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I have owned a wicked edge sharpener for about 18 months. I also own Japanese waterstones, A smiths sharpener, a Spyderco Sharpmaker, a three stone arizona set, a belt sander and a few others I am probably forgetting. Since I have bought the WIcked Edge I use almost nothing else. On my handmade Japanese knives I still use Japanese waterstones.... other than those, I use the wicked Edge. The police officers in my area come to me to keep their duty knives sharp. By doing that for them, I have learned more about using this amazing tool.
Though it's easy and intuitive to use, there are subleties that i have learned over time. My discussions at Knife shows with Clay Allison from the WIcked Edge company and the many youtube videos found online have taught me many of the finer points of using this tool more and more effectively.
It is a brilliant idea. By keeping track of where you place your blade in the clamps, you can repeat bevel angles. The placement of the blade is important. If you are too far forward, the farthest edge will have a wider beveled surface. I am still learning how to choose the "sweet spot" (the spot in the clamp for each sharpening job) where the bevel width (not bevel angle) is consistent for the length of the blade.
That having been said. I LOVE my wicked edge sharpener. I have no regret at all for having spent what i spent on it. I upgraded to the better joints (from hinges to ball joints) and to add the extension to the base and longer set bar that allows for a more diverse choice of angles.
The basic kit comes with 2 paddles, each with 2 sets of 2 different grits per paddle. so, a basic kit comes with 4 grits of stones (2 per paddle). I immediately wanted more grits and now i have 8 paddles with 16 different stones.
Diamond Sharpener stones in grits-
50/80 (one stone)
I have ceramic paddles at;
then I go to leather
I have 4 grits of leather strops ( 2 paddles each w/ 2 grits)
the abrasion of the leather is achieved by using a paste or a spray with diamond dust.
I have 5 micron/3.5 micron leather strop
and a 1 micron/ .5 micron leather strop.
Altogether that makes 16 gradations of abrasion that I use.
There are more than that available, but I did not shell out the big bucks for the japanese water stone paddles, or go to the balsa strops...There are also curved ceramic paddles and other accessories.
I recently bought a little device that measures the bevel angle down to a 100th of a degree, but i have not used it yet so I have little to say other than it seems really amazing. I also bought an eraser that cleans off the ceramic paddles, (I am happy with that)
I find sharpening to be really relaxing. I also love bringing knives back to people looking (and cutting) eons better than when they first got the knife. I could skip some grits and get them done faster, but I enjoy it too much. By the time i am done, the edge looks like a mirror and I can (and have) shaved with them. You know the phrase "AMAZE YOUR FRIENDS!!" , well, it works like that.
A few random tips I can share.
WATCH THE YOU TUBE VIDEOS !!! learn how to use the tool.
DONT sharpen your best EDC as soon as you get it, sharpen a few crappy knives to learn ...
If you get the leather hones that use the paste/or spray. DO NOT LET THEM TOUCH.
keep each grit of leather hone to itself. I keep mine in the boxes they came in and I marked the boxes with the grit number so that only metal dust of that grit touches that side of the box. At this level, if 5 micron metal dust gets on your 3.5 micron strop, you will have minute scratches on your mirror edge.
Be aware that you have a dominant hand and a weaker hand and try to use equal motions and pressure as you sharpen. - I am a lefty, when I first got the sharpener, the left side of my knives came out better than the right.
I have some pics posted in my photos. Feel free to ask me questions, I hope I can answer them.
In summary, I love this thing. If i could make a living using it I would, I have that much fun with it,
not to mention bragging rights when I show up with a sharpened blade and cut through freestanding newspaper like a hot knife through butter. In my humble opinion, there is no other sharpener that comes close..
A great real life write up Alec. Thanks so much. It is quite a system. So knife placement may be difficult is the only downfall?
In response to a q about what this stuff costs:
The Wicked edge is not cheap. Here is what I have...
Basic Sharpener w/basic stones (100,200,400, & 800 grit pairs) - $275
Paperstone Base (to mount the sharpener- it comes with plans for home mounting) $55
ProPack 11 upgrade kit ( allows more angles/ more accurate angles and has ball joint swivels) - $145
Ultra Coarse/Extra Coarse 50/80 grit diamond paddles - $65
Superfine ceramic stones (1200/1600 grit ceramic paddles) $85
5 / 3.5 micron Diamond paste / leather strops - $40
1 / .5 micron Diamond paste / leather strops - $40
accuremote (the cube) tells you the EXACT angle down to a 100th of a degree - $35
supereraser (cleans ceramic paddles) $4.50
I hope this is helpful. I also hope i copied all the prices correctly...
Please check their website for exact and current prices.
Rather than starting another discussion, thought I would just add to this one. While I did learn to free-hand sharpen as a kid, the effects of time and physical abuse to my body kicked in. Hands just don't work so well anymore! I am sure many of you understand. So, in late 2011, decided to search for a guided sharpening system. I did have a Spyderco Sharpmaker, but even that was a little difficult to use, as I don't have full articulation in my wrists. After much research, I decided on the Wicked Edge system. This is the first version of the system which I received in January of 2012.
Since then, WE has modified and improved its sharpeners to make them better than ever. You currently have several models to choose from (none of which is cheap, but a good investment). 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 110 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). The only exception is for a few of the knives I know I will only keep for collecting purposes. Those I tend to leave just as they left the maker. Additionally, I find sharpening to be extremely relaxing (and far cheaper than a seeing a psychiatrist!).
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. A week or so after receiving the WE, 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 full flat ground blade and not worry about positioning to accommodate a large belly. The results were very good in my opinion.
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. Here is an example of a knife I sharpened which would have given me nightmares trying to do free-hand (even when I could). It is the LionSteel made Swiss PM-1. It not only has a recurve, but a large belly which is much thicker than the recurved portion of the blade. My goal was to not only provide a nicely polished edge, but also keep the edge bevel completely even from tip to ricasso. To do this, I sharpened the knife in two stages, with a 1 degree sharpening angle difference. The transition point can barely be seen.
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), 1500/2000/3000/5000 grit sand paper (sometimes lapping film), and finish up with a little stropping (leather with some semi-liquid chromium oxide compound, balsa with .5 micron diamond spray and kangaroo leather with .25 micron diamond spray). 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.
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:
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 narrow (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 small knife jig (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:
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 4.5 years, I am still a very happy WE user. One more thing to add is that the support you receive from WE is phenomenal. If you have a problem, it is taken care of ..... period! In addition, the folks at WE continue to make a great product better. If you have any specific questions .... just ask.
Great review of the WE Dennis . You have a terrific set up there , well done and thanks for the review .