I can't complain!

My Custom Kydex Sheath page
Palmer College of Chiropractic
On Two Wheels
I love my sharpmaker (old version) and it easily gives me a shaving sharp edge. However, it would be great to see more options in grits rather than just fine and medium.

Some people will say "learn to do it freehand as it was always done", and this is correct as long as we are trying to sharpen medium to large blades.

I can easily shapren my Cold Steel SRK freehand on a bench stone, and I don't bother getting out the Shapmaker or the Lansky for it.

BUT try sharpening a plain edge Cricket with the wave-shaped cutting edge...
Also, try sharpening any other mini-knife freehand, and you'll find you don't have enough blade size to get a reference angle and keep it constant.

My conclusions:
- for edge reprofiling or for reviving an abused edge, you need a Lansky-type clamp to take off a lot of material with a constant angle (and to get a crisp bevel on the side of the edge)

- for most small folders (and all serrated edges) you need the Sharpmaker

- for larger field knives, a bench stone will do just fine

I like Razor Edge when I'm first sharpening an edge or re-doing a really bad one, unless it's a recurved blade. in all other cases, I use a Sharpmaker. The Sharpmaker is less of a hassle to setup, but until I'd used the Razor Edge System long enough to get the hang of freehand, I had a hard time using it. Now, especially with the help of Juranitch's book, I can use the Sharpmaker relatively well.

Knowledge without understanding is knowledge wasted.
Understanding without knowledge is a rare gift - but not an impossibility.
For the impossible is always possible through faith. - Bathroom graffiti, gas station, Grey, TN, Dec, 1988

AKTI Member #A000831

I have the Lansky, Spyderco original, a few steels, and Arkansaw stones.

The Lansky works great on smaller knives and the course stone removes metal quickly when required. It is very easy to do a razor sharp edge.

The Syderco is stones remove metal much slower and have only one angle.

For large blades I use the stones from the Lansky and Spyderco systems as files for sharpening.

I actually use my grinder that I use for making knives. I haven't had a problem with tempering out blades, as I cool down the knife in water after every pass across the belt. I start off with a 220 grit belt, raise a burr on both sides(this does it very quickly, 1 pass across the belt will do it), then I repeat with a 400 grit belts. After that I use a belt that I've turned inside out and loaded with buffing compound(white rouge) . I've never had the edge heat up at all in this part of sharpening so I take much slower passes across the belt. I do this about 10 times on each side and it leaves me with an razor sharp edge. I've also found that a belt with slack works better than one with little to no give.


Self improvement is a hobby of mine :).

Oh yeah, don't even think about trying this on a serrated knife(Unless it is a CS of course
). Because it will grind off the serrations eventually.


Self improvement is a hobby of mine :).

I've always used Arkansas on medium and large blades as well as the small. I start out with a carborindum if bevel needs adjusted or if the blade is extra dull, followed by the soft and hard Arks. You have to be more careful and take your time w/ the short ones, but its do-able. You might want to get some instruction from an expert first while he walks you through it in person. Someone like the head meatcutter in a supermarket,a reputable local knifemaker, and sometimes barbers over 55yrs old, if you're fortunate enough to have one in your area, would probably be the best candidates; someone to strike up an aquaintance with. I was very blessed as a kid to have a couple of very good teachers. Once you get a private lesson, 3 things you aught to do is practice, practice, and practice (which is true of most things requiring skill and technique). Start with your cheap knives, good lighting, and take your time....What I'm talking about is the old fashion way of sharpening, not that there is any big advantage to that way of sharpening. In fact, the newer systems like the ones mentioned are more likely to give more consistant results, I supose. Haven't had much or any experience w/ most of them. Sounds like these guys will help you out. In fact, I could use some advice too............ Just bought a Dalton Serpent. This puppy is awesome. Just love those curves. The flat stones work great for normal blades, but this one has a major S-recurve at least as radical as the Emerson at the top of a lot of these pages! I've found that the Tungston/carbide V in a handle" type sharpener works great on my machetes and a cheap knife, but it takes off a lot of steel and I'm afraid to use it on my Serpent. I think that the recurve is too abrupt for even the Lansky system. The various rod systems look like an option.
QUESTION: Does anyone know of a sharpener that will work that: a) Is adjustable for any given angle and b) Costs less than a small fortune? c) If so, Do you know where can I find the best deal?

"But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword let him sell his garment and buy one." Luke 22:36 & John 3:18
PS: I think that if I clamped one of my flat stones in a vise and turned it to a comfortable angle, I would have a corner which would work. It would also sharpen serrations, wouldn't it?! Only problem. My good stones have kind of rough corners if I recall; from applying too much pressure w/ my big blades.
Should I go out and get a new stone, or is there a better way? Would try it w/ a diamond block, but the only ones that I'm familiar with have dimond dust bonded to only one side.

