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Lansky Sharpeners
November 2018
Dan Martinez

Lansky Sharpening System
Way back in the day, when I was a young lad, my Dad taught me to sharpen knives using a grey, two-sided whetstone, coated with a thin layer of 3-in-1 oil. He stressed how important it was to keep a constant angle and to think of the motion against the stone as “trying to slice off a thin layer.”

Using this method, I was able to sharpen knives to a degree, but never really “shaving sharp” as was the goal. Often I would just keep going and going, always looking for that fine edge, never really achieving it, but actually doing nothing more than grinding away more and more of the blade.

Many years later, a co-worker introduced me to the Lansky Sharpening System. It’s very similar to sharpening on an oiled whetstone, but the stones are attached to plastic holders, which are in-turn attached to steel rods. You clamp the spine of the knife blade into sort of an aluminum guide vise. The back of this vise turns at a 90° angle and has several holes in it. When you insert the steel rod into one of these holes (attached to a stone holder), this sets a given angle of stone against blade. The stones come in several degrees of grit from coarse to fine. The kit comes with honing oil, but you can use any light machine oil when you run out.

I used this system for many years, and it certainly seems to do the job, and gave me greater confidence because it forces you to keep the sharpening angle constant.

But recently, my favorite sharpening system is a whole lot simpler. It is also by Lansky, but all it is, is a round ceramic sharpening stick with a wooden handle. You use it just like you use a sharpening steel.

Lansky Medium grit Sharp Stick

If you are familiar with a sharpening steel, you know that a steel does not actually sharpen. What it does, is re-align the micro-structures on a blade’s edge. If you could magnify the edge of a knife blade, it might look like a bunch of tiny little saw teeth. During use, these micro teeth get bent over to one side or the other of the edge. The sharpening steel straightens them back out and into alignment with each other.

The ceramic rod does this as well, but it does actually remove a tiny bit of material. There is no need to use any oil with the Lansky Sharp Stick. You use it dry. You will get metal particles eventually clogging the ceramic’s pores though. All you do then is rub it under water, flowing or not, to remove the metal particles. Then dry, and you are back in business.

One of the big advantages of the ceramic rod over a flat whetstone, is that you can use it to sharpen recurved blades. A recurved blade has a section that curves inward toward the spine of the blade.

I can get my blades sharper with a few quick strokes, using this simple and inexpensive ceramic rod than any other method I have used over the years.

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