No, that’s not a rhetorical question. And there are no politics in this post.
I like knives. There are few things in life so satisfying as cutting something with a sharp knife — cutting vegetables like you’re slicing through warm butter, opening an Amazon box with ease, carving a turkey, or slicing into a thick juicy steak with a sharp steak knife. Several years ago I started replacing our kitchen knives with Wüsthof knives and that made cooking so much more fun. Good tools, whether in the kitchen, or the workshop, or in your pocket, add so much pleasure to whatever you’re doing.
I’ve also had a fascination — let’s say a need — for good pocket knives. I always have a pocket knife with me. For several years I’ve used a couple of different Kershaw Leek pocket knives, and I still carry one of them occasionally. But earlier this year I discovered Spyderco knives, especially one called the PM2 — Para Military 2 — which comes in a left-handed version, just perfect for me (did you even know there were left-handed pocket knives? See, you learn so much here!). Most always that’s the one in my pocket these days, and it gets used every day — rarely for a steak, unfortunately, but more commonly (and mundanely) to open my mail. You should see the way it slices cleanly and quietly through an envelope flap! Just what you need an expensive knife for.
But there’s one problem with all knives. With use (some even without use), blades get dull over time and must be sharpened. Most users who respect their blades will prefer to sharpen them themselves — it’s a control thing, and that includes me. I used to use a sharpening stone — a whetstone — but that’s messy, and takes a fair amount of skill and practice to master. Many people send their knives out to a professional for sharpening, and I’ve done that before with my chef’s knife. That is inconvenient, especially right now with COVID-19 factored in, and it can get expensive if you don’t have a good friend who owes you (or thinks he owes you, thanks, Ernie) a favor. So I really wanted to find a better way.
Cheap sharpeners are a good way to ruin a good knife. And motorized sharpeners are strictly for professionals, in my experience — there is no faster way to ruin a knife if you don’t know what you’re doing!
So what to do. I wanted something that was easy to use, sharpened at the correct angle, worked effectively and repeatedly for consistent results, and didn’t break the bank.
I was so impressed with the Spyderco pocket knife I got earlier this year — American-made, high-quality materials and craftsmanship — that I decided to see what they recommended. It turns out they have a knife sharpening system, called the Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker, that is very highly rated, easy to use, and reasonably priced (less than $75). Not only that, it would sharpen every single knife we own — not just my pocket knives, but all our kitchen knives, including those with serrated blades, scissors, pointy things like ice picks, and more — virtually anything with a sharp edge! So I bought one a few days ago and I’ve been sharpening everything in the house!
It comes with both coarse and fine stones, safety rods so you don’t hurt yourself while you’re using it, easily adjusts to sharpen all kinds of knives and other sharp instruments, and packs and stores very compactly (see second photo), easily fitting into a desk or kitchen drawer. It’s used dry, so it’s not messy. The best part is it works! Our knives have never been so sharp as they are right now.
Here’s a link to it on Amazon if you want to check it out more completely (affiliate link). There are also numerous how-to and review videos on YouTube if you want to see how it works — just search YouTube for “Spyderco Sharpmaker.”
I just need a juicy steak to try out the newly sharpened steak knives.
Joe Rauchut says
Good info, Bob. I’ll have to look into this. I used to have an 8″ horizontal , motorized wet stone for sharpening my planar blades. The only problem was no fixtures to maintain a good angle. Had to make one for an accurate angle.
Bob Bergey says
Thanks for the comment, Joe. One of the things I really like about this system is that it makes it easy to sharpen at the correct angle.
I have the same system. I’ve found it works very well for knives that already have a semi-sharp edge. If you have a very dull knife, I found it takes forever to obtain a sharp edge with the Sypderco system. Also, my coarse rods have worn out over the years and replacements are expensive ($18.00) each, so I opted for an Arkansas stone instead.
Bob Bergey says
Thanks for the comment, Tom. They also make extra course stones that would be better for really dull knives, I suspect. I’m not familiar with an Arkansas stone so I’ll have to check that out.
I don’t let my knives become very dull any more, so the coarse stones wearing out isn’t an issue. I use the Spyderco smooth rods to hone my knives. Like you, I do not like a dull knife. If my knives cannot cut paper, then I do not consider them sharp.