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My Wicked Edge Journey (Long)

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  • #33573
    Dennis Hibar
    Participant
    • Topics: 9
    • Replies: 99

    My Wicked Edge Journey

    This is not for the Wicked Edge masters out there.  (You know who you are!)  It’s meant for those considering the WE and trying to decide which particular WE version is the “right” one.  It is also a small chronicle of my WE journey.  In my mind, choosing which WE version depends on what type of knives you sharpen (or plan to sharpen) most often.    Let me say that I don’t sharpen knives as a business, nor do I claim or attempt to fully understand edge geometry.  I’m just a retired guy afflicted with the addiction of collecting pocket knives!  I currently have over 100 in my collection (and have sold or given away more than double that number).  I like to refine the edge on virtually every knife I own (as I am rarely satisfied with the original maker’s edge).  Hand sharpening got to be iffy as I got older … the dexterity in my hands seemed to decrease.  So, I started to look for a guided system.

    My Wicked Edge journey started almost 4 and a half years ago, when I bought my Wicked Edge 100.  After much research and carefully considering the top two contenders in the guided system sharpeners (the WE and the EdgePro), decided the WE was for me.  I opted for what is basically the Pro Pack 1 system (minus the base, since I wanted to use my own bamboo block base).

    I was amazed at the results I was able to achieve right out of the gate with the WE.  After it arrived, I spent a while practicing on some cheap “who knows what kind of steel” knives.  I tested different edge profiles and grit progressions.  I also practiced on enough of them to give the diamond stones a good break-in.  In January of 2012, I sharpened the first knife from my collection.  It was a Spyderco Perrin PPT.  I chose that one for two reasons.  It was not very expensive and it had a Wharncliffe blade.  I wanted first to master clamping the FFG blade and not worry about positioning to accommodate a large belly.  The results were very good in my opinion.

    It wasn’t long before I was able to achieve an outstanding edge on virtually every knife I mounted.  I did, however, notice that some well documented wobble in the original arm collars did affect the geometry of the tips of some of the larger belly knives I had.  I opted to upgrade to some modified arm collars (which basically reduced that wobble significantly.

    This made a huge difference in my opinion and I was quickly on my way to becoming extremely comfortable with the WE system.  Sometimes, however, being too comfortable leads to mind lapses.  One day, in mid-2012, I quickly reached for my angle cube (on the back side of the WE) and accidentally ran my hand over the edge of a knife I was sharpening.  Needless to say, my sharpening session was interrupted by a quick trip the the ER for some stitches!

    Next lesson, work area and accessory positioning is also a very important factor!!!  I started keeping all my supplies the right/left of the WE and nothing on the far side!!!

    Eventually, I upgraded the WE 100 platform to essentially a ProPac 2 by adding the ball-joint arms, new vice and base rod.  I found that this set-up was perfect for me to start achieving very nice mirrored edge bevels as the ball joints eliminated just about all of the (minimal) play experienced with the original arms/collars.  This set up could/can handle just about any knife you can throw at it.  I was soon tackling knives with compound grinds, huge bellies, and even mirror polishing some relatively expensive knives.

    WE6

    WE7

    After a few years of using the WE, I found myself becoming less obsessed with mirror polishing every knife I sharpened.  What was more important to me was maintaining an extremely even edge bevel and an edge which easily cut what it was intended to cut!  Some knives I still sharpen to a virtually scratch-free mirror polish (that pass the hanging hair test with ease), but most often my progression goes through the 1000 K diamond stones ( starting stone depends on the condition of the original edge, as I don’t often grossly re-profile), 1500/2000/3000 grit sand paper (sometimes lapping film), and finish up with a little stropping (leather with some semi-liquid chromium oxide compound and balsa with .5 micron diamond spray).  Both help with the polish and the diamond spray on balsa seems to help the blade bite a little.  This process will usually take me around 45 minutes to a hour.  The frustrating part is that a lot of that time is spent on set-up and angle adjustment when changing to different paddles.  This is what prompted me to add a complete Gen 3 system last month.

