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Work Sharp gives a great edge

By Gary Heffley
04/12/14 -- Most of us have the same lament, “I just can’t get a good edge on this knife anymore.” I do know there are some like my dad who could or can work a wet stone with a little oil and produce a shaving sharp edge. But it takes practice, time and a lot of patience to hone that skill.

I mentioned shortly after the ISE show that I found the Work Sharp Sharpeners to be a fast and effective sharpening tool. Well over the past few months I have had the opportunity to use the Work Sharp Sharpener myself and to watch further demonstrations. I continue to be very impressed.

Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition, knife sharpener

<< With the introduction of the Ken Onion Edition, bringing the selection to three models with the original and Field Kit, just about anything that can have an edge put to it can be sharpened. The original and Field Kit model offer the same preset angled cartridges that position the knife to take either a 20 or 25 degree blade angle. The Field Kit differs in that it comes with a carrying bag and a ceramic honing rod for quick touch ups in the field where electricity is not available.


Ken Onion who is best known for his knife designs and innovations such as the “spring assisted knife opening,” came up with some design changes from the original and incorporated such innovations as a dial adjustable angle guide, allowing the user to set a sharpening angle at 15 to 30 degrees. The belt widths were widened from a half inch to a full inch and instead of the coarse, medium and fine grit belt set of the original his new design incorporates an extra coarse, coarse, medium, fine and extra fine grit set. Along with an adjustable speed setting and some attachments that are soon to be released this new unit does it all.

Work Sharp Field Kit, knife sharpener

<< Field Kit. All three models have a scissor sharpener angled setting and with removable cartridge cassettes and a release that allows for adjustable belt positioning the sharpener can be used freehand to sharpen axes, hatchets, machetes, hoes, shovels, yard shears or even mover blades while still on the mower. The belt system allows the sanding belt to form along the edges of gut hooks so even they are a breeze to sharpen.

Operation is as simple as lining up the knife into proper a degreed cassette, turning the machine on and pulling the knife straight thru. Unless the knife is dinged and completely dull, sharpening should be done with the medium grit red belt. Repeat the process on one side until a burr is felt along the blade edge, this indicates you have reached the sharpened material of the blade. This usually occurs with three to five swipes. At this stage repeat the process on the other side with the same amount of swipes through the belt guides.

At this point exchange the medium belt for a fine grit bluish belt. This belt is used to hone the blade and should be done by alternating passes one side then the other. Five swipes each and you should have a sharp knife blade you can shave your arms with.

Knives with a serrated edge are handled differently but just as easily. Never run the serrated edge across the belt, never, ever. Sharpen the flat blade area only following the same directions as above. After the steps including honing are completed, remove the cassette and freehand run the flat backside of the serrated portion of the blade along the honing belt. It is that easy.

As a rule of thumb use the 20 degree angle setting for kitchen and fillet knives. Most hunting and pocket knives will have a 25 degree angle. Remember that the Ken Onion Edition allows for sharper steeper angles or broader angles to be utilized.

The green coarse grit belts are best suited for grinding purposes, taking dings out of blades or for heavy duty jobs like the mover blades. With the grinding and shaping attachments due into the Ken Onion Edition line-up, knife making enthusiasts will have the ability to grind out and shape out their own knife designs.

The sharpeners are manufactured in the heart of Jefferson country in Ashland, Oregon and having personally sold many electric sharpener makes and models over the years with little personal sharpening satisfaction I enjoy spreading the word about the Work Sharp models. They not only supply a superior edge but are extremely easy to use effectively. Work Sharp products are available locally at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Redding.

Gary Heffley has been a valued contributor to MyOutdoorBuddy for over six years serving as manager, sales representative and reporter for much of Northern California. He is an avid outdoorsman and loves to fish and write about his adventures. He has long history in the Sporting Goods field and is presently managing the Gift Bar and Camping Department at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Redding.

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