Gear Review: Wicked Edge ‘Field and Sport’ Sharpener

Wicked Edge’s sharpening systems have proven themselves over and over to be the ultimate precision guided knife sharpeners on the market, so much so, many high-end knife makers use them for their knives’ first edge, rather than hand sharpening their blades. Wicked Edge sharpeners are solid, reliable and fast. If you want the most precise and repeatable edge possible, combined with the least blade wear, choosing one of these sharpeners is really the best possible choice you could make.

A little more Background:

In the world of knives, Wicked Edge is one of those aspirational products. Almost everyone wants one, but few people feel they can justify paying the relatively high cost of one. Much like any quality ‘professional tool’ that performs to a higher standard, most people simply do not NEED them. Simpler, cheaper options exist, and do a reasonable job.

Perhaps one of the other challenging aspects of making that leap into the realm of the Wicked Edge is that most often we see the famous mirror polished hair splitting Wicked Edge (which I too started this article with), and to achieve this you need the full set of stone grits and strops. But you don’t need to go that far, or spend that much, certainly not straight away.

The Field and Sport is one of those simpler systems on offer which includes four grits, 100, 200, 400 and 600, and is also designed to be portable and easy to set up. In real terms, the 600 grit will give you a better working edge than a finely polished mirror finish anyway.

For this review, Wicked Edge did send a few extras as well to allow me to show the finer finishes, but they are not needed for Wickedly sharp knives.

A few more details:

As the Field and Sport is a portable model, it comes in a carry case. This is useful for storage as well as taking it with you. Also shown here is a box of the optional glass platens for using the diamond polishing films.

Opening up the case everything is nicely laid out in a closed-cell foam liner.

Looking a little closer you can also see that in this case the optional extra fine 800/1000 stones have been included which are not part of the standard Field and Sport kit.

To be clear, this is the full set of part of the 2016 version of the Field and Sport kit. Included are the blade clamp, g-clamp, guide rods, 100/200 and 400/600 stones, Allen keys, blade stop and marker pen.

Adding in the optional 800/1000 stones that also fit into the case makes the kit look like this.

Although not clamped onto a working surface, this is the Wicked Edge fully assembled with the blade clamp, guides and stones ready to work.

With a knife fitted securely into the blade clamp this shows the arrangement of the stones as you work on the knife.

Most guided systems use just that, guides. I make that distinction as less robust guides can be bent and distorted. Not so with Wicked Edge. Take a look here at the guide rod ball-joints which have smooth but play-free movement.

The rods fit through the entire length of the stones providing a stable alignment.

You can go precision crazy with the adjustments on the guide rod mounts. There are two hand-wheels, the lower one does the main angle adjustment.

The upper hand-wheel locks the fine angle adjustment, and once released you can turn the ball joint bolt and move this out by any amount and lock it in place.

That lower hand-wheel locks into a series of precisely positioned angle holes cut into the guide rod arms.

As you can see, the hole’s spacing changes as you get further from the middle to keep the change in angle consistent for each graduation. If this was not done, when you get to wider angles each adjustment would become a smaller and smaller fraction of a degree.

This version is the 2016 version of the blade clamp, but the principles should be similar for the latest version. One part of the clamp is fixed to the base.

To allow you to fit each blade into the clamp in the same position each time (to reduce the amount of metal removed when you re-sharpen it) there is a folding ruler inside the clamp.

The ruler in the extended position.

You might have notice the set of four holes near the top of the blade clamp. These provide two blade heights that are set by a removable dual pin that you rest the spine of the blade on as you tighten the clamp.

Tightening the clamp is a two stage process where initially you tighten the top bolt.

Then move the Allen key down to the lower bolt and tighten this to bring the clamp plate back out to a parallel position (to stop the blade popping out). This is important or you will have blade instability when sharpening.

Once