Review: Work Sharp Pocket Knife Sharpener

When I think of Work Sharp, the excellent Ken Onion Work Sharp (read review here) springs to mind, but the company also makes conventional, yet modern, manual sharpeners. Enter the Pocket Knife Sharpener, a pocket sized (who’da thunk) unit combining a 320-grit diamond plate and ceramic hone. Is it as effective and easy to use as their electric, belt-based sharpeners?

Full disclosure: Work Sharp gave me the Pocket Knife Sharpener to review and sundry goodies along with it, including snacks (which served me well during BLADE Show), some stickers, a hat, and a CRKT/Ruger Cordite Compact neck knife.

Work Sharp have actually managed to imbue this small handheld sharpener with some sex-appeal. Instantly recognizable as a Work Sharp product, the rakish yellow angle guides are rubberized, pulling double duty as a place to grip the Pocket Knife Sharpener.

Overall size is only 6″ x 1 11/16″ at the widest point. It is a half inch thick with a weight of 1.6 ounces. Eminently pocketable as the name suggests.

Other than that, there isn’t much to tell, but that is a good thing. A simple device done right doesn’t need a ton of exposition, so let’s see how well it gets the job done.


I’ll admit, it has been a while since I have sharpened on a flat “stone” – between my leather strops and knife grinder it has been a while since I have needed to. It will be interesting to see what results I can get.

The diamond plate is set with 20-degree angle guides, although the actual edge angle will vary depending on your knife’s primary grind. Using light pressure (very important when using diamond plates) the 320-grit surface reprofiled the X50CrMo steel of my Victorinox Compact (read review here) in less than ten strokes per side. The guides provide a nice ramp that you can set your blade on and slide easily down to the diamond plate.

For the final hone, the ceramic rod has angle guides at 25-degrees. This ought to achieve the desired microbevel right at the edge, enhancing overall strength which will make the edge last longer (especially on softer steels) at the expense of a little outright sharpness.

Since the ceramic is round, I could not hone all the way back to the heel of the blade by setting it on the angle guide. The plunge line actually gets caught on the edge of the guide, so you will have to come off the guide and move the blade over slightly in order to get a full pass at the edge.

After about a dozen strokes per side, the edge was decent, but it took another dozen or so before it could pop arm hairs acceptably. It wasn’t scary sharp, but it was sharper than most people ever get to experience.

The edge was improved even more after I swiped it on a rigid leather strop without any compound embedded. The Pocket Knife Sharpener is good enough on its own, but the strop really provided the finishing touch. I could see myself cutting a thin strip of leather to be stored on the side of the sharpener’s body, and then laid on the diamond plate when needed for final stropping.

As for other, more wear-resistant steels, results were similar, although expect to need a few more strokes to get similar results. That said, I had no trouble getting a good edge on Benchmade’s S30V or L.T. Wright’s D2.


If you are an edge snob, the Work Sharp Pocket Knife Sharpener is not a be all end all solution, but it is effective enough to make an edge as sharp as you will ever actually need it to be. It is a bit cumbersome for larger knives; I felt clumsy with 5-inch+ blades, but smaller knives, and certainly any pocket knife, falls within the scope of this Pocket Knife Sharpener

Since it comes with an aggressive diamond plate, the unit works well with both simple steels and modern, high-hardness and highly wear resistant steels. To sum up, the Pocket Knife Sharpener is small enough, light enough, and easy enough to use that it makes a fine bit of kit for your on-the-go edge maintenance needs.


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Review: Work Sharp Pocket Knife Sharpener

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