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Quick question about Sharpmaker

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Jason Paul, Nov 25, 2020.

  1. Jason Paul

    Jason Paul

    Nov 11, 2020
    I'm new here and new to knives in general - started getting interested and shopping around this past summer I guess; and got my first "real" knives about three months ago.

    I've also been looking into sharpening, and will probably go with a Sharpmaker. I have a lot going on in life, and just don't want to try to take on learning freehand sharpening right now, despite its benefits.

    So I have a quick question about the Sharpmaker. From the instructional video on YouTube, Sal says to use the 15dps angle first, then move to 20dps.

    With this, are you essentially reprofiling the edge to 15dps with a 20dps microbevel? And theoretically, you'd be doing this to every knife you sharpen on it, correct?

    I'm asking because I see people commenting that they sharpen freehand (or use an angle-guided system), but use the Sharpmaker for touch-ups and maintenance. Does this mean they use the same 15dps / 20dps angles in their regular sharpening too?
    Smaug likes this.
  2. Blues

    Blues Lapsed SuperMod / Cattle Knife Rustler Staff Member Super Mod

    Oct 2, 1998
    Welcome to the forums.

    I wouldn't necessarily follow the advice to start off with the 15 dps (as much as I respect Sal).

    It really depends upon how you intend to use your knives, whether the knife, as delivered, has an included angle which is acceptable but only needs refining, etc.

    On a Sharpmaker, for the 20 dps to work, the angle of the bevel must be 20 degrees or less. For the 15 dps to work, the bevel angle must be 15 degrees or less.

    (By work, I mean to hone the edge. Obviously it will remove steel above the edge if the angle is more obtuse.)

    You can bring down the angle on the bevel by using something more aggressive than the Sharpmaker rods, diamond, SiC, or India, water stones, etc...or...you can take more time just using the Sharpmaker rods or their own diamond / cubic boron nitride rods which are available for purchase separately.

    Really depends upon what your goal is, the steel involved, and the time you are willing to put in bringing the edge bevel down to 20 degrees or 15 degrees (if desired).

    If you use another more aggressive hone, you don't need for it to be perfect, just pretty symmetrical side to side before finishing on the Sharpmaker. I don't worry about the actual angle reading...only that it is low enough for the Sharpmaker to hone the edge (at whichever setting, 15 or 20), rather than higher up the bevel toward the shoulder.

    Anyway, ask away and we'll provide you with the answers you seek.

    Maybe you can let us know what knives / steels you intend working on?
    Smaug likes this.
  3. Jason Paul

    Jason Paul

    Nov 11, 2020
    Thanks for the explanation & details; sounds like I should skip the 15dps step for now I guess. I've been reading & watching YouTube videos as well.

    My pocket knives are OK for now - still pretty new and don't get much real use. I have a Sage 5 LW in S30V, and a RAT 2 and QSP Penguin both in D2.

    I would probably want to use it on some kitchen knives and maybe scissors. I don't know what kind of steel the kitchen knives are though. We have a block set of Henckels; their "International" line or whatever they call it; the whole set was $165.00 I think, not super-expensive. I believe it only says "German Stainless Steel" or something similarly generic sounding.
  4. Blues

    Blues Lapsed SuperMod / Cattle Knife Rustler Staff Member Super Mod

    Oct 2, 1998
    You're very welcome.

    Your S30V and D2 blades will be more wear resistant, (and higher Rockwell), than your kitchen knives, and will be more work in general if you let them dull much.

    Get into a pattern of frequent, light touch-ups and you should be good to go. Just a few licks on the Sharpmaker will keep 'em running.

    Down the road, if you can afford to do so, I'd recommend expanding your Sharpmaker with a diamond hone. If you don't mind learning to freehand, a bench stone would be preferable, but otherwise you could make do with the diamond or cubic boron nitride rods from Spyderco as mentioned above.

