(1/30/11) The review for the Spyderco Sharmaker was left by Patrick from Kansas. You mean you shouldn’t use those $4.99 made in Taiwan sharpeners you can buy at Harbor Freight?
Every hunter has a knife that needs resharpening. Whether it just needs a touch-up, or it’s so dull that it needs a complete makeover like Obama’s approval rating, every knife needs to go through a sharpening process in order to perform to the best of its design.
There are several different sharpener designs on the market, from crock sticks in a V-shape, clamp-type sharpeners, plain whetstones, and more. The Spyderco Sharpmaker 204 falls into the V-shape sharpener category, with a twist. For those who are horrible at freehand sharpening, the Sharpmaker is a handy tool to have on hand for sharpening knives. All it takes it he ability to keep a knife vertical while drawing the knife down the triangle-shaped sharpening sticks.
The Sharpmaker 204 consists of an ABS plastic base and lid that contains two brass safety rods and four alumina ceramic stones. The base has two groove on the underside that will enable two of the stones to lay side by side to act as a bench stone. There is an opening on one end for a stone that sits at a 12.5degree angle for sharpening scissors. For sharpening knives, the base is divided into two sides, with one side having holes for the stones at a 30 degree inclusive angle (15degrees for each stone), and the other side having a 40 degree inclusive angle. The lid can be put on the base to cover one half, extending the base for a more secure hold. If desired, the base can be screwed down onto a table, bench, or other solid object.
The stones are triangle shaped, allowing the Sharpmaker to sharpen both plain edge and serrated knives. The set includes two brown medium grit stones and two white fine grit stones to put a hair-popping edge on your knives. Each stone also has a groove running down the middle of one side that allows the sharpening of fish hooks, awls, and other
The medium grit stones are the workhorse stones if your knife is dull. They will remove material at a decent rate to get your knife not only functionally sharp, but very sharp. Most people would stop there, however, the white fine grit stones will enable you to put an edge on your knife sharp enough to make the hair pop off of your arm. The key is to hold the knife vertically each and every time, which is easier than freehand sharpening where you have to try to hold a blade at 15degrees or so from the horizontal. It’s easier to see when you are doing it right with the Sharpmaker.
Some production knives have uneven bevels. One might be set at 20 degrees while the other side is at 13 degrees. This requires the blade to be reprofiled to achieve the best cutting ability. This requires stock removal of metal that the medium stones just can’t handle when it comes to some of todays super steels like s30v, D2, and others. For this purpose, Spyderco made the triangle shaped diamond coated rods. These steel rods have a nickel finish with diamond dust impregnated in the nickel. This coarse rod will facilitate stock removal of steel for re-beveling a blade’s edge. On softer steels, the diamond stones will make that job even easier and faster.
I have used the Sharpmaker 204 set to sharpen and reprofile many of my wife’s kitchen knives, as well as a couple of my Benchmade knives. I prefer a shallower angle than most companies put on their edges, and the Sharpmaker has done a good job of putting the edge I want on my knives. On harder steels, such as my s30v Gerber Freeman, it is far more time consuming to reprofile an edge than on softer steels or carbon steel. However, maintaining an edge on any steel is a breeze with this system. If you don’t let your knives get too dull before resharpening, the Sharpmaker 204 set will meet all of your sharpening