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Petzal: Cutting-Edge Sharpening

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October 01, 2010

Petzal: Cutting-Edge Sharpening

By David E. Petzal

Probably the least-mastered skill in all of hunting is knife sharpening. I make it a practice to grope every knife I see in the field (which gets me some strange looks, but who cares) and I doubt if one knife in 50 will actually shave hair. Sharpening a knife by hand, on a stone, required both considerable time and skill, and the many weird devices designed to make the job easy either give you mediocre results, or wreck your edge, or both.


So when the Field & Stream office told me they were sending me a new power sharpener to test, I emitted a groan not unlike a manatee cow in labor but agreed to try it anyway. It’s called the Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener (above), and rather than using grindstones, it uses belts. (Just about all custom knifemakers use grinding belts to put edges on their products.) The thing works. I have fed it soft blades and hard blades, thin blades and thick blades, serrated edge blades, cheap blades and costly blades, and every one of them emerged sharp enough for surgery. By stopwatch, it took me one minute and 58 seconds to bring a medium-dull knife to shaving sharp, and this included a belt change.

The WSKTS will not overheat your blades or tear away steel. I don’t see how you can screw up with it since it’s not only very simple, but actually comes with DIRECTIONS YOU CAN USE! It’s small, $80, and the only thing you’ll ever need to replace is the belts.

To see more, go to worksharptools.com.

Comments (56)

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from Big Country wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I think this is the first belt sharpener I seen on the market in that size and price range. (Belt sanders with fine grit metal belts don't count right?) I have a Lansky crok stix shapener that cost me $13 at academy and a smiths dimond stone for the feild for I think $15. But this would be great for the work bench and really dull knives. But be carful if your budys find out you have this you'll be shapening their knives and their friends knivve and on and on and..... well you get the idea.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steve in Virginia wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I like the look of this. I know some of the knife manufacturers warn against electric/mechanical sharpeners -- has there been any reaction from them to the product? I also use the ceramic sticks and they seem to work ok, but if you've identified something better...

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from HogBlog wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I'm not crazy about "shaving sharp" field knives (too sharp and the edge is vulnerable to bone, bullet fragments, and even dropping in the rocks), but I do like them sharp. One of the most dangerous things in the woods is a dull knife.

One of the guys I guide with sometimes is a machinist and he's just started making sharpening machines. I'd love to compare this to some of the stuff he's building.

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from FirstBubba wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

HogBlog

My dad used to tell me, "Son, it's not a razor! It's not supposed to shave!"
I have a ceramic fuse that came out of an antique phone box. Have had it since the early 70's. It stays in my hunting pack and a couple of swipes will sharpen ANY carbon steel blade to working sharpness post haste! Love Buck knives, they are just too dang hard! I carry Case. Me and my little ceramic stick have gutted lots of game.
Just one of my little K.I.S.S. principles kicking in!
It works and cost me nothing!

Bubba

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Since I have bought every knife sharpening sytem known to man, I might as well buy this one and see if it works and put the others on eBay!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gritz wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I don't know about this. I am sure that it works well in the hands of someone who already had the understanding and skill to make a sustainably sharp edge. My stance is this, learning to put an edge on a knife using a wet stone is a good exercise not just because of what it can produce but because the patience involved can be applied to other things. It is much like teaching a youngster how to spell and write. Sure, a computer can do a great job and much faster, and you can go right to a computer, but people end up with poorly written work that still has flaws because they never learn the basics. Kids today think that text messaging is all they need and have no idea how to write a complete sentence. Start with the basics and you will have all the rest of your life to cut time and effort with gadgets and still have that basic foundation. Jump right to the easy stuff and you will be sitting with your thumbs up your you know what when the power goes out or you are out in the woods. Personally, I like to keep my knives sharp and then can just carry a little ceramic sharpener in the field if needed (those days when I end up cleaning three or four deer). No electricity and no belts needed.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

WA Mtnhunter,

I am with you, may as well try it, have tried everything else. Kind of like trying to find the perfect shoe. My Son and nephew have an awful time sharpening knives, so bring them over to me to work on. Bought them a gadget called a Wort Hog, they say it works fine, although it is a weird looking contraption.
Speaking of not being able to sharpen a knive, reminds of another cousin who could not learn to milk a cow, so I had to walk to their place when his dad was gone and do the chore.....Hmm, wonder who was really stupid?

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from Jim in Mo wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Cool. I like it when you come up with worth while products to buy and this is one. I have a Lansky which is the best sharpener I've tried to date but the stones are wearing out so I will try this.
Does the WTKTS come with something to help hold the correct angle, do you think it is large enough to sharpen kitchen knives and is the belt common sandpaper I can buy at a hardware store?

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from Jeff270 wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

How often do you need to change the belts and how expensive are they? Hopefully this isn't a case of "giving away the razor" and charging us for razor blades.

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from ishawooa wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Like WAM and Happy I have bought all sorts of gadgets over the years hoping to replace my old Ozark stones with something that works as good but is faster. Somehow I never found anything that showed long term improvement although a few did work well for the short duration. That said I always knew that custom knifemakers used belt sharpeners often of their own design. Perhaps this idea is the ticket and looks like it would be worth the cost although the belt supply might be a problem where I live. Oh well there is always Fed Ex. One of the best knife sharpeners was a fellow who only used an oil soaked Carborundum which was about 8-10 inches long. The way he could put an edge on a blade in a few minutes was like magic.

