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I think the big question people may ask is “why is someone going to pay two or three times more for this sharpener over the Smith or Rapala Sharpener of the same basic design?”
Well part of the answer is this sharpener does more than these other sharpeners. So the next question might be are these other features enough to warrant the higher price. Let’s take a look.
First off, the name is misleading. One might think the device can be used to sharpen in five different ways. That is not the case. It is basically three sharpeners, a line cutter and a small compass.
The compass is a small button compass which I guess is better than no compass but is not the type of compass you’re going to want in a survival situation. It will help you find magnetic north and would help with cardinal directions but quite frankly knowing the suns rises in the east and set in the west is probably more useful. Also knowing which star is the North Star or being able to identify the Southern Cross in the southern Hemisphere is probably also more useful. A compass of this size is pretty much a gimmick. If you feel you need a compass where you are going, don’t let this or any other button compass be the one you’re going to rely on. These aren’t even a useful back up compass. They are your last act of desperation. Still the arrow does point to magnetic north so that is a plus! But I don’t feel this is enough to warrant the extra cost. You buy a sharpener to sharpen stuff; not to find out what direction is north.
That brings us to the line cutter. I tested it on everything from 2 to-25 monofilament, and 6 pound braid and fluorocarbon. It seemed to cut the line just fine. I’m not sure how it would do with heavier braid. It’s nice to have another line cutter but as with most anglers I’ve got about half a dozen items on me to cut line. Still, the line cutter does work and it is nice to have something small and handy to cut line.
Now I’m not sure how many folks go around sharpening hooks but if you have a favorite lure then having a hook sharpener is nice. Hooks can get dull and a sharp hook provides a better chance at setting a hook. Obviously you can just toss out dull hooks but this is not always the best option, especially with an expensive lure or your favorite fly-ties. Also, replacing treble hooks on modern store bought lures is not always possible. Thus having a hook sharpener is actually a worthwhile thing to have in your tackle box.
There are two ways to use hook sharpeners. One way is to put the hook in a vice and then drag the sharpener over the hook until you get the desired point. This is possible with some of the smaller sharpeners and the ones you find on the side of those folding fish knives. This is my preferred method. You can do that with this sharpener but not as easily as with some of the other sharpeners I have.
Your other option is to drag the hook over a stationary sharpener. This method is the way this hook sharpener is designed. The three grooves is quite handy. The rough surface also works well for a fingernail file. In all, I’m very pleased with the hook sharpener.
The two stage sharpener consists of a carbide side and a ceramic both angled at 22 degrees. The carbide side is for a truly dull blade the ceramic for touch up and honing the blade. Anyone familiar with the Rapala two-stage sharpeners will be familiar with how it works.
The carbide sharpener also has a small arrow marking the direction to pull the blade through. I’m not sure why this matters. The ceramic side does not have the arrow.
I’ve used the sharpener to put an edge on a rather dull M6 bayonet. As you can assume the sharpener really wasn’t designed for blade that is approximately 1/8 inch thick. Still it did a decent enough job. I also used it on several pocket knives including those made by Victorinox, Rough Rider, and W.R. Case & Sons. I also used it on some non-descript Damascus blades of Pakistan origin, and old folding fish knives from a variety of companies. Finally I used the sharpener on Rapala, Buck, Old Hickory, and Chicago Cutlery fillet and boning knives. In every case, the sharpener worked as good, if not better than similar sharpeners made by Smith and Rapala.
The main difference was the ease of use with the Sharpal Sharpener. The beefier soft grip design and the non-slip pads on each end give the user a stable and much more comfortable grip. This is even true with wet hands. As such, it is much easier to pull the blade through the sharpener correctly. This means a truer cutting edge than the other hand held sharpeners. For me, the more comfortable and much more stable grip combined with the hook sharpener and the handy line cutter make the cost of this sharpener acceptable when compared to the less expensive Rapala and Smith Sharpener.
Is it going to be the end all when it comes to sharpening knives? Obviously not! But if you use this type of sharpener you will find this one easier and safer to use than the lower priced ones. And if you’re like me you’ll also appreciate the hook sharpener and the line cutter; things the lower priced options are not going to have. Now if only they would allow you to replace the ceramic rods and carbide blades!
Great review, Tobias! I can see how this could be a handy thing to have in a tacklebox or hunting pack. I don't think I could bring myself to use one for my good knives, but as an emergency back-up, it would be a good tool. Thanks for sharing!
