Sharpening FAQ


Joe Talmadge
February 10, 2003, 07:50 PM
For those of you who haven't seen it:

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February 10, 2003, 11:22 PM
Joe, good to see you here! For those who don't know, Joe is one of those guys who has forgotten more about knives than most of us will ever know.

February 11, 2003, 03:41 PM
Very sensible and easy-to-read article. Of special interest to the "casual" knife user like myself because it discusses various sharpening techniques and how they are best and worst used.

February 16, 2003, 05:06 PM
Joe, your article is an excellent aggegation of information on the subject of knife sharpening. By referencing it here, the material receives increased exposure, bringing the helpful advice and numerous tips to the attention of many more knife fans.

Well written, thoughtfully composed, and highly informative. Efforts such as your article help make the Internet the true Gold Mine that it is.

My compliments.

Bob LaSalle

"ArmaLube ( The Mark"

February 21, 2003, 09:01 AM
To the knife sharpening thread we JUST went through.

It has all sorts of links within it to this FAQ in it's fancier form, plus a couple of other good sites, AND a good tool sharpening article that's very thorough, and makes a good companion to the FAQ.

There's also the Origin of Scary Sharp. :what:

Here's the link. (

My favorite line from the Ameritech sharpening site (
"The Secret of sharpening."

"If there is a "secret" in knife sharpening, this is it: Woodworkers write and publish more about sharpening and have more sharpening toys than knife makers and collectors. To learn more about sharpening, read Woodworking books and catalogs."

It does feel kind of nice having an entire site devoted to sharpening knives come out with a statement like that. I mean, I know that I know what I'm talking about, but it's nice getting deffered to by an Authority on the subject without even asking. :D

The oddest thing, however, is the lack of widespread sharpening knowledge in the woodworking INDUSTRY. A lot of the time, the guys don't even realize that a chisel is a precision cutting instrument capable of amazing things if properly sharp. They find out when I expose 'em to real edges, but at the same time they use mirror-finished tools to chop through nails! :what: Simply because it's what they used last time, even though they know it renders the chisel virtually useless.

I guess it goes hand in hand with the replacement of hand tools with power tools. If they can't use a machine, they haven't been trained. One foreman I worked with didn't even OWN a single hand-plane. Said he had no use for 'em. Of course, this guy was also a second-class woodhacker who produced sloppily-made goods. He didn't NEED precision cutting tools, because he didn't care about precision in his work. Net result? He got to make the cheap commercial-grade particle-board/laminate stuff, work he disliked, because he couldn't be relied on to make things that looked new. I got to make all of the heirloom-quality furniture-grade highest-end cabinetry, which is the work I like the best. No plastic for me! :D

A job worth doing is worth doing right. Knowing how to arrange for the right tools is part of the job. When they run right, it makes the tasks easier so they go quicker, which frees up time and effort that can be spent making sure the quality is the best it can be. (Just proves I'm lazy at heart. I HATE struggling at work, so I want it to go right the first time! ;))

Is there any other way to do things that lets you look in the Mirror? (

March 22, 2003, 11:48 PM
Great treatise on sharpening!

For a general purpose very small & light sharpener, I've found nothing better than the TriCeps Sharpener.

It's a bit of a pain to use on big knives, but I've been able to get a good edge on most any kind of pocket knife to medium size fixed blade knives.

I'm the resident "sharpness expert" for the people who know me, and at work, people will often bring their pocketknives by for sharpening. I used to have a bunch of sharpening equipment, but now I just use the TriCeps.

At home, I have an array of sharpening paraphernalia. That makes sharpening faster and easier, but not necessarily better!

June 24, 2004, 01:27 PM

link to additional sharpening sites

September 13, 2008, 10:41 AM
Well I came across this fairly interesting site and I thought I’d pass it on to you all… Steve’s Knife Sharpening (

Likewise, I have wanted one of these gadgets for years now (price was always the factor). Does anyone have one and, if so, your opinion please. (
Edge Pro (

June 23, 2009, 08:08 PM
Anyway I just thought someone might want to update this thread because most of the links are dead.
Amen I found most to be dead also.

