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Thread: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

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    Default Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    By "foolproof" I mean something that doesn't require a lot of skill on my part to hold the blade at the same angle over and over again. I don't sharpen my knives often enough to build the muscle memory needed to do that properly, so guided would be best.

    Other considerations are:

    1) I'm willing to spend a bit more to go electric, but manual's fine with me.

    2) I don't need to get them to "shave the hair on your arms" or "slice thin paper" sharp. Just basic sharp is good enough. If it can do better than that, then great.

    3) Ideally, it would be good for both pocket and kitchen knives, but pocket and general purpose outdoor knives (so, around 25*) is most important.

    4) My EDC knife (which goes in my pants coin pocket) is a teeny Opinel, with a 1.5" blade. Extra credit if the sharpener will also work on very small blades.

    Final comment: yesterday I spent about an hour online checking out all the options (Chef's Choice, Work Sharp Ken Onion, etc) but finally gave up due to the huge variety. I'm hoping that there will at least some consensus here on where I should head.

    TIA

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    Default Re: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    The Edge Pro is a good choice along these lines.
    https://www.edgeproinc.com
    Easy to use. Does a pretty good job.
    If you get one, be sure to get the ceramic hone, too.
    It is really a great way to keep knives sharp between sharpenings.
    Mark Walberg
    Building bike frames for fun since 1973.

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    Default Re: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    I like the Spyderco Sharpmaker. It's very simple to use, offers two different set angles and will do serrated blades. IMO it works well and is a good piece of gear.
    Eat one live toad first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you all day.

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    Default Re: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    These are the only two options worth considering. Both are simple, fully contained, and have proven designs. The edge pro is more guided and is better for kitchen knives, and the spyderco is the one to get if you have knives with concave shapes. Please don’t subject your blades to an electric machine.

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    Default Re: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    Find someone to do it for you. A good edge will last a while. Add a couple knives to your collection and you'll have enough to manage cutting jobs while others are "in the shop".

    Our local place actually accepts mail-ins. And they'll sell you a nice Kikuichi if you want.

    https://warrenkitchenandcutlery.com
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    Default Re: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    Ive been using a Lansky kit to sharpen my knives since 1988. It does everything, from my Wusthof kitchen stuff to my Victorinox tiny pocket knife. Very easy to use for a mere touch-up or a full blown edge restore. About $35.
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    Default Re: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Thompson View Post
    I’ve been using a Lansky kit to sharpen my knives since 1988.
    That's about the time my dad bought his. I'm now having flashbacks to him sitting on the fireplace hearth and sharpening his Buck folder, Gerber skinner, and Rapala filleting knives with that Lansky.

    I can't offer a recommendation. I've been very happy using ~1k and 5/6k Japanese stones on carbon blades and a Norton 8" 3-way for stainless. I admit I do not sharpen very short or highly irregular blades often. The Spyderco certainly seems to have a dedicated fanbase.

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    Default Re: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    Not sure if this hits your marks, but my wife worked at Crate & Barrel for a long time. As a result, we wound up with lots of Wstof knives in our kitchen, and a handheld Wstof sharpener to boot. It looks pretty much like this (though it's now NLA):

    https://www.wusthof.com/products/wus...ner-3059730101

    It seems to work well for our kitchen knives. I have an itty bitty Swiss Army knife (you know, the kind the TSA always confiscates). It sharpens that blade just fine.

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    Default Re: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    Mabouya, I really don't understand most of what you said. You don't sharpen your knives??? I thought it was on the core competency test I took when I joined the salon.

    Jokes aside, I have used something like the Wustof that smontanaro mentioned and think it does a decent job. You can get to shave your arms sharp if you want. If you never sharped your knives having a pro do it first then maintaining won't be hard. A pro that isn't going to use a machine of course.

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    Default Re: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    Quote Originally Posted by smontanaro View Post
    Not sure if this hits your marks, but my wife worked at Crate & Barrel for a long time. As a result, we wound up with lots of Wstof knives in our kitchen, and a handheld Wstof sharpener to boot. It looks pretty much like this (though it's now NLA):

    https://www.wusthof.com/products/wus...ner-3059730101

    It seems to work well for our kitchen knives. I have an itty bitty Swiss Army knife (you know, the kind the TSA always confiscates). It sharpens that blade just fine.
    Thanks for the suggestion - one of the things I'm trying to figure out is whether this type of sharpener (pull-through) does a decent job, and based your post, I'm thinking it does. (this type seems to me to be particularly simple to use - just draw the blade through a few times, and you're done)


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    Default Re: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    I've used ceramic rods (similar to what Choke said:Spyderco Sharpmaker) for years. So I'd start with that. then add this:


    https://www.knivesplus.com/KP-STROP8-STROPBLOCK.html

    Wow. A simple hand made in the USA product that has recently changed my knife-life.

    The strop is amazing, polishing edges to the level of sharpness that had always eluded me.

    Stropping can be used to keep a sharp blade sharp, without taking material away like other systems.

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    Default Re: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    Quote Originally Posted by Corso View Post
    I've used ceramic rods (similar to what Choke said:Spyderco Sharpmaker) for years. So I'd start with that. then add this:


    https://www.knivesplus.com/KP-STROP8-STROPBLOCK.html

    Wow. A simple hand made in the USA product that has recently changed my knife-life.

