Help me choose a sharpener

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by araziza, Jun 16, 2020.

  1. araziza


    Aug 7, 2018
    I'm asking less of a 'which is best' and more of a 'which is best for me' here. I don't collect knives, I have a set few, one pocket knife (currently a CRKT Drifter, although I am about to upgrade to a knife with a much better steel- see my 'help me choose a knife' thread), a small SAK, and a blade or two on my leatherman charge. I want something that will let me maintain, and in a pinch repair these knives. I also want to be able to do some (not insignificant) repairs/ refurbishments on my old kitchen knives and maintain them afterwards.

    I've read about a ton of different systems, and my criteria is the following:
    - Easy/ Low learning curve. I'm not looking to become a guru, and I don't have enough knives to gain lots of experience in everyday use. Sharpening is a definite necessity, but not a hobby.
    - Relatively quick. I'm not looking at this as sharpening therapy. I'm willing to spend 15 minutes or so every week/ whenever necessary to maintain the few knives I use, and an hour or two when some TLC is necessary, but I'm not looking to sit for hours. If I was bored, there's a chance I'd experiment/ learn, and maybe one day try to figure out the higher sharpness levels and mirroring, but it's not my goal.
    - Cost conscious. I don't want to spend a fortune, but I want to make sure I have what I need. Sets like Edge Pro/ Wicked Edge/ KME are out of my budget, which I can stretch if necessary to around $200 CAD (approx $150 USD), but ideally would be below that .
    - Effective. I don't need a mirror finish, though it would be nice. I don't need hair popping, though it would be nice. I'm aiming for shaving sharp.

    I've done a decent chunk of research and narrowed it down to the following:
    1) Spyderco Sharpmaker +Diamond stones (approx $200 CAD): An obvious choice, dead simple, effective,and most importantly proven, but with the diamond rods it's at the very top of my budget. It also seems based on my research that even with the diamond, repairs/reprofiling is likely an unpleasant proposition.
    2)Work Sharp guided sharpening system + upgrade kit (approx $140 CAD): On paper this looks perfect. Has it all, diamond stones in multiple grits, ceramic rods, leather strop+ compound, parts can be used as a portable kit, system built to make the curve and tip easier, and comes out to under $140 CAD. Good for sharpening, reprofiling, any steel. But it doesn't have the sharpmaker's track record or reputation, and none of the reviews/videos I've seen had it do anything more impressive than shaving sharp (nothing hair popping, for example, and I don't see any mirror finishes). Also not sure how easy it would be for more curved blades (spyderco style). At the end of the day not completely confident based one what I've read.
    3) Work sharp angle sharpener KO ($94 CAD): functions like the sharpmaker, but MUCH cheaper and includes 2 diamond stone surfaces as well as a fine ceramic stone and rod. Can do multiple angles. Looks like a better value than the sharpmaker, but you can't use the stone edges, just the face, and I'm not sure how badly that hurts me (again, figure a spyderco curved blade, like the native or chaparral, and kitchen knives).
    4) Work Sharp Ken Onion edition (approx $230) CAD: Looks like the most capable system of the bunch, with the highest possibility of catastrophic failure. Expensive, but I could probably swallow the cost, and not sure how good a solution it would be for the knives I have. It seems like people who use it really like it and get mirrored, hair popping results, but needs the highest amount of practice.

    I'm open to suggestions. Please don't suggest bench/water stones, you're right, I might be able to learn them properly, but then again I might give up and never use them. They have the highest probability of buyers remorse. Please don't suggest more expensive options than the ones listed above. I'm currently leaning most heavily in favor of the first 2 options, but I'm in no way decided. Thanks!
  2. wade7575


    Apr 3, 2013
    About the cheapest guided system you buy is 179.99 and they are out of stock right now and that's the Vector,I did a review on it at the request of the maker who I know a bit and asked if I would review it and it's not a bad system.

    If I were you I would buy a Vector to start with and get stones later on as you can afford them,or if you don't mind using a table style system I would go on to Facebook and look in the knife and guided sharpening groups and look for someone selling an edge pro that has stones.

    If you email me at [email protected] I will connect with you on facebook and invite you to some groups,I have seen a lot of edge pro's for sale on those group's,if it were me and I had to choose a guided system I wouldn't go with the KME I had one for a few years and the biggest problems with the KME is the rubber pads they put on the jaws come off all the time and the stone selection sucks and it takes longer to sharpen a knife with 4 inch long stones.

    With you mentioning price's in Cad a lot I take it your from Canada where in Canada are you.
  3. araziza


    Aug 7, 2018
    In the greater toronto area (GTA)
  4. Eversion

    Eversion KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 9, 2020
    I'd recommend a Sharpmaker because it can sharpen anything if you put your mind to it. However, the diamond stones are way overpriced and aren't all that great anyway.

    I'd pair up a basic Sharpmaker for standard sharpening and maintenance, and a DMT fine diamond bench stone for more aggressive work.

    EDIT: Just read that you're not looking for benchers. My bad

    What I currently use is a basic Sharpmaker and a Lansky with the 5 stone set, with an additional extra course diamond stone and the sapphire stone. For your uses, the basic 3 stone set will suffice, with the additional extra course diamond stone for repair.