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from countitandone wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

As with any blade sharpening tool, the "angle of the dangle" is what makes or breaks the sharpener. If the blade you're trying to sharpen calls out 22 degrees, then that's what you have to give it.

I'm eye-balling this belt and ask, as has Jim in Mo, how is this $80 wonder going to maintain a consistent angle of the dangle?

No thanks, I'll save the $80 and continue using the Arkie Wet Stone for the pocket, fillet and skinnin' knives and the belt sander and grinding wheel for the lawn mover blade.

Besides, to my way of thinking, there just isn't enough weight or mass to this "tool" to make it effective. Not really one to try every new brain-fart to come down the pike.

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from shane wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Any way to get this thing to put a rolled edge on?

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from Mac in Mo wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I taught myself at a young age to sharpen my knives on a stone. My homeroom/English teacher in high school would bring in his pocket knives for me to sharpen in class. I always preferred the old carborundum stones and have a small hoard of them that I treasure. I am always at estate sales looking for them. I have not seen one made in the last twenty years as good as the old ones. Keep them in different spots, when I have a spare minute the blades get touched up. Never tried the gadgets, never needed them. I have seen friends using the various gadgets and laughed, they just won't or can't learn the stone.

Kevin, Love my knives- carbon steel rules

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from buckhunter wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

It looks like a mini belt-sander. If it was mounted to a table and included a guide to maintain the correct angle for the knife I might consider it.

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from Bella wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I used to use a Washita stone till I got diamond "stones" made by EZlap. Now I know diamonds are a girl's best friend, I like my pocket size 600 grit best, but now I only use diamond sharpeners, especially on stainless blades. I make the occasional knife and my present productions are Damascus steel with antler handles and brass pins and spacers. I also make my own leather sheaths, the folks who have gotten my blades are very happy with 'em. I love Damascus steel and must have a dozen blades of folded steel and all of 'em hair shaving sharp. 'Course I do Iaido, so about half of 'em are Japanese Style Shinken, not suitable for use in the field, but I never go into the woods without a blade of some sort, but then I might be slightly fanatical about sharp pointy things. But diamonds really are a girls best friend, If she has a dull blade...

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from Jim in Mo wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Mac in Mo,
Yes carbon does rule! I don't mind an off colored blade.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Happy Myles

Sounds like you got "Tom Sawyer'ed" on that milking job! LOL

Maybe I just don't have the patience to sharpen a knife well. There is a guy in town at the sports shop that will sharpen all my hunting knives for about $2 each. He does a swell job and they hold the edge well.

Best regards

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from yohan wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

To qualify the next statement,. some would say I was never young,but thats not true.
I was old when young which was due to life on the streets for a period of years. We needed knives then and my buddy Hime could sharpen a knife quicker and better than anyone I ever knew,. Hime didnt make it out of that life so he stayed old ,even when they burried him at the tender age of 23.

As a youth (when I got younger in my later teens) I made some knives ,. mostly out of leafsprings from old cars.
Never tested the Rockwell rating on any but some when
re-tmepered were down right ( nearly ) un-sharpenable with a normal stone .
Thusly significant time ( when young ) was spent learning (by practice trial and error ) to get a 20 degree bevel ,. on knives intended for hunting. Which taught me ( with few exceptions ) any comercial kiife can be honed to a near dangerous edge with a standard stone ,.
But two diamond stones (fine and not so fine grit) just get it done quicker.

All my knives will shave hair,so Im always reluctant to hand one to some one who dosnt realize what something that sharp can do.
Bucks with 440 steel ( especially a 119 special ) once sharpened was used to dress and skin three deer. Then used in the butchering process on one before it needed a touch up. So standard 440 steel is all we really need.
But some find even that too hard.

A very sharp knife is a thing of beauty to be sure
and any , means by which any " urban, suburban, or rural, " AJ expert Hunter" can achive a really good edge is likley worth a try,. because sharp knives ( from what ive heard are safer than dull ones )

Still having used belts to sharpen knives,. must say the edge a belt will put on a knife
Done by a peroson who knows what he or she is about.
Can get just SO damn sharp,. that a warning might be prudent ,.. beware of a belt shrpened knife.
If youve never used one proceed with extream caution.

One slip may impede the passsing of your genetc material to the next generation ,.
unless you happen to be hunting right outside the emergency room door .

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from duff wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

The contraption seems to have differently angle nests alongside the belt; apparently to achieve required sharpening angle. Countitandone mentioned angle-the most important element. I have a Lansky and a Triangle, as well as field wet-stones. Most of the guys I run into-especially when you're sharpening, they show up, have no idea what angle their knife needs, or used to be at. Their knives are a 'mess.' Anyway, Dave how often does the belt need replacing, and (since I was too lazy to visit the site you so kindly provided) do they sell differently coated belts-both grit and substance?
Quick story. We were sharpening knives around a fire one night, and you know how if you're carrying some stuff, juggle it a bit-how you grab whatever you've dropped before it falls/hits the ground? Well, one fellow wasn't paying much attention and semi-dropped his knife-then reflex-grabbed it, and got the blade nicely into his palm. That's a quick way to end your hunting trip.
Thanks!