    The Gen3 is truly a marvel in terms of set-up.  No more messing with individually setting two arms, measuring the actual angle of the arms, readjusting, and then again readjusting the left arm to compensating a particular blade grind.  Could I have omitted much of that readjusting?  Sure … and I would have still gotten a wicked sharp edge.  But …. I am obsessive when it comes to an even symmetrical edge bevel!  This is where the Gen3 shines.  Here is the very first knife I put the Gen3 to task sharpening:

    WE9

    Outstanding results in far less time.  Is the Gen3 perfect … no.  Do I regret adding it … absolutely not.  For me, the biggest deficiency is the fact that it is difficult, if not impossible, to use for some of my knives with very short and/or very thin (width not stock thickness).  It is just too difficult to get good clamping on a knife like this.  You could use a small knife device like the Tormek (which I have and really don’t much care for).  I prefer to use my old WE 2 for those knives …. which is why I did not just upgrade the 2 to a Gen3.  Keeping both systems lets me handle every knife in my collection.  Here is a pic of my workbench sharpening station:

    WE10

    Which do I prefer to use …. the Gen3, of course.  If you are considering a WE …. you need to ask yourself that important question  I mentioned at the beginning of this long-winded post.  What type of knives will you be sharpening?  If you are unsure and want to provide some flexibility …. the WE2 is the obvious choice.  There will be virtually no difference in your ability to achieve fantastic results with either version.   The big difference is, as I said, in overall set-up and sharpening time.  That said, if you know that most of your knives will be larger (2.5” and longer and .75-1” or wider blades) and can afford the higher price tag … the Gen3 will certainly bring a smile to your face.  And … if you do ever have to sharpen a small blade  …. the Tormek small knife adapter does work very well.  (It’s just not for me.  I have arthritis in my hands and significantly reduced feeling in my fingers.  As a result, I have to grasp the paddles with far more force than I should to make sure they don’t slip from my hands.  That makes it tough on small thin blades mounted in the Tormek.)

    So, after nearly 4.5 years, I am still a very happy WE user.  Would like to thank Clay and crew for an outstanding device, their continued efforts to improve an already fantastic product, their willingness to continue to educate the sharpening community … and their OUTSTANDING customer support.

    Happy sharpening!

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    #33578
    dulledge
    Participant
    • Topics: 11
    • Replies: 180

    Dennis, great post! Do you ever use micro adjustments on the arms? Do you ever use angle cube? Is the Generation 3 vise so reliable that you do not ever need to check / adjust angles?

    1 user thanked author for this post.
    #33579
    Dennis Hibar
    Participant
    • Topics: 9
    • Replies: 99

    Dennis, great post! Do you ever use micro adjustments on the arms? Do you ever use angle cube? Is the Generation 3 vise so reliable that you do not ever need to check / adjust angles?

    Always find the need to use the micro adjustments.  This is mainly due to the small variations in stone thickness.  So I normally check the angle (with my angle cube) with every stone change and adjust accordingly.  What I do is always leave the micro adjust turned in about half way at the beginning of a sharpening session.  That way, I have some wiggle room to increase or decrease as needed.  Where the Gen 3 shines is when I switch from stones to strops.  I normally decrease the sharpening angle by 1 – 1.5 degrees when I switch to strops (to prevent rounding the edge).  With the Gen 3,  just have to use the angle adjustment lever and go.  Since I am using a more acute angle with the stops, no real need to measure each and micro adjust.  With the previous versions each side has to be adjusted individually and then checked with the angle cube to ensure both were adjusted by the same amount.  Results are the same … but obviously adds time to the process.

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    #33581
    Josh
    Participant
    • Topics: 89
    • Replies: 1671

    Wow great write up Dennis!! Thanks for sharing!

