Skarb Review

Oct 3, 1998
Well, since there's already been an excellent Skarb review posted, I was motivated to whip up mine ...

I'd like to start out discussing my personal philosophy of sharpeners.
I find that I can get an astoundingly good edge with a Spyderco
Triangle Sharpmaker. It does knives of any size and shape. It is
inexpensive. It is quick to set up. The quality is good. Coupled
with an x-coarse stone, it is fast even for massive metal removal. It
is easy to use. As a result, I've become somewhat curmudgeonly about
sharpeners. I don't care if another sharpener has much better production
values, or gives marginally better results, if it's more difficult to
set up.

Okay, on to the skarb, which is viewable at Since most
people want to compare the Skarb to the Edge Pro Apex, I'll do that
explicitly throughout the review

Overall Description

The skarb, as you can see, is a clamp-based system. However, the
clamp works better than what you're used to with the Lansky-style
faire. The Skarb comes with an oilstone, but the base will accept any
2" wide stone. That's a great feature, I was able to use my Spyderco
8"x2" ceramic hones, and DMT 6"x2" diamond hones. Production values
were excellent, and I'm told there's a newer version out that's even
better. But neither the Skarb nor any other system I've used quite
lives up to the Apex's production values; however, quality on the
Skarb is excellent and certainly makes the cut overall.

How it Works

Slide the stone in the base. Clamp the knife, put the pivot on the
guide rod. The angle is infinitely adjustable from 15 to 30 degrees,
marked on the pivot with a sticker. You sharpen by dragging the knife
width-wise across the stone (you drag the knife across the 2" wide
portion), not back and forth across the long portion. As that part of
the stone fills up, you just pull the stone out of the base slightly
and you get a fresh piece of stone.

The system comes with a video which is all the instructions you need.
After raising a burr on each side, you then switch to alternating
sides. On many systems, from Lansky to Apex, this can be a bit
awkward, and the Skarb is no different. There's a lot of motion
involved, twirling the knife from one side to the other along its
pivot. You do get used to that quickly though and the motion becomes

For The Beginner

For beginner or expert alike, I believe the video tells you all you
need to know. Like on the Apex, you will definitely need to sharpen a
few knives to develop some skills due to the non-intuitive movements.
However, again like the Apex, if you go slowly you should start seeing
acceptable results immediately, and really great results after a few

Versus the Apex

Push vs. Apex:
- Both systems work extraordinarily well
- Both systems take a little practice, but are generally useful from
the get-go and get easier to use with time.
- Neither system does serrations

Advantages versus the Apex:
- Quicker to set up
- Not as messy (water stone not required)
- Can use any stone you want
- Small system, easy to store, doesn't take up much counter space
- On small blades with short flats, the clamp works well, whereas
sometimes the blade tends to jiggle on Apex's table

Disadvantages versus the Apex:
- Both systems are infinitely adjustable, but I *think* the Apex had a
wider range of angles.
- Skarb has the best clamp I've seen, but you'll still have problems
with some blade profiles, like daggers. 'course, those kinds of knives
might cause problems on the Apex, too
- Neither system is tops for recurved blades, but the Apex can handle
recurve blades pretty well, whereas the Skarb can't at all.
- Both systems have excellent quality, though nothing beats the Apex
- Can sometimes be tricky to sharpen the last inch near the hilt on
the Skarb


Apex Procedure--

- Take out base and setup legs and suction cups
- Put in guide rod
- Put stone in sharpening arm
- Put sharpening arm on guide rod and set angle
- Fill up water bottle and water stone
- Adjust blade stop to blade height
- Mask off blade to prevent scratches
- Sharpen

Skarb Procedure--

- Take out base
- Put stone in base slot
- Clamp blade
- Put sharpening arm on guide rod and set angle
- Sharpen

Triangle Sharpmaker Procedure--

- Take out base
- Put stones in base
- Sharpen


The Skarb is a great system. Fairly quick setup, coupled with the
ability to use any fast-cutting or super-fine stone you'd like, really
makes it a nice choice. Once a little skill is developed it's a very
solid system, with the only tricky part being sharpening the last inch
or so of blade (the folks at Skarb have some technique tricks,
outlined below). After my evaluation the Skarb folks offered to sell
me one at a used price, and I took them up on it, despite the fact
that I already own more sharpening systems than I really need
the other hand, do any of these more expensive systems provide a lot
of value over the Sharpmaker? I'm not so sure, but for those inclined
towards these systems, the Skarb is a fine system to try.


