Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Really, Really Sharp Knives Spyderco Sharpmaker Review

Being a bit of a lummox with a whetstone I wanted to try one of the sharpening systems that have proliferated in recent years

The Lansky system received a glowing recommendation from my cousin T, but honing oil and a clamp to attach the system to a table top have little place afield, so ruled it out for me. I settled on the Spyderco SharpMaker, as it looked more portable, less complex and is a ‘dry’ sharpener.

While I don’t currently own any Spyderco knives I’m a fan, for the most part their blades seem well made and with a few exceptions the designs are well thought out.
And being a lover of the simple direct self-explanatory sales pitch, I’m very taken with their slogan:

“First we made things sharp, then we made sharp things”.

Loads of glowing user reviews on the net tell how the new owner sharpened everything in the house, then the shed, and nearly all of them report how much sharper their nail clippers are!
I’d like to be more committed to sustainability, but it had never occurred to me to give a new lease of life to my nail clippers, until I saw the instructional DVD and book that came with the SharpMaker. Presented in an irony free infomercial style it gives you clear instruction and uses nail clippers as an example of how you can use the SharpMaker on anything with an edge.

If you use braid fishing line, you'll know just how much some people are charging for 'braid clippers', the SharpMaker means you can make your own from even the cheapest nail clippers.

The design is a very simple and ingenious mix of freehand and guided sharpening. Two ceramic hones fit into a stable plastic base, two brass rods stop you cutting the back of your hand open.
The base has 30, 40, 12.5 and zero degree settings. The 40 setting gives you a 20 degree edge – acute enough for sharpness yet obtuse enough to withstand extended use. The 30 degree (2x15 degrees) setting lets you ‘thin’ the profile of your blade. The presenter of the DVD suggests that you wont have to use this feature that often, but if like me you've got a whole variety of different edged tools in varying states of sharpness, you might be pleasantly surprised at how good this feature is. It had the most fantastic effect on one of my kitchen knives. The 12.5 degree setting is for scissors and the zero degree setting lets you use the stones as a conventional flat grinding area. The hones are formed by mixing synthetic sapphires (alumina particles) with a ceramic bonding agent, then kiln-firing at temperatures around 1,600 degrees C (3000 degrees F). Ceramic upside: very hard will file almost anything. Ceramic downside: clogs easily. Spyderco also offer two other sets of hones that fit the SharpMaker, a pair of steel hones with very course alumina particles stuck on the outside for rough shaping work ( I’ve not found a price for them) and an ultra fine pair for an even finer edge.
List price $75
Rip-off Britain a laughable £75 (yes $150!!!!)
Best Knives have them for $42.95 (£21.50p) Or about the same price as a 'high end' braid clipper!
The ultra fine hones are $57.95

The bit where Spyderco have missed a trick is the additional hones don't fit into the case.

For the last word in sharpening have a look at this guy.
the guys who know say he's the guy who knows
Old Jimbo
Old Jimbo too