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from ingebrigtsen wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

A beltsander on ma working knives is fine, but ma hunting knife nay.. I was taught how to do it the right way and im sticking to it..

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from FLHTom wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Hello -I'm a retired machinist, so I'm able to grind a cutting edge to resharpen it. That said, I can't seem to get the hunting knives "shaving sharp", on whetstones (oil or water based). I even bought strops and rough, medium and fine compounds. If you want to see a real pro put an edge on a knife, go to:http://backyardbushman.com/?page_id=68 He not only uses sanding belts, but leather stropping belts. He can do a convex cutting edge on a damaged knife in just a few passes. I believe this is the best way to establish the edge at home, and then just carry a ceramic or stone when hunting, for field sharpening. Sincerely, t. pauley

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from FLHTom wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

For machete users, here is an example of belt sharpening by Brian Andrews, "The Backyard Bushman":http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=581335
For file sharpening, both scandi and convex:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVHeKNbRXgc
For factory style, very even razor sharp edge:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIOa1bZCMhM&feature=related
This guy is "fixing" an uneven, not really sharp edge done by the knife factory. Awesome stuff!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from davidpetzal wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

To All: Take a closer look. There are guides on either side of the belt that keep a constant 20-degree angle. All you do is keep the blade pressed against the outer side of the guide as you draw it through and a constant angle is guaranteed. Trust me.

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from kudukid wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

For those of you who still love a genuine Ouachita stone come lament with me...

I had to turn down a 24" long X 4" wide X 2" thick medium soft stone that the owner, a cutter from the Hot Springs area, didn't want to tote back to Arkansas with him. It was his display "show stone". He was willing take a few boiled peanuts for it. I'd gladly give my left one for it today!

That was at the '82 NRA Show in Dallas. I'm taking orders for anyone who wants to kick me in the butt for that "error in judgment" as the politicos call it.

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from FirstBubba wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Mac in Mo

There is an Army Surplus store near my home. Don't know where they got 'em, but they keep a supply of rough/fine "Norton" carborundum stones in stock! I slip by and pick one up every chance I get.
Checker asked me one day, "What do you do will all those stones?"
"Lose 'em, break 'em, drop 'em. I'm kind of a clutz!"

Bubba

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from nc30-06 wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Like most, I have bought and tried most every new knife sharpening gimmick that has come along, always looking for the "one". I have used a "moon stone" for really sharp edges. Ceramic sticks work great for the finish. A ceramic bulb out of a high intensity light works great too. All of these are good for a finish. The best quick sharpening tool I have found is made by Rada Mfg. Co. Does a great job especially on kitchen and pocket knives. Very little to no finish sharpening needed.

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from Del in KS wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I have a small pocket sized diamond sharpener that is about 25 years old and still only a few light strokes will bring my Buck pocket knife back to shaving sharp.
Then again I would like to have one of those. Knew a kife maker in Alaska and he used a grinding wheel to sharpen blades. One side had grit the other was all cloth enbedded with some sort of grinding rouge. A quick pass on each wheel with each side of the blade and you could shave with one of his knives.

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from maitchbee wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I learned to properly sharpen knives(and axes) in the Boy Scouts many years ago and always prided myself on having a sharp knife. I've used/tried several sharpening products over the years. All worked, some better than others. I now use an electric sharpener that I bought for my Henckel Professional kitchen knives. It not only holds the proper angle but it also has a fine honing stone and can be used on serrated knives as well. Obviously you have to use a bit of judgement with it but what's new? While I may have drifted from the old carburundum stone and oil combo my electric sharpener does every bit as good a job and a whole lot quicker to boot. With that said this latest tool shown by Dave is very interesting.

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from Tonahutu wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

You can buy this tool on Amazon for $10 less and free shipping.

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from Lee Woiteshek wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Of the thousands of things I don't do well, sharpening knives is in the top ten. So Petzal just cost me 100 bucks. I can only pray he wasn't stretching the truth that any brain dead individual can do this.

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from woodsmanj35 wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I'd like to see some Mr gadget deer hunter carry that in his day pack LOL, it'll go perfect with the computerized rifle scopes, and the suction cup potty, and the clothes that mask your heartbeat http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/hunting/2010/05/bestul-hunting-cloth...

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from Del in KS wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Dave, UB the Master, Oui B the Grasshoppers. What is thy bidding my master. Please don't go over to the dark side.
Oops, went from a Shaolin Monk to a Jeddi Knight in a flash. Maybe been drinking too musch strong coffee, or maybe it was what was in that coffee.

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from dale freeman wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Say uncle Dave;
What are you doing when you are "groping" a knife ?
sounds dangerous to me.

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from davidpetzal wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

To Del in Ks. Turn yourself in, quickly.

To Dale Freeman: I try the edge with my thumb and see if the knife can shave hair off the back of my hand.

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from cmikles1 wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I would like to try this, but I do enjoy sharpening a knife by hand. But I usually don't have the time to do it right. Every time I get ready to sharpen a knife I think of "Ernest Goes to Camp" where he licks the stone to wet it, and then ends up cutting his hand. It's hilarious.

