Sharpening the Kraken

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CPM3V is not the easiest steel to sharpen, but when done properly can set and hold a wicked edge.

I have begun to test the Kraken, the oversized fixed-blade creation from Will Woods’ Bladeworks. I am yet to go overboard, though that is certainly in the works. So far it has just done a little batoning, and cut up a pineapple. One reason is that the knife as I received it was simply “show-sharp”. In other words, most knifemakers at the Balde Show did not hone their edges to a razor precision. The chance of a careless show-goer flaying open their hand is just too realistic. (that didn’t stop several folks from needing stitches anyway). Even at simply show-sharp, the Kraken did more than an acceptable job at peeling and slicing the pineapple.

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Even at just “show-sharp” the Kraken proved to be more than effective in peeling and slicing pineapple.

I sharpen most of my knives on a Spyderco Sharpmaker, but the angle of the secondary bevel was steeper than the rods. I started to do a little hand-sharpening and was getting nowhere fast. CPM3V is a tough steel to begin with, and while I don’t know exact hardness of the Kraken’s heat treatment, I am guessing it is in the 58-60 HRC range (I could be wrong and if I am I am sure to receive a clarification email which I will pass along). So it was time to call in the big dog – my Tormek sharpening system.

The most important thing to remember when using the Tormek is to check, recheck, and check the angle of the grind. The support rod and clamp adjust precisely, but as they say – “Garbage in Garbage out”. If you don’t set it correctly, you can really mess up your knife. I learned that lesson on a Spyderco Deilca when I inadvertently changed the geometry of the blade.

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The Tormek is a slow-speed wet grinding system that can sharpen anything from knives to chisels, to lawnmower blades (with the right jigs).

It was actually easier than average to set the angle when sharpening the Kraken. This is due to the secondary bevel beginning almost an eighth of an inch from the blade’s edge. It is much easier to test and examine the scratches from the grinding wheel to make sure they are covering the entire surface of the bevel. Not too steep, not too shallow.

I ground the blade in both a rough and fine stage. On the Tormek, this is achieved by running a special stone against the wheel. When you do this, the resulting slurry changes the stone from its base 220 grit, to 1000 grit.

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8000 grit honing compound on a leather wheel. The Kraken is so large that I needed to remove the stone wheel to have room to hone the blade.

When I finished, I was mostly pleased. The rounded front third of the blade was not quite where I wanted it. I attribute this to some hesitation on my part…I didn’t want to screw up Will’s magnificent knife. So I likely did not devote the proper amount of attention and/or pressure to the sweep for fear of flattening it. So I did a little hand touch-up with a Japanese stone. The knife is now ready for prime-time. It sliced unsupported newsprint like buttah…

I have big plans for this knife. It is going to be used to chop, slice, pierce and maybe even bludgeon any number of things I will put in front of it. I have only just begun.



  1. jlottmc says:

    Clay, One thing I learned early on when doing grinds like that is the sharpie trick. Take a sharpie and color the area you need ground (I learned this for planes and chisels, but it works here too). When you set up for your grind/file/stone etc. lightly run a few strokes. With the sharpie colored area, you will see real quick how to adjust. Make your adjustments, rinse and repeat until you have what you need.

    1. Thanks Jlott…
      I know that trick, but you did a great job of describing it. I would have done it here except my sharpie in the shop had dried up. Since the knife was well polished for the show, the scratches were easy to see and I adjusted accordingly.

  2. jlottmc says:

    You’re quite welcome, maybe another reader will benefit from it. I hate when the sharpie in my tool box dries out. Guess they need to be used more?

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Sharpening the Kraken

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