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Which sharpening system

Discussion in 'Knives' started by donner, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. donner

    donner Sharpshooter

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    I like sharp knives and need something for kitchen and a few folders. I've got a pull-through that works well but was thinking about something more. I've been looking at the lanksy and sharpmaker mostly but open to suggestions.
     
  2. dennishoddy

    dennishoddy Sharpshooter

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    I'm old school. I use a stone, although its diamond impregnated. Little oil on it, and go to town. Its all about maintaining the correct angle repetitively. For some reason I can free hand a blade and make it work. I've watched some co-workers and they have issued doing this.

    One of the systems that maintain the correct angle is the way to go.

    The ceramic sticks work great, but a lot of folks don't know they need to be cleaned pretty often to keep them from loading up. Then they think they don't work.
     
  3. ez bake

    ez bake Sharpshooter

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    How much do you want to spend?

    Also, what's the goal - sharpen one or two knives once a month?

    With more knives to sharpen and more frequent sharpening requirements, you can get into a situation where you really need to spend more on a fast/easy repeatable sharpening system. If the need isn't that much/frequent, then you can do as Dennis suggests and get a stone and learn to do a bit of sharpening free-hand - which requires more patience/practice than it does cash but it is honestly a good skill to master.

    The Spyderco Sharp Maker and Lansky systems are both good systems, but you can sort of tailer each to your needs (i.e. don't bother paying for diamond stones unless you're doing a lot of re-profiling and/or own knives with super-hard steels, etc.).

    If you've got a ton of knives to sharpen on a regular basis, then the answer I always have is the Wicked Edge. The Edge Apex Pro kit to me just isn't worth it when there are kits out there that accomplish what the Wicked Edge does.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014
  4. ez bake

    ez bake Sharpshooter

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  5. donner

    donner Sharpshooter

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    i'm still checking out the other links, but to answer a few questions. I've got several folders i'll sharpen every few weeks (Which right now is just a few passes through the pull-through). I'll do the kitchen knives every month or two and then occasionally my in-laws' knives (which usually need a lot of work).

    I watched the wicked edge video and it's very interesting. Probably more than i'd like to spend and seems pretty similar (but faster) than the KME (which seems like a setup from the lansky).

    I probably fall more into the camp of someone who'd prefer to keep knives sharp than re-shape them.
     
  6. L48Shark

    L48Shark Marksman

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    I had a lot of dull knives in the kitchen and elsewhere, but not a lot of time to sit around sharpening. After a lot of checking around for a good solution I picked up a Chef's Choice Model 130, which has proven simple and effective.
    Chef's Choice Model 130 on Wayfair.com
     
  7. UnSafe

    UnSafe Sharpshooter

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    Thanks!

    Saw this post last month and surfed around for one. Finally found a Chef's Choice 120 in great condition from ebay for less than half of retail. Sharpened every kitchen, hunting and pocket knife I could find in probably less time than a single knife using my 28 year old Lansky style set. Hand sharpening was fine when I was young, bored and stuck on the edge of an airfield in some third world sh!thole, but this is soooo much faster.

    Money well spent.
     
  8. chask

    chask Marksman

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    If you like a really sharp knife there is nothing like a Wicked Edge (WE) or an Edge Pro Apex (EP). I first learned about them on a knife forum where there are a bunch of real knife fanatics. One guy there claimed to have cut free hanging toilet paper after first using his WE. I have never tried that but I would not doubt it. I have been able to slice a very thin sheet of paper then shave little hair thin slivers off the fresh cut.

    What first drew me to the WE/EP style of sharpener was a lot of the knife people I knew were getting much better results than I was, so I was looking hard for a better way to get good results. Heck, to be honest I was looking for a way to get the darn things very sharp at all.:teehee: Then I bought a knife from a guy through that other forum that had an edge you would not believe. Oh, it was very sharp (about as sharp as any blade I had ever seen), but what set it apart was the edge had a mirror polish. Literally, I could clearly see the undistorted reflection of other objects in the room - just like a real mirror. I even held it up near a book and could read text in teh reflection. I later learned he used the EP. Now a mirror finish is not that important but it does show how well the sharpening angle was maintained.

    I have a few sharpeners but some time ago I moved to using just the WE. I find it easier to get repeatable results, but I've put a lot of sharp edges on several blades with the EP (my other favorite) and other sharpeners too. They just weren't as sharp as the edges I get with the WE.


