Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener - Ken Onion Edition

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by UnknownVT, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. UnknownVT


    Feb 15, 2003

    I have had this Ken Onion Edition on field test from Work Sharp for a while.
    It was shown at the Blade Show 2013 -


    The Ken Onion Edition is basically a refinement and upgrade to the original Work Sharp (belt grinder) Knife Sharpener (link to review) that I was so enthusiastic about.



    In comparison to the original WSKTS -

    One can see immediately that the new Ken Onion Edition is a lot beefier, has a more powerful motor and is variable speed (1200 SFM to 2800 SFM)

    But the thing that got me enthusiastic all over again wasn't just because it is a Ken Onion design (which was good reason enough....
    you can tell I am an unabashed KO fan - and it's his fault that I first found out about the original WSKTS - as he dragged me screaming and crying to see it :eek: :D )

    It was this:
    a variable sharpening guide that goes to as acute as 15deg/side - for those very sharp Japanese kitchen knives.

    The belts are wider on the KO edition and are supplied in 5 grits ( to as fine as 2 microns):

    But one of the very best things about the Ken Onion Edition is the manual supplied - I only got a pre-production version -
    but it was full of useful information and tips:

    Parts names and introduction -

    Setting up -

    Sharpening outdoor knives -


    Sharpening kitchen knives -

    I've sharpened quite a few knives on this -
    here's one of my favorite knives:

    and the edge that the WSKTS KO edition put on it -
    this is using a cheapo usb microscope (~$25 from fleaBay) it's about 110x magnification

    Overall the new Ken Onion Edition of the WSKTS is a very worthy upgrade to the original version -
    especially with the addition of variable speed and
    most importantly a variable sharpening guide.

    Part 2 follows in the next post - that really sent me over the edge.....

    Last edited: Sep 23, 2013
  2. UnknownVT


    Feb 15, 2003
    Part 2 of Review
    or why the WSKTS Ken Onion Edition sent me over the edge (pun intended :p) ......

    Sometime back mid-July I received an e-mail from Dan Dovel the designer of the WSKTS -
    "Kyle and I thought you might enjoy one of our blade grinder attachments"

    What blade grinder attachment?

    It was one of the items shown at Blade Show 2013 - Dan Dovel has his hand on it in the pic in the opening post.


    This was a pre-production unit - the full production unit is going to be similar:
    "We are still making final improvements and ‘tweaking’ the tooling and components but it will be very similar to what you have.

    And the final product will only be better than what you share. All I ask is that you reference it as a pre-production / field tester unit.

    It attaches that same way as the sharpening cassette -
    it's like a bench belt grinder - but it is so much cleverer.....

    see the scale?

    It adjusts the belt angle to the horizontal to between 10-35 degrees,
    and to grind that angle all one has to do is hold the blade face horizontally.....
    At first I thought horizontal was not going to be as natural as vertical -
    BUT to the left of the belt, one can see a horizontal reference level plate.
    Put the blade face on that plate and lift it up on to the belt, and I found it really easy to maintain horizontal -
    so much so I now find it as natural (perhaps even more) than vertical.

    The main advantage (and it's HUGE) is that one can see the blade and edge grinding.

    Closer view of belt -

    The belts are even wider at 1".

    Instructions were on two pages only - but informative

    This lists the belt grits supplied - but I got X16 instead of X22 - minor difference, but I prefer X16.

    How to use the Blade Grinder Attachment -

    All I can say is WoW! -
    it almost makes me feel like a skilled knife grinder -
    it has made almost everything I learnt in manual sharpening almost redundant.

    The results I am getting are simply superior to any other method that I know of......

    First knife I sharpened on the Blade Grinder Attachment was a RyuSen 180mm vg10 Damascus Gyuto (I believe the Hattori HD-6 is a re-badge of this knife)
    this was the knife I hazard to call "too sharp" -
    so we know it is seriously sharp.

    Setting the attachment for 15degs - this was the result - using a usb microscope at ~110x magnification:
    man! look at that edge!
    It's really only a micro-bevel - as the RyuSen/Hattori kitchen knives have a very good reputation of being very "sharp" in that the entire blade face is continuously convex and doing the pinch test (pinch blade face and pull to ward the edge) the blade feels like it falls from blade to nothing - I cannot feel a separate bevel and the thickness behind the edge is almost nothing.......

