Knife Sharpening?


January 9, 2003, 11:00 PM
What do you prefer to use to keep your knife sharp and why. Electric or manual? What material, ceramic, stone, diamond?
Thanks in advance.

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Charles S
January 9, 2003, 11:18 PM
I keep my knives razor sharp, well really they shave without any real presure. The spyderco sharpmaker is the only way to go.

This is a ruby ceramic system with 400 and 600 grit....I think.

Just my 2 cents.


Navy joe
January 9, 2003, 11:31 PM
d. all of the above.

There are electric knife sharpeners? Well, there shouldn't be! :cuss:

-Lansky mostly diamond and superfine stones unless repairing someone else's mess.

-Several DMT diamond sticks.

-Last favorite was the ceramic core of a fish tank heater until I dropped it.

-Bottom of coffee cup. Do it near every day. Check for coffee first.

-Dad has a DMT impregnated diamond wheel on a bench grinder. :evil:

-Side of boot, denim jeans, leather sheath or any other strop I see.

-Butcher's steel too at times.

As you can tell, I like my knives.

January 10, 2003, 01:12 AM
Razor sharp, but as my collection has grown I have less and less time to keep them that way. :( I use a couple of Arkansas stones, and a double sided strop. One side bare the other loaded. Works pretty darn good for me.

January 10, 2003, 01:19 AM
Never power driven here.

Manual with India stones
Ceramic (sticks, coffee cup...)

( Arkansas Stones are fine, just use to sharpen gravers and would 'groove' easy with these tools, used the black one (surgical) for testing gold)
had a bunch of high dollar ruby, sapphire and diamond stuff to sharpen with, just stayed with India.

January 10, 2003, 10:28 AM
I just got a Lansky sharpening system as a Christmas gift (what a wife!) but haven't used it yet. Looks like a good basic setup

Not to hijack the thread, but what sharpening angle do you experts use for your utility/hunting/defense knives? Examples of what I'll be sharpening: Benchmade AFCK (ATS-34), CRKT Polkowski/Kasper Companion, Cold Steel Recon Tanto, wife's Kershaw Scallion, Spanish FR-8 bayonet.

January 10, 2003, 10:33 AM
The aluminum oxide waterstones from Edgepro work pretty well. I also heard several good things about the Sharpmaker.

January 10, 2003, 10:57 AM
The Lansky sharpeners with the angle bracket thingee work great if you don't have much practice holding the angle steady.

Mostly now I use the folding diamond sticks. The two sided one takes up almost no room when packing. I like them enough I might get one of the large diamond bench stones.

Don Gwinn
January 10, 2003, 11:32 AM
I think I used to use the 30-degree angle on the Lansky. It's very consistent, but I think it's been worth it to learn to sharpen freehand. All you really have to do is do it a lot.

The narrower angles on the Lansky are a waste of time for all but very thin, delicate blades like filet knives. The bigger angles are quicker and will still be a good start toward a shaving edge. They almost always leave a wire edge, though, so a strop, a crock stick or both will still help.

January 10, 2003, 11:44 AM
Don Gwinn
Since Tamara said your the one in the know...
25-30 degree angle with an India stone is what I generally hone, then in lieu of strop a few passes on a ceramic or steel seems to give good service. Touch ups with a ceramic or steel usualy keep me in good shape.
Fillet knives I use 15 degree.

The former holds an edge longer , the later dulls quicker. Is this practice still about what's recommened or do I need to change my method I have used all these years.

Chris Rhines
January 10, 2003, 01:00 PM
I seem to be unable to manually sharpen knives. I've tried DMT and EZ-Lap diamond stones and Japanese waterstones, all with disapointing results.

Usually I take my knive to the Indy 1500, there's a guy there with an EdgePro Apex who'll sharpen them for a buck. As soon as I can afford it, I'll have one of my own.

- Chris

Joe Demko
January 10, 2003, 01:55 PM
I have an old Spyderco Triangle sharpener that I use. Even though I have the knack of being able to sharpen with a plain old whetstone, the Triangle does such a great job that I use it exclusively these days.

January 10, 2003, 02:11 PM
I second the vote for the Spyderco Sharpmaker.

