Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Old obsession continued: knives and knife-sharpening

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For some reason I’ve always been interested in knives. I am struck that you could take, say, a Randall knife and put it into the paw of a very early member of genus Homo, and she or he would immediately know what it was for and would doubtless prize it as the best sharp rock they’ve ever found and even better than the sharp rocks they are just learning how to make.

I like pocket knives, and I have a large collection of those, but I think I like fixed-blade knives even more: no moving parts.

The first thing you learn once you’re fond of knives and paying attention to them is that they will require sharpening, and sharpening is definitely a skill that must be learned. I’ve always liked the shortcut of sharpening systems that use some device to allow even a novice to keep a constant angle. There is still skill to be learned and experience to be gained, but a good sharpening system makes an enormous difference.

I started with a Lansky system, as many do, and in packing I found I still have it along with a GATCO sharpening system that I forgot I had: it’s been storage for quite a while.

I got an EdgePro Apex, but in that system the knife is not clamped but just held in place. After you get a certain amount of experience, this seems to work well, but I wanted the knife to be clamped securely.

After the EdgePro Apex, I got a KME system, which I liked a lot. It can do a very fine job, and my oldest grandson has it now. Still, it has some drawbacks. Changing the stones on the KME is a bit of a pain because it interrupts the workflow (and the same is true of the EdgePro Apex and the Lansky), and for me I could never get a secure clamp on a knife with a distal taper (in which the thickness of the blade tapers from relatively thick near the handle to a thin foible). This is a chronic problem and the best solution is to use two clamps rather than one. If you use one clamp, the blade is clamped mostly on the side where it’s thickest, so the blade tends to swivel under pressure: a line through a point can rotate about the point.

With two clamps, though, even though the clamps may be holding only on the thicker side, the blade is still secured: two points fix a line, so no rotation. And the TSProf sharpening system does indeed have two clamps for the blade. However, you still face the fuss of changing the sharpening stones. I learned about this sharpening system before they were really doing US sales, and I got no reply to a a query, but I did like the two-clamp solution to the problem of a distal taper.

But then I saw this video of the Wicked Edge sharpening system:

Did you notice the ease of changing sharpening stones? I was won over at once, but what with one thing and another was not moved to take action until recently—and I’m glad I waited. In the intervening years, Allison and his colleagues have continued to improve the device and now we have the Wicked Edge Gen 3 Pro 2017 Edition. It has many nice features, but one important one for me is that it has a two-pronged clamp that, according to reports, is enough to vanquish the distal-taper problem.

It comes fairly complete, but if you’re going to sharpen knives of small width (e.g., pocket knives), you’re going to need the Low-Angle Adapter, and with those the longer guide rods are desirable.

I haven’t really used it yet—waiting on getting settled for that—but I wanted to summarize my obsession status. And I have to say that the customer service at Wicked Edge (it’s in Santa Fe NM) is exemplary. They are very accommodating, answer their email, and are good to talk to on the phone.

In furtherance of the obsession, I have joined Edge Snobs™, and they often post good tips. (Wicked Edge also has its own forum on the company website.)

Stay keen, and stay tuned.

BTW, you search YouTube and find videos on all of these.

UPDATE: I realize that I did not include the two Chef’s Choice electric sharpeners I tried. Avoid at all costs. Bad for knives. There are also some manual sharpeners, not very costly, with stones or rods mounted at an angle and you draw the knife down the rod/stone while keeping the blade vertical, which defines the cutting angle (which is thus fixed). Nah.

Basically, the only sharpening systems I recommend are those listed in the original post above. The others I did not think of because I have blocked them from my memory.

Written by Leisureguy

12 September 2017 at 11:26 am

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