    Oh, yes the blade is really really sharp now and it seems to have lost that "too sharp" feel -
    I will be using it more now.....

    But still is not as nice as the Shigeki Tanaka wa handled vg10 Damacus Santoku I have:

    BUT that is due more to the knife and shape rather than the sharpening or edge. (it's just my personal preference) in terms of cutting they perform about that same.

    Pinch test on this Tanaka Santoku which also has a continuously convex blade face - is again like that of the Ryusen - but even more so - possibly due to the wider blade face so when it falls to nothing - it really feels that way - in comparison going back to the Ryusen now does not feel quite the fall to nothing - but it is really a minor and nit-picky difference.

    Enough waxing lyrical -
    here's a test that I feel only this Blade Grinder Attachment could achieve easily.....

    First an intro:

    I am somewhat enthusiastic (OK obsessed) about Santokus - especially Japanese ones:
    SETO I-5 vg10 Tsuchime (hammered) Damascus Santoku
    On a couple of upmarket/premium Japanese vg10 Damascus Santokus had asymmetrical edges in the region of 80/20 or even 90/10 -
    I suspect this was possibly more like a one sided edge with a back bevel

    These 2 edge shots are not mine - but promo photos on the web:

    These are the typical factory edges with distinct bevel shoulders.

    I was in trepidation not being experienced working with asymmetrical edges and at acute 15degs....

    Had to figure this out myself - if I ground first at 10degs without too much concern about reaching the actual edge - that ought to grind away the hard bevel shoulder and hopefully make it convex to blend in closer to the blade face.

    Then for the actual edge set 15degs and hopefully again it would blend in with the initial 10deg grind.....

    So much for theory - what are the results?

    on the wider bevel:

    and the narrow or back bevel:

    Pinch test does feel like the bevels blended well without any shoulder now.

    Cutting - it is very very sharp will do shallow cuts like paper etc on par the Ryusen Gyuto and Tanaka Santoku -
    cutting food, and through things - it does very well - but can't quite match the Ryusen and Tanaka - but then we're are talking about some of the very best knives I have
    and it probably has a lot more to do with the actual overall blade geometry rather than the actual edge even if it is convex.

    But it is definitely a lot better than out of the box - in fact quite a large improvement - as the microscope photos attest.

    Last edited: Oct 1, 2013
  3. PrimitiveEnergy


    Jul 22, 2012
    Thanks for the great review.

    I just got mine in and I have been reading and watching reviews before I open it up.

  4. sloth357

    sloth357 Platinum m0f0 Platinum Member

    Jan 5, 2011

    I have an original work sharp.. it's.. ok..

    BUT you're telling me this DOES HAVE A WIDER BELT? How much wider, I haven't had a chance to read yet!

    AND variable speed?!!!!!! How slow is that.. the 1200rpm setting; is that like 1/4 the speed of full speed on the original or slower? :D So, no chance of destroying a knife in 2seconds anymore? Or burning an edge..?

    I WANT... not for my nice knives.. that will still be by hand.. but for everything else... I hate the narrow belts.. HATE...

    Thanks, I will look into this later tonight after kiddos eat and such, thanks for the post! I never knew...
  5. UnknownVT


    Feb 15, 2003
    The belts according to the WSKTS web page for Ken Onion Edition are:
    " 3/4" x 12” "

    vs. 1/2" x12" belts for the original WSKTS.

    So... 50% wider.

    Variable speed - " variable speed control (1200 SFM to 2800 SFM) "

  6. reskite


    Mar 17, 2001
    It is possible to use half inch belts on the KO Worksharp. They even include one in the kit. I wonder how long it will take before the belt manufacturers start making up .75x12" belts.
  7. UnknownVT


    Feb 15, 2003
    Of course it is, as you've figured
    - that's why they include that 1/2" 6000mm (2µ) belt -
    I use that and the X4 belt the most.

    Personally I like the narrower 1/2" belts as they seem more forgiving to me.

  8. shuutr


    Sep 25, 2013
    I've already sharpened 4 fixed blade, 4 pocket knives, and 3 kitchen knives. This thing is worth it.
  9. fetzer85


    Oct 17, 2012
    I have the original and the only issue I have is due to the guide I can't sharpen all the way down on the base of my blades. This means I have to remove the guide and touch the very base of the edge up.
  10. UnknownVT


    Feb 15, 2003
    Yes, on the original WSKTS - the kitchen knife 20deg (or 40deg total inclusive) guide has that limitation when trying to sharpen right up to the choil/tang of an outdoor blade.