    The kitchen knives should respond nicely to the brown rods of the Sharpmaker. I don't think you'd even need to bother with the white, imho. (I don't these days.) A little bit coarser edge is a good thing.
    Smaug and rpttrsn like this.
  5. rpttrsn

    rpttrsn Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 1, 2006
    Not mentioned in this post, but it's always good to mark your edge with a sharpie to see where you are making contact on the blade. Even the Sharpmaker takes a bit of getting use to and acquiring muscle memory so you repeat every stroke.
    You started with a good sharpener for your needs.
    Smaug and Blues like this.
  6. maximus83

    maximus83 Basic Member Basic Member

    Nov 7, 2011
    Some additional tips about using SM that are not spelled out in Sal's product videos, and I see tons of people missing these details. Some key things he includes:

    Spyderco Sharpmaker Tips and Tricks - YouTube

    * How to speed up the process of reprofiling edges with the SM. Very few SM users that I observe seem to understand this tip, but it's a huge time-saver. You can scrub up/down on a Sharpmaker stone just like you can on a freehand stone. If you do down strokes only with those tiny skinny stones, you'll be there all day, and part of the next, just to reprofile the edge on a folder.
    * How to avoid messing up the angle of your edge on the belly and tip of the blade. Many people make the mistake of trying to angle the handle left or right as they get to the belly and tip; this is a big mistake, don't do it! Instead, simply tip the handle up as you get to the belly and tip, this will maximize surface area contact between the stone and your edge while grinding the belly and tip, and it will avoid messing up your edge angle.
    3fifty7, Smaug and comis like this.
  7. mparker


    Mar 11, 2012
    Take a look at the Lanky stuff too. I went from a SM to Lansky. It is very budget friendly and offers many stone options. My favorite is the Super Sapphire (2000 grit) and the leather strop.
  8. comis

    comis Gold Member Gold Member

    May 17, 2013
    That's a great tip right there. I have seen many youtubers making the mistake of grinding up and down the stones, while maintaining the knife horizontal the whole time. The horizontal position is fine so as long you are only sharpening the flat part of the blade, but sharpening the tip horizontally would eventually ruin the bevel up at the tip, or even dull the tip if you are not careful where to stop. In fact, the butt of the knife handle should be lifted up as you approach the very tip of the blade, it is synonym to people lifting the handle when they are free hand sharpening on a bench stone.
  9. Smaug

    Smaug Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 30, 2003
    REALLY good advice from Blues.
    I still hone the edge with the white rods. The gray/brown (medium) rods do the sharpening, and the white takes the "teeth" off the edge, which makes the edge more durable.
    Blues likes this.
  10. Smaug

    Smaug Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 30, 2003
    If you go Lansky, don't bother with the basic and deluxe sets. Go right to diamond.
    I found that the Lansky clamp doesn't clamp full flat ground blades very well though.
    Sharpmaker is perfect for kitchen knives and maintaining the cutting edge on your pocket knives.

    For "real" sharpening, you'll want something more aggressive, like a Ken Onion Work Sharp. (KOWS)
  11. hfrog355


    Apr 11, 2014
    Can you expand on this a bit?

    I was much more enthusiastic about collecting knives a few years ago, but got out of it, in part because I was never able to get very proficient with the SM. It took forever and I never really saw particularly good results for what I was trying to do (maintain kitchen knives and put some really sharp/polished edges on knives I was collecting). I'm fairly patient and feel like this should be something I should be able to do and enjoy, but I just couldn't make it work for me.

    I guess what I'm asking is: If the SM doesn't seem to be for me, what would be a good next system to try?

    That said, I'm getting back into the forum and will give the SM another go before I throw in the towel on it completely. Saved the video @maximus83 linked to watch tomorrow.
  12. Smaug

    Smaug Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 30, 2003
    Glad to.

    It boils down to this: The Sharpmaker is mis-named. It should have been called Sharpkeeper, but that just doesn't have the same marketing allure. The coarser medium rods that come with it are not aggressive enough to grind off material so that the main bevel of a knife can be re-shaped to 30 or 40°. I bought the coarse diamond rods at significant extra cost ($70?) and was able to re-shape the main bevel of some knives, and then only with a lot of patience.

