Knives and Tools
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The majority of people who use knives and tools don’t often consider the fact that they need to be sharpened.  This is usually due to the fact that most people simply don’t care if they are using tools that are dull.  But for the individuals who want to have sharp tools and do the work themselves; what are the most effective options?


Sharpening Stones
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Some of my personal sharpening stones.

Sharpening stones are arguably the most well known and widely used method of sharpening.  This is mostly due to the fact that they come in a huge variety of materials, grits, and sizes as well as the fact that they are widely available.

Stones come in a wide variety of compositions but they all fundamentally work the same; you run the knife over the stone at a specific angle to remove metal to achieve a level of sharpness.  The benefit of using this method is that you have total control over the speed, pressure, and angle you are applying to the blade/stone.  Another benefit is that they are totally self sufficient and typically require no electricity or additional hardware.

One major downside to using stones is that it often takes a considerable amount of practice before one achieves a satisfactory level of sharpness.  Another negative aspect of using this method is that it takes more time to sharpen the items when compared to other methods such as belt sanders (discussed below).


Sharpening Rod System Lansky
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Lansky sharpening rod kit.  Great kit for a good price and perfect for the beginner.

This method of sharpening has become increasingly popular because of its small learning curve and often quick results.  Using rods is very similar to using stones.  In a rod system/kit however, the rods are often placed in pre drilled holes in some sort of base which in theory eliminates the need to worry about being at the incorrect angle.  This makes sharpening easier and faster.

There are inevitably a couple of downsides however.  The first being that you can only sharpen the edge of the blade and are unable to effectively remove material from the rest of the blade.  If you only sharpen the edge for long periods of time, the edge will gradually become more obtuse and lose its ability to obtain the same level of sharpness.  Another downside is that you are buying a kit, which means that if you want to purchase different grits, you typically have to buy them from the same company which means less variety and high costs.

Belt Sanders

1x30 Belt Sander Harbor Freight
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This is the sander I use for almost all of my sharpening.

Using an electric belt sander is a method often used by professional knife sharpeners and knife makers.  Depending on the type of sander being used, there are a massive variety of belt grits you can get for a relatively low expenditure.  Like stones, belts come in a variety of coatings such as ceramic and diamond (to name just a couple). 

For the individual who sharpens blades on a regular basis, this method is convenient due to the fact that it is fast and relatively easy to learn.  If you purchase the belts in bulk, the running costs can also be kept relatively low.

In the short term, the cost of the machine is the biggest negative.  Even the most basic 1x30 sanders are often 60$ or more.  Another thing to consider is the unavoidable problem of using a machine;  it can break!  If you end up using this method, I would highly recommend getting a sander that is of quality to lessen the chances of you having to buy another in a short period of time.


If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.