    Whereas the outdoor 25deg (or 50deg total inclusive) guide does not have that limitation.

    Work Sharp does have a 20deg (40deg total inclusive) outdoor knife sharpening guide (link to webpage)

    The new Ken Onion Edition does not have that limitation because the sharpening guide only covers just over half the width of the wider belt
    overhead view looking down into the guide:


    If sharpening an outdoor knife to 20deg (40deg total) hold the the blade face straight up-down/vertical gives a native 20deg to the belt -
    in other words one does not need a guide - what I do is keep the outdoor guide in place and for 20deg per side I hold the blade vertically and sharpen (so the blade face does not touch the guide at all)
    I keep the outdoor (25deg) guide in place as it helps with a visual reference to keep the blade steady.

    Hope that helps a little.

    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013
  11. fetzer85


    Oct 17, 2012
    Ah yes I see, thanks Vincent!
  12. tjswarbrick


    Mar 31, 2011
    Thanks for the writeup!
    At twice what I paid for my original WSKTS I probably won't run out and get the KO just yet. But when I wear it out or need a little more capability, this looks like a very nice upgrade.
  13. UnknownVT


    Feb 15, 2003
    I would have agreed with you -
    but if you wait for part 2 of the review -
    up on the second (reserved) post, which I am just in the process of writing now
    - you may see why it might be worthwhile.......

    PART 2 of this review is finally up now
    please see Post #2 (linked) above

    Last edited: Oct 1, 2013
  14. Vegas Blade

    Vegas Blade

    Feb 9, 2012
    I bought the regular version last night and all I can say is "Wow"!! This thing is great!! I used it on my Busse TGLB and my HOGFSH. I can say this: I put a convex, hair popping, push cutting newspaper edge on my knives. My HOGFSH is .32 thick with an 11" blade, and is 14" overall. The Work Sharp handled that big blade beautifully. This sharpener is the ticket for the big, long convexed edges on the bigger knives. It made my TGLB into a straight razor as well.

    If anyone is on the fence about this tool, pull the trigger, it's worth it.
  15. DavidZ

    DavidZ Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 30, 2004
    I ordered mine last night! Can't wait.
  16. KenOnion


    Apr 21, 1999
    Great review Vincent , Thank You !
  17. Omega Leather Works

    Omega Leather Works

    Jun 13, 2007
    Wow... I'm *really* digging the look of that attachment. If it works half as well as I think it might I'm definitely sold.

    Btw Vincent, if I had a pre-production product that I needed tested I'd hit you up. Very well done.

    Okay, I need to stop reading these reviews now.


    Jul 17, 2012
    Quit reading and just get you one! Cheaper than a Sebbie and also a lot of fun to think of ways to use it other than sharpening knives since it is so portable. Try to sharpen a mower blade with your 1 X 30 HF. :) :rolleyes:
    If I don't quit reading these reviews, my wife will take my debit card away from me when I sneak one home to replace my original. Hmmm, there might just be a new purse in her future! ;)


  19. UnknownVT


    Feb 15, 2003
    Thank you gentlemen for your kind words.

    The Blade Grinder Attachment is very versatile.

    Here's my meager attempt to use it more than just a sharpener.

    Long Intro (if you want to skip it, search for the heading >Modification below)

    I am a big fan of Shigeki Tanaka's kitchen knives - based mainly on his vg10 Damascus Santokus -
    I've had multiple samples pass through my hands - so I know first hand of their quality and consistency.

    Being so pleased with his Santokus I also purchased a vg10 Damascus Petty 150mm.
    It is very sharp and cuts through like the dickens -
    BUT 150mm is too long for my regular usage -

    I figured that 135mm would be much better for me -
    from years of using an original (now classic) Chicago Cutlery Walnut 62S - 5" (127mm) utility/boning knife -

    and more recently of a 135mm SETO I-8 vg10 Tsuchime/hammered Damascus "mini Santoku" (same series of the SETO Santoku sharpened and described in Post #2 above) -

    So I ordered a 135mm length -
    life should be so simple......

    The order turned out to be a fiasco of the first order (pun intended)
    First I was sent the wrong knife (yes, this is still relevant....)
    It was in the Silver #3 (stainless) steel 3-layer series, instead of the ordered vg10 Damascus -
    Not only was it the wrong knife, it looked like it was very crudely cut to shorten to 135mm.....