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Dave..don't you watch Man vs Wild? Bear G. used a wet stick with pulverized stone on it to sharpen his knife!
Now THAT'S a real mountain man!

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from focusfront wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Surprised nobody mentioned the Spyderco sharpener. I started with Arkansas stones, went to crock sticks, then the Lansky, and ended with the Spyderco. Best of the bunch.

My carry knives shave arm hair. My Chicago Cutlery kitchen knives don't; takes too long to get them sharp with all of the above. I will probably buy Dave's sharpener just to save sharpening time. I have a life.

Dave, will this sharpener allow you to put an appleseed profile on your blades? My sharpeners all just straight grind the blade; I have heard that belt sanders can do the appleseed. Bill Moran used to put that edge on his blades, and knife people still speak of his edges with lowered voices.

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from dale freeman wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Thanks for keeping me straight, uncle dave.

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from Bellringer wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I may be weird, but I enjoy sharpening a knife on natural stones and a leather strop for finishing. I don't think that I would subject my Puma White Hunter and Puma Plainsman to any powered device, especially a belt sander. I have been using them for approx 35 years and have no way of knowing how many deer have been under them. I just hope that there are a few more yet to skin.

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from dale freeman wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Dave;
what is that knife lying between the hands. that's a mighty good looking knife, i don't care who you are.

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from libertyfirst wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I have a belt sharpener for blades that have been abused. It do an excellent job and the blade is firmly supported for angle. It has five speeds for proper grind without burning. It's been in use since 1941. I always finish the knives with a bench mounted diamond stone(DMT) and used the same brand of diamond out in the field(much smaller version) if necessary. My old and very large belt grinder sound like like Dave's test device. To me this new item sounds like an excellent tool!

To those who don't like a razor sharp knife, I disagree. The object of a blade is to cut easily and precisely, not pull and hack.

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from FirstBubba wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I think what my dad was alluding to, libertyfirst, is the difference between a razor edge and a knife.
A razor has a paper thin edge that can be stropped and honed quickly and easily.
A knife, however, well, you know what I mean.
My pocket and hunting knives will shave the hair off your arm, however, I don't think I have any desire to literally "shave" with any of them! LOL!

Bubba

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from FirstBubba wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

DEP

Isn't that a bit hard on thumbs?

Bubba

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from Tim Platt wrote 3 years 28 weeks ago

I've been sharpening knives and chisels with a belt sander for over 20 years..... finally I am on the "cutting edge" of technology.

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from Walt Smith wrote 3 years 28 weeks ago

I use an old leather and it will get blades scary sharp!

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from Tom-Tom wrote 3 years 28 weeks ago

Very good post, Dave. Bought the Russell Knife sharpening sticks you told us about and you did not exagerate one iota; therefore, I am going to try this one as well. Bought a barber's strope at an estate auction years ago for $1 while everyone else paid mucho dinero for the razors. Now I have to get the saw from Knives of Alaska to complete a set.

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from dale freeman wrote 3 years 28 weeks ago

uncle dave;
with no answer, i surmized that it was not your pic.
is there any way i can find out about that knife ?

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from mack wrote 3 years 28 weeks ago

I can't abide a dull knife. For manual sharpeners, I like the Spyderco Sharpmaker, but the diamond-coated steel rods are a must-have to expedite things with a dull blade. At home or in a camp with electric, I have a Chef's Choice 120. It'll take even a large blade from dull as heck to shaving sharp in a couple minutes. If you're the "knife guy" in your group and end up sharpening other guys' stuff, the time savings with the electric sharpener are worth the machine's weight in gold.

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from dick mcplenty wrote 3 years 28 weeks ago

Pretty tough to beat the ease of using a spyderco sharpmaker which will put a shaving edge on anything out there in minutes and doesn't require electricity to work..

I will be buying one of these belt sharpeners though. Don't believe for a minute that this thing won't take off more steel then stones and crocks though.

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from Mike Plotner wrote 3 years 28 weeks ago

wow

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from Bass2Buck wrote 3 years 27 weeks ago

I would try it if was way cheaper.

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from Beekeeper wrote 3 years 27 weeks ago

Got mine yesterday. Darn fine piece of plunder and by far the best gadget I've ever bought. The thing will bestow a polished edge on a knife that looks like it has been done on a stone by someone of experience. it is quick. I took a dull kitchen knife to shaving sharp in 3 minutes including changing belts. It does not pull too much metal off the blade like other electric sharpeners. The honing belt will leave you with a mirror edge and does a good job with gut hooks as well. See the directions on how to do this. The village idiot can indeed sharpen a knife perfectly with it. It will even do serrated blades, scissors, hatchets and garden hoes. I even sharpened my wifes pen knife to shaving sharp. I'll tell you folks buy the extra belt kit. When you get your sharpener you'll go on a sharpening frenzy!

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from qzm3truck wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

'ye god, it works! I'm one of those folks who can't manually hold the proper angle on a stone or steel and for some reason, can't get the Lansky-esque sharpeners to work. Just got my WSKTS yesterday and tried it this afternoon Finally, something that can put as sharp an edge on my Case Canoe as it had from the factory (scary-sharp) AND on my Benchmade Mini-Griptilian, which is the HARDEST knife to sharpen that I've ever owned WHEW!