December 13, 2009, 12:52 AM
For a razor sharp edge on almost any knife, from a 1" blade up to an 18" machete, I've found The Sharp Shop Machine to be the best portable machine. With a belt speed of less than 900 FPM, and a clamp to insure an accurate angle every time, it only takes a couple of knives to get the feel of the machine. You have to be real aggressive to take the temper out of a blade because of the lower belt speed. A dull belt is usually the culprit if you get a blade hot with this rig. I have sharpened knives that were said to be un-sharpenable. From High Carbon Steel to Damascus, and everywhere in between, I haven't found a knife that I couldn't sharpen to a razor edge with this machine. I use it at outdoor events that have no power available, with a 12 volt deep cycle battery & a 1200 watt inverter, I have more than enough power to operate the machine and run lights,a radio, and even a fan. You can get by with a 800 watt inverter, if all you need is to run the machine and maybe a light. This is just my opinion, but I encourage you to check it out at this link. Contact me if you have any questions.

April 27, 2010, 04:04 AM
Hand Rifle Guy i wish everyone i have had the displeasure of being employed with had the same work ethic as you do.

A job worth doing is worth doing right. Knowing how to arrange for the right tools is part of the job.

So true and So sad its almost forgotten.

May 29, 2010, 10:12 AM
My personal "equipment" and technique:

DMT Dia-Sharp, coarse grit (
Arkansas stone (****a-Arkansas-Stone--8-x-3-x-12.aspx) (Though you can use oil, I use water only)
6000 grit water stone (
12000 grit stone (
Filly strop (

The general technique for knives, whether on a multi-tool, fixed blade, or pocket folder, is to mimic the motion I make when I'm carving off a piece off the sharpening stone, but at a slightly shallower angle. Yes, the edge angle changes over the course of the stroke, but it works perfectly for me for everything I use knives for, from whittling to opening letters and packages to... whatever. Gives a more robust edge near the handle for chopping, and a thinner one at the edge for fine work.

The rule of thumb is "go until it feels consistent, and looks pretty."

If I'm re-setting a bevel or restoring an edge, I start out with the DMT. I also use the DMT to keep everything else flattened periodically. Stored with a thin coat of oil, it gets degreased (usually liquid dish soap) and a bit of water sprinkled on it periodically to clear away swarf particles.

Next is the AR stone, same technique and angle, sprinkling of water.

After that, the 6000 after it's been "prepped" by proper soaking and running the DMT over it a little to build up a slurry in a hurry (heh). For most of my larger knives, this is where I stop, since they don't really benefit from further honing for what I use them for.

Next is the 12000, which when used, takes some time since it's so fine and cuts so slowly. I often watch an episode of Firefly while using it (about 40min).

Lastly, if I'm in the mood, the strop. Rough side, back and forth, spine first, for a dozen or two strokes, followed by 6-12 more on the smooth.

For my straight razors, though, I generally adhere to this:

Hope someone finds all this useful. :)

I have yet to work out exactly what I'll do when (not if) I acquire a proper kukri. :uhoh:

Ruger Redhawk
January 14, 2011, 05:32 PM
I just bought one of these.

Pricey but does one fine job. You can find them on line for less then TruHones price. I bought the HD Commercial and it was 919.00 plus shipping.

January 18, 2011, 05:59 PM
ruger redhawk

You bought a $1000 knife sharpener?

January 18, 2011, 11:01 PM
Ruger Redhawk,

You're the first person I can recall having bought a commercial power sharpener for personal use.

January 19, 2011, 09:03 AM
i thought i ws getting crazy looking at a new smith's 3 stone sharpening deal

Ruger Redhawk
January 20, 2011, 10:18 PM
Yes I took a big plunge. I have a good friend who works for these people in Ocala FL. I somewhat have plans of opening a cutlery shop. I was going to open a gun shop until our wonderful president was elected.

I have sharpened several knives and this machine is unbelievable. In a minute you can have a razor sharp edge on it. I know it was a lot of money but I hope to make money with it soon. If not I'll never have a dull knife around the house. I already got the okay at our hunt club to sharpen knives for a couple dollars a blade.

I've only had it since Christmas but I'm getting the hang of it .

January 21, 2011, 06:50 PM
well good luck with your business venture! Got start some where:) sharpen a few blades a week start getting your name around never know hope it works out.

Ruger Redhawk
January 23, 2011, 11:13 PM
well good luck with your business venture! Got start some where:) sharpen a few blades a week start getting your name around never know hope it works out.
Thanks, Time will tell what I do. I'm disabled and I have to check into the legality of making extra money with my disability.

