The proper angle is key to a sharp blade. Here are the angle-guide sharpeners that ensure you’ll always get it right.
A big part of sharpening, aside from proper sharpener selection, is how to select and maintain the proper angle of the blade to the sharpener. In fact, the key to successfully sharpening any blade regardless of the grade of steel is being able to maintain that angle. Ever try sharpening freehand on a bench stone with little experience doing so? The reason folks get frustrated with learning to sharpen is they don’t keep the angles consistent. It’s all about the angles. You must take into account what use your knife will see and sometimes that determines the specific angle to use.
You probably know of the angle guide kits with a metal clamp that affixes to the blade and has uprights on either end with a series of holes that correspond to various degrees of angles. Such kits all help instill confidence and the ability to subtract guesswork at maintaining the desired angle.
There are plenty of sharpeners capable of reproducing keen edges. Avoid the pull-through types that require you to drag the blade through. Those are set at one angle and use carbide to get the job done. These will ruin a blade in time, and I don’t recommend them. You need a sharpening kit that’ll help establish and hold a consistent angle. All you need to be concerned with is making the motions to get the edge sharp.
Lansky’s four-stone Deluxe Diamond System Precision Knife Sharpening Kit is the best the company offers in angle guide clamp units. It includes an extra coarse hone great for reprofiling edge angles. It also has coarse-, medium-, and fine-grit diamond-coated hones for fine-tuning the edge once it’s been established. The aluminum clamp is sturdy and offers four edge angles: 17, 20, 25, and 30 degrees. The kit stores in a sturdy plastic storage case. MSRP: $114.99.
GATCO offers the Ultimate Diamond Hone Sharpening System, which is similar to the Lansky. Featuring coarse-, medium-, and fine-grit diamond-coated abrasives, the kit includes Ultimate Finishing and triangular-shaped serration hones, too. It works on plain, serrated, and partially serrated edges. The hones are wider and longer for more effective use and have molded-in integral handguards for safety. There’s also a plastic storage case. MSRP: $119.99.
To sharpen the CPM S90V blades with the SelectEdge 14 degree angle of its Hidden Canyon Hunter and Saddle Mountain Skinner, Benchmade offers the model 50082 14 Degree SelectEdge Guided Hone Tool. Designed in conjunction with and manufactured by Work Sharp, this compact sharpener incorporates a fine grit ceramic rod and a leather strap on the backside. Built-in guides set the blade at the correct 14-degree angle. The idea with this one is to apply frequent edge touchups. A premium steel, S90V is notoriously difficult to resharpen, a difficulty negated via frequent edge maintenance sessions with the 50082. MSRP: $25.
For knives without the SelectEdge technology, Benchmade offers the Edge Maintenance Tool, also designed with and manufactured by Work Sharp. It uses a fine-grit ceramic rod and a leather strop but in a more compact folding format with a pocket clip for easy carry. As with the 14 Degree SelectEdge Guided Hone Tool, built-in guides assist in achieving the optimal angle for edge restoration. The Edge Maintenance Tool works well with pocketknives, fixed blades, and tactical folders—pretty much any knife. MSRP: $50.
For the more advanced sharpeners among you, Work Sharp offers the Ken Onion Elite Sharpening System, a variable speed motorized unit employing long-lasting flexible abrasive belts made by Norton Abrasives. It’s pretty much a downsized version of a larger and much more expensive 2×72 slack belt grinder used by many knifemakers.
Designed by BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame® member Ken Onion, the Elite makes quick work of bringing completely dull and/or damaged knife edges back to life and is fully adjustable for applying edges between 10 and 35 degrees. The abrasive belts measure 1 by 18 inches and make quick work of any sharpening task. Once you become comfortable with how the sharpener operates, you can consistently grind an even edge on your blades. (Author’s note: Motorized sharpening is best left to those with sharpening experience.) MSRP: $199.95.
Diamond Machining Technology (DMT) offers the Double Sided Diafold Magna-Guide Sharpening System centered around the company’s Double Sided Diafold folding diamond files. The Magna-Guide System features the Aligner Blade Guide clamp with integrated, adjustable angle guides. A metal guide rod affixes securely to the Double Sided Diafold file via a large rare earth magnet. Attached to an FWCX Extra Coarse/Coarse Double Sided Diafold, the manual system can easily reprofile an edge to any one of seven pre-set angles.
DMT’s Double Sided Diafold diamond files are built well, highly effective, and among the best compact sharpeners on the market. One of the best things about the Magna-Guide is you can use the Double Sided Diafold files as stand-alone sharpeners without the guide rod and angle guide clamp. Consequently, you get a guided sharpening system and a standalone sharpener for the price of one. The Magna-Guide Kit’s MSRP: $27.49 (works with any Double Sided Diafold file).
Get More Knife Sharpening Info:
- 5 MYTHS ABOUT KNIFE SHARPENING
- HOW TO SHARPEN A SERRATED KNIFE
- 5 LEADING SHARPENING RODS
- HOW TO HONE A KNIFE
Knife Guide Issue features the newest knives and sharpeners, plus knife and axe reviews, knife sheaths, kit knives and a Knife Industry Directory.
Get your FREE digital PDF instant download of the annual Knife Guide. No, really! We will email it to you right now when you subscribe to the BLADE email newsletter.