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from hunter480 wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Okay Petzel.......why am I the only one who can`t get a knife to razor sharp with this tool? I`m flaking skin off my arm, but not shaving hair........what gives?

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from jaredrobbins wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

I actually saw this on a TV show, Two guys garage, and it looked pretty good. What I thought looked was neat was that you could also use it as a sander and change out the sand belts, Its pretty sweet.

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from Bigbass09 wrote 2 years 22 weeks ago

Northern Tools has this for $69.95 http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200431964_200431964

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from Gritz wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I don't know about this. I am sure that it works well in the hands of someone who already had the understanding and skill to make a sustainably sharp edge. My stance is this, learning to put an edge on a knife using a wet stone is a good exercise not just because of what it can produce but because the patience involved can be applied to other things. It is much like teaching a youngster how to spell and write. Sure, a computer can do a great job and much faster, and you can go right to a computer, but people end up with poorly written work that still has flaws because they never learn the basics. Kids today think that text messaging is all they need and have no idea how to write a complete sentence. Start with the basics and you will have all the rest of your life to cut time and effort with gadgets and still have that basic foundation. Jump right to the easy stuff and you will be sitting with your thumbs up your you know what when the power goes out or you are out in the woods. Personally, I like to keep my knives sharp and then can just carry a little ceramic sharpener in the field if needed (those days when I end up cleaning three or four deer). No electricity and no belts needed.

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from Happy Myles wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

WA Mtnhunter,

I am with you, may as well try it, have tried everything else. Kind of like trying to find the perfect shoe. My Son and nephew have an awful time sharpening knives, so bring them over to me to work on. Bought them a gadget called a Wort Hog, they say it works fine, although it is a weird looking contraption.
Speaking of not being able to sharpen a knive, reminds of another cousin who could not learn to milk a cow, so I had to walk to their place when his dad was gone and do the chore.....Hmm, wonder who was really stupid?

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from countitandone wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

As with any blade sharpening tool, the "angle of the dangle" is what makes or breaks the sharpener. If the blade you're trying to sharpen calls out 22 degrees, then that's what you have to give it.

I'm eye-balling this belt and ask, as has Jim in Mo, how is this $80 wonder going to maintain a consistent angle of the dangle?

No thanks, I'll save the $80 and continue using the Arkie Wet Stone for the pocket, fillet and skinnin' knives and the belt sander and grinding wheel for the lawn mover blade.

Besides, to my way of thinking, there just isn't enough weight or mass to this "tool" to make it effective. Not really one to try every new brain-fart to come down the pike.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from FLHTom wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Hello -I'm a retired machinist, so I'm able to grind a cutting edge to resharpen it. That said, I can't seem to get the hunting knives "shaving sharp", on whetstones (oil or water based). I even bought strops and rough, medium and fine compounds. If you want to see a real pro put an edge on a knife, go to:http://backyardbushman.com/?page_id=68 He not only uses sanding belts, but leather stropping belts. He can do a convex cutting edge on a damaged knife in just a few passes. I believe this is the best way to establish the edge at home, and then just carry a ceramic or stone when hunting, for field sharpening. Sincerely, t. pauley

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from HogBlog wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I'm not crazy about "shaving sharp" field knives (too sharp and the edge is vulnerable to bone, bullet fragments, and even dropping in the rocks), but I do like them sharp. One of the most dangerous things in the woods is a dull knife.

One of the guys I guide with sometimes is a machinist and he's just started making sharpening machines. I'd love to compare this to some of the stuff he's building.

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from ishawooa wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Like WAM and Happy I have bought all sorts of gadgets over the years hoping to replace my old Ozark stones with something that works as good but is faster. Somehow I never found anything that showed long term improvement although a few did work well for the short duration. That said I always knew that custom knifemakers used belt sharpeners often of their own design. Perhaps this idea is the ticket and looks like it would be worth the cost although the belt supply might be a problem where I live. Oh well there is always Fed Ex. One of the best knife sharpeners was a fellow who only used an oil soaked Carborundum which was about 8-10 inches long. The way he could put an edge on a blade in a few minutes was like magic.

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from Mac in Mo wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I taught myself at a young age to sharpen my knives on a stone. My homeroom/English teacher in high school would bring in his pocket knives for me to sharpen in class. I always preferred the old carborundum stones and have a small hoard of them that I treasure. I am always at estate sales looking for them. I have not seen one made in the last twenty years as good as the old ones. Keep them in different spots, when I have a spare minute the blades get touched up. Never tried the gadgets, never needed them. I have seen friends using the various gadgets and laughed, they just won't or can't learn the stone.

Kevin, Love my knives- carbon steel rules

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from Big Country wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I think this is the first belt sharpener I seen on the market in that size and price range. (Belt sanders with fine grit metal belts don't count right?) I have a Lansky crok stix shapener that cost me $13 at academy and a smiths dimond stone for the feild for I think $15. But this would be great for the work bench and really dull knives. But be carful if your budys find out you have this you'll be shapening their knives and their friends knivve and on and on and..... well you get the idea.

