In a recent post on BladeReviews.com, Dan posts his top 5 must have items for maintaining knives. First on the list is a sharpening system. I could not agree more. As I've tried to maintain knives over the years, I've been frustrated by my lack of skill with most flat stones. I've often gotten people to sharpening my knives for me or even just bought a new knife when the edge of the old becomes totally useless.
Sharpening systems with guides to help you maintain or resharpen edges at consistent angles are a huge help to those of us who don't have the experience. I had seen them and even used to cheap Smith Sharpener some time ago, but one day I saw a set of Lansky Crock Sticks at a local sporting goods store, and I decided to give it a try. Now my knives stay sharp.
The Lansky Turn Box Crock Sticks is a surprisingly simple yet effective design without bells or whistles. It is effectively a wooden block, with two left and right facing 20 degree and 25 degree holes cut into the top. There two medium grit and two fine grit 5" long alumina ceramic rods will rest. The four rods are stored horizontally from the end where a turning door keeps them inside when not in use.
Setup consists of placing the rods of the desired grit into the holes of the desired edge angle. I prefer the 20 degree edge using medium grit if the knife has gotten pretty dull or the fine grit when touching up or finishing. Then, starting from the top, the edge is kept point downward as you run the knife down the rod while drawing it towards you. You then do the same action for the other side of the blade with the parallel rod. Simple, keep this up in even strokes until the edge smooths out. Easy!
For maintenance, I run the rods under warm water and then scrub them with a rag or paper towels after a few uses. Mind the guide holes and check for debris, blow them out if necessary. Remember those guide holes need to stay uniform so your edges do likewise.
I've had great luck with bringing VG10, AUS-8, 7CR17, and 154cm blade to shaving sharpness. I have had less luck with the 5CR15MoV. I'm unsure about carbon steel. Both my carbon steel knives I've tried to use with this, I found a bit too long to use properly. The 5inch sticks are just too short. However, Lansky makes a kitchen version of this with 9inch sticks. I feel that I really need to pick one up soon.
The Spyderco Sharpmaker that Dan recommends is effectively a much nicer and more elaborate setup than the Lansky. However, the simple Lansky is a third of the price and certainly has less to lose. Having had solid luck with the Lansky, I'll admit that I might want something similar with more features. The Sharpmaker is certainly that.
The Lansky Crock Sticks are simple, inexpensive, and effective. They are by no means perfect. However, they are an excellent starting point for the beginning knife sharpener. This system will pay for itself quickly and tell you if you want or need something more advanced. Even after going with something nicer like the Sharpmaker, you might find the Lanskey going into your kitchen knife drawer or put into your trunk or truck box to serve as a backup.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Recently, I've been visiting Sharpthings.net's IRC channel and talking knives with the folks there. One of the regulars, Dr. Snubnose, a professional martial arts teacher, NFA qualified firearms instructor, and knife guru, has a lot of interesting things to say about cutting power in knives. Doc is well known on various knife forums for his meat tests for cutting ability. He wraps a large slab of meat in several layers of plastic wrap and then denim to see what knives work the best. Among his top performers included three Wharncliffe style blades. Two of which, the Ronin and Yojimbo, are out of production Spydercos that retailed in the $100 range. However, the third was the Dirk Pinkerton designed Meyerco Wharning. According to the good Doc, this extremely humble $17 knife matched the folding Yojimbo in making 3"- 3 ½” on cuts and slashes with it's 2.75 inch blade. When my wife bade me to order her some paracord to craft with, I also slipped this little guy into the order from BladeHQ for $16.95.
The Wharning is a wharncliffe style blade made from 7CR17 steel. This is not a premium steel in any way. Its roughly equal to 440A. While, this steel will not hold an edge too long, I can safely say that it is simple to resharpen to an effective shaving edge. After cutting open about fifteen thick dense cardboard cases of Tide, it went from a barely shaving factory edge to just sharp. However, less than ten minutes sharpening had it to shaving sharp. Easy!
The blade itself is huge for its stubby length. The stock is pretty thick and stays that way for about half the blade before hitting a slight swedge and sharp straight decline to tip. It is an extremely broad blade with a massive belly. It is a good cutter and the tip control is excellent.
The grips are a cheap micarta canvas. They are semi-smooth. They worked well enough for my dry hands, but I dunno about how well they will hold up against blood or grease. There is a good finger choil that naturally improves grip and retention. While, the grip is rather thin, the belly on the grip is pretty generous. This fills the hand better and makes the short grip work well. On the big negative, there is no jimping past the grips. Control with a thumb well forward on the spine is pretty damn good but it would be perfect with jimping.
The sheath is a pretty basic molded Kydex affair with a metal reversible belt clip. There is enough of a rim where the thumb naturally rests to help push the sheath off when drawing the blade. The choil is exposed and makes drawing much easier. Unfortunately, this taco fold sheath doesn't have any rivet holes that I can use for carbiner carry without using a long tether to the bottom of the sheath.
Overall the Wharning performed well. Cutting boxes, tape, and wrap well. The tip control was great. Ease of resharpening is excellent. Edge retention isn't great, the grips need to be bit rougher, and jimping for the thumb will have to to be added yourself. For $17, the Wharning is a bargain even with its deficiencies. It is replacing my cold steel tanto for now.
On Warriortalk, Dirk Pinkerton himself posted some interesting news for the Wharning. Meyerco has taken the old version off production and is working with Pinkerton to bring an enhanced version with full jimping, textured G10 grips, and even a changed sheath that will be compatible with tec-loks for around the same price as the original. No idea when that will be released, but be assured, I will be picking one up.
UPDATE: The Wharning in the kitchen.