    The Sharpmaker is great for quick, easy maintenance, but the Lansky is capable of repair, as well as pulling off a wicked mirrored edge, with the right stones. The caveat is that the Lansky is fairly limited in the blade styles that it will effectively accommodate, but that's what I have the Sharpmaker for.

    With the basic Sharpmaker and Lansky, you'll have something more capable than the diamond Sharpmaker (in my opinion), at a lower or equal cost.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
  5. wade7575


    Apr 3, 2013
    If I were you honestly buy either the edge pro format stones you want first and free hand with them then get either a Vector or get a used edge pro,if you contact me threw FB if your on FB I will be more then happy to let you know of any sharpeners I see that are listed on any of the groups I'm in.
  6. Mr.Wizard


    Feb 28, 2015
    Although I have not used one the Work Sharp sounds perfect for you and there seem to be many people who are happy with it, especially the Ken Onion edition. As you have read even with the diamond rods the Sharpmaker will be really slow for repairs.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
  7. 000Robert

    000Robert Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 28, 2020
    Wicked Edge all the way!
    kylemiller likes this.
  8. CanadaKnifeGuy


    Jan 27, 2019
    I use a worksharp belt sharpener for bushcraft and most fixed blades including kitchen knives).

    I JUST got the Ken Onion Worksharp angle sharpener yesterday, but haven't even opened it yet.

    I got it for folding knives with acute angles (30°or 35° total) on victorinox knives and tough to sharpen supersteel folders (diamond stones).

    I have a sharpmaker, but it only allows for a couple of angles and I find it's really only good for maintaining an already decently sharp blade.

    I still like the triangle stones for sharpening my serrated H1 salts though.

    I also REALLY love to maintain my knives almost exclusively with a leather strop and green compound. has a good paddle strop for about $35. Beavercraft or something like that.
  9. araziza


    Aug 7, 2018
    How do you find the work sharp in terms of ease, effectiveness and learning curve?
  10. DaveDM


    Dec 21, 2017
    Amongst the budget sharpeners, there is one called MadEdge sharpener. It has one variant with in-built angle measurements. IIRC costs the same as Vector.
  11. wade7575


    Apr 3, 2013
    The sharp maker is a very easy to learn system and the biggest learning curve of it won't be in a way that you would think,the biggest learning curve will be muscle memory and also concentrating on keeping your hand very steady,the other big thing is to make sure the knife is always straight up and down and not leaning a bit off center,if you get a sharp maker and have different super steels like S30V S90V M390 M4 and S110V or plan on getting those steel's then for sure get the CBN rod's if you get a sharp maker.

    Also if you pick up a sharp maker and get the CBN rods as well to avoid damaging them don't use a ton of pressure when sharpening with them,use just a bit of pressure and not very much until metal comes off.

    But the most important thing with a sharp maker will be keeping the knife straight up and down and also sharpening a bunch of knives for the first week or or more to help build muscle memory,you will still get respectable edge's from a sharp maker but a guided system will give you the sharpest result's for sure hands down.

    Watch this video on the sharp maker it's the dvd video you get with it.

    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
  12. araziza


    Aug 7, 2018
    I was more asking about the work sharp, but I appreciate the help all the same, thanks!
  13. 000Robert

    000Robert Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 28, 2020
    I have the Work Sharp Ken Onion(WSKO) with the grinding attachment also. I love it. It just takes a little time to get used to it like anything else. I think that it is pretty simple to use. I use it for convex edges and I use my Wicked Edge(WE) for flat edges.
    You can also use the WE for convex edges, but I have the WSKO, so why not use it? The WSKO is also faster for convex edges. Of course since the WSKO uses belts, you want to be careful and not take more steel off of your blades than necessary.
  14. tueller

    tueller Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 16, 2012
    Basic sharpmaker and save the rest of your money.

    if that doesn’t create a sharp enough edge for you, buy some strop compound and cut up an old leather belt.

    after sharpmaker process, strop with Some green compound. Stropping is extremely easy and if you have trouble with the angles u can put the leather over the sharpmaker stones and utilize the same angles.
  15. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    Consider freehand sharpening. A set of DMTs and an angle guide will last for decades. Much more versatile than the various kits IMHO.
  16. 000Robert

    000Robert Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 28, 2020
    True. But that takes a lot longer. Nearly every blade I see needs to be reprofiled the first time that I sharpen it. My back doesn't want to spend all day on the sharpening stone. Plus I'm getting older and having arthritis issues.
  17. araziza


    Aug 7, 2018
    Thinking of this, but it doesn’t fix my kitchen knife dilemma. They’re 10 years old, dull, chipped, and if I’m already buying a solution for my couple of EDC blades, I feel like I should be thinking of this as well.
    Mr.Wizard and 000Robert like this.
  18. tueller

    tueller Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 16, 2012
    I use my sharpmaker on my kitchen knives including the Becker kitchen series. The wife hasn’t complained yet... and that is rare :)
  19. Barmaley


    Dec 31, 2016
    Nobody mentioned Ruixin Pro. Is it that bad?
  20. 000Robert

    000Robert Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 28, 2020
    I have already got in trouble once today, so I will not comment...;)
    Mr.Wizard likes this.

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