Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Work Sharp Blade Grinder Attachment

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.

In my last post I sang the virtues of the Ken Onion Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener, while at the same time saying that it had its limitations. Those limitations can be broken with the Work Sharp Blade Grinder Attachment

Some of you may say that it's foolish to have to buy an $80 attachment to a $130 tool just to make it work, and you might be right. All I can tell you is that this attachment made me very happy because now I can sharpen pretty much anything with this tool. It works great, and I'm happy with it, so it wasn't a foolish decision for me. Whether or not it's foolish for you is a question only you can answer.

Why do I love it?
  1. If I can lift it, I can sharpen it. I've sharpened axe heads and machetes without breaking a sweat. 
  2. It will sharpen at any angle between 10 degrees and 35 degrees. 
  3. It will even do vertical grinding. 
  4. It comes with 5 belts (extra coarse, coarse, medium, fine, and extra fine) just like the Knife & Tool Sharpener, only these are wider. 
  5. By adjusting the two rollers on top you can select a flatter grind (good for straight blades, like knives) or a convex grind (good for high curve blades, like axe heads). 
This may not sound like much to you, but the upshot of all this is "It does everything I ask of it, and does it easily." There's only one drawback to it -- and to me it's minor, but I understand that it might be a deal-breaker for a lot of people -- is that you have to free-hand the sharpening.

This is why the "blade rest", also called a reference plate in the instructions, is present. Here's how you use it: 
  1. You set the blade on the rest so that you know what position the blade should be in for sharpening. 
  2. You grasp the blade in a stable, two-handed grip. I like to hold it with one hand on the handle and the other pinching the spine near the tip. 
  3. You lift the blade, keeping it steady and maintaining the reference. 
  4. You place the blade against the belts and move from base to tip, backing off the belt when you are done so that you don't round off your knife point. I find it's best to rotate at the waist while doing this so that the blade is kept as stable as possible. 
  5. You smoothly set the blade back down on the blade rest. If it touches down without wobbling, then you know you did it properly.

Yes, this technique requires practice. It will take confidence and a willingness to practice on some beater knives. I was nervous at first, and I did it wrong the first few times. But I got better at it, and now I have the technique solidly memorized in my hands and arms. 

This tool isn't perfect. It's loud, and expensive, and dirty, and terrifyingly vague at first. But if you just give yourself permission to screw up, and you practice steadiness and confidence, you will soon be able to sharpen anything you can lift up to the belts. 

I love this. I wish I'd bought it sooner. 

The Knifegrinder by Goya 

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