Occasionally, you'll have problems getting a burr on the last inch or
so of blade near the handle, since that's the part that gets the least
amount of friction. When this happens, the folks at Skarb say you can
try grinding that portion of the blade vertically along the edge of
the stone (which will round out the edges on natural stones,
unfortunately). Once you finally get the burr, you can proceed as
Thanks for the long awaited review.

Lead,follow, or get the hell out of the way!
I sharpened the 710 on the Skarb details to come in my review post.

Roger Blake
Joe :


It does knives of any size and shape. It is inexpensive. It is quick to set up. The quality is good. Coupled with an x-coarse stone, it is fast even for massive metal removal. It is easy to use.

I had an old style Sharpmaker and was very unimpressed with it to say the least. What I liked about it :

1) fast to setup and breakdown including cleaning

What I didn't like about it :

1) has one angle

I can't really stress enough how bad this is. You can't sharpen all your knives at the same angle. You need to adjust for the scope of work and the steel being used or else you are wasting the blade. Now you can of course adjust your stroke angle but if you can do this accurately you could probably freehand on a benchstone as well.

2) really slow metal removal

If your knife is not matched at the rod angle prepare for a long wait. I never had the patience for this. I do realize that you can speed this up by using other hones against the ceramic rods, but even if you do rough bevelling that way you still have to polish the flats to get optimal performance and this is very slow going because of the very low contact area.

3) the motion is odd

I seem to be the only one who has this problem but the downward stroke was not at all comfortable to me. But then again I have been using benchstones for a long time and have that motion set very strongly.

To improve the Sharpmaker I would make the stones wider and longer. This would make a dramatic increase in sharpening speed. It would also be possible to allow the hones to rotate in the base and thus have graduated angles (the new version does take a small step in this direction). Or you could make the base angle adjustable and accomplish the same thing.

The Scarb sounds interesting, I really like the use your own hones idea.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 02-21-2000).]
Has anyone tried sharpening large blades (7 - 10") on the Skarb system? It seems like it might be awkward with the clamp setup.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:23

1) has one angle

The addition of the 2nd, 15-degree angle has made the Sharpmaker really useful for me. For folders, kitchen knives, and the mid-sized fixed-blade utility/camp knives that I favor, the Sharpmaker 204 has all I really need. From a straight 15-degree angle for me small utility and kitchen fixed blades and Calypso Jr., to a 15/20 for regular use, to more of a straight 20-degree for the heavier use knives, I love the way the edges perform. And considering how quick setup is and how quick touchups are once you grind in the initial angle, I really happy.

The Sharpmaker doesn't work well for big harder-use fixed blades and choppers, but for me, this is the least important class of knives. For you, I think those big knives are more important.

2) really slow metal removal

Provided I do my re-profiling by leaning the x-coarse DMT hone up against the sticks, I don't find the polishing steps with the Sharpmaker take too long. Are we seeing different results here because I'm sharpening soft-steel kitchen knives and short fixed-blades & folders, while you're trying to sharpen much bigger knives with super wear resistant steel?

3) the motion is odd

I find the motion really really natural, one reason I've started recommending the 204 as my fave starter system for beginners. This one's definitely subjective.

Good ideas as far as possible improvements!


[This message has been edited by Joe Talmadge (edited 02-22-2000).]
Joe, about the angles, I think it would benefit greatly from having one more obtuse one. Not for a grind in and of itself but it would be very useful as a final microbevel and as well as simulating a convex edge by combining all three hones.

Yes, the type of knife greatly effects what you will want in a sharpening system that and of course your method of sharpening in general. I will use a steel, strop and ceramic rod to maintain an edge for a long time. I usually sharpen a blade to either get rid of damage or regrind the edge so as to to get optimal performance or experiment with the profile (the latter being mainly for comparative purposes).

So basically what I need a system to do, ie. remove a lot of metal, the Sharpmaker does poorly. It does do touchups well, providing the angles match, but I don't need that.

As for the motion, I don't know what it is but I could never do it fluidly. I had mine for a couple of months but it never got to the stage were I could do it naturally. My brother liked it fine though and preferred it to the Apex mainly for the reasons you have described.

By the way the blades arrived yesterday, no problems, thanks.


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 02-23-2000).]