It used to take ma an average 15 min. to sharpen 1 knife using stones,

It takes a maximum of 5 min. to go from butter knife dull to razor sharp. Getting the proper angle is a snap as the angle is preset.

January 10, 2003, 05:14 PM
What's a wire edge ?

January 10, 2003, 05:28 PM
Sharpmaker here.

If you want to learn about sharpening, visit BladForums and poke around for a bit. There are guys there who are waaaaay too into it. :)

- Gabe

Ron L
January 10, 2003, 05:58 PM
I've used a Lansky for the past several years and I've been pretty satisfied with it. For my pocket folders and my skinner, I generally use a 20-25 degree angle and for my other fixed blades, generally a 30 degree angle for more durability.

Gila Jorge
January 10, 2003, 06:10 PM
I use Scary Sharp techinique just as I use on my wood chisels....somtime stones if real bad. Scary sharp on glass and I can shave with the results.

January 10, 2003, 06:45 PM
Lansky's and Sharpmakers are pretty good. The Edge Pro Apex is rediculously good. If you like, do an internet search and any questions can be answered by Ben at Edge Pro. It allows me to get knives about as sharp as can be humanly gotten.
A wire edge is the burr that can appear on the opposite side sharpened. It's eliminated by gently putting the finishing touches on each side switching back and forth until the burr (or wire edge) is gone. Not a biggie at all.

January 10, 2003, 06:51 PM
More than you ever wanted to know about sharpening -

Sharpening for technogeeks -

All around good sharpening site -

What do I use? SharpMaker for quick sharpening. Various flat ceramics and diamond for more detailed or rougher work. Strop to finish.

January 10, 2003, 07:00 PM
What do I use?

You liar. You use rennaissancemann, same as the rest of us around here...

"Oh, boy! Come here, boy! My knife needs sharpening."

;) :D

Navy joe
January 11, 2003, 08:35 AM
What's a wire edge ?

As you sharpen one side of the blade some of the metal will roll over the edge to the opposite side rather than being ground off. Usually to small to see, it's the finest part of the edge folded over. I can usually feel one with my fingers. It's best to alternate sides for each stroke and use lighter pressure and finer stones as you get the blade close. A few passes on a leather strop will clear the wire edge. If you leave it there the edge may feel grabbier. Some people think this is sharp since they can feel it, but it doesn't cut worth spit. Keep the angle consistent, remember that you can't easily replace removed metal, and keep on practicing. If it doesn't lift hair it's not sharp. Try some more.

Byron Quick
January 11, 2003, 02:25 PM
I used long Arkansas stones of various grit for years with a leather strop. For the past three years I have used the Spyderco Sharpmaker exclusively.

January 11, 2003, 05:11 PM
Of course I have Ren do it when he's around! You don't think I'd dirty my hands (said with the same tone as the "royal We") and muss my manicure if'n the other hands (said with a SW cattle baron drawl) are around?

deputy tom
January 12, 2003, 08:40 PM

deputy tom
January 12, 2003, 08:50 PM
For fixing up a real mess...Norton Benchstone and oil free hand

For periodic (monthly) sharpening...Spyderco Triangle Sharpmaker

For daily touch ups...An old Butchers steel

For packing...diamond folding sharpener

For quick touch ups at work/field...strop on legal pad cardboard



January 13, 2003, 11:16 AM
What is the Scary Sharp techinique ?

January 13, 2003, 10:13 PM
I checked out the threads on bladeforums. There is a wealth of info there. I think Im going to go with the Spyderco Sharpmaker while I keep on practicing hand stones. Thanks for all the info.

January 13, 2003, 11:32 PM
Never used an electric sharpener though my grandmothers canopener had one on the back. :eek:

I was tought the 'old school' method of using two or three stones. With oil (or saliva during the oil crisis :p ). I used to sharpen knives for several restaurants here in Indy and I always used the first diamond sharpener I ever bought with a checkered brass handle. Think I paid $20 or $30 for it. It has sharpened hundreds of knives and is still getting better. For routine sharpening, about 8 strokes on each side at the right angle gets them sharp enough for most folks. For a really dull knife, I've never spend more than about 5 minutes on one. Just bought another M7 bayonet and in about 2 minutes it was sharp as most new knives.

