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Foolproof Scary Sharp Knife Sharpening

Updated on March 4, 2013

Alright, if you're like me, you like a good sharp knife. If you're also like me, free-hand knife sharpening with wet stones or diamond stones always results in mediocre results that can barely cut paper.

Well for only $40 and a little reading of this post, sharp knives will be forever in your future. With my knowledge of simple techniques and having the correct tools you will be slicing paper like a samurai in no time.

In-case this Hub isn't enough for you to understand, I'm also embedding my Youtube video I made about this for your viewing.

Smith's Sharpening System

First thing you have got to get your hands on is some sort of knife sharpening system. Any brand will do, the only thing that matters are the contents inside.

I chose Smith's Sharpening kit. It was roughly $35.

It comes with a knife clamp that has two angles of sharpening; 20 and 25 degrees. 25 degrees is a better edge for a longer lasting edge. One that is good for a work knife that is cutting wood, leather, cardboard boxes, etc. 20 degrees gives you a edge that is good for everything else, and can be razor sharp. I always use 20 degrees.

It comes with 3 stones. A Coarse and Fine diamond stone, and a triangular stone for doing serrated knives. All we need are the Coarse and Fine diamond stones.

Using the sharpening kit is pretty simple. You clamp your knife into the knife vise, and insert the rod into the 20 degree slot. That's it. Now your stone is locked into a 20 degree angle, and you can simply grind away to your hearts desire.

Start off with your Coarse diamond stone and grind in your primary edge. If this is your first time sharpening this knife using this kit and this particular degree it may take a bit of work to grind in the primary edge. Pause and examine your edge closely to make sure the bevel is extending all the way to the edge of the knife.

A quick technique to make sure you've got the bevel all the way to the edge is to check for a burr or catch on the opposite side with your fingernail. If you scratch perpendicular with the knife edge you should feel a small bump. If your nail simply sides off the edge then the grind bevel isn't all the way down to the edge and you've got more Coarse grinding to do.

Once you've got your bevel extending all the way to the edge and there's a decent burr on the opposite side, you can flip to the other side and grind in your primary edge on that side.

Don't stop until you feel a burr on the now opposite side.

Once your primary edge is ground on the other side, you can start grinding on each side. Use about 10 strokes on one side, then flip to the other, and do another 10 strokes and continue until you can start to feel a nice sharp edge along the whole length of your blade.

It isn't important which direction you are grinding with your stone. You can go back and forth, in circles, diagonal, whichever. Later we're going to start worrying about that. Just match what your are doing on both sides of the blade.

After you have your primary edge ground and the whole length of the blade is nice and sharp feeling, you can switch to your Fine diamond stone if you have one. Repeat the 10 strokes on each side with your Fine diamond stone.

Water is becoming important here. You want to rinse your stone after ever other side to rinse the metal shavings out of the fine pockets in the stone. It keeps the surface clean and makes for a faster sharpening.

After a couple flips with the Fine stone and the edge is really starting to feel sharp, you need to stop grinding in any direction and ONLY grind away from the edge. That is to say, the opposite direction than if you were trying to shave hair off your arm. This shaves and hones the edge to a more thinner and precise edge.

FOCUS on your direction, and maintain your count on each side. You want to do exactly the same on each side.


After you've finished with your Fine stone, it's time to start with STAGE TWO.

What I've got here is Honing Film, in 15, 5 and .3 Micron of grit. They are going to take our nicely sharp edge and turn it into a scary sharp one.

You can take the film and cut it into a size that will fit over your Fine diamond stone.

Clean your Fines diamond stone really well, and apply the film. Make sure that it is flat and all the air bubbles are out from under it.

You want to keep the film slightly wet. Use the same technique as the Fine diamond stone. One direction, away from the edge, and COUNT YOUR STROKES.


SLOW DOWN. Take your time honing the edge, and go slow or you'll rip or cut the film. Spend plenty of time with the 15 Micron film. This does the most work. Keep going until you have a nicely shiny edge.

Switch to the 5 Micron film. Repeat. It doesn't need much, you can spend less strokes with this film and the next.

Switch to the .3 Micron film. Repeat. Keep it wet. 40 - 60 stokes per side in 10 stroke increments is all that should be needed.

You should now have an edge that is near Mirror Finish! Take the knife out of the clamp and test it on some paper, and shave some arm hair. Congrats!

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