When do you NOT use a Sharpmaker?

Mar 12, 1999
I glanced at Joe Talmadge's article on sharpening and get the impression if the knife is not "V" ground you shouldn't use a Sharpmaker. Does that mean I shouldn't use it on my Falkniven S1 which has a 'rolled/convex" grind? I wouldn't want to ruin the geometry which I find a very interesting and attractive aspect of this knife.
As you might expect I'm a real "newbie" at this sharpening stuff and right now a bit frustrated and overwhelmed by it all. During my last visit to the Smokey Mountain Knife Works I saw a "gajillion" (a lot) of stones, rigs, etc. I'm really worried I'm going to screw up a not-inexpensive tool.

[This message has been edited by Jumbi (edited 04 August 1999).]
I remain the voice in the wilderness on this subject, but I'll persist (and be ignored mostly) for a while longer.

"When do you not use a Sharpmaker?" My answer to this question is the same no matter which wondrous never-fail, better than all the rest, miracle sharpening money maker you refer to. NEVER!

These things only do very expensively what you can do with about any flat rock and a bit of leather -- a smooth brick and a piece of cardboard will even do. And if you must get lathered up about this or that angle being maintained exactly, then a simple jig can be made in situ with a scrap of wood.

I'm done for now. Bring on the offended rebuttals.

Desert Rat

Jumbi --

For a convex edge, you *can* use the Sharpmaker, and I'm sure you'll get a great edge. However, the edge will no longer be convex, it'll be a standard edge with flat edge bevels. There are plenty of people who have sharpened their Morans on a sharpmaker, and are happy enough with the result -- they just don't have convex edges anymore.

As soon as I dull my Spyderco Moran, I'm going to try to re-sharpen the convex edge and preserve the convexness, and then I'll post on what worked for me.

Thanks All.

Joe, I'll be very interested in how it turns out. I need instruction
I'm no expert on Japanese sword polishing, but I read somewhere that katanas etc. were sharpened by stroking the stone along the blade (seems the only practical procedure -- you'd need a heck of a big bench stone otherwise). That way you could maintain a convex edge. That might also work for shorter blades, too. I read that Marble's new knives are convex ground, by the way. It would be nice to hear from some Japanese sword experts out there. Thanks from sunny Alberta.
Desert Rat,

If all you use to sharpen are bricks and stones, how do you sharpen serrated blades?
I love these faces!

Just because I talk to myself doesn't mean I'm crazy. What's wrong with getting a second opinion?
Hey There D.Rat,
Maybe I haven't yet found it on this forum. Have you given details on the stone and leather method? I know some people NEVER carry sharpening stones into the woods. Be you one of dem?

When do I not use a sharpmaker? Only when I am alseep...lol!

I love the tool, it lets anyone get a good edge, no matter your skill. There are many people who can't or don't know how to find an angle, and end up screwing up their edge...badly! Believe me, we see these knives every day with the accompanying letter "I thought I knew how to sharpen these serrations on my (other) sharpener, but look what I did...help!"

And the advantage of being able to sharpen other things so easily, is invaluable to me. Dan and I had stuff sitting around the house duller than nobody's business, and after we got the new 204 and the video, (yep, it's done) we were a couple of sharpening fools! Dan is an engineer, and we sharpened every tool he has. Wire cutters, chisels, everything!

Of course I'm partial, but I am telling you the truth, I have never been able to sharpen anything in my life. Dan had some flat stones and we had tried to sharpen my hair-cutting scissors many times, to no success. Now they are sharp sharp! I know other methods give a good edge, but they're too hard for a novice to use, like me.

Just my pennies in the pot...
Well, I'm also a proponent of the freehand sharpening method, but having the 204 around is an extra added bonus for me, whenever I'm feeling lazy.

Of course, I wouldn't want to use bricks or flat rocks on my knives, though theoretically it should work.

The SAS Survial Guide recommends high silica content rocks, and gives examples and instructions. I think that is all well and good, but I was a boyscout
. The knowledge and a little practice on a beater blade is helpful in an emergency, but why if you don't have too. I use my Lanski on Bencmade ATS-34, cuz my sharpmaker takes a long time to reprofile the edge, But the sharpmaker and my Solingen Steel (kinda like crossing a chef's stell with a Hunter Honer) do the job quickly, effectively, and with little problem. They are light enough to go back packing with me, but my Carbon V and M2 field blades have never needed a touchup during weekend field crafting trips. If you are an absolut minimalist, a Tri seps or a Hunter honer (warning, no real experience) should fit the bill.

