I am not a knife nut. But, I do like nice things. My kitchen knives are KAI Shun’s, and they’re very nice, and pretty expensive to boot. And after 5 years of use, they finally needed sharpening. Unfortunately, from the time I bought them until now, Kershaw no longer offers free sharpening for life. They have instead outsourced the sharpening to a company called Perfect Edge in the Bay Area of California. So, I bit the bullet, and sent off my entire knife set via FedEx, and waited. About 5 days later (3 business days I think), I got a call they were done, and that the charge was about $40 with shipping back. Part of the reason it was that high was they had to “restore” a knife because the tip had chipped off ages ago. Fine. So, I pay them, and they ship them back.
Later that week, I got them back, and yay verily, they are indeed sharp. But not crazy sharp. I can’t shave arm hair with them, but they do cut paper a heck of a lot better than they used to. But the “repair” they did on the one knife seemed a bit extreme, and I wish they would have asked before doing it. But, it still works, and it’s sharp.
So, this whole thing had me thinking “could I do this myself”? So, in typical fashion, I went online, and started searching. First I started looking at automated solutions. And generally, everything came down to either a belt sander, or something similar. And most, while they will make a sharp edge, are generally just over agressive, and require quite a bit of skill to get a GOOD edge. Getting something OKAY is easy, but not eating your whole blade, and getting a GOOD edge was difficult. So, then I started looking at manual options, and fairly quickly, two options really floated to the surface: The Edge Pro, and the Wicked Edge. Both allowed sharpening at just about any angle you could want (which many systems didn’t), and both are priced about the same. And both had many many many fans. While I could go into the differences, the biggest one that stood out to me was that the Wicked Edge seemed to bridge the gap between “automated” and “manual”. You basically clamp it at a point, and then sharpen. And when it comes time to sharpen it again, you just clamp it at that same point, and touch it up. And you do both sides at once. The Edge Pro required one hand to hold the blade, and the other to sharpen, and required flipping the knife over after one side was done. While this allowed for unlimited sized blades, it made repeatability very difficult. And as a Science major, and stats junky, repeatability is godliness.
So, with my fair share of waffling, and worrying about the price, I finally contacted Clay (the inventor of the system) at Wicked Edge, and he (seemingly) happily extended a discount to me for the system. I purchased it right then and there.
Now, while I haven’t gotten the system yet, I thought I would give this brief intro to how I found it, and what brought me to it instead of the Edge Pro, or any of the other systems out there. If you want to do a LOT of sharpening, and an OKAY edge is fine, I’d suggest the $40 table top 1″ belt sander from Harbor Freight here. It will probably do just fine for almost anything (I might pick one up just to do lawnmower blades, and the like). But if you want something that will really cut, you’re going to have to go to a manual system. And if you want something manual, that’s okay, maybe take a look at the classic Gatco system here, or for a bit more, the Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker here. Both work pretty well from what I’ve gathered (I’ve used the Gatco personally many years ago, and it did just fine, albeit slow, and with limited angle options). But if you have expensive knives, or if you want something that will let you touchup a blade with minimal effort and minimal material loss, AND give you a crazy sharp edge… take a look at the Wicked Edge. The price may put you off, but consider how many dollars you’ve sank into that set of kitchen knives, or your best EDC knife. A good knife is only as good as its edge.
More to come once I get the system and have a chance to work with it on a fairly wide selection of knives I have access to. I also plan to have a database of knives I’ve sharpened available to see (as well as helping populate the one on the Wicked Edge website).