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Knife and Tool Sharpeners

A sharp knife is a good knife. You may have the best knife available but if it is dull it becomes more of a club than a knife. There are a bewildering assortment of sharpening systems available to choose from but the bulk of them are made of materials like ceramic, diamond, sharpening steel, Arkansas whetstone or Japanese Benchstones. They will all sharpen a knife, axe or machete depending of the design.

Most products are either manual or electric and require different levels of experience. Some of the extremely hard blades may require the use of a diamond sharpen to remove metal to get the blade sharp, but using a diamond sharpener has drawbacks as it may remove a good deal of metal quickly. Ceramic sharpeners as popular and may come rated by Grit which tell you how aggressive it may be able to sharpen. A coarse grit is helpful to put an edge on a dull knife (300-600) grit and a higher number grit is better for bringing the knife sharper to the point of razor sharpness. A ceramic with a 1000 grit is good for touching up a blade and honing it and some knife owners, especially Chefs use a fine grit for a knife demanding even a sharper blade 1500 - 2000 grit. Diamond sharpeners and whetstones, and benchstones usually follow a similar pattern with a coarse, medium and fine grit similar to ceramic. Many ceramics are unrated and usually are more of a medium grit. Rubbing a finger over the sharpener helps determine how coarse or fine it is depending on the resistance felt by the finger. Experience is helpful here.

Ceramics become smoother over time and all sharpeners generally recommend the use of water to help remove particles and lubricate the sharpener so the knife slides over the surface easier. Ways to clean a sharpening stone which will build up with metal materials over time abound on the internet, but water soap and a scratchy cloth seem to be about the most common. Some use cleansers like Comet and barkeepers friend to clean sharpeners, but I have found the Mr Clean Magic Eraser or one of the genetics seems to work very well. Ceramics are brittle and will breaks if dropped on a hard surface making an 8" rod into several smaller ones, so avoid dropping them.

Learning to sharpen effectively takes time but Youtube has a vast selection of vidoes to watch each promoting the types of sharpener they use.

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