Skarb Sharpener review by me

Oct 11, 1998
I have been waiting for Joe Talmadge’s review of this system for a long time. About a month or so ago I bought one. Since he has yet to post his, I thought I would give my initial thoughts.

At the outset, I like the Skarb. Rather than my trying to describe it follow this link to see it.

The Skarb is constructed of high-grade aluminum and tough plastic are used. The cost is $75.00. It comes with a very good video and very brief written instructions, a couple of pages. After the initial set up is done, set up thereafter is minimal and fast. I do not like the way the angle is measured and marked. This is done with stick on tape, which is left to the user to apply. Why not emboss the angles on the hard plastic housing at the factory. This is my only criticism of the way the Skarb is built.

Any flat bench stone can be used with the Skarb. It comes with a combination coarse / fine oilstone but I got bench stones out the wazoo from my wood working activities. My favorites are waterstones. One of the things I noticed in sharpening pocketknives is that very little of the waterstone is used. This is not good because waterstones dish out fast and its best to try to use the whole stone if possible. It’s easy to true a waterstone, so I still use them even though they do dish out. What I do is to start with a coarse diamond DMT. The base has a depression that takes 2” stones but any size stone can be used. My DMT’s are 8” by more than 2” so I clamped the stone on the base with a large C clamp at the edge of the bench. The clamp system on the Skarb is 6061 aluminum, I think. It’s a far better clamp than on theLansky or Gatco. The manufacturer claims you can tighten the clamp as much as you want the Allen head screw won’t strip. It holds firm. The first thing I do after clamping a knife was to set the angle using a General angle guide to verify the angle. The angle is easy to set with the thumbscrew. I don’t trust the applied angle markings yet but they’re pretty close. To day I sharpened a Calypso Jr. I set the angle at 15 degrees because this knife is not a hard use knife and I plan to maintain the edge on the Spyderco 204 set at 20 degrees.

Knives are sharpened by rotating the knife-edge across the stone. At first it feels a little unusual but you quickly get used to it. You press down on the spring and rotate the knife across the stone while raising the handle of the knife to get the edge to contact the full bevel of the blade. The first thing is to get an even burr on one side. The Calypso is short and it does not take many strokes before a burr is produced. Its not even though and I have to work on the point and the rear of edge. I get it acceptable but not what I guess is perfect but this only done by touch. The knife is flipped over and the process is repeated on the other side of the blade. After the coarse stone progression through medium and fine diamond goes fast.

I like the edge that waterstones produce so I repeated the process with 1200 and 6000 grit waterstones. I find the 1200 produces a more uniform and perhaps finer edge than the green (fine) DMT. I take it to the 6000. I flip each stroke toward end so that the burr is minimal. I just touch the edge to a leather strop not so much to sharpen it but just to take of the burr. It’s sharp. I can feel it grab hair with out touching it too the skin. I don’t think it’s as sharp as Joe Talmadge got his but I think its close. I have a feeling that the difference may be sensitivity to the evenness of the burr or it could be that he used an 8000-grit waterstone. But probably his sensitivity to edges is sharper from experience. The knife is sharper now than it ever was before.

I have done a few knives now but only pocketknives. In my opinion this system beats all on pocketknives. I like it better at least on pocketknives than the Edge Pro. I have yet to do fixed knives or kitchen knives so I am not sure if it will out perform the Edge Pro on long knives. The advantages it has over the Edge Pro on pocketknives is that there is often little flat surface area on the blade to hold to the Edge Pro’s table. Also it won’t scratch the knives like the Edge Pro is prone to do. You use it with the stone below like you would do by hand. You can use bench stones. I am not sure yet if I will sell the Edge Pro. I have not sharpened the Calypso on the Edge Pro and thus far I have not directly compared the two systems on the same knife. But I intend too.

The system is a lot better than the Lansky Gatco type. Set up is much faster. The angle is infinitely adjustable between 15 to 30 degrees per side. It holds the angle over the full length of the blade. You can use any bench stones.

I may do my BM710 next. I have some slip stones and I think I can clamp them vertically on edge and use the rounded edge to set the bevels on the recurved edge. The slip stones are short but they still may work.

I will update the review later as time permits and I get more experienced.

Feb 14. Another complaint. One of the nylon feet glued to the bottom of the aluminum base fell off. I tried to glue it back with Cryanite (super glue) but it did not take and fell off again. I cut / scraped the other three off. Not a big thing but it deserves mention. As I continue to use this thing I am finding no need to go beyond the green DMT stone.

Roger Blake

[This message has been edited by beam (edited 02-14-2000).]
Good review Beam, thanks for taking the time to put it up. Could you possibly try a hollow ground knife with it? So far those are the only things I have run into that can stump my Edge Pro. Thanks again fot the review

Just because I talk to myself does not make me crazy. Now, when I listen to myself, that makes me crazy.
Roadrunner, hollowgrounds are a little tricky but not a problem for the Edge Pro. Simply lay the blade on the hollow, and raise the pivot one setting. Works great on my BM 720.

Beam, thanks for the review, I too have been waiting for Joe's review. One question, I've never been a fan of clamping systems. I find it difficult to clamp in the same place over and over again and if I have a long blade I have to unclamp, move and reclamp in order to sharpen it. Also, I've found that some blade shapes don't lend themselves to being clamped, such as a CQC-7. Were of these issue with you? How did the Skarb handle it? Thanks in advance.

"Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n"
John Milton
There are only two types of people; those who understand this, and those who think they do.
Great review Beam! I, too, have long awaited Joe Talmadge's review and have really enjoyed yours, so I guess Joe can cross his off for the millenium.

Try it out on the fixed blades and let us know it works out there.--Tangus

Hollow ground blades are sharpen in the same way. You clamp once only. I have done, actually it was the first one I did, and its just the same to the Skarb. No different.


I don't have a CQC-7 I will try to get a look at one and see why it would be a problem. Were not all of them at least partly serrated. I don't buy serrated blades. The Skarb won't do serrations as far as I can see, but I would say it that for the Edge Pro all though you could argue that one.

As far as clamping in the same place goes, I don't see that as important with this system as long as the angle is consistent. This system differs from the Lansky in that knife pivots by raising the knife handle, WHILE you rotate it across the stone allowing you to do the whole edge. So I would think it alleviates the problem of where you clamp the blade. (I will probably use my Spyderco 204 to maintain edges at least mostly.)


I will do a fixed blade shortly. One problem I am having is finding knives to sharpen. I may seek out some friends knives. Mine all pretty sharp and I don't want to wear out knives by sharpening.

I would like to hear from other Skarb owners what they think.

Roger Blake
Sheesh, it's about time someone did a Skarb review
Great review, thanks! People keep wanting to compare this to the Apex for some reason, so I'll do a little of that in my comments ...

I too liked the quality of the Skarb. I have an older model, and was told when I bought it that there was a newer model in the works with higher production values, but I haven't seen that one, nor do I know if it's the one you got. The production values on mine are not quite up to the Apex, but still it's very nice.

Setup is quick and easy. You have to clamp the knife in, but as you mentioned, the clamp is very good. The entire system is smaller than the Apex, and quicker to set up (IMO), despite the fact that you have to use the clamp.

I like the fact that any 2" stone fits into the Skarb. I tend to use either my DMT or big Spyderco ceramic stones in it. As you mentioned, you sharpen by moving the knife across the stone. By this, what is meant is, you move the knife across the stone width-wise. That is, you are dragging the knife across the 2" part of the stone, not back and forth along the 6" length. Since there's a lot of sharpening in a relatively narrow spot, that part of the stone fills up quickly, but then you can just pull the stone out of its tray a little bit, and you get another fresh spot. The system feels a little awkward at first, but you get used to it, and it works well.

When you've raised a burr on each side, you then start alternating sides. With the Skarb, you are not unclamping the knife -- rather, the entire arm mechanism rotates. This is another awkward movement that takes practice getting used to. It's not difficult to do, it's just a lot of motion.

I'm getting better with the Skarb as I use it. I'd say it's as easy or easier to get results on as the Apex, and your skills build quickly. The introduction video is excellent, and tells you everything you need to know.

So, to summarize:

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.
- Both systems have high production quality, though the Apex is higher.
- 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

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.


I think the Skarb can do recurves like on the BM710. I will try it on mine. I have a round 5/16 DMT diamond coarse rod for the ceramic rod type sharpeners and the ceramic triangles from my Spyderco 204. I plan to clamp them and the Skarb base with a Quick-Grip type clamp at the edge of my work bench. I will let you know how it comes out.

One difference from the Edge Pro that you touch on is that egde is rotated across the stone thus more sharpening takes place along the edge than across the edge like with the Edge Pro.

I am told that the Skarb is limited to about 13" blades while the Edge Pro has no length limitation.

Roger Blake
I sharpened the 710 last night.

I put a piece of wood the length of the base under a 5/16" coarse DMT round rod to raise it too a sufficient height. I clamped the rod and wood on the Skarb base to the edge of my bench with a rubber tipped "quick grip clamp". With the angle set to 15 degress I proceeded to sharpen. I had trouble with the point and the edge near the handle where it flares out, but no problem with the recurve. It was not my intent to sharpen to a burr but to thin the blade and stop short of the very edge. I did a few strokes each side then alternated sides. I had to go over the tip on a flat DMT to get it better. I then mounted a coarse Spyderco triangle stone to the Skarb base and clamped the set up to the bench in the same manner. I changed the angle to 20 degrees and repeated trying to get an even burr before flipping sides.

I have to say the knife was sharp when I started. I had sharpened previously using Joe's method. It did improve some though I think it could be better. Its not as sharp as the Calypso. But I kind of like a coarser edge on this knife and did not go to fine stones.

Roger Blake
Originally posted by beam:
fast. I do not like the way the angle is measured and marked. This is done with stick on tape, which is left to the user to apply. Why not emboss the angles on the hard plastic housing at the factory. This is my only criticism of the way the Skarb is built.

The manufacturer, who reads the forums, emailed me that stick on angle marker is applied by the factory to master housing not by the user and mine was defective in this regard. That is the angle marker had come off. He sent me a new master housing free of charge.

He also stated that after his current stock is sold off, future units would have the angle indication marks "burnt in" to the housing. This will be in keeping with the overall quality of the unit.

Roger Blake

[This message has been edited by beam (edited 02-22-2000).]