I did pick up a $8 cheapie diamond sharpener last year. It has an oval shape and if you hold it just right, you can sharpen many serrated knives. Assuming you have a serrated knife that's worth your time.

Navy joe
January 13, 2003, 11:58 PM
5 min? I bought a tenderly loved M-9 bayo and spent a week with it, ended up redoing the whole angle of the blade. Quite possibly the sharpest knife I own now. I dunno what the GI did to break chunks out of the edge, I can't even make it dull. Soldierproof?

January 21, 2003, 12:09 PM
I use to think I sucked at knife sharpening; until I bought a new stone. Don't know what it is, but it's brick colored, very fine grit, looks like ruby to me; japanese, and about 6x the price of the regular sharpening stones. The guy was a 3rd generation knife maker, one of the finest in Taiwan; and he said this is what he used...

I can sharpen my knives to the point they split hair and slice paper thinner than my hairs... SHARP!! I love it!

and it sharpens quickly too! about 50% faster then the regular stones, and very consistant..

After my "thief" encounter, I sharpened every knife in the house the following day...

January 21, 2003, 02:14 PM
Edit: Ok, I did a little research. This amounts to a short explanation of the sharpening method referred to as "Scary Sharp." I do it freehand, but I've had a lot of practice.

Suffice it to say, the results are.

Me? I'm a professional woodworker. I do Sharp Steel for a living. Dull tools are irritating, and slow down work. I've got sharpening down to a surprisingly simple science.

1.) Restore geometry: Not always needed. Chisels that got used as floor scrapers need re-grinding. A grinder, or a belt sander, to re-establish a 25-degree working edge. Don't screw up, or you dig holes. Keep it cool enough to touch, ALWAYS.

Used to swear by diamond stones. Now I don't bother. A flat piece of particle board, or better yet MDF (Medium-Density Fiberboard, which is just high-grade particle board made of finer dust.) which has a hard, flat surface. Plastic laminate surfaces work OK too. Over this I run:

2.) 180-220-280, whatever's lying around, to remove grinder marks and flatten bevels. Quick and dirty. Lean on the steel hard enough to raise a sweat. Followed by:

3.) 400-600 silicon carbide wet-or-dry, run dry, to initially polish working surfaces, both the bevel and the flat. Push hard, until the paper stops cutting fast. The steel slides over the paper when it's consistent, drags while it's still cleaning up the rough stuff. Last is:

4.) 1500 silicon carbide wet-or-dry. This is the stuff you get at hardware stores and auto supply places for wet-sanding auto lacquers. I run it dry, and it feels like the 600. It drags until it's done, whereupon it slides. I always push the edge into the paper, as chisels have no use for wire edges. This stuff gets me a mirror finish on all working surfaces. The last few strokes are with the bevel elevated a couple of degrees to dress the very edge. A messy step, as black stuff covers your fingers. Wash hands before touching bare wood, or stains result. Yuch.

That's it. The resulting edge can be used to shave with. 1000 grit will work in a pinch, 2000 grit takes too long for the results to justify the time-I've got work to do. I can restore a trashed edge in about 15 minutes, and dress up a lightly dinked edge in just a few. I usually will run a sharp chisel a couple of strokes on the 1500 before I use it, but not always. Planes get run down a bit more before getting restored as they have to be reset to run right, which takes a few minutes to get the adjustments dialed.

A piece of 1500 will last a LONG time. It gets loaded, but it can be cleaned off with a damp cloth in a heartbeat. Once dry, it's back in business. I never run it wet, as it's prone to getting hooked on the cutting edge and sliced.

I've tried just about every sharpening system around-diamonds, waterstones, oilstones, Arkansaw stones hard, soft, and black, ceramics, strops, jeweler's rouge, buffing wheels, the works. I find that three grits of sandpaper do the job better than most other systems, at considerably less expense, with less effort and time. A sleeve of 1500-grit wet-or-dry costs $21, and I've used about 10 sheets over the course of five years keeping shops full of tools sharp enough to amaze all the people I worked with, who for some reason failed to grasp how much easier it is to do good work with sharp tools. At least, until they started using the chisels and planes that I restored from floor-scraper status. Woodworkers get sold on long ribbons of maple thin enough to read through.

