Question Of The Day: Do You 30 Degrees?

Image courtesy Landnavigation.comThe Spyderco Sharpmaker is almost the sine qua non of knife-sharpening equipment. If you’re one of the 75-percenters who reach for the Sharpmaker when your knife loses its edge, you know that Spyderco recommends a 30-degree inclusive back bevel and a 40-degree inclusive microbevel.

Image: Chris Dumm

Some knives aren’t terribly well suited to the Sharpmaker treatment. Emerson knives are all chisel-ground, and a hamhanded owner can quickly ruin one with a Sharpmaker. Scandinavian-grind knives like Moras or Marttinis were traditionally profiled with edge angles tighter than 20 degrees inclusive, although most newly-made Moras are given a slightly more obtuse microbevel for better edge retention.

Most steels can take a sharper edge than 40 degrees, but not all of them can keep that edge in regular use. I couldn’t believe how fine an edge the S30V Sebenza took (and held) but some steels and some applications require a 45 degree grind.

So I ask you, do you 30 degrees? Or, if you use a Sharpmaker, do you stick with the microbevel?



  1. tbhride says:

    I am a heretic and I sharpen my Moras on a Sharpmaker, using the 30º bevel. My main cardboard knife is an old Frosts 740MG and I like to keep a super keen edge on it. The Sharpmaker can put a scary edge on it very quickly and is easier than following the scandi bevel.

    For my heavy use knives (including my EDC, a Benchmade/Ritter mini-griptilian in S30V), I sharpen to 40º for increased durability, especially important for camping/survival knives.

  2. Mason says:

    All of my knives are sharpened at 15-22 degrees (depending on application) on 220 grit stone, and finished with a strop with green compound.

    1. I_Like_Pie says:

      I believe that 30 and 40 degrees is somewhat of a misnomer.

      That refers to the -V- shape of the sticks pointing out of the sharpmaker. since you are holding the knife in the sharpmaker 90 degrees to the table with equal angles on each side of the blade It would be equivalent to 15 and 20 degrees respectively measured from the blade edge to the side of the blade.

      That being said the 15-22 is almost exactly the same angles produced by the sharpmaker.

      1. I_Like_Pie says:

        In other words….

        One way to measure would be the angle created by both edges of the knife.

        The other would be the edge of the knife vs the centerline of the blade.

      2. tbhride says:

        Not a misnomer. The 30 and 40 is the “inclusive” angle, while 15 and 20 is the “per-side” angle (I can’t remember if there is a fancy word for this or not). Neither is more correct than the other.

  3. ChuckN says:

    I hand sharpen everything and vary the angle and
    sharpening direction depending on the primary use.

    1. Skyler says:

      I hand sharpen and vary the angle depending on each stroke I make! 🙂

  4. C says:

    Really trying to decide if i should pull the trigger on this. If i’m honest, me with a bench stone is more a danger to a blade than anything else.

  5. 2hotel9 says:

    I picked up a Smith’s Adjustable Angle pull thru sharpener in late November(on sale at Waliworld) and am really liking it. It goes from 14 degrees to 24 and has a fixed set for serrated kitchen knives, an item I don’t own not being to keen on serrated blades for any use. It has carbide for coarse and ceramic for fine, and so far I have not had any problems other than sharpening my 110, their data sheet recommends angle of 16 degrees and I find that 20-22 works better.

  6. Lon Totten says:

    I stick with the 40 edge in most cases. That includes my chisel ground Emersons. With an Emerson you simply sharpen only the grind face and use only one or two light strokes on the back edge to remove the burr. This can also be done by stropping the back edge on leather or even a piece of cardboard. I also use the Sharpmaker on full serrated blades again using it only on the grind face. The only time I use the 30 back bevel is when a kitchen knife has become so dulled the blade needs a bit of re-profiling to take the 40 edge. Eventually I might spend the money on a Wicked Edge system but admittedly I don’t have any real use for it. The Sharpmaker has so far handled every knife need for me. I own two of them.

  7. Major_Northeast_City says:

    While I own a Spyderco Sharpmaker, I have not gone back to it since purchasing and using DMT sharpening systems of which I have three:
    I have a DMT 8″ DuoSharp® Bench Stone in Fine/Coarse (with stand) which allows me to sharpen anything from my small Spyderco Ladybug, to all my folders, 6 to 9 inch knifes and my tomahawks as well.
    I have a DMT ‘Diafold’® Double Sided Sharpener fine/coarse which I throw into my back pack and is carried every day.
    And a Diafold® Serrated Sharpener which keeps my serrated blades literally razor sharp.
    The secret is in the proprietary micronized monocrystalline diamond coating that covers evenly across the sharpening surfaces.

    A few drops of water or dry, 8 to 12 passes as opposed to 15 to 25 on the Sharpmaker does it for me.

  8. Dogman says:

    I sharpen everything at 40* inclusive/20* per side. It gives a good utility edge for all knives. My knives may not be as sharp as some but they cut perfectly fine for my purposes.

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Question Of The Day: Do You 30 Degrees?

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