Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker
- By Chris Parkin
- 0 Comments
- Last updated: 22/05/2018
Spyderco are well-known for making fantastic knives, incorporating modern ergonomics and steel but keeping any knife sharp is a task well worth learning.
The serrated edges used on some Spydercos might look daunting to sharpen but with the correct tool, technique and regular maintenance, it becomes second nature.
The Sharpmaker kit comes neatly boxed for travel, with a detailed instruction manual and DVD video that I consider well worth watching, especially for greater detail on blade grinding styles and procedures with pros and cons to each. Sal Glesser introduces the video, who, as founder and head of R&D for Spyderco, knows a thing or two, with a nice presentation style. Opening the polymer case shows a base unit that can be screwed down or using its own cover that turns into a hold down handle. There are two pairs of 7-inch triangular stones, to slot into snug fitting pockets either end of the ambidextrous base, creating 30- or 40-degree sharpening angles. Twin brass guards slot in similarly angled outwards above your hands for protection, in case of a slip. Don’t discount these as whimsical, they add justifiable safety and won’t damage the finely honed edge if you do bump one and believe me, this thing will have you getting razor-sharp edges in close proximity to skin.
Spyderco recommend starting with the corners of the medium grit, grey stones on a knife in reasonable condition. 40-degrees is advised for all general-purpose sharpening, with the 30-degree option suggested for ultra-sharp, fine/ delicate edges on precision knives, or when you need to grind back the shoulders of any regular blade throughout its lifetime as the blade gets thicker. Keeping your blade vertical with the unit on a solid surface, simply stroke the steel gently down the stone’s edge, whilst drawing it toward you to cover the full length but avoid the absolute tip at this stage. The edge will come to a definite stop against the polymer base and just repeat. With metronomic timing, 20 reps either side gets you well on the way. The video explains how to use a fingernail or even the plastic case to show if you are creating the edge correctly and if that is the case, progress to the flat surfaces for another 20 strokes either side. Once they are completed, repeat the same sequence again with the finer white stones to further hone the edge for ultimate ‘crazy sharp’ performance, first on the angles, then on the flats for a total of 80 strokes on each side of the blade.
I would recommend sticking with it and not rushing, being careful not to draw the blade’s tip onto the flat edges of the stones, for obvious reasons; just take your time. The motion will become ingrained into your muscle memory and after your first knife is done (don’t use your finest knife the first time), you will have got used to the downward arc needed to draw the full length of the steel. Obviously, large knives may take longer, because there is physically more steel to sharpen, drawn toward you while you traverse that downward 7-inches of stone.
Of course, badly worn edges will need more work to renew the angled edge grind before sharpening but I can’t stress enough how much detail the instructions and DVD contain with additional instructions for scissors and other household edged items. You are advised that it’s not about pressing hard on the stones; it’s about deliberate precision and the number of gentle passes employed, especially when tending to serrated edges, where only the triangular edges are used for 5/6 stokes within the teeth, making sure to go slowly so you don’t ‘bounce’ across the ‘peaks’ before taking one stroke along the opposite, smooth edge to remove the created burr.
It takes less than a minute to set up but do use the guard rods; Spyderco inform you that familiarity leads to contempt here! Keeping the Sharpmaker held down is no problem but countersunk screw holes are presented on the base for more permanent attachment. Extra coarse diamond stones are available as optional extras, to attend extremely dull edges that need a complete regrind, with other ultrafine options for those taking on straight blade razors.
Tools like this are not about changing the laws of physics and metallurgy but the Sharpmaker certainly helps we humans to develop more consistency and I can report that patience is well-rewarded. Once you have created that fine edge, maintaining it with a few minute’s work on a regular basis will keep you cutting safely and with less effort, your blade lasting longer without the need to keep ‘deep grinding’ it when left to turn into a butter knife. The supplied stones will take on any of the steels used by Spyderco in both serrated or plain edge format, which means that anyone else’s knives can be similarly sharpened from daily used pocket knives, skinners and filleting knives to your everyday kitchen cutlery. Observing the condition of the stones as they retain steel particles when sharpening and then cleaning them is covered in the video, but no other oil or water lubrication is required for use. The medium grit stones are rated for 5-years of use before the Alumina ceramic deteriorates appreciably, yet the finer white stones really are lifetime worthy, all are rated at 9 out of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale.
Although seemingly expensive to start with, this tool looks like it will last a lifetime and the video is very interesting to watch, offering far more than just simple instructions on how to sharpen your knife. Patience is a virtue and I certainly got some amazing results from both cheap and top-quality steels.