I suppose the main issue I have with the pull-through sharpeners is the amount of steel they peel off. That and the angle it re-profiles your blade to. I use a fairly high end sharpener, and spend a fair amount of time on my EDC edges. The thought of getting a nice 18 degree per side polished edge on my knife that could split an atom if I swung it hard getting completely destroyed and then re-profiled to a 20-22 coarse (very toothy) edge makes my skin crawl...lol. And then I would have to go home and then re-re-profile the edge to something I would feel comfortable with. That is a lot of work, and a lot of unnecessary steel removed. Now, granted, I can be a bit of an edge snob.
However, if a snob like me wanted to make this a viable option, I would suggest re-profiling the knives you would use this on to a 20-22 degree edge, or whatever the angle is on this sharpener, and leaving them there. You would eliminate the need to redo your edge all the time, and could reduce the amount of material removed, extending the life of the knife. It would also make it much easier to refine your edge when you got home if you are like me and need to put the finer touches on with a sharpening system or whetstones. EDC OCD is real!! LOL.
I am with Manx on this, I have had something similar once and didn't like dragging a blade through it.
Great review though Tobias.
Informative review .. nice job , Tobias.
My issue with this type of sharpener has always been .. the fixed angle.
No choice .. it is whatever the manufacturer has defined ..&.. that's it.
Now .. add some adjustability ..&.. maybe.
As John & Manx stated .. neither keen on dragging a blade through it
the amount of material removed by the carbide cutters.
Good review though !!
Now, to be clear, I am not knocking this sharpener at all. As mentioned before in Tobias's original post, the hook sharpener for your favourite rigs is handy as heck, and the line cutter as well, balling it all into one with a sharpener is a great idea! And I would use the heck out of it if I was using a cheap(er) fillet knife that wouldn't bother me if it fell overboard, or packing a $20 bowie to hack some sticks in the backyard. Let us keep in mind that Tobias never touted this as a professional grade sharpener. :) It looks relatively comfortable and the rubber pads would certainly add to stability and safely. Also, the pull throughs I have used before make quick work of a dull knife. Fast, easy and convenient...perfect when time is an issue. I sure as heck wouldn't want to try to whip out my system and slap a quick edge on a knife in a bobbing boat...or try to use it on a rock or truck bumper. LOL! I would actually like to get one of these for a bug out bag. I am sure it would work on higher end knives as well, but I am more inclined to put that extra personal touch on my more treasured knives. I'll have to look up where I can find one up here in the great frozen north.
This is somewhat what I would have expected from this type of sharpener but I am pleased to hear it is comfortable and safe, even with wet hands.
We always kept something along these lines on the boat, it helps to keep a bait knife sharp. When you spend 1-2 dollars on a knife just to cut bait, you tend to go through a few of them in a season. They get dull, you whip out another one but even at 1-2 dollars buying 8-10 of them during a season just adds to the cost of the trips. This would pay for itself in a season anyway
As for sharpening hooks, it became more critical when tournament fishing with 100 lures LOL. Yes we have sharpened many. Cutting braided line was always a point of contention for us. I could cut monofilament line with darn near anything, braided line can take a good chunk out of a pair of pliers of not done right. Good to know this works well.
All in all, I think I am a little surprised that yes...this would work well in a tackle box or on a boat. Being that was the point of the design, job well done I would say.
Here's a pic of some of the knives I sharpened. The bayonet was had NO edge what so ever. It was duller than a butter knife. I don't think it had ever been sharpened. I was able to get it sharp enough to cut cardboard. It still needs a lot more work to get anything like a razor's edge. But then bayonets aren't really meant to be a razor blade.
I was able to get a good enough edge on the hawkbill to start cutting carpet again. That's how I dulled it to begin with. Hawk bills are hard to sharpen with a rod or stone so these pull through sharpeners work great for me.
Like others have said, this isn't going to get the best edge in the world but they do an adequate enough job for the average user. My review compares this sharpener to other sharpeners of a similar nature. I think it is worth the $6-$10 that you would pay for it. When I get a chance to pick up some heavier braid, I'll try the line cutter on it. Right now all I have is light braid that I have on my Ice fishing gear.
"... this isn't going to get the best edge in the world but they do an adequate enough job for the average user."
You're spot on w/ that statement. Given .. that is what the device was meant for .. it's achieved it's purpose.
'n nice lockback hawkbill. Mine just have such a hard pull .. a lock was simply an additional impediment. And you are most certainly correct .. no bayonet (I've ever had) was meant for a razor edge.
Again .. good review , Tobias !!!