This is the same technique I use on knives. I stuck a full sheet of 1500 to an appropriately-sized piece of laminate-faced particle board with spray-glue. This has sufficed for all of my knife-sharpening needs for a couple of years, now. I've wiped it off once. My knife edges always have a mirror-finish, and they hold up while the blades shave aluminum. (Good steel helps!)

It is worth noting that I personally have no use for serrated edges. Flat boards don't work to well on those, but that's academic to me. You try whittling or carving with one of those silly sawblades, I don't care how sharp it is. They interfere with what I need knives to do, and a properly sharpened 25-degree flat-ground straight-edge will do everything a serrated one can. Mind you, if I'm needing to saw something, I go get a saw. Have the right tools for the task at hand, and all that stuff.

I keep a 600-grit diamond stone handy for when I have to make emergency field repairs. Those DMT waterstones can really take a lot of metal off in a hurry if you lean on them. But I'd be LOST without a couple of pieces of 1500 around for the final polish. It makes all the difference. 600 grit simply isn't NEARLY fine enough for a working edge.

Not for me, anyhow. And I use those edges every day. :D

January 23, 2003, 01:39 PM
Thanks for the reply. I have tried paper on a good flat surface, but never found a good way of glueing it down. I'll try that.

January 24, 2003, 01:04 AM
I use the Smiths Tri-Hone, it has 2 Arkansa stones fine, medium and an aluminum oxide stone. I use 3 in 1 oil for lube. This works wonders for a extremely sharp edge.

Check out: for all your knife info. and needs.

ColdSteel rule!

January 24, 2003, 01:39 AM
Spyderco Sharpmaker gets all my knives shaving sharp.

January 24, 2003, 12:18 PM
A fine whetstone, some gun oil, a kitchen steel and one of those cheap scissors sharpeners are my current tools. Nothing fancy.

January 25, 2003, 09:22 PM
An old, old old carburundum (sp) stone my Dad gave me recently, along with a Lansky kit, and several various other stones including 20+ year old Buck set. I usually finish up with a leather strap just like the barber used to do.

But I don't take it as seriously as some of you folks.

January 31, 2003, 05:21 PM
Sharpening updates:

A definitive sharpening link. This is all about woodworking tools, but it can be extended to knives. VERY thorough. One of the best treatises on sharpening without buying a book on the subject. Link:

The Origin of Scary Sharp. Where it all comes from. Interestingly, I figured this technique out before I even had net access just by stumbling on a piece of 1000-grit paper. Before that, it was waterstones, which cost a bunch and require maintenance. A fun read. This is posted in a bunch of spots on the net, but this is the first one that came up on the Yahoo search engine. Link:

FWIW, I do this without spray glue now, just 1/4 sheets of paper, held loose. Lots of practice, again. I conclude that it's the best method I've found, and by far the cheapest.

Inspector Callahan
February 5, 2003, 11:16 AM
I use the Spyderco Sharpmaker almost exclusively nowadays. My Lansky just sits around unused unless I need to completely reprofile a blade. I could, of course, use the Sharpmaker's diamond triangle rods for reprofiling jobs but I'm too cheap to buy them right now.

February 5, 2003, 11:55 AM
30 degree

February 5, 2003, 06:01 PM
To get a really keen edge do the following.

Go to your local saddle maker and get a scrap of saddle leather.

Cut it into a strip about an inch and a half wide however long you want. Glue to a board of the same dimensions with the flesh (rough) side up. Go by your local Tandy Leathercraft store and buy a stick of Jewlers Rouge. (about $0.50) rub the rouge into the leather and strop the knife after using yor stones to shape the edge.

Best edge finisher there is.

February 7, 2003, 08:23 PM
I only use Arkansas stones. I have a very old set of butchers stones, the old oil bath type. My knives keep a very sharp, but workable edge. I like a good steel for touch up work.

In one of my 'former lives', I part owned and managed a wholesale fish house. Sharpening the knives was a daily chore for years. I darn sure learned how to do it.

December 17, 2003, 07:11 PM
Hi Guys,
I'm reading about this scary sharp method and have some questions about it. I understand (or at least I think I do) how it is done to a flat blade of a planer, but how do you apply this method to a curved blade of a pocket knife?

