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Thread: What is the best sharpening kit/system for a layman?

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    Ultra Mega ********* sgtdraino's Avatar
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    Default What is the best sharpening kit/system for a layman?

    A buddy of mine is talking about getting me a Lanski kit for Christmas. I have a lot of knives, but have never really felt like I've been very good and sharpening them. What sort of kit or system do you guys think would be best for me? Price can be fairly high, probably not much higher than $100 though. And I'd prefer something non-electic, that I can take into the field.

    Thoughts?
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    IMO a good stone or diamond board and lots of practice.
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    Senior Member SARKY's Avatar
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    Get the Lansky diamond kit and also get a hard extrafine arkansas stone to go with it.
    The diamond stones make short work of the sharpening process and the hard arkansas hones the edge to smooth as glass.
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    Super Moderater RangerXanatos's Avatar
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    I like to use the Spyderco Sharpmaker. It can sharpen just about anything from knives, to scissors, to straight razors.
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    Senior Member red lake's Avatar
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    Practice, practice, practice.

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    Hall Monitor Pal334's Avatar
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    I have used the Lanski kit for ever, travels well and is easy to use.
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    To amend my original post - I have a variety of knife sharpeners, including the Lansky system. They all work well, but the sharpest edges I have ever seen have been produced by a skilled individual using stones/leather. As a side note, I have found that the 6000 grit belt on my new grinder does pretty darn good. It is however a wee bit heavy for travel.
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    Senior Member tonester's Avatar
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    i like a mouse pad and some sandpaper.
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    Senior Member Bladen's Avatar
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    a little do dad that helped me when i first got started was to cut a chunk of wood to 20 degrees or 23 degrees or whatever youre after. then just lay it on the stone and after a short time youll have a good feel to what angle the knife should be at.

    another little thing is to set the knife lightly on the stone and kind of tilt it back and fourth untill you feel the blade "set" at the proper angle.

    like red lake said, practice lots.

    i use 3 arkansas stones, course medium and fine. i dont know how well that would wrok for you in the field though.
    mine are connected and you can flip them on a base. a little big for the field maybe. works for me though.

    www.smithabrasives.com

    mines the tri-hone. it came with a little plastic angle guide.
    http://smithsedge.com/products/product.asp?id=35&cid=
    30 bucks.
    once ive got a good edge with them i can bring it back after its dull with just about anything. even a semi smooth rock from the ground.

    hope that helps.
    Last edited by Bladen; 11-16-2009 at 01:12 AM.

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    Senior Member NightShade's Avatar
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    Lansky system has always worked great for me! Makes it incredibly easy to put a uniform , sharp edge on
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    Senior Member Pict's Avatar
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    I have a Lansky but rarely use it. I prefer a flat stone free hand especially for Moras and other scandi grind knives. IMO all of the gimmicks and contraptions are simply trying to eliminate the skill factor of hand sharpening. It isn't that difficult to Learn.

    Learn to convex using a mousepad and sandpaper. There is very little investment and it travels well.

    I do all of my sharpening with a Smith's Tri-Hone as mentioned above, an EZ-Lap fine diamond stone, and a wooden block covered with leather as a strop. I use a white buffing compound on it that may be a tad too aggressive but it works for me.

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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    I use the smith's stone kit. comes with a medium and fine arkansas stone, blade angle guide (which I no longer have) and oil. The angle on the guide I believe was 22, but anywhere between 20 and 25. then lots of practice. Don't remember where I got it, but I've had it a long long time and I remember it was inexpensive, maybe 15 bucks.
    I mention something about technique here: 5 strokes one way, 5 strokes the other, working your way down to 1 and 1 at the end. This helps eliminate the micro burr that will form. you should be able to place your fingernail at a right angle to the blade, and slide it off toward the edge without a burr catching. I've seen lots of folks spend a lot of time sharpening, only to leave a burr on one side, that doesn't cut real well. I can make a dull blade shave hair in about 15 minutes with regular stones.
    For my reworked blades (old hickory I found in an old toolbox for example, that was broken and abused) I have different grits of sandstone for shaping them up. I don't like for it to be razor sharp tho, cause I use it for face fleshing and other detail hand work where it nicks my fingers often.

    I had one of those diamond grid things that just didn't give me the results I get with stone. I passed it on to someone else. In a pinch, I've used a small wood block and a piece of 300 grit paper.

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    Ultra Mega ********* sgtdraino's Avatar
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    This is some excellent advice guys, thanks. Keep it coming!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bladen View Post
    a little do dad that helped me when i first got started was to cut a chunk of wood to 20 degrees or 23 degrees or whatever youre after. then just lay it on the stone and after a short time youll have a good feel to what angle the knife should be at.
    Wow. This never occured to me. What an excellent idea!

    Quote Originally Posted by your_comforting_company View Post
    I mention something about technique here: 5 strokes one way, 5 strokes the other, working your way down to 1 and 1 at the end. This helps eliminate the micro burr that will form. you should be able to place your fingernail at a right angle to the blade, and slide it off toward the edge without a burr catching. I've seen lots of folks spend a lot of time sharpening, only to leave a burr on one side, that doesn't cut real well. I can make a dull blade shave hair in about 15 minutes with regular stones.
    Loving this detailed description of technique. I'd like to hear more of this, too. How specifically do you guys sharpen your knives? How long does it take you? What angles do you like, and why?