I sharpened one of my Buck 110's and I'm not real happy the way it came out. It's going to take practice. It's real good until I got by the bolsters. I think I tried to sharpen to far down.

Al Thompson
January 24, 2011, 09:36 PM
RR, good luck sir. Thought about gun shows?

January 24, 2011, 10:20 PM
I have both models of the Edge Pro, along trying many others. When all is said and done the Edge Pros are second to none.

Ruger Redhawk
January 27, 2011, 12:32 AM
RR, good luck sir. Thought about gun shows?
Thank You sir. Gun shows are a possibility. Thanks for the idea.

February 3, 2011, 06:31 PM
I was blown away by the fact your strop has grit in it! My grandpa stropped his razor each morning prior to shaving with a plain old leather strop. No grit etc. I use an old leather belt for mine with good success. Thanks for the info.

May 14, 2011, 02:31 PM
Ok so I have a question about sharpening. Which way do you stroke the blade against the stone? I made a quick diagram in paint.

Do you push toward A, pull down toward B, or pull toward C?

May 14, 2011, 02:41 PM
It doesn't really matter for the first stage when you're just getting the edge geometry right.

For the final stages when you're putting the finish on the edge and getting everything smooth, you want to apply lighter pressure, alternate sides of the blade with each stroke, and always move the blade along the stone in the same direction you would move the knife if you were cutting something.

May 14, 2011, 07:16 PM
So if that's the case, for the finishing edge the stroke would be taking the blade toward B correct or am I confusing myself?

May 15, 2011, 07:06 AM
You push the blade as if it were cutting a thin even piece of the stone off of the top of the stone.

You finish by stropping on as if you were wiping the edge off on a strop (leather, cardboard, Scotchbrite).

July 21, 2011, 08:14 AM
would anyone recommend a "system" or kit for sharpening? I've looked at the different hand sharpening kits and the various electric sharpeners. I would like to get something that can handle my hunting knives as well as my kitchen knives (since that's the justification I've given my wife for spending the $ :D)

Any thoughts/suggestions? Thanks.

July 22, 2011, 07:10 PM

The Apex works great. I actually have both models and have yet to see anything that comes close.

July 22, 2011, 07:30 PM
I bought the sharpmaker by spyderco with the same justification to my wife. The day after I received it she was upset because she cut herself. The kitchen knives went from so dull it would be difficult to cut yourself if you tried to hair shaving sharp. I am new at sharpening and the included dvd was very helpful.

July 25, 2011, 10:37 AM
So it seems that the general consensus is that hand sharpeners are the way to go. Does anyone have any experience with any of the electric sharpeners, other than the $1000 one that someone bought earlier in the thread?

July 25, 2011, 10:44 AM
Smiths and Chief Pro both work.

July 25, 2011, 10:50 AM
I will look into both.

Thanks HSO!

July 27, 2011, 08:21 AM
So, first let me acknowledge that I realize I'm a bit of a pain in the rear, but I really want to make an educated decision about a sharpener.

I got on Youtube and found a multitude of videos showcasing the Edge Pro Apex and the Spyderco Sharpmaker. They both look like great sharpeners that are relatively easy to use. Can anyone tell me the advantages of one over the other? Is there even any advantage to one as opposed to the other, or does it come down to preference?

July 27, 2011, 11:39 PM
The Edge Pro Apex looks like it will be easier to use/learn to use than the Spyderco Sharpmaker.

July 29, 2011, 02:40 AM
I have the Apex.

I like the way it allows the work to be held stationary for strokes from the stone, yet adjust the blade's position on the fly to keep the angle of attack constant.

I also like the variable bevel angle adjustment, as opposed to fixed angle steps used in some systems. This allows you to exactly match the factory bevel on any knife, or make "micro adjustments" to improve the bevel angle for specific suitabilities.

September 4, 2011, 09:16 AM
Can emery cloth be used to sharpen a blade? Will it put a usable edge on the blade or just a polished finish?

September 4, 2011, 01:21 PM
It will take a very long time to sharpen a blade using emery cloth if the blade is very dull. It will work fine to put a finished edge on a blade that's not really dull.

You'll need to glue or somehow attach the emery cloth to a flat backing and use it like you would a normal sharpening stone.

