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Sharpening Strategy Help

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    Andy Burnett
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    I just got a We130 and gave it a run for the first time. I used it on my ‘ol trusty Kershaw with a kind of a swooped blade shape. The whole reason I went looking for a better sharpener setup is because of this knife and the trouble I’ve had getting a consistent edge around the swoop with flat stones. This is far better than the Lanksy I used to use (no surprise there) but its still inconsistent. I’d love to hear opinions on how I might go about getting more consistency. I know the edge I put on it is terrible, it’s my first attempt and I only have stones up to 600 so I’ll remedy this quickly. Thanks!


    • Topics: 62
    • Replies: 2202

    Welcome to the Wicked Edge Forum, Andy.

    Forgive the beginner’s spiel:  I suggest you save your good knives for when your sharpening stones are broken in.  This generally requires about 10 knives worth of sharpening with each of them.   That’s about the usual amount of time,  experience and practice it takes most new users to begin to figure it out.  That is to get the hang of using their W.E. sharpener, have a basic understanding and develop a beginner’s technique.

    We recommend you learn on old beater knives out of the bottom of the kitchen drawer.  You can often pick up cheap old knives, to practice on and to learn with, at your local thrift store.  Inexpensive knives from the Walmart are another option.  I offered to sharpen my friend’s and neighbor’s beater knives as I practiced.

    That Kershaw presents some challenges.  The reverse curved edge and the lack of a sharpening choil are two issues I see, right off.   Besides the most common challenge for us is figuring out the best and most efficient clamping position to use when sharpening any knife for the first time.

    To sharpen knives with the W.E. we have to learn how to hold and position the stones so they will maintain constant and consistent flat contact against the knife edge as we move the stones up and down along the guide rods and across the length of the knife edge.  The contact patch on the sharpening stone and the contact patch on the knife edge are both changing simultaneously.  For your Kershaw knife it may require that you rotate the stone as you are holding it in your fingers, first one way, then the other as you attempt to maintain edge contact while following along the two opposite curved edge portions.

    The tendency is for the new W.E. users to try to sharpen a knife edge with one long sweeping stone stroke, right from the get-go, like they’ve seen used in various W.E. sharpening videos.  I suggest you break any knife edge down into shorter portions then work on these portions separately to start with. Then blend these sharpened portions together with overlapping sharpening strokes later on.  It may take a while till you get your technique down well enough to use that sweeping style sharpening stroke.  Especially for knives like this Kershaw’s “S” curved edge shape.

    Where the knife edge meets the flat ricasso portion of the blade is a direct or immediate interface.   It is difficult to position the sharpening stones flat against the choil at that transition point.  Some users may grind off the plastic lip from around the outside of their sharpening stone paddles, to allow the stone edge to fit tighter against these types of transitions.  Others apply a “sharpening choil”, a permanent blade recess where edge steel has been removed.  There are lots of YouTube videos to view that show how to apply sharpening choils.

    W.E. offers a curved faced set of ceramic sharpening stones that some users find helpful on these curved knife edge profiles.


    (MarcH's Rack-Its)

    • Topics: 37
    • Replies: 1957

    The thing to keep in mind is that as your stones move along the edge, there is a change in the contact between the edge and the stone.  Where the edge is convex, the stones tend to make contact at only one point across the face of the stone, and it doesn’t really matter where on the stone face that contact is made.  Where the edge is concave, your stones will tend to make contact at the side edges of the stones.  You’ll want to keep the stone flat against the edge so that there is equal pressure at both points of contact.  It’s only where the edge is relatively straight that the stone makes contact for the full width of the stone face.

    Transitions between convex and concave are natural and if you’re holding the stone properly should not require any particular caution.

    Also, some new users have to learn that as you move the stone off the tip end of the stroke, you should “follow through”, resisting any tendency of the stones to rotate around the tip.  Good technique here will give you nice, crisp tip geometry.  When you’ve perfected your stroke technique, this will come automatically.

    I’ve done knives with rather severe convex and concave edges with excellent results.

    Follow Marc’s advise and get those stones broken in  –  oh, and get a set of the 800-1000 stones to really get wicked edges.  The 600’s will give your wife sharpness she’s seen only with brand new knives, but it’s only the beginning of what’s possible.   If it’s you that’s doing the cookin’, never mind about the wife.


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