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from Steve in Virginia wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I like the look of this. I know some of the knife manufacturers warn against electric/mechanical sharpeners -- has there been any reaction from them to the product? I also use the ceramic sticks and they seem to work ok, but if you've identified something better...

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from FirstBubba wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

HogBlog

My dad used to tell me, "Son, it's not a razor! It's not supposed to shave!"
I have a ceramic fuse that came out of an antique phone box. Have had it since the early 70's. It stays in my hunting pack and a couple of swipes will sharpen ANY carbon steel blade to working sharpness post haste! Love Buck knives, they are just too dang hard! I carry Case. Me and my little ceramic stick have gutted lots of game.
Just one of my little K.I.S.S. principles kicking in!
It works and cost me nothing!

Bubba

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from Jim in Mo wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Cool. I like it when you come up with worth while products to buy and this is one. I have a Lansky which is the best sharpener I've tried to date but the stones are wearing out so I will try this.
Does the WTKTS come with something to help hold the correct angle, do you think it is large enough to sharpen kitchen knives and is the belt common sandpaper I can buy at a hardware store?

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from Jeff270 wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

How often do you need to change the belts and how expensive are they? Hopefully this isn't a case of "giving away the razor" and charging us for razor blades.

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from buckhunter wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

It looks like a mini belt-sander. If it was mounted to a table and included a guide to maintain the correct angle for the knife I might consider it.

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from davidpetzal wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

To All: Take a closer look. There are guides on either side of the belt that keep a constant 20-degree angle. All you do is keep the blade pressed against the outer side of the guide as you draw it through and a constant angle is guaranteed. Trust me.

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from woodsmanj35 wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I'd like to see some Mr gadget deer hunter carry that in his day pack LOL, it'll go perfect with the computerized rifle scopes, and the suction cup potty, and the clothes that mask your heartbeat http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/hunting/2010/05/bestul-hunting-cloth...

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Dave..don't you watch Man vs Wild? Bear G. used a wet stick with pulverized stone on it to sharpen his knife!
Now THAT'S a real mountain man!

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Since I have bought every knife sharpening sytem known to man, I might as well buy this one and see if it works and put the others on eBay!

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from shane wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Any way to get this thing to put a rolled edge on?

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from Jim in Mo wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Mac in Mo,
Yes carbon does rule! I don't mind an off colored blade.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Happy Myles

Sounds like you got "Tom Sawyer'ed" on that milking job! LOL

Maybe I just don't have the patience to sharpen a knife well. There is a guy in town at the sports shop that will sharpen all my hunting knives for about $2 each. He does a swell job and they hold the edge well.

Best regards

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from yohan wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

To qualify the next statement,. some would say I was never young,but thats not true.
I was old when young which was due to life on the streets for a period of years. We needed knives then and my buddy Hime could sharpen a knife quicker and better than anyone I ever knew,. Hime didnt make it out of that life so he stayed old ,even when they burried him at the tender age of 23.

As a youth (when I got younger in my later teens) I made some knives ,. mostly out of leafsprings from old cars.
Never tested the Rockwell rating on any but some when
re-tmepered were down right ( nearly ) un-sharpenable with a normal stone .
Thusly significant time ( when young ) was spent learning (by practice trial and error ) to get a 20 degree bevel ,. on knives intended for hunting. Which taught me ( with few exceptions ) any comercial kiife can be honed to a near dangerous edge with a standard stone ,.
But two diamond stones (fine and not so fine grit) just get it done quicker.

All my knives will shave hair,so Im always reluctant to hand one to some one who dosnt realize what something that sharp can do.
Bucks with 440 steel ( especially a 119 special ) once sharpened was used to dress and skin three deer. Then used in the butchering process on one before it needed a touch up. So standard 440 steel is all we really need.
But some find even that too hard.

A very sharp knife is a thing of beauty to be sure
and any , means by which any " urban, suburban, or rural, " AJ expert Hunter" can achive a really good edge is likley worth a try,. because sharp knives ( from what ive heard are safer than dull ones )

Still having used belts to sharpen knives,. must say the edge a belt will put on a knife
Done by a peroson who knows what he or she is about.
Can get just SO damn sharp,. that a warning might be prudent ,.. beware of a belt shrpened knife.
If youve never used one proceed with extream caution.

One slip may impede the passsing of your genetc material to the next generation ,.
unless you happen to be hunting right outside the emergency room door .

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from duff wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

The contraption seems to have differently angle nests alongside the belt; apparently to achieve required sharpening angle. Countitandone mentioned angle-the most important element. I have a Lansky and a Triangle, as well as field wet-stones. Most of the guys I run into-especially when you're sharpening, they show up, have no idea what angle their knife needs, or used to be at. Their knives are a 'mess.' Anyway, Dave how often does the belt need replacing, and (since I was too lazy to visit the site you so kindly provided) do they sell differently coated belts-both grit and substance?
Quick story. We were sharpening knives around a fire one night, and you know how if you're carrying some stuff, juggle it a bit-how you grab whatever you've dropped before it falls/hits the ground? Well, one fellow wasn't paying much attention and semi-dropped his knife-then reflex-grabbed it, and got the blade nicely into his palm. That's a quick way to end your hunting trip.
Thanks!

