In the Field

The Meditative Art of Knife Sharpening…and the Best Knife Sharpeners in the World

The meditative art of knife sharpening and the best knife sharpeners in the world.

I’ve always felt that sharpening a knife, or any edged tool, is a meditative art form. As one firmly, yet gently slides a blade across a sharpening stone and listens to the hypnotic song of oiled steel coming to life, one’s imagination comes to life and memories are revisited. As I sharpen my favorite knives, I think of all the places I’ve been with those blades, all the adventures, all the beautiful country explored and all the chores those tools were used for. I think of good times with good friends in the great outdoors, of the many challenges that those knives helped me conquer, and what future endeavors they will be summoned forth to assist with. Even many of the sharpening stones that I use evoke memories and celebrate family bonds, as some of those stones have been passed down from generation to generation. Indeed, one truly develops a bond with one’s blades, as they become an expression and extension of both one’s will and creativity. In fact, even the precise angle of an edge that is being sharpened is a personal act of self-expression, as each person uses a distinct combination of grip, angle, pressure, etc., while stroking a blade upon a stone.

My dad is the one who taught me how to sharpen a knife at a very young age, as owning a knife as a boy (and as an adult) requires commitment and responsibility…that is, if you want your knife to last a lifetime and to perform when you need it. There is nothing more frustrating than needing to cut a material of one kind or another and having to exert tremendous force to get the job done. Dull knives produce sloppy, time-consuming work, and they are also very dangerous! The vast majority of knife accidents in the outdoors, around the house, or in the kitchen result from dull blades, which again, require tremendous force in order to penetrate whatever one intends to cut. And, that excessive force often results in slipping and getting hurt. A razor-sharp blade requires very little effort to cut and enables the user to fully control the blade at all times, resulting in fast, clean work.

As with most folks I imagine, I learned how to sharpen knives and other tools using a variety of stones. It does take a fair amount of practice and skill to get a true razor’s edge on a blade when using a stone, and it can be a little time-consuming…depending on the tool, blade material, or present degree of sharpness. But, the more one masters knife sharpening techniques, the faster and easier it gets. While I still enjoy sharpening with old-fashioned stones, I have to admit that I do like the more modern methods and devices, which I use most of the time now. Keep in mind, however, that no matter how one sharpens a blade, the key is consistency. Using the same angle and same procedure to sharpen a knife or other edged tool each time will produce the best, fastest results. For example, if you sharpen a knife on a set of oil stones one time, on a power sharpening tool the next, and then on some other device on the following session, chances are that your edge profile will be a mess and will get harder and harder to keep sharp. A blade needs consistency, so use the same method and devices to sharpen your knives and tools as much as possible. Every knife I own I can shave with, and I can bring back that degree of razor sharpness very fast…and that’s because I use the same method on the same blades over and over again.

The Best Knife Sharpeners in the World

Here are my top picks for knife sharpening stones and devices. All of these I have personally used and can confidently recommend as truly the best knife and tool sharpening equipment in the world.

Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener – Ken Onion Edition

If you need one tool for sharpening everything, from axes and fine kitchen cutlery to your favorite pocket and fillet knives, then this is the tool for you! Ken Onion is a legend in the knife world, and if his name is on a product, you know you are getting a top quality, serious piece of equipment. Click on the photo below to learn more or order yours today.

Ken Onion Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener Review
The Ken Onion Work Sharp knife and tool sharpener does it all!

 

Smiths Sharpening Products

There are lots of sharpening stones and devices on the market these days, but I prefer products made by Smiths, which I have used for decades with outstanding, consistent results. Smiths has been around since 1886…that’s well over a hundred years of making fantastic sharpening products.

While Smiths offers all the traditional stones that folks have used for years, I prefer their diamond sharpening stones, which are made with mono-crystalline diamonds that sharpen blades and tools much faster and cleaner than traditional oil or water stones…not to mention, they also last much longer. In fact, diamond stones are even used to shape and flatten those traditional stones. Smiths also makes great little handheld sharpening tools out of carbide and ceramic materials that work wonderfully. I have several of them all around the house, one in my Jeep, and a few more with my hunting and fishing gear. I even have one attached to my main go-to ESSE knife sheath as pictured above. Below are my favorite Smith products. Click on the pictures to learn more or order your today…

Smith's 8-Inch Diamond Tri-Hone Bench Stone Review
Smith’s 8-Inch Diamond Tri-Hone Bench Stone
Smith's Diamond-Arkansas Stones Precision Knife Sharpening System Review
Smith’s Diamond-Arkansas Stones Precision Knife Sharpening System
Smith's Pack Pal Combination Sharpener Review
Smith’s Pack Pal Combination Sharpener
Smith's 2-Step Knife Sharpener Review
Smith’s 2-Step Knife Sharpener
 Smith's Pocket Pal Multi-function Sharpener Review
Smith’s Pocket Pal Multi-function Sharpener – 2 Pack

 

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