    #33582
    Alan
    Participant
    • Topics: 15
    • Replies: 206

    One day, in mid-2012, I quickly reached for my angle cube (on the back side of the WE) and accidentally ran my hand over the edge of a knife I was sharpening. Needless to say, my sharpening session was interrupted by a quick trip the the ER for some stitches!

    Next lesson, work area and accessory positioning is also a very important factor!!!  I started keeping all my supplies the right/left of the WE and nothing on the far side!!!

    For me, this is the most valuable part of your post (Though all of it was excellent!)  I’m just now getting the technique down with my Gen 3 Pro, and feeling much more confident.  I do try to be as mindful and careful as I can, but this a GREAT reminder! Think I’m gonna slow down some, and be a little more careful.  Probably do me good to slow down to enjoy and learn more as I go anyway.

    Great post, fun to read.  Thanks a ton for posting!

     

    Alan

    #33585
    Dennis Hibar
    Participant
    • Topics: 9
    • Replies: 99

    One day, in mid-2012, I quickly reached for my angle cube (on the back side of the WE) and accidentally ran my hand over the edge of a knife I was sharpening. Needless to say, my sharpening session was interrupted by a quick trip the the ER for some stitches! Next lesson, work area and accessory positioning is also a very important factor!!! I started keeping all my supplies the right/left of the WE and nothing on the far side!!!

    For me, this is the most valuable part of your post (Though all of it was excellent!) I’m just now getting the technique down with my Gen 3 Pro, and feeling much more confident. I do try to be as mindful and careful as I can, but this a GREAT reminder! Think I’m gonna slow down some, and be a little more careful. Probably do me good to slow down to enjoy and learn more as I go anyway. Great post, fun to read. Thanks a ton for posting!

    You betcha!  The thing is … you can get an edge extremely sharp (even before you’ve begun to refine it), so quickly, that it is mind boggling!  Add to that, unlike freehand sharpening, the blade edge is always facing up …. just waiting to taste your flesh!!!   I posted this way back when (on the old forum), but here was the result of my carelessness:

    spydiebite

    And this is the blade that tasted my flesh (which I finished sharpening right after I got back from the ER!!):

    spydiebiteculp

    If you look closely at this picture, you will see that I had been using the WE for a while at this point, as the picture shows that I had already upgrade to the modified paddle arm collars.

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    #33592
    Mark76
    Participant
    • Topics: 179
    • Replies: 2760

    Great post, Dennis. I still recall that you originally posted about your trip to the ER. That caused me to get some Kevlar gloves.

    Molecule Polishing: my blog about sharpening with the Wicked Edge

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    #33593
    Dennis Hibar
    Participant
    • Topics: 9
    • Replies: 99

    Great post, Dennis. I still recall that you originally posted about your trip to the ER. That caused me to get some Kevlar gloves.

    Yup …. I remember that original post as well … actually more vividly for obvious reasons!!!  Those “oh crap” moments seem to haunt one forever.  My solution was to just try to be more careful, as going the glove route was not an option for me.  It would have further reduced the feeling in my hands.  Fortunately, I learned my lesson …. but wanted to include it here for folks new to or considering the WE.  Having a blade, edge up, is something that needs to be respected.

     

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    #33596
    M1rrorEdge
    Participant
    • Topics: 8
    • Replies: 222

    Outstanding post! Thanks, I gained a lot from it.  I love the “be careful” reminder.  It’s easy to get in the  rhythm and to get careless.

    Eddie Kinlen
    M1rror Edge Sharpening Service, LLC
    +1(682)777-1622

    #33608
    Dennis Hibar
    Participant
    • Topics: 9
    • Replies: 99

    Thanks for all the kind comments folks.  I hope that those who are considering a WE find this post helpful in realizing that the WE is the very best in guided systems.  Now, I still do a little freehand touch-up and stropping (my around the house knife has a ZDP blade that, if I lightly strop it after every few uses, stays razor sharp for, what seeks like, forever).  But for anything more than that, am so glad I went all in for the WE.  Besides …. I find sharpening to be so relaxing and rewarding that it almost feels therapeutic!