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from ingebrigtsen wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

A beltsander on ma working knives is fine, but ma hunting knife nay.. I was taught how to do it the right way and im sticking to it..

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from FLHTom wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

For machete users, here is an example of belt sharpening by Brian Andrews, "The Backyard Bushman":http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=581335
For file sharpening, both scandi and convex:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVHeKNbRXgc
For factory style, very even razor sharp edge:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIOa1bZCMhM&feature=related
This guy is "fixing" an uneven, not really sharp edge done by the knife factory. Awesome stuff!

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from kudukid wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

For those of you who still love a genuine Ouachita stone come lament with me...

I had to turn down a 24" long X 4" wide X 2" thick medium soft stone that the owner, a cutter from the Hot Springs area, didn't want to tote back to Arkansas with him. It was his display "show stone". He was willing take a few boiled peanuts for it. I'd gladly give my left one for it today!

That was at the '82 NRA Show in Dallas. I'm taking orders for anyone who wants to kick me in the butt for that "error in judgment" as the politicos call it.

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from FirstBubba wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Mac in Mo

There is an Army Surplus store near my home. Don't know where they got 'em, but they keep a supply of rough/fine "Norton" carborundum stones in stock! I slip by and pick one up every chance I get.
Checker asked me one day, "What do you do will all those stones?"
"Lose 'em, break 'em, drop 'em. I'm kind of a clutz!"

Bubba

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from nc30-06 wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Like most, I have bought and tried most every new knife sharpening gimmick that has come along, always looking for the "one". I have used a "moon stone" for really sharp edges. Ceramic sticks work great for the finish. A ceramic bulb out of a high intensity light works great too. All of these are good for a finish. The best quick sharpening tool I have found is made by Rada Mfg. Co. Does a great job especially on kitchen and pocket knives. Very little to no finish sharpening needed.

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from Del in KS wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I have a small pocket sized diamond sharpener that is about 25 years old and still only a few light strokes will bring my Buck pocket knife back to shaving sharp.
Then again I would like to have one of those. Knew a kife maker in Alaska and he used a grinding wheel to sharpen blades. One side had grit the other was all cloth enbedded with some sort of grinding rouge. A quick pass on each wheel with each side of the blade and you could shave with one of his knives.

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from maitchbee wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I learned to properly sharpen knives(and axes) in the Boy Scouts many years ago and always prided myself on having a sharp knife. I've used/tried several sharpening products over the years. All worked, some better than others. I now use an electric sharpener that I bought for my Henckel Professional kitchen knives. It not only holds the proper angle but it also has a fine honing stone and can be used on serrated knives as well. Obviously you have to use a bit of judgement with it but what's new? While I may have drifted from the old carburundum stone and oil combo my electric sharpener does every bit as good a job and a whole lot quicker to boot. With that said this latest tool shown by Dave is very interesting.

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from Tonahutu wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

You can buy this tool on Amazon for $10 less and free shipping.

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from Lee Woiteshek wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Of the thousands of things I don't do well, sharpening knives is in the top ten. So Petzal just cost me 100 bucks. I can only pray he wasn't stretching the truth that any brain dead individual can do this.

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from Del in KS wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Dave, UB the Master, Oui B the Grasshoppers. What is thy bidding my master. Please don't go over to the dark side.
Oops, went from a Shaolin Monk to a Jeddi Knight in a flash. Maybe been drinking too musch strong coffee, or maybe it was what was in that coffee.

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from dale freeman wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Say uncle Dave;
What are you doing when you are "groping" a knife ?
sounds dangerous to me.

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from davidpetzal wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

To Del in Ks. Turn yourself in, quickly.

To Dale Freeman: I try the edge with my thumb and see if the knife can shave hair off the back of my hand.

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from cmikles1 wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I would like to try this, but I do enjoy sharpening a knife by hand. But I usually don't have the time to do it right. Every time I get ready to sharpen a knife I think of "Ernest Goes to Camp" where he licks the stone to wet it, and then ends up cutting his hand. It's hilarious.

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from focusfront wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Surprised nobody mentioned the Spyderco sharpener. I started with Arkansas stones, went to crock sticks, then the Lansky, and ended with the Spyderco. Best of the bunch.

My carry knives shave arm hair. My Chicago Cutlery kitchen knives don't; takes too long to get them sharp with all of the above. I will probably buy Dave's sharpener just to save sharpening time. I have a life.

Dave, will this sharpener allow you to put an appleseed profile on your blades? My sharpeners all just straight grind the blade; I have heard that belt sanders can do the appleseed. Bill Moran used to put that edge on his blades, and knife people still speak of his edges with lowered voices.

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from dale freeman wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Thanks for keeping me straight, uncle dave.

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from Bellringer wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I may be weird, but I enjoy sharpening a knife on natural stones and a leather strop for finishing. I don't think that I would subject my Puma White Hunter and Puma Plainsman to any powered device, especially a belt sander. I have been using them for approx 35 years and have no way of knowing how many deer have been under them. I just hope that there are a few more yet to skin.

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from dale freeman wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Dave;
what is that knife lying between the hands. that's a mighty good looking knife, i don't care who you are.