"But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword let him sell his garment and buy one." Luke 22:36 & John 3:18
I have many different sharpening systems around the house including diamond & Razor-Edge stones, however, I use the Edge Pro "Pro" as I like it the most because it is fast, puts on the perfect edge and gets blades that "scary" sharp I like!!
Equalizer, a few comments on your posts.

On sharpening by hand, I learned to sharpen knives and woodworking tools over 30 years ago by hand. I was taught at the millwork shop where I worked for five years. It was many years before I even knew of commercial jigs for woodworking tools. I was skeptical because I could put on shaving sharp edges by hand. During this period I went from hardware store stones to Arkensaw hard and soft and finally to Japanese waterstones. Each was an improvement. About five years ago I tried jigs that hold chisel and plane blades at a constant but adjustable angle. They do noticeably improve the results but not terribly. I find that when I am woodworking its often not enough of an improvement to set the jigs up.

On to knives. No matter how good you can sharpen by hand do you really think you can hold as constant angle as jig does? Again I find an improvement with a jig. Actually more of an improvement than with woodworking chisels and plane blades but I think that is because I can hold them to a more constant angle by hand. At this time for me a system like the Lanskey makes sense for profiling and a system like Spyderco or just a fine rod / ceramic "steel" hand held to keep up the edge is best for me. The Spyderco system though is so versatile that it alone could serve.

Of the benchstones I have used I like Japanese waterstones the best. Diamonds are faster but I get better edge with Japanese stones. I use a diamond benchstone to flatten the waterstones. I think they would also shape your Arkensaw stone too.
After much field use and experiment, I have settled on a moderately sized flat diamond stone. Compact and simple.

Nothing to lose, doesn't take up any space, far more durable than ceramic or stone, and I can put a shaving sharp edge on my knives in no time.
Larry, would the "Pro" do an S curved 3"+ blade? If so, can you describe it?

Beam, thanks for the info. Haven't used the Spyderco, yet. Like I said, the new types (ie. fixtures) probably give a more consis- tant edge. How does the spyderco give an adjustable angle? Would it be like a stone, only its a rod that is suspended at an angle rather than parallel to the bench, and you change bevels by varying the angle that you hold your blade to the rod? I guess that would give a consistant edge along the full length of that S.

"But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword let him sell his garment and buy one." Luke 22:36 & John 3:18
I use a vintage Lily White Norton to start and then on to a 14x10x3 hard Arkansas I use for plane blades and knives . I finish by stropping on the only thing I have found that will consistently put a 1095 like shaving edge on factory ats 34. That is , a 1 inch hardwood dowel charged with white compound on one end and green chromium oxide on the other. If im in a hurry , I use a Sharpmaker and the miricle dowel. If the knife is not real dull ,
The dowel is all that is necessary
I use the Lansky diamond sharpening system. It works really well for folders and gets the job done on high carbon blades. The system components are demeanor and they come in a real cheapo plastic case. I guess 80 bucks does not go too far these days!

It puts a nice edge on the blade nonetheless.
Larry, never mind taking time to describe. I just found post "Edge Pro vs Spyderco" and it describes it quite well. Thanks, Sounds great. But, out of my price range.

"But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword let him sell his garment and buy one." Luke 22:36 & John 3:18
The Sharpmaker! It`s easy to use. It`s fun to use. It`s portable. It`s affordable. Does serrations like nobody`s business! Great for a quick touch-up on a blade. I love it. It has met almost all my sharpening needs to date. (For everything else, I use a diamond stone. Don`t think that qualifies as a sharpening "system".)
Marion David - Thanks for starting this thread! I was about to order a sharpener (am a total novice when it comes to this part of the hobby), but couldn't decide between the Razor-Edge system, and the much-touted Spyderco Sharpmaker. I liked the Razor-Edge system because the angle guide clamps seemed that they would train me to use the best or appropriate angle with a 'normal' benchstone. I figured that after doing it A LOT with the clamps, I would eventually be able to do a pretty good job without them. (That may or may not be true - just my humble reasoning.)

I like the Sharpmaker because it is highly recommended for almost everything, and especially for serrated edges.

That combination is obviously doing well for Codeman, so I may eventually get both. But I appreciate the expert info on all of the systems. I love to learn!

Keep them coming!

Cutting through all the muck,
we get to what's really important.

John 3:3-7

God Bless You!