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Some time ago, I called your attention to the Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener, an ingenious device that enables the veriest dullard to put a murderous edge on just about anything. However, the system is for home use only as it requires electricity. Enter the Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener 2.2.1, which solves this problem neatly. It’s around 7 inches long, weighs a couple of ounces, and consists of two diamond sharpening plates (fine and coarse) that are held in place by magnets, a ceramic rod with coarse, fine and fishhook positions, a small ceramic rod for serrated edges, and an impregnated leather strop.
The key to the WSGFS is the 20-degree guides at either end of the tool. Unless you’re an expert at sharpening, you’ll find it’s almost impossible to hold a knife at the same angle for each sharpening stroke, and you end up removing steel from the blade instead of getting an edge. The guides solve this. You lay the blade flat on the guide and push it down the diamond plate, then lay it flat on the opposite guide and pull it toward you. Don’t pull too hard unless life has become unbearable. Work Sharp says it takes 5 to 10 strokes each way to get an edge, and this is what I found as well. You finish off by giving the knife a few strokes on the fine side of the ceramic rod, and you’re done. You can take any knife from “won’t cut” to “shave hair” in about the time it takes to read this far.
Despite the fact that the WSGFS has all the sharpening options except a green rouge wheel, you can get along quite nicely with nothing but the fine diamond plate and the fine ceramic rod. (In fact, don’t use the coarse diamond plate unless you have no edge at all. It’s too aggressive for normal sharpening.) I put vicious edges on six knives with it, ranging from soft kitchen-cutlery stainless to a very hard ATS-34 blade from a custom smith, in blade lengths from 2 inches to 8, and found that the device worked unfailingly. If you’re really anal about it, or have to perform eye surgery with what you’re sharpening, you can use the leather strop, but I don’t see a compelling need for it.
At $34.95 the WSGFS is affordable even by the lowliest of us, and if you’re smart, you’ll buy one instantly or sooner. When news of how good the electric Work Sharp was got around, you couldn’t find one to buy. This should be even more popular.
(And a note: After use, run your finger down the diamond plate to remove the steel dust. Do not lick your finger. To clean steel off the ceramic rod, put a little household cleanser on a wet cleaning patch and scrub it off.)