    I obviously complained and returned it for the correct item - the main point of this was to show how badly shortened the blade was from the original 150mm length -
    I thought at first it was the vendor taking a short cut (sorry about the pun!)
    but when I finally received the correct item - it was also shortened the same crude way - on inquiry this appears to be the way the maker supplies any shorter length.

    Not very satisfactory -
    but because I like Tanaka Petty so much, except for the length, and it seems the only way to get the right length for me is to accept this.

    Finally getting to the point of all this - because the spine/back of the blade was crudely shortened - cut then ground but pretty poorly - I wanted to at least address this.

    Started by using a diamond stone to round out the curves on the spine -
    although it was working, it was just too slow, and hard work -

    Ah-ha! use the blade grinder attachment -
    started with trepidation - although I am experienced at sharpening - I am still a virgin at doing any mods on blades......

    Started using the X16 grit belt and sure enough I was immediately seeing pleasing results - but it still wasn't reducing the crude cut angles -
    so I braved using the coarser X65 belt -
    I am pleased to say using my timid and light touch - it was very controllable -
    I started grinding with the spine parallel to the belt - this obviously would grind/remove material the fastest for the results I was looking for - rounding the back curve of the spine.

    Oh, I did this over quite a period of time - but I'll keep this saga short (yes, another pun)
    eventually I realize I would have to be braver if I was going to truly merge the reduction to get a smooth contour on the spine's curve down to the tip.

    So being the coward still, I taped the spine further along - then laid the spine so that it was touching along the full length of the back then gradually lifted the blade to follow the contour.
    When I finally got the shape I was looking for (days of contemplating later) I then ground with the spine perpendicular to the belt direction, and pressing down a bit harder than my normal timid/light touch -
    this allowed the belt's natural character to round the spine's edges/corner more - then processed through X16 and X4 grits.

    Result -

    the shortened blade at least now looks as if the knife was supposed to be that way...

    BUT that's not all -
    you do realize when it comes to knives I am a bit OCD.... (not just a bit)

    The problem with a shortened blade that has only been cut is that the blade has lost some of the curvature/belly - especially toward the tip.
    At this point (ha-ha! pun-ny) the blade was almost like a sheepsfoot or Wharncliffe blade.

    So next step took for me what seemed like enormous courage and "risk" -
    attempt to ground more of a curve toward the tip -
    again started with sharpening grinding -
    but again it just seemed too slow -
    so throwing caution to the wind, I knew the fastest way to get the curvature/belly I wanted to the literally grind the edge away with the blade edge straight-on to the grit -
    too scared to use the belt grinder, so started on the diamond stone -
    but again too slow, and not really getting anywhere fast - so I went to the blade grinder attachment -
    long story short - using the X65 with blade edge straight-on and to the belt, I ground the the curve belly I was aiming for -

    Once I got the shape - I had to put the edge back - using the same idea as the SETO Santoku in Post #2 above -
    set the grinder to 10deg and X65 grind in the new secondary bevel -
    then progressively using X16, X4 then 12000MM (1micron) belts to polish -
    then sharpen with the grinder set to 15deg ......

    Result -
    there is now a definite curve/belly to the shortened knife.

    The edge seems to merge quite well with the existing edge (the bit I did not modify -it's at about the first Kanji character) -

    ~110x microscope pic of edge at about where the unmod and modification starts -

    Of course it's not perfect - not just for an OCD -
    the problem with shortening then re-curving this way is that the blade does not thin the same amount toward the edge any more -
    to truly get the same profile I would have to ground the whole face to thin the blade the same way toward the edge - which is beyond my skills at this point.
    But the first grind at 10deg kind of helps mitigate the need to do this - although I can feel and see this, it is not enough to bother me - for now......

    So the use of the Blade Grinder attachment for more than just sharpening - by a novice - never done it before -
    but FWIW - when I do not have the experience, I am very timid and careful about what I do.

    Last edited: Dec 16, 2013
  20. UnknownVT


    Feb 15, 2003
    I just realized that I didn't really answer the question about how slow the Ken Onion Edition can go in comparison to the original WSKTS

    According to Work Sharp:

    " The original WSKTS runs +/- 3400 SFM "

    So on its slowest, the new Ken Onion Edition runs just over 1/3 the speed of the original.


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