September 5, 2011, 09:36 AM
JohnKSa is correct ( of course, as always...)

Make your own emery sticks.

What I do is take a yard stick and cut it at 12". This gives me three sticks to work with.

I then take the 8 x 11 sheet of emery paper and emery side down, the eight inch side allows me a four inch "handle" if you will.

I carefully score the paper, then holding the paper tight I get the yard stick turned up to edge, and score again. Flat side again, score, edge again, score- repeat.

I want to keep a crisp, sharp edge of emery paper on edges/ sides of the emery stick.

I then use a stapler, opened up, so I can staple near the top and bottom of paper, on both sides. ( four staples). I then simply cover the staples with electrical tape so I will not damage edges if I hit the blade, or anything else I use these emery sticks for.

Some I do with only a wrap or two, others I wrap until thicker, or if you will "padded".

When a side is worn, or maybe damaged, I simply, carefully, remove it, leaving a new, fresh emery to use.

I like to have these in 400, 600 and 1500 grit. Now I free hand sharpen, and sometimes I will "strop" with the 1500 grit. My edges are my edges, and folks that have seen and used my knives understand I can sharpen. Still the 1500 grit does give a "polished" edge.

I just hope some of you that know me, and have used my knives, and seen how I do some of my free hand and stropping "don't tell all"

*boy-ain't- right*

(If that ain't a set up for hso and some others, I don't know what is)

Seriously though these emery sticks are very handy for a lot of other uses besides knives.


September 5, 2011, 11:55 AM
I was going to use paint stirrers and contact cement (stirrers are free at Home Depot; I spend enough there so I don't feel quilty about taking a couple). I can still use the stirrers and wrap and staple.

September 5, 2011, 12:30 PM
I've used glue and grit papers on steel as well as on 2x4s.

November 19, 2011, 03:36 PM
Thanks for making this a sticky. Always admired dad's sharpening skills, but I never really picked the skill up myself. This is going to be a big help.

Rowdy Raven
November 26, 2011, 08:00 AM
Hey, have any of you all ever used a Warthog sharpening device? Saw them at a gunshow and they seem to work very well. Price was around a $100.

November 26, 2011, 08:55 AM
A buddy of mine got a Warthog for fun (looks kinda Steam Punk). It works at putting a sharp edge on, but other systems have more versatility at a lower price.

November 26, 2011, 01:07 PM
Toilet tissue.

Some of the gals at work keep a roll in work areas, to use to blow their noses. One day the comment was made as "they must have gotten this new stuff, cheap, as it is so rough".

I made a smart aleck remark or two, and decided to strop a knife one of the gals has.

I swear this stuff is "rougher" than 800 grit emery paper! *eek*

November 30, 2011, 12:16 AM
slices news print without tearing it

November 30, 2011, 05:56 AM
I have 4 knives and a machete that I need to have sharpened. I am having a heck of a time finding a service locally. I have an electric sharpener for my cutlery, but my "tools" either don't fit or are too thick. I can usually maintain an edge, but it has been a long time, some of the edges have damage, and would like to have them sharpened properly. I had one knife done by a butcher, but excuse the pun, he butchered the blade. Took the temper right out of it.

November 30, 2011, 09:46 AM
Please note that is no longer a valid URL
Please change it to


Steve Bottorff

October 6, 2012, 04:47 PM
How to best communicate the idea of sharpening an (plain) edge?...

Imagine that you're viewing the edge of an improperly sharpened blade under 100x magnification. It looks like thousands of irregular micro-serrations, which catch and tear more than cut, and get easily worn off.

The goal is to smooth those out as much as possible.

In this way, properly sharpening is the same action as polishing -- in principle. And it's the reason that the sharpest edges are the shiniest: by refining the scratch-pattern; by using a series of abrasive surfaces in progressively finer grits to reduce surface irregularities to the lowest achievable micron- or even sub-micron levels.

I prefer the sandpaper method.
August 7, 2013, 03:08 PM
Lots of good info on sharpening in this thread. This is an area I need to get up to speed on. Now I have a lot of reading to do!

August 18, 2013, 01:16 AM
I use the Apex. It can make any edge razor sharp once you master it.
Recurves and daggers do take a LOT of practice. Hardest to master is dagger with very hard steel.

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