Wow! I'm not often caught in a grammatical/usage error -- but I surely was.

I stand corrected: Always never use it.

"Never say 'never!'
Never say 'always!'
Always say "Never say never and always!'"
(H. Santina M.D.)
Desert Rat

[This message has been edited by Desert Rat (edited 08 August 1999).]
Desert Rat - It sounds like you are kinda saying "why use a gimmick when you can use the real thing"?

Like, Why drive when you can walk?

I play with all kind of stones and sharpening devices because I am a knife enthusiast seeking to know more about my interested field. That is when I "do not use the Sharpmaker".

When I just want to make something sharp, the Sharpmaker is pretty efficient and effective. Have you used one?
I was considering getting one of the sharpening systems just to see what everyone is talking about.
I got a new DMT double edge(red and green) folding pastic device that is wonderful. It is very easy to lock your wrist to whatever angle you want and it does in minutes what used to take hours with regular stones.
I am now spoiled.

I have to agree with Mr. Rat about te rock and leather although I won't do that unless necessary. I did take one of the cheap stainless chinese knifes that belongs to a young (12) friend of mine. The knife was rather dull and living where there are skads of sandrock it was easy to find something. It wasn't hair popping,but it would cut with a very agressive rough edge that had I taken some care with would have been sharper than most things I have tried to sharpen like this on a "real" whetstone.

I have stumbled on to some different ideas by thinking outside the box.(I am retired and have lots of time to think.
) One of the things you can do for convex blades is to rig up something that will hold "Emory Cloth" in a rather loose loop,like holding a leather razor strop a little loosely. You can have a choice of grits to sharpen anything with a convex blade. Just takes some experimenting till ya get it right.
You can do the same with some cloth to cushion the sandpaper and do the same with it.Prbably be a good idea to stroke away from the edge though.

For those of you that need the sharpening system.Go for it.It will teach you I think the correct way to freehand sharpen by paying attention.

I think it is important to learn to sharpen freehand because there may come a situation where you don't have access to the sharpener.
Try to see if there is an uncle or an older riend that will teach you how if your father or grandfather can't or doesn't know how.
I have taught several youngens to sharpen to where what they have will cut.I am not the best ,but with this new diamond tool I am pretty good.


The civilized man sleeps behind locked doors in the city while the naked savage sleeps (with a knife) in a open hut in the jungle.
I'll use a brick and a piece of cardboard when I can (when I get that good). I actually envy Desert Rat if he can really do that. But, I can't; so I use my Sharpmaker. It let's me do in a few minutes what I use to take hours to do on a brick (er... I mean, stone
): screwing up, correcting, screwing up, correcting, finally sharp.... (um... I mean, on the brick... DANG! ... stone I would screw up and correct. No screwing up on the Sharpmaker)

Work hard, play hard, live long.

[This message has been edited by Outlaw_Dogboy (edited 10 August 1999).]
Anybody know how to keep from rounding the tip when using the Sharpmaker 204? I think I'm following the directions correctly (still waiting on the video), but I still seem to lose some of the "pointiness" on the tip.

Also (since Sal and Dannelle are here), are the diamond speed sleeves still available? They would sure make it easier when doing the initial profiling.


MarkK, I think the pointless question (pun intended) has been asked before. I believe the official response was that you have to stop the stroke before you get to the tip.

The Spyderco triangle sticks don't seem suited for sharpening up to the tips, at least not without rounding them somewhat. If that's the case, maybe you can then (after doing the main sharpening, and having rounded the tip) set the sticks in the "benchstone" configuration and re-work the tip to a point again. Just a thought..I've been playing with both benchstones and the 204 myself, and had the occasion to sharpen a thriftstore knife with a busted tip that a simple Norton stone let me rework fairly easily.
Thanks Longden,

I'll try sharpening the tips with the benchstone configuration next time. I use the tip of the blade a lot for fine work like splitting jackets on small cables.