Knife Sharpeners

Posted by: joblot

Knife Sharpeners - 06/16/04 11:30 PM

I have read through a few past posts relating to knife sharpeners and have a few questions.
If I were to buy a "manual" (for want of a better word) sharpener such as this....

....could I damage the blade though incorrect use?
Would I as a relative novice to knife sharpening be better off with a "idiot proof" sharpener such as this:

In the past I have tried to sharpen large kitchen knives with the steel provided. I soon realised you could totally wreck a knife edge if the technique wasn't correct.
I also read the type of steel the knife is made of, dictates the sharpener you use. Is this correct? Is there a universal sharpener you can use on all blades without fear of damaging the edge.
Posted by: Hutch4545

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/17/04 12:40 AM

For home use or if size doesn't matter in a pack, I use the Spyderco Sharpmaker.

I've tried most of them out there and really like it.

It comes with an instructional video too.

Posted by: AyersTG

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/17/04 02:21 AM


I like that sharpener very much. My kids all carry that model in their kit. I carry two:

Extra Coarse/Coarse

and Fine/Extra Fine

But I would be as well-equipped with the Coarse/Fine model you asked about.

If a tool can sharpen a blade, it can probably blunt it as well, but I wouldn't be concerned about that. Practice sharpening with a kitchen knife. Follow the directions - not heavy pressure or you risk damaging the dianmond matrix slightly. Use dry or with water. I would prefer a solid backing for the matrix on the fine and extra fine, but that's just me - these are fantastic portable sharpening devices.


Posted by: Paul810

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/17/04 02:25 AM

The DMT diamond sharpener you showed above is one of my favorites for sharpening knives in the field. As long as you can keep the angle you can put a razor sharp edge on most knives. I do however recommend you practice a lot on cheap knives before you work on expensive knives. Sharpening is an aquired skill that can serve you well in the field. I would get the DMT and practice with it, the Spyderco sharpmaker is great, but you can do a fine job with the much smaller DMT.
Posted by: Vinosaur

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/17/04 03:54 AM

Personally, like others here I am sure, picked up one of the Sterling Sharpeners for my EDC. I was recently on the Knife Forums, and read a slightly disturbing review about the sharpener. It made me think twice about it, and I have actually removed it from my EDC since I carry a large Sebenza, and the good folks at CRK don't like them. You can read the review and make your own judgements. As for me I like the compact size of the Sterling, but not if it may tear up my knife. Looking for an alternative. Probably will go with the DMT Diafold. Want the Spyderco, but too big for EDC.
Posted by: Tjin

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/17/04 10:53 AM

i use fine gritt waterproof sandpaper, a block of wood ( back of a mouse pad can be used on a convex edge ), cardboard and polish to sharpen my knife's. Still saving for a hard arkansas stone...
Posted by: M_a_x

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/17/04 03:14 PM

The DMT sharpeners are very unlikely to damage your blade. You may end up with a blunt edge but no real damage when you keep watching the results of your effort. I can recommend those sharpeners. As others pointed out you just need some practice and if possible a demonstration by a skilled person.
The second model has the disadvantage of a fixed angle which is not good for every use. They also donīt make a knife as sharp as the DMT in skilled hands. Ceramic sticks may break if you drop them. This is why I donīt like the sharpeners with those sticks.
Itīs a common misconception that the steel for kitchen knives is for sharpening. Usually kitchen knives are made of pretty soft steel. When the edge bends itīs straightened with the steel. This will only work if you do it frequently and it will not work if the edge is already worn. A high quality knife doesnīt get its edge bend so the steel wont do any good here. The sharpeners which scrape material from the edge (like the Sterling) should not be used for high quality kinfes either.
Posted by: dchinell

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/17/04 04:22 PM

I like the Spyderco Sharpmaker. But I've also had good luck with ceramic hones. For home use, I prefer a rod about 12 inches long and 1/2 inch in diameter.

For field use, I like the Spyderco ProFile which is an oddly but usefully shaped ceramic hone about six inches long. For my kits, I simply include a sheet of emery paper. (I plan to lay this on a flat surface or roll it around a pencil for use as a sharpener.)

It's important to maintain a consistent angle when sharpening. I find it easer to do this when I can move the knife against an angled rod, rather than a flat bench stone.

The Spyderco Sharpmaker helps you maintain a consistent angle by requiring that you keep the knife blade vertical, which is something that's easy to judge. Clamp systems like Lansky or Gatco actually hold the stone at the correct angle for you, but have the added hassle of attaching the clamp. The epitome of guided systems are the EdgePro models. These also hold the stone at the correct angle, but rely on you pressing the side of your knife against the sharpener's table. (Most clamp systems are large, and suitable for home use only.)

When I taught myself to sharpen using a rod, I forced myself to use my right hand for one side of the edge, then switch to my left hand for the other side. It seemed awkward at first, but it's also easier for me to maintain consistent, equal angles on both sides of the edge this way.

There's a GREAT sharpening FAQ assembled by Joe Talmadge. You should read it and ease into teaching yourself how to sharpen. Being able to maintain your knives is a great skill and very satisfying. The FAQ:

Good luck!

Posted by: bountyhunter

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/17/04 06:02 PM

To my way of thinking, pass thru sharpeners of any kind are quicky touch up use items only.

The one biggest mistake most people make (Yes, I did it myself in the begining and learned ever so slowly.) is to put too much pressure on the knife when passing it through in an attempt to get a sharp edge instantly. Think of it as a small butchers steel that you gently guide the blade through several times.

The angle presented by the sharpening edges will not work as well for all knives, but I believe the watchwords are "LIGHT OR NO PRESSURE, MULTIPLE PASSES for TOUCH UP ONLY. I like pass thrus for the ease of use and their compact size, but my portable sharpener is a small fine carbodum stone with personally supplied saliva. At home, I have an two-sided Arkansa stone with honing oil in a wood holder that my nephew bought me one Christmas long ago when he was a sales manager for REI.

