Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sharp Stuff

I have always liked my knives to be sharp. Very sharp. I started collecting knives when I was a young boy and have most of them today. I usually found the factory edged to be lacking. So, I explored the art of sharpening knives. A common whetstone was my first tool for this. It was my fathers and using it I learned to get my knives shaving sharp. My dad gave me my first quality sharpening device, a Case Moon Stone. It's a slab of white fine grade ceramic that Case marketed back in the 70' and 80's. These are nearly impossible to find anymore.  Even on EBay.

 I kept using Arkansas whetstones for all my sharpening needs and found them quite satisfactory. After I got married, had a decent job and had a family started I invested in a triple stone oil bath stone set that I acquired at a gun show. It is in a plastic case that acts as the oil reservoir and has course, medium and fines stones. I have used it for over 20 years and is just now needing the stones turned over.

Then I discovered the Lansky sharpening system. WOW! I was astonished at the ease in which I could get a polished razor sharp edge in no time. I do need to replace some of the softer stones but the two final stones, ceramics, are as good as the first day I got the set. I gave sets to two of my friends and they love them.

Those items fill my every day sharpening needs. Until I started getting big knives. The Lansky does not work good for big blades and I have grown to depend on that one for most sharpening and lesser on the traditional stones.

 Now with big blades to sharpen I am returning to traditional stones. I am using the 3 stone with success and have ordered some others as well.
 I found this Case hard Arkansas at Smokey Mountain Knife Works. It's a tiny little thing but puts a really fine edge on my standard size pocket knives.
I also got from them these, a Washita  stone and a hard black Arkansas stone. The black one really did a job on a couple of my pocket knives.

This brings us to my latest system. In my tiny house I have lost my Chefs electric knife sharpener. Can't find it anywhere. So I looked around and had a system in mind (the EdgePro) and found it to be very expensive. Then I found someone who thought so too. They took that idea little further a created an alternative. The Gizmo sharpening system. It uses stones in a  similar manner to the Lansky but they are Japanese water stones but the whole system and process is different. And this device does get a knife extremely sharp if you follow the directions. (link to come)

I also ordered an India stone based on a Bill Bagwell video I watched that covered sharpening big bowies. I can't find the black India stone that bill and one of my grandfathers favored. This is what I found. And it seems to work pretty good on my Cold Steel Natchez bowie along with a leather strop

If you own a cutting tool of any sort you need to be able to sharpen it. Get a stone and try it. You'll be glad you did as a sharp knife is far superior to a dull one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's much spendy, but I favor the Tormek for large blades. Mine does double duty, sharpening both my woodworking tools and my larger knives.

Mine's an older model that came with a 10 inch 600 grit wheel; I've added a 1000 grit wheel and a 4000 grit water stone wheel over the years, neither is inexpensive, but worth it for the edge the wheels produce. I'd suggest using your 2nd-tier knives to learn the Tormek because you'll wind up sharpening them several times to get it just right; figuring out the correct angles and positioning of the jigs will take some time.

Like you, I discovered Lansky decades ago, and wore out my first set. I found the Lansky the simplest and fastest means of maintaining a good edge on small and medium knives.

I'm always on the lookout for good small portable sharpening systems, and have wondered why Case, or someone else, hasn't resurrected the Moon Stone. I've gone through a number of pocket-size stones trying to replicate its performance. So far, no luck.