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    #51790
    Dennis Hibar
    Participant
    • Topics: 9
    • Replies: 99

    Well, it has been a little over 3 years since I posted about my WE Journey and almost 8 years since I’ve been using the WE system. While I don’t post much anymore, I do try to stop by the forum several times a week to see what’s new in the WE world. Anyway, figured it was about time to add some experiences to my journey.

    As you’ve read in my journey post above, you know that when I purchased my Gen 3 system, I decided to keep my original, 2012 WE sharpener. My reasoning still remains valid today and it is a decision I will never regret. But more on that in a bit.

    Since my initial post, I have upgraded my Gen 3 with the newest version cam-lock vise, as well as a set of jaws for thicker blades.

    CRHBoxOpenerIG

    While I was skeptical at first … with regards to its improvement in clamping over the original Gen 3 vise, I quickly found it was well worth the upgrade price. Specifically, the tension adjustment lever totally eliminated any potential blade slippage in the vise jaws, regardless of blade thickness or geometry. The other thing I did was to remove the storage bin under the sharpener. This brought the unit a little lower and made sharpening more comfortable for me. Those who have done this know what I mean.

    I added the 2200 / 3000 grit stones into my sharpening progression (depending on the knife I am going to sharpen). So far, they are working very well and are pretty much broken in. I have also eliminated the super fine (1200/1600) ceramics from my sharpening progression. I still use the micro fine ceramics …. but not so much for polishing. I find that they still do a very good job of cleaning up / refining the apex with just a few edge leading strokes per side.

    Now, back to that original 2012 WE system. As I originally said, as much as I love the Gen3, there are just some times I find it unsuitable for a particular knife. Here is a case in point … my Spyderco Centofante Memory. (And forgive me, updating this post was not on my mind when I was sharpening it, so had to take some pictures today, after the fact.)

    The Centofante Memory was, as far as I am concerned an underrated knife. Even after it was discontinued … huge numbers were still available. Now, I bought mine after they were first released in mid-2012. Unfortunately, it came with a horrendously sharpened blade. It was very sharp … but with an uneven/wonky edge and overall blade geometry. I put off resharpening it until it really was necessary, because, even though it had a sharpening notch …. it had very little exposed ricasso. The sharpening notch and sharpened edge pretty much joins up with the titanium handle. So, I knew I would have to take the knife apart and sharpen the blade removed from the frame. I first tried to sharpen it in the Gen3. No dice. Blade geometry was so wonky that micro adjustments would not come close to letting me get to an even edge bevel on each side without serious trial and error shimming of the left side. Felt it would be much easier to just mount it in my original WE. Here is a picture of it mounted with one shim on the left side:

    CentMemoryClamp

    One shim was needed in order to obtain a 19 dps angle without contacting the vise on the left side with stones and strops. Notice the big difference in arm positions left and right. That is the beauty (and, at times drawback) with this version …. the ability to adjust each arm separately. As I said, could not have accomplished this without trial and error shimming in the Gen3 …. and still might not have been able to achieve the same results. Anyway, the original WE produced a consistent 19 degree edge. VG10 is pretty easy to sharpen and easily passed HHT 3 for sharpness.

    CentMemory2

    CentMemory1

    So, for me, will never regret keeping this original WE system. I have over 200 knives in my collection and every once in a while, run into a situation where I prefer to use the original over the Gen3.  That said, there is no better sharpener on the market than the WE … regardless of which WE system you chose.

    Happy Sharpening!