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from libertyfirst wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I have a belt sharpener for blades that have been abused. It do an excellent job and the blade is firmly supported for angle. It has five speeds for proper grind without burning. It's been in use since 1941. I always finish the knives with a bench mounted diamond stone(DMT) and used the same brand of diamond out in the field(much smaller version) if necessary. My old and very large belt grinder sound like like Dave's test device. To me this new item sounds like an excellent tool!

To those who don't like a razor sharp knife, I disagree. The object of a blade is to cut easily and precisely, not pull and hack.

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from Beekeeper wrote 3 years 27 weeks ago

Got mine yesterday. Darn fine piece of plunder and by far the best gadget I've ever bought. The thing will bestow a polished edge on a knife that looks like it has been done on a stone by someone of experience. it is quick. I took a dull kitchen knife to shaving sharp in 3 minutes including changing belts. It does not pull too much metal off the blade like other electric sharpeners. The honing belt will leave you with a mirror edge and does a good job with gut hooks as well. See the directions on how to do this. The village idiot can indeed sharpen a knife perfectly with it. It will even do serrated blades, scissors, hatchets and garden hoes. I even sharpened my wifes pen knife to shaving sharp. I'll tell you folks buy the extra belt kit. When you get your sharpener you'll go on a sharpening frenzy!

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from Bella wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I used to use a Washita stone till I got diamond "stones" made by EZlap. Now I know diamonds are a girl's best friend, I like my pocket size 600 grit best, but now I only use diamond sharpeners, especially on stainless blades. I make the occasional knife and my present productions are Damascus steel with antler handles and brass pins and spacers. I also make my own leather sheaths, the folks who have gotten my blades are very happy with 'em. I love Damascus steel and must have a dozen blades of folded steel and all of 'em hair shaving sharp. 'Course I do Iaido, so about half of 'em are Japanese Style Shinken, not suitable for use in the field, but I never go into the woods without a blade of some sort, but then I might be slightly fanatical about sharp pointy things. But diamonds really are a girls best friend, If she has a dull blade...

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from FirstBubba wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

I think what my dad was alluding to, libertyfirst, is the difference between a razor edge and a knife.
A razor has a paper thin edge that can be stropped and honed quickly and easily.
A knife, however, well, you know what I mean.
My pocket and hunting knives will shave the hair off your arm, however, I don't think I have any desire to literally "shave" with any of them! LOL!

Bubba

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from FirstBubba wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

DEP

Isn't that a bit hard on thumbs?

Bubba

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from Tim Platt wrote 3 years 28 weeks ago

I've been sharpening knives and chisels with a belt sander for over 20 years..... finally I am on the "cutting edge" of technology.

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from Walt Smith wrote 3 years 28 weeks ago

I use an old leather and it will get blades scary sharp!

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from Tom-Tom wrote 3 years 28 weeks ago

Very good post, Dave. Bought the Russell Knife sharpening sticks you told us about and you did not exagerate one iota; therefore, I am going to try this one as well. Bought a barber's strope at an estate auction years ago for $1 while everyone else paid mucho dinero for the razors. Now I have to get the saw from Knives of Alaska to complete a set.

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from dale freeman wrote 3 years 28 weeks ago

uncle dave;
with no answer, i surmized that it was not your pic.
is there any way i can find out about that knife ?

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from mack wrote 3 years 28 weeks ago

I can't abide a dull knife. For manual sharpeners, I like the Spyderco Sharpmaker, but the diamond-coated steel rods are a must-have to expedite things with a dull blade. At home or in a camp with electric, I have a Chef's Choice 120. It'll take even a large blade from dull as heck to shaving sharp in a couple minutes. If you're the "knife guy" in your group and end up sharpening other guys' stuff, the time savings with the electric sharpener are worth the machine's weight in gold.

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from dick mcplenty wrote 3 years 28 weeks ago

Pretty tough to beat the ease of using a spyderco sharpmaker which will put a shaving edge on anything out there in minutes and doesn't require electricity to work..

I will be buying one of these belt sharpeners though. Don't believe for a minute that this thing won't take off more steel then stones and crocks though.

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from Mike Plotner wrote 3 years 28 weeks ago

wow

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from Bass2Buck wrote 3 years 27 weeks ago

I would try it if was way cheaper.

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from qzm3truck wrote 3 years 25 weeks ago

'ye god, it works! I'm one of those folks who can't manually hold the proper angle on a stone or steel and for some reason, can't get the Lansky-esque sharpeners to work. Just got my WSKTS yesterday and tried it this afternoon Finally, something that can put as sharp an edge on my Case Canoe as it had from the factory (scary-sharp) AND on my Benchmade Mini-Griptilian, which is the HARDEST knife to sharpen that I've ever owned WHEW!

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from hunter480 wrote 3 years 23 weeks ago

Okay Petzel.......why am I the only one who can`t get a knife to razor sharp with this tool? I`m flaking skin off my arm, but not shaving hair........what gives?

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from jaredrobbins wrote 3 years 22 weeks ago

I actually saw this on a TV show, Two guys garage, and it looked pretty good. What I thought looked was neat was that you could also use it as a sander and change out the sand belts, Its pretty sweet.

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from Bigbass09 wrote 2 years 22 weeks ago

Northern Tools has this for $69.95 http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200431964_200431964

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