Get Scary Sharp With New Ken Onion Work Sharp

Image courtesy www.floridasportsman.comI almost bought a Work Sharp flexible-belt sharpener last month, but opted for a more-traditional Spyderco Sharpmaker instead. I’m glad I didn’t pull the trigger (so to speak) on the base-model Work Sharp, because Darex has been working with Ken Onion to design a professional-grade version.

[UPDATE 10/22/2015: Our full review of the Ken Onion Work Sharp is now online. You can read it here.]

The new $150 Ken Onion Work Sharp includes all the grindy goodness of the standard ($70) Work Sharp shown in this video, but also features adjustable grinding angles, variable speeds, and wider abrasive belts. Basically, everything you need to put exactly the edge you want on your blades.

For those of us who’ll never afford Clay’s pricey Tormek Sharpening Systen, this might be the best automated sharpener out there.


  1. Aharon says:

    I’ll stick with the human-powered non-electricity-dependent sharpeners. My (not yet opened) Spyderco Sharpmaker arrived two days ago from Amazon.

    1. Chris Dumm says:

      I just picked one up too. Fantastic!

      1. Aharon says:

        I bought it based on Jared’s suggestion. The first knives that I am going to use the Spyderco on will be my sister’s kitchen knives.

    2. You will be happy with the Sharpmaker Aharon. It is what I have been using on most of my knives for 15 years. I use it on my Mora, and it is scary sharp. Plus, you never risk effing up a knife you like as can happen with electric sharpening methods.

      I touch my blades up almost every night if I used them. I can do 2-3 knives with the Sharpmaker in under 2 minutes when I am puttering in my workshop.

      I use the Tormek when I run through all of my kitchen knives, and it is still the absolutely best way to get a razor edge on woodworking plane irons and chisels.

      1. Aharon says:

        Thanks Clay!

  2. Nathan says:

    I’ve heard more than one report on Blade Forums about people ruining their heat treats from going too fast. I’m not sure what model they were using. I won’t be buying one

  3. BigTex says:

    I’ve got the original Work Sharp Knife and Tool sharpener, and it works quite well. There are guides for sharpening 20, 25, and 50* angles, as well as scissors.

    This looks like a more refined version, but you can’t go wrong either way.

    Tradition is great and should be kept alive, but technology can be awfully handy. I can run through 3 hunting knives, 3 pocket knives, and a bunch of kitchen knives in 30 minutes. Add in all the garden tools and we’re at an hour.

  4. What I would like to know is if the Pro model can do a primary grind when making a knife? This is the step that has me stalled on the Kephart knife right now.

    1. pastubbs says:

      Yes and no I played with this at Blade Show a few months ago while it is some what on par with a 1 by 30 its short belts are going to wear out fast. Other then that I’m getting one but then again I currently sharpen my knives on a 1 by 30. I wouldn’t recommend this for beginner because it can eat through steel and very quickly. Its basically a mini belt Grinder. Also I got to meet Ken Onion at Blade Show what an awesome person not like some of the other famed Knife designers he actually talks to people on the floor and not just the press.

  5. Mark Davis says:

    I’ve been using the same Spydie Sharpmaker since 2001 and it continues to work well on all my knives. The Work Sharp might be nice for re-profiling tho.

  6. Chris Dumm says:

    Yowza! There are a lot of comments on this one, so I thought a little more info might be helpful:

    1. The fairly high speed of the original Work Sharp belts can reportedly ruin the heat treat of a knife if you don’t follow the directions carefully. One or two quick passes oneach side is supposed to be enough for sharpening; slow or multiple passes can cook the blade.

    2. The flexible abrasive belts on the Work Sharp will also produce a slightly convex grind. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing (such grinds are exceptionally durable) but it would be something to consider.

    3. I’ve used a Work Sharp a few times (I almost bought one) and I don’t think the supplied belts are quite aggressive enough to do the primary grind on a heat-treated knife blank. If you use too rough a belt you risk taking off too much metal, and if the belt isn’t rough enough you’ll risk overheating it because it will take so long.

  7. cigr says:

    It’s a belt sander. With an angle guide. There’s nothing revolutionary about this product at all.

  8. Mike L says:

    Geeze does nobody have time anymore to sharpen a blade on a stone? What is the rush? Isn’t it fun to take time and feel the blade against various grit of stone? I ‘m just shaking my head.

    1. kzinti1 says:

      Jeez. Was there a cure for arthritis and nobody told me?
      A fairly cheap, yet effective electric sharpener seems a boon to me.
      And countless thousands of other arthritics who happen to enjoy using sharp blades.

      1. Renato says:

        And the belt grinder is also nice to have when sharpening several machetes.
        When you don’t really want to spend half a day sharpening these things.

  9. william bambarger says:


    1. ouchmyears says:

      Why are you yelling?

      1. Suck it up says:

        The man gave his opinion. His caps lock was on. Did you really have that hard a time reading it? In grade school, you learned capital letters first, right?

    2. Renato says:


      And also for sharpening machetes it is a bless.

      Try several machetes with files and stones. You gotta love it or else..

      This belt grinder is quite a help.

      For small knives , a stone is fine.
      And for touching up machetes and large blades , ceramic sticks work well also.
      But for some good sharpening , this belt grinder is very nice to have.

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Get Scary Sharp With New Ken Onion Work Sharp

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