    He's absolutely right about the key to getting a sharp edge - for the best results you have to maintain the exact same angle on every sharpening stroke. Without that you get less than desirable results. Oh, it will be sharp but not crazy sharp. If you can do it with a stone then you really don't need anything else - just a set of good stones with a range of grits. Some people can do this but I think most people can't, me included. That is what I like about the WE and EP. You set the blade position and angle of the stones or strop then have at it. Every single pass will be at the exact same angle, even as you change grits and strops. The only drawback is if you get too aggressive with pressure. Doing that can change the angle, just ever so slightly, but it can easily be enough to affect the results. Just let the tool work for you and you'll be truly amazed at how sharp your knives are.

    I have a friend who has a knife shop here in OKC. He uses one of the Spiderco Triangles then follows it up with a buffing wheel. He puts a really nice edge on a blade in short order. I've tried but I just cannot get the results he does. Frankly I do not see how he does it. He just goes right after the angled stones, looking more like he is whacking at them, then puts it on the wheel. I couldn't get the same results if my life depended on it. There's also a guy at my shop who uses a stone. His knife is very sharp too. He just kind of does this gentle rub and somehow keeps the angle right. I couldn't use his technique and repeat his results either.

    I would also note that once I put a really sharp edge on my EDC knife I find I do not have to sharpen it as often. When it starts to feel like it is not cutting quite as easily as it did right after being sharpened I just hit it against some cardboard to hone it. The crispness of the edge comes right back; not quite as good but almost.

    Once in a while I'll use an Ultimate Edge sharpener to do a quick touch up. But as it is pretty aggressive I tend to not apply too many strokes - don't want to affect the profile too much. These are pretty neat as you can get one the size of a regular knife steel (from 5" to about 12") and they make a little 4" pocket one with its own case. I know people who use these for all their sharpening.

    One other thing - you will also have to maintain any stone, whether it's part os some sharpening sytem or just a sharpening stone. The grit and sludge (if you use oil or water) will get down in the crevices or pores of the stone and reduce its effectiveness.


    These are a couple of important questions - cost, goals and use. First off, don't think the WE, EP or similar are mostly for reprofiling or putting fancy edges on a blades (like multiple angle and curved edges). What they are best at is keeping a perfect angle. That will give you the sharpest blade. Yes, they can be used to easily and precisely change the sharpening angle and to put some fancy edges on a blade but you don't have to do that.

    I'm pretty much like you. I fall more into the camp of someone who'd prefer to keep knives sharp rather than reshape them. In the several years I have owned an EP and a WE I have only changed the angle on one or two blades though I have put multi angle profiles on a couple of my knives and once tried a curve. It's not hard at all - it just takes a bit more time. Once you get the angle controlled, there are tricks to getting even better results - putting micro serrations on the edge (some claim this improves cutting), multiple angles, curved edges, etc.

    Then there's the cost. The cost of a WE ranges from a fairly nice production knife to a pretty decent custom one. An EP is about the same although their low end model starts a bit lower. Most of the cost range for both of these systems depends on how many of the stones and strops you want to get.


    These work well too but like all the other methods they have some drawbacks too. One big one with motorized system is that you have to be very careful about putting too much pressure on the blade while it is in contact with the wheels and/or doing it for too long. The sharpened edge is very small. If you are not careful you can heat the edge of the blade and ruin the hardening, thus damaging the knife. You also fall back to the same problem with all knife sharpeners - maintaining the exact same angle between the blade and the sharpening media. As I recall when I used one of these (or a similar design), you have to keep the blade perfectly vertical as you draw it accross the sharpening wheels. That said, I've read a lot of commercial kitchens have sharpeners with motor driven sharpening wheels (like the Chef's Choice) so that the kitchen can quickly put a sharp edge back on their knives.

    Good luck with whatever you choose. I don't think you will go wrong with any of them. They all do the job. Some are just easier to use than the others (more idiot resistant).
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2014
  9. doctorjj

    doctorjj Sharpshooter

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  10. ez bake

    ez bake Sharpshooter

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    The problem with the work-sharp is that it is essentially a belt sander and with little effort, you can take off way too much metal or heat the blade up and ruin the heat-treatment. If you've got a steady technique, they're great, but I wouldn't attempt to learn on one with an expensive or nice knife.
     

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