Question Of The Day: How Do You Sharpen Your Knives?

Courtesy Chris Dumm for TTAKThere are a zillion (okay, more like a dozen) ways to keep your blades keen, but how’s a knife guy to keep up with the latest innovations? When it comes to sharpening my cutting edges, your humble correspondent isn’t terribly cutting-edge: pocketknives get the Lansky kit, and kitchen knives get a few strokes through the ceramic sticks . . .

I have used some Paleo methods like the natural sharpening stone shown here, but only for a really dull camp hatchet. So what are your favorite tools and techniques?



  1. SeaCreature says:

    I use a Spyderco Sharpmaker. Not the latest or greatest, but I’ve used it for 13 years and it still puts a razor’s edge on my knives. As a matter of fact, I used it last night on a couple of my Benchmades.

    1. Phydeaux says:

      Ditto on the Sharpmaker. I got the diamond rods for it and even re-profiled blades with it.

    2. +1 on the Spyderco Triangle Sharpmaker.

      The best and fastest way (IMHO) to put a good edge on concave or serrated blades.

      Tormek for convex blades and other edged tools.
      *Review coming soon.

    3. Joe says:

      Another happy Sharpmaker user here. I messed with stones, ceramic sticks, and other systems, but nothing helped me get a knife razor sharp more quickly and easily than a Sharpmaker.

  2. ChuckN says:

    I use either a good Arkansas stone or a DMT Diamond whetstone
    depending on the knife. I find using a bench stone gives me a
    lot more control on the angle. The kitchen gear get a mix of
    steel, ceramic or whetstone.

  3. dwb says:

    the one I struggle with is my Crossbill because of the shape. ideas welcome there. everything else i have a diamond kit.

    1. ChuckN says:

      I use a diamond stick on my karambit. I have used a very
      thin stick meant for sharpening serrations but if you’re
      not careful you’ll make rivulets in the blade. A ceramic
      stick keeps the hone. Also I’ve found pushing away from
      the blade seems to work better.

  4. Jim M says:

    I use the Lansky system with a coarse, medium and fine grit stone. I knew before buying that some people didn’t care for it but I decided to try it out and I am finding that it puts a nice edge on my blades. The trick is to clamp the blade properly and use the pedestal accessory. I can easily pull out a wire edge to assess when to stop strokes with the stone and switch to the other bevel.

    The only knives I don’t use the Lansky for, are my scandanavian Puukkos that have such wide, flat bevels that they can easily be honed on a 1000 grit King waterstone and don’t fit within the Lansky angle slots.

  5. Robert says:

    I use the waterstones. I have used just about every sharpening system around at one point or another. They all work well to an extent. This year, I decided that I wanted to learn how sharpen knives with waterstones. So, I purchased some, and watched some videos on YouTube (virtuovice’s channel) While it took a bit of effort to learn how to hold the blade to get the angles correct, I think this is the best method of sharpening a knife. The added benefit is I am not stuck hauling around the knife sharpening systems when I go camping or what not. I now can take a small two-sided sharpening stone with me to touch up the knife in the field, (and be confident I will get the knife as sharp as I want)
    Just my .02

    1. I agree that there is no substitute for a practiced hand and a good set of stones. You can achieve a level of sharpness that beats the pants off most “systems”. However, it takes a lot of practice to get a consistent angle. An inexperienced sharpener will actually round over his or her blade.The advantage of systems is in their removing angle control from the process. Most people can achieve a better than average sharpness in less time with near perfect consistency.

  6. Nate says:

    I can’t use stones. I have a shaky hand and am bad with angles. I use the Spyderco Sharpmaker and couldn’t be happier

    1. Robert says:

      You have a good point (bad pun I know). Really, all the different systems out there are quite effective in the hands of someone who knows how to use it. And, if you are having all the success you want using one system, there is no need or reason to use another.
      I know in my case, I have spent a lot of money trying to find the system that would work best for all my knives. Ultimately, I found the waterstones to be the best solution for me.

  7. Jeff S. says:

    It really depends on the knife for me. I use Naniwa Japanese Super Stones for the majority of my knives and finish with a leather stop with two black and green compound. But I do have a few convex ground blades though, which I normally just strop them on the leather strop with compound. If I have to really sharpen those I use some super fine grit wet/dry sandpaper placed over my leather strop.

    With my straight razor it’s a 12,000 grit Naniwa Super Stone and a leather strop. Wicked sharp.

    1. Robert says:

      What kind of compound do you recommend for stropping?

  8. Colin says:

    I use a 3 stage Lansky system, but I want to add to it. I’d also like a leather strop for my Fallkniven.

  9. 2hotel9 says:

    I have put in a couple other threads my love for the RADA Quick Edge and Smith’s TriStone set. I’ve tried lots of others, always end up back with them. For out and about on the job I carry Smith’s carbide/ceramic combo pocket sharpener, dress an edge quick to keep working.

    Never really liked small stones that many people use, keeping angle correct is a pain with them. Not to mention cut finger tips and whatnot. And all the powered sharpeners out there never impressed me at all, just pretty toys as far as I can see.

  10. IdahoPete says:

    All of the methods described here are excellent, but for those who just want a fast sharp edge on a kitchen knife, take a look at SOG’s little “SOG Countertop Sharpener SH-02” using a suction cup mount. I think it uses two crossed pieces of tungsten carbide or some other really hard metallic material, it fastens tightly to a smooth surface but pops off easily when the lever is released, and it will put a very sharp edge on a knife quite quickly. About $25, although I have seen them on the internet for $15.

    1. 2hotel9 says:

      Yea, anchoring is a plus, free handing is what most sharpeners are made for. Not that there is anything wrong with tha,,,,,,Damn! Almost typed that without busting out laughing.

      Yep. You have a point. Problem is too many people just can’t figure it out on their own. And when you try to ‘splain it to them they cop an attitude. Especially if they “think” they know what they are “doing”. Kinda like officers.

  11. JAS says:

    Japanese water stones. Love the finish on the blades. I also own a Spyderco Sharpmaker.

  12. Ed says:

    Assorted emery sandpaper and a sanding block. I can change a bevel or totally rework a profile with 200 grit and work my way down to 2000 grit for an edge so smooth it feels oiled. If I want to, that is (actually can end up too smooth and doesn’t slice as well, but for push cutting like a gouge is excellent). Using assorted dowels to wrap the sandpaper around has worked well on odd blade shapes and serrations. Glue a small strip to a pop-sickle stick for a pocket sharpener to take with.

    I was looking into a sharpening system when I realized I already had sandpaper.

  13. HiCap says:

    Spyderco system and two strokes thereafter with a steel to remove any burr. Fast and I can hold the correct angle, more or less, better than I ever could with a stone.


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Question Of The Day: How Do You Sharpen Your Knives?

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