Is there a special technique to sharpening a tanto style blade?

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by myu, Jul 20, 2020.

  1. myu


    Feb 9, 2010
    I have a few knives with tanto style blades. One is very angular, with an obvious "V" shape at the "elbow" of the edge joining the two planes. When I hone that blade, I do each plane separately. On another knife I have it features a "curved" tanto blade, where the "elbow" is rounded off (SOG Vulcan Tanto). It's rounded enough that I can generally hone it with one long stroke each side, end to end.

    But the one Spyderco "tanto style" knife I own is a Vrango, where the "elbow" is slightly dropped. Despite being a strange shape I actually find it useful. The "dip" can easily handle slicing without tilting the knife. But, I'm a little unsure about how I should go about maintaining the edge. At this point, I've only done some gentle honing to the edge. And I've split it up into 2 steps, one for each plane (as I've done with the first knife mentioned). But I'm unsure of how I should deal with it when I'm ready for a sharpening stone. Should it be one long motion, requiring a "pivot" with the hand through the flow? Or should I focus on each plane of the blade separately?

  2. 115Italian


    Nov 13, 2015
    I would sharpen each edge separately. The long edge has slight recurve to it so go slow with it. It may give you trouble on a large stone.
  3. bgentry


    Aug 3, 2009
    I agree with "do them separately".

    Notice that the long portion of the blade is recurved. Meaning it has a concave shape from heel to tip. If you try to sharpen this part of the blade on a flat stone, you will notice that just the ends are touching the stone and that the middle is not. This is normal for this blade shape. It's weird and not super fun, but it's expected.

    To sharpen a recurved blade, you need a stone or stick that is narrow. Some people tilt the blade over to the corner of a flat stone and use just the corner to sharpen. This works, but I find it difficult to get my angle exactly right. Crock sticks, SharpMaker rods, or other similar tools work just fine too. If you want to keep the "tanto point" of that blade really pointy, make sure to stop at that point while the blade is still touching the rod or stone. You will probably have to go slow at the end of each stroke or you might slide off and over the point, which will round the point over after time.

    Now, notice that the front part of the blade is curved outward. So you'll want to sharpen this part of the blade with a flat stone (or similar). Making sure to rotate the blade as you move from one end to the other so that all parts of the curve contact the abrasive. If you don't, you probably won't get the ends sharp as they won't touch the stone unless you rotate the blade. See my Seven Secrets article for information on how to follow the curve of the blade. (and there are lots of other sources of information about this elsewhere)

    In my mind, this blade is very unusual in that it has a tanto point, a recurve, AND a continuous curve. It will require special attention as I have outlined above, if you want to maintain it's factory shape. It can certainly be done. It will just require care.

    Good luck.

  4. tommytman


    Aug 12, 2019
    That is a nice looking blade shape. It will take time to sharpen that one with all the different contours. I am only a beginner. I would send that out for sharpening unless I had all the stones to do it already or a guided set up with the stones for a recurve.

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