    The strop is amazing, polishing edges to the level of sharpness that had always eluded me.

    Stropping can be used to keep a sharp blade sharp, without taking material away like other systems.
    That’s actually really cool that they have a finished product like this. I had to buy leather strips and prep them myself. The only advantage being that I have a strop with 5 micron chromium for most things, and a strop prepped with 1 micron diamond compound for razors and my yanagiba.

    To OP: the pull through thing works to some extent. You won’t be matching your pocket knife angles in all likelihood and I’m not personally confident in its efficacy. But as the previous paragraph shows… I’m not the reference for “easy” or “mindless”.

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    Default Re: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    Well, I just spent some time on a few knife-enthusiast forums, and the bottom line is that for nearly all of those guys suggesting they use a pull-through sharpener would be like telling us here that a $100 Walmart bike really is the thing we should be using.

    So, I'm now reconsidering my previous requirements, and am leaning toward a Spyderco Sharpmaker. The main challenge with those is that one has to maintain the blade at a 90* angle relative to the work table, but I suppose it can't be that hard, if so many people are able to do it semi-competently.


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    Default Re: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    The Wustof pull through is fine. Fast and easy but will take forever to get your blades sharp the first time. Plus there is no setup. Pull out of the drawer, swipe a few times and you're set. I thought of them the same as the Walmart bike comparison but I've seen what they can do and gotten over it.

    I have the Spiderco and a round ceramic sharpener and find the round sticks much easier to use. It might be because I've been using the round ones since I was a kid but I think they are more forgiving to the left-right angle of the blade as you pull through.

    That link isn't to the one I have so if you choose that route do a little research. I have no idea what brand I have.

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    Default Re: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    Quote Originally Posted by Mabouya View Post
    Thanks for the suggestion - one of the things I'm trying to figure out is whether this type of sharpener (pull-through) does a decent job, and based your post, I'm thinking it does. (this type seems to me to be particularly simple to use - just draw the blade through a few times, and you're done)

    I have this very same Wusthof on my counter. I use it for quick touch-ups but it’s not really a sharpener in the sense that you’re looking for.

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    Default Re: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    I use on of these v-shaped sharpeners (originally got it due to America's Test Kitchen recommendation, IIRC) and my knives are 'shaving hair off my forearm' sharp after some basic honing. The key IMO is to learn to hone (angle, pressure, consistency across the blade), get a good one, and do it frequently before the edge totally disintegrates.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mabouya View Post
    Thanks for the suggestion - one of the things I'm trying to figure out is whether this type of sharpener (pull-through) does a decent job, and based your post, I'm thinking it does. (this type seems to me to be particularly simple to use - just draw the blade through a few times, and you're done)


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    Default Re: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    I'm a big fan of the work sharp sharpener. I have a spyderco and will take the time with my pocket folder, but struggled to maintain kitchen knives with the same care. I haven't pulled out the spyderco since having the work sharp. I bought my mom one to sharpen her kitchen knives and my brother (a bowhunter) has been 'borrowing' her work sharp for his broadheads instead of using his stones.

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    Default Re: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    Quote Originally Posted by 32x20 View Post
    I'm a big fan of the work sharp sharpener
    Which one? They make a whole bunch of different types.

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    Default Re: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    I think the Lansky system recommended upthread is a good one. Youtube channel ProjectFarm did a run through of a few sharpening systems not too long ago, and he had good things to say about it.


    I've been using Japanese water stones to sharpen my cooking knives and edc knives (and chisels and plane blades and...). I wouldn't say I'm very proficient at it, but the results are always satisfactory. But the whole kit is such a pain to break out that I find myself avoiding sharpening for too long and wishing for a quicker solution.

    I'm actually leaning towards something like the Razor Sharp Edge Making system, which is basically an mdf wheel impregnated silicone carbide grit and another with polishing compound which you install on a bench grinder (ideally a slower one). Looks pretty quick and easy. Clearly, I have no patience, ha.

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    Default Re: Looking for a relatively foolproof knife sharpener

    I have both a Spyderco Sharpmaker and a Work Sharp Precision Adjust (https://www.worksharptools.com/shop/...-adjust-elite/). I also have a variety of strops, though mostly just use a simple paddle strop with green compound unless I'm going for a crazy polished edge for shits and giggles. The strop is a critical tool to maintaining a good working edge so you don't have to sharpen as often.

    The Sharpmaker is great for touching up an edge or for use on really small or more complex grinds. Chris Reeve Knives, for examples, recommends a Sharpmaker for dealing with their hollow grind with convex bevel.

    The Work Sharp Precision Adjust gives you much of the benefit of more expensive systems for relative little money. I've been really happy with mine. I initially had the original one and recently upgraded to the Elite kit to get some additional grit stones. Tons of adjustability for angle and easy to use. It's far from fancy or pro-level, but gets the job done. Earlier this year I picked up a fairly expensive pocket knife with a fairly hard to sharpen steel (M390) and it was awesome in every way other than one important one. The blade was more of a wedge than a cutting tool. Pretty terrible considering the reputation of the maker. I put it on my Work Sharp and was able to get it hair popping sharp without too much hassle. It took some time, but the Work Sharp was up to the task. On easier to sharpen steels it works like a dream.
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