Unless I am planning on cutting my way thru massive undergrowth where I am going to put a machete thru a lot of use, the pass thru and a fine grit stone are all I need as I will always be going home in a few days where the big stones, and if necessary electric grinder are.

Posted by: joblot

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/17/04 11:22 PM

Thanks for the input <img src="/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
I'll probably end up buying both, but will use the DMT only when I've practiced some more.
Just one question on the replies:
Max wrote:
"The sharpeners which scrape material from the edge (like the Sterling) should not be used for high quality knives either."
Surely all sharpners remove material from the edge to a certain degree? Could you name one that doesn't? And why only high quality knives? Thanks
Posted by: Paul810

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/17/04 11:36 PM

The sterling uses two carbide teeth that remove metal through a scraping motion. They work fine of cheaper knives, but knives with better harder steels it tends to tear up and chip the edge.
Posted by: RayW

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/18/04 01:43 AM

Joblot, the reason that it is ok to use a sterling style sharpener on a cheap knife is that after a few uses and the knife edge has been destroyed you can then go out and buy a good knife. The carbide insert sharpeners remove far more metal in one pass than any of the other sharpeners listed in this thread and it also wears the edge unevenly. Where i used to work we sharpened knives for customers and i could always tell a knife that had been used with a pull though sharpener, personally i would not use one on a cheap knife. The DMT and the ceramic sharpeners are the way to go, once you learn how the DMT will be the one you reach for.

If you are looking for instruction do you have a hardware store, sporting goods or cutlery shop near you that offers knife sharpening? If there is take in a couple of knives that need sharpening and let them have a go at it then ask how to keep the edge on your knife and most likely you will get a demonstration of how to correctly sharpen a knife. Starting with a sharp knife makes it easier to keep a sharp edge and you can see after a few strokes on a sharpener whether or not you have made your edge less sharp. If you are learning on a very dull knife you may be doing everything correctly but you will most likely get discouraged because you are not seeing any results from your labor. More than once i had someone come in and say, can you sharpen this, I have tried everything and nothing works. When i would ask what they had done they more often than not were doing the right thing (or close enough to get an edge that would cut) but the edge was so far gone that they would give up long before hand sharpening would produce any results. HTH and remember to practice.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/18/04 07:25 AM

It is my SeBenZa that almost died on that damn Sterling Sharpeners <img src="/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />

I now use a DMT diamond sharpener. <img src="/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

But if size is importent, waterproof sandpaper must bee the best I think.

Any experince on this in the field?
Posted by: M_a_x

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/18/04 03:38 PM

The sandpaper needs an even surface to work properly. That could be hard to achieve in the field. I tried it on my PSK tin and some plastic cards as these are surfaces Iīm likely to have with me. It worked but was no match to the real thing. When you fold the paper it tends to tear on the folding lines. Hence the size is very limited. As I was not really satisfied with it, I ditched it and went for a DMT folding sharpener. The additional bulk is well worth it IMHO.
Posted by: M_a_x

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/18/04 04:04 PM

You are right . Sharpening removes material from your blade. Itīs important how itīs done though.
When you use conventional sharpener the force for grinding is applied on a relatively big surface with many fine grains. Therefore the bending forces on the edge are small. A rough edge will be smoothed. Shapeners like the Sterling bend the knife edge away from a sharp hard edge. In combination with the leverage of the knife you create a lot of bending stress on the edge. A cheap knife is soft enough to just bend. A high quality knife canīt take that much bending because the steel is more brittle. So you break small chunks out of the edge (rip it up). Once that started the motion will become rougher which will make it even worse. When you look at an edge that has been ripped up with such a sharpener you will notice that the edge gets worse towards the tip where you have the longest lever.
Posted by: Tjin

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/18/04 04:35 PM

i haven't field tested it yet, haven't dulled a knife enough in the field. I was thinking of using my swisscard as a holderfor the sandpaper. I personally keep the knife still and move the sandpaper.
Posted by: boatman

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/19/04 12:28 AM

I have seen that Stanley Tools has come out with a diamond sharpener.It is made of metal and is the shape and thickness of a credit card.I think it could fit in the standard Altoids tin.I saw it run for $13.95.That is a good price IMHO.
Posted by: paulr

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/19/04 05:32 PM

Ragweed Forge also sells a credit card sized diamond plate.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/19/04 05:47 PM

I use diamond DMT stones for scandinavian grinds, and have recently recieved a lansky ceramic hone which appears to work pretty well for touching up secondary bevels and can also be used for sharpening fish hooks, needles etc.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/20/04 10:06 PM

The diafold is excellent. If you're a novice, it takes a little practice, but if you hold a consistant angle, it can't be beat, and, you can use this on ANY blade, no matter how thick or what the angle of the blade. The pocket sharpener is great too, just not as versatile. I've got a full set of the diafolds (extra coarse down to extra fine) and a few of the pocket sharpeners. The pocket sharpener is great for every-day carry, but if I get a piece in really bad shape, or somebody wants a true shaving edge, I fall back to the diafolds (I'm the guy in my circle that everybody wants to touch up their edges for them).

Posted by: billvann

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/22/04 01:03 PM

If you read Doug's review, he limits the Sterling to the PSK and not EDC because it's tough on blades. His rationale is that it's useful if you need an emergency sharpener that fits in the tin. But for EDC you should go wuth the Duofold or credit card diamond sharpeners as you have discovered.
Posted by: Hutch4545

Re: Knife Sharpeners - 06/24/04 08:37 AM

I saw your pictures DV - was CRK able to restore it?