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    #51800
    Brewbear
    Participant
    • Topics: 7
    • Replies: 168

    Well, it has been a little over 3 years since I posted about my WE Journey and almost 8 years since I’ve been using the WE system. While I don’t post much anymore, I do try to stop by the forum several times a week to see what’s new in the WE world. Anyway, figured it was about time to add some experiences to my journey. As you’ve read in my journey post above, you know that when I purchased my Gen 3 system, I decided to keep my original, 2012 WE sharpener. My reasoning still remains valid today and it is a decision I will never regret. But more on that in a bit. Since my initial post, I have upgraded my Gen 3 with the newest version cam-lock vise, as well as a set of jaws for thicker blades. CRHBoxOpenerIG While I was skeptical at first … with regards to its improvement in clamping over the original Gen 3 vise, I quickly found it was well worth the upgrade price. Specifically, the tension adjustment lever totally eliminated any potential blade slippage in the vise jaws, regardless of blade thickness or geometry. The other thing I did was to remove the storage bin under the sharpener. This brought the unit a little lower and made sharpening more comfortable for me. Those who have done this know what I mean. I added the 2200 / 3000 grit stones into my sharpening progression (depending on the knife I am going to sharpen). So far, they are working very well and are pretty much broken in. I have also eliminated the super fine (1200/1600) ceramics from my sharpening progression. I still use the micro fine ceramics …. but not so much for polishing. I find that they still do a very good job of cleaning up / refining the apex with just a few edge leading strokes per side. Now, back to that original 2012 WE system. As I originally said, as much as I love the Gen3, there are just some times I find it unsuitable for a particular knife. Here is a case in point … my Spyderco Centofante Memory. (And forgive me, updating this post was not on my mind when I was sharpening it, so had to take some pictures today, after the fact.) The Centofante Memory was, as far as I am concerned an underrated knife. Even after it was discontinued … huge numbers were still available. Now, I bought mine after they were first released in mid-2012. Unfortunately, it came with a horrendously sharpened blade. It was very sharp … but with an uneven/wonky edge and overall blade geometry. I put off resharpening it until it really was necessary, because, even though it had a sharpening notch …. it had very little exposed ricasso. The sharpening notch and sharpened edge pretty much joins up with the titanium handle. So, I knew I would have to take the knife apart and sharpen the blade removed from the frame. I first tried to sharpen it in the Gen3. No dice. Blade geometry was so wonky that micro adjustments would not come close to letting me get to an even edge bevel on each side without serious trial and error shimming of the left side. Felt it would be much easier to just mount it in my original WE. Here is a picture of it mounted with one shim on the left side: CentMemoryClamp One shim was needed in order to obtain a 19 dps angle without contacting the vise on the left side with stones and strops. Notice the big difference in arm positions left and right. That is the beauty (and, at times drawback) with this version …. the ability to adjust each arm separately. As I said, could not have accomplished this without trial and error shimming in the Gen3 …. and still might not have been able to achieve the same results. Anyway, the original WE produced a consistent 19 degree edge. VG10 is pretty easy to sharpen and easily passed HHT 3 for sharpness. CentMemory2 CentMemory1 So, for me, will never regret keeping this original WE system. I have over 200 knives in my collection and every once in a while, run into a situation where I prefer to use the original over the Gen3. That said, there is no better sharpener on the market than the WE … regardless of which WE system you chose. Happy Sharpening!

    Thank you for the posts and the detailed “review” indeed, it is going to help those contemplating the WE system. I have the WE 130 and no doubt it is a wonderful toy, especially with the additional improvements thanks to @aitscapes and @NotSharpEnuff. I have two other items present on my “worktable” a pair of Kevlar gloves and a small vial of Vetbond. The vetbond is there for those times when Murphy pokes his head and grins at me (by the way I believe he was an optimist). It is a dermal glue used in place of superficial stitches .

    #51801
    Dennis Hibar
    Participant
    • Topics: 9
    • Replies: 99

    The vetbond is there for those times when Murphy pokes his head and grins at me (by the way I believe he was an optimist). It is a dermal glue used in place of superficial stitches .

    I hear you!   My daughter tells me that super glue is the only thing holding my body together!!!

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