Specifically, how do you draw the blad over the sandpaper while retaining the proper angle?



December 21, 2003, 07:51 PM
I use an EdgePro Professional. I like it because it is easy to put multiple bevels on the cutting edge without removing any more metal than necessary. It isn't cheap, but it is a very exacting method to sharpening a knife. Since I'm anal retentive by nature, I like it.

For serrated blades I have a Spyderco Triangle that I've had for maybe 16 years now.

December 21, 2003, 08:22 PM

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Hot brass
January 11, 2004, 08:50 AM
I use the Spyderco sharpmaker now, and the Lansky is parked.

January 22, 2004, 08:22 PM
Just got a Spyderco Sharpmaker- totally impressed. Easy instructions, quick set up and take down, using this with my Gatco for a very sharp blade.

January 23, 2004, 02:04 PM
I have a couple DMT sharpeners that I use when the edges are really, really bad. If they are too banged up, I use 220 grit belt on a 4x36 belt grinder.

Otherwise, I use the red ceramic stones that come with the Spyderco Sharpmaker for touching up a worn edge on. Sometimes I go to the white, but usually the red is sufficient for a semi-toothy edge which one can shave with.

I used the Sharpmaker system for a while but just went to freehand when it became too much of a PITA. I prefer sharpening freehand and am getting better at feeling the bevel connect with the stone to make a good edge.

April 6, 2004, 02:42 PM
is there a certain material that you can cut as a test?? I ask because stabbing plywood is kind of easy to do even with a so-so sharp there any around the house material that I can stab and know for sure that my blade is sharp enough for SD use???

Thanks a lot in advance


April 6, 2004, 03:04 PM
is there a certain material that you can cut as a test??

The flesh on your arm? NO, just kidding.

You don't stab to test the sharpness, you cut. Some people test on newspaper, some shave the hairs off their...ummm, arms. :)

I guess you could take a nice rump roast and test the blades flesh cutting potential there. Wrap it in an old shirt first.



April 7, 2004, 10:57 AM
hmm...sounds good...meat in an old t shirt...great idea (how couldnĀ“t I thnk of that??)


April 9, 2004, 02:00 PM
I use electric tools....but not what you're thinking.... I use a 1x42 belt sander. Works like a charm and got me started into making knives.

Re: test materials

Paper. Hold a piece of paper by the corner in one hand and cut it at a 45 degree angle with the knife in the other hand. If it "glances" and doesn't "catch", needs some sharpening on the stone. If it grabs and cuts, but actually "rips" more than it cuts....needs time on the strop. A well-sharpened, polished edge should slice right through it like this:

As you can see, it doesn't matter how thick the edge is, as long as it's well-stropped.

If you're crazy (like me :D) just pick up a large triangle shipping box and give it a whack....

You can certainly get sharper edges, but I like mine to stay sharp, so I don't go too fine on the edge. Gotta keep some toughness...


April 11, 2004, 08:14 PM
I use a Lansky sharpening system with super coarse to fine stones. I'm gonna get a extra fine soon. Never has any problems with it, but if I didn't have the C-clamp I don't know that I would like it so much. I sharpen at a 25 degree angle on my carry knives and as far as "wire edges" if I just lay the stone on the side of the blade with the roll over on the last stroke and just push it with little to no pressure added then it takes the "wire edge" off.

June 26, 2010, 10:32 PM
how can you tell when your knife is really sharp?? I learned this way . . .

* First, do a visual inspection. Hold the blade in a strong light, such that the light should reflect off the blade's edge. If you see bright reflections anywhere, that means it needs a touch-up (or more).

* Run your finger across the blade (not along it) from the back to the edge. You should feel nothing scratchy at all. Best way to find wire edges, as the blade will feel smooth on one side and scratchy on the other.

* Draw the blade edge lightly across a fingernail with a tiny amount of side pressure. If it's dull, it will skid across the nail instead of biting in.

Matt Dillon
August 4, 2010, 07:01 PM
I like using cardboard wheels, bu I also use a 1x30" belt sander with a leather belt and green chromium oxide for stropping. I also have a Tormek Harbor freight knock off that does a pretty good job on chisels and such.

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