    Now on a Spyderco knife from the factory, the edge is already sharpened at around 30°, so for them, using the 40° setting is just PERFECT to put a micro bevel on the edge. Spyderco is VERY consistent with that edge grind. Someone told me it's because they bought robots to do it. When you do that, you're not grinding on the whole edge bevel surface; just the very cutting edge. So it doesn't take much. I was even able to put a micro bevel on my super-hard Maxamet blade with just the medium rods.

    But the moment you go to sharpen a knife with a wide bevel or uneven bevel from the factory, it's pretty near useless. You need the coarse diamond rods and a lot of patience.

    Our boy Nick Shabazz agrees in his YouTube video review on it:

    There are a few good options now:

    • Edge Pro Apex - This is a nice blend of fixtured and manual sharpening. I didn't go this way, because it doesn't keep a consistent sharpening angle between full flat ground blades and other styles. It would be better for longer blades than anything below but the Worksharp Ken Onion. Won't be an issue for 4" blades and under.
    • KME - This is what I went with. It was more than I was wanting to spend, but it's well made, in the USA. It handles full flat ground blades as well as saber ground.
    • Wicked Edge - Too expensive; hard pass.
    • Worksharp Ken Onion - This works great, and FAST. However, it takes a steady hand, as it will round off a tip equally fast. It also needs a regular diet of new belts. I had one of these, it was good. Nothing approaches the speed of this, and it can do a precision job too.
    • Worksharp Precision Adjust - This is a copy of the KME. It's mostly plastic, but it works on the same principal and costs 1/4 what a KME does. There are some nice design details too; like the use of neodymium magnets to hold parts together and prevent wear when taking it apart. This was just coming out when I got my KME. I might have tried this instead and saved some money, but I liked the "Made in USA" aspect of KME too.
    Bottom line: if you're on a budget, try the Worksharp Precision Adjust and if you want something a bit nicer and US-made, get the KME.
    MolokaiRider and hfrog355 like this.
  13. hfrog355


    Apr 11, 2014
    @Smaug Truly one of the more useful responses I've received on an internet forum - and I've got a few thousand posts under my belt in various places. Thank you.

    I'll investigate some of those options for what to look at next. Like I said, I consider myself a patient person in most regards, but I've also got 2 young kids, a job, other interests, etc, so I don't have all the time in the world to pour into learning something that doesn't show at least some progress in a reasonable timeframe which is what spoiled me on the SM. On first glance, the WSKO or the WSPA/KME appear like good options.

    Let me add this question: What would be a good steel to learn on? I thinned the heard pretty drastically to a handful of my favorites when I got out of the collecting mode a few years ago - consequently, all I've really got on hand are pretty fancy steels that I don't want to screw up learning. The only one I'd really want to cut my teeth on is a 8Cr13MoV Kershaw blade. I'd be willing to pick up something to experiment with if there's a steel that's somewhat inexpensive, but takes a good edge, even if it's retention isn't great.
    Smaug likes this.
  14. bucketstove


    Sep 23, 2014
    What do you have in the kitchen?
  15. hfrog355


    Apr 11, 2014
    Shun Classic is what fills the block, but I've got some beater knives that can probably get sacrificed on my learning curve in drawers somewhere. Good thought, hadn't considered those!
  16. c7m2p3


    Apr 20, 2018
    Learning on 8Cr would probably be fine. You could pick up an opinel for pretty cheap. Rat 1 in AUS8 is another good learner for right around 20$.
    Smaug likes this.
  17. Smaug

    Smaug Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 30, 2003
    Yeah, used 8Cr would be fine. Or maybe a Swiss army knife with its Rc 56 steel, and when you're done learning from it, throw it in your kitchen drawer for general around-the-house use. There are a lot of good models from which to choose for under $40 new, or you could get a beat-up TSA seizure one from ebay.

    The fancy steels usually come from decent companies with a decent grinds from the factory, so they usually don't need to be re-profiled. The learning curve on the KME and WSPA is very short. WSKO requires more practice not to screw up.
  18. hfrog355


    Apr 11, 2014
    bucketstove likes this.

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