    What grits of sandpaper are and are not recommended?

    I seem to recall reading that most modern blade materials are now too hard to sharpen effectively with a stone. Is this not true? Or is it that you guys tend to favor "old school" blades of a softer metal?
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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    I favor the old black blades. Most stones just aren't tough enough to stand up to stainless or manganese wear. I've not had any problem with lower grade stainless, like the Old Timer I'm using in the skinning thread, when using stones. I have come across a few river stones that were flat enough to sharpen a blade, but rarely. mostly I think the harder steels of today are too hard on natural stone, and tend to wear them out more quickly. softer steels sharpen more quickly but will dull against harder materials more quickly too. when my knives get dull, I can hit them a few times across a medium and a few against a fine grit stone and in seconds be razor sharp again (but I have to do this more often). harder knives require either a more durable surface (diamond or ceramic) or a lot more time to hone back. my skinner takes a few minutes to get sharp but will stay sharp all the way through quartering. Harder steel holds an edge longer. I touch it up a few licks after every use and you can shave with it right now. I like Old Timer and Kabar blades for pocket knives and used them as skinners till I got hold of this one.

    I liked learning to work with stones because once you understand the blade angle and surface of the stone, you can use lots of things you can find, like sandstone and cobbles and that stuff they called "flagstones" at the rock shop. I have a nice river stone I use on occasion.

    I can't really tell you specifics, I just kinda go with the feel. I guess around 22 for an angle. if I need it really sharp I go a little less, like maybe 20. I read somewhere that if you could see the edge from the end like this "V" then the angle should be 45 or less, 45 being not quite a razor but a durable edge, and around 38 getting into "it'll cut you if you look at it wrong" (your sharpening angle is half of this angle). I try to stay around 42-45, nice and sharp and doesn't dull too much if you hit a bone. You can use the technique mentioned by Bladen and "lock" the edge to the stone (really good tip btw!). this kinda "locks" you to the same factory edge tho. sometimes I want it a little sharper so I'll work it down. It really is a "feel" you get after a few times and as you get more practice in, you'll know what you want in a cutting edge for a specific knife.

    Depending on just how tore up it is, It can take anywhere from an hour or more to about a minute. My Gerber takes about 2 - 3 minutes and is a higher quality SS blade. My Old timer takes about 30 seconds. The Old Timer skinner I use takes no more than 1-2 minutes but I'm particular about how I use it.. processing game ONLY. no wood carving, bone working, etc. I have other blades for whittling, and some for just whatever.

    There's a LOT more experienced folks on here than myself. Especially regarding sandpaper and other kits. I've been using stone ever since I was old enough to carry a knife and maybe I'm biased, but I just prefer the way it feels to diamond blocks and ceramic rods. I know Crash can offer more on grinds, angles, files, and papers, etc. than I can. He's got some real cool knife making threads.

    anyhow, I hope I answered your questions without boring you to death.
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    Senior Member Bladen's Avatar
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    it takes me maybe an hour to get an edge on a blade
    but less than a minute to bring it back after its dull.

    its just that first time that takes a bit to get.
    it does depend on the knife though.

    as far as technique goes: i just kinda lightly hit the stone as if im trying to peel off a thin slice. then equal strokes per side. ive always just done one stroke one way then one stroke the other way. its a bit slower but i really enjoy sitting down with a knife and getting busy.

    another thing to note is to try to go pretty light. you dont want to remove alot of metal.
    a real light pressure will work great.

    ive never used anything but a stone so i have no clue how well it compares to anything else.

    take care

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    Ultra Mega ********* sgtdraino's Avatar
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    How do you guys sharpen the curved forward part of the blade? I never feel like I get a good uniform edge on the curved part.
    "How do you know that my dimwitted inexperience isn't merely a subtle form of manipulation used to lower people's expectations thereby enhancing my ability to effectively maneuver within any given situation?" -Deputy Dewey Riley, Scream 2

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    Senior Member Bladen's Avatar
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    i just sharpen it the same way as the rest of the blade.
    i hit the whole side of the blade in one stroke.

    it helps to do it at an angle to the stone.
    on a bigger blade you may need to curve your stroke just a bit.

    curve your stroke. yep, set myself up on that one.

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    missing in action trax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by red lake View Post
    Practice, practice, practice.
    Funny how that one word always seems so fitting.
    some fella confronted me the other day and asked "What's your problem?" So I told him, "I don't have a problem I am a problem"

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    Very interesting... mcgyver's Avatar
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    Ya know, I've tried all kinds of gimics, Lansky included.
    Somehow I keep falling back on my Norton India Combination bench stone, followed by ceramic "crock sticks". Even with my broadheads, it seems to be what just plain works for me. But, it may work for me because that is what I've practiced on the most.
    I did try the mouse pad and sandpaper thing, I'm pretty impressed with that method too.
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    JMO but right here, sharpens hatchets, stainless and carbon steel knives, serated and smooth blades, i have enough different stones here to reface my fireplace with them, but these are the best and fastest thing i have seen.most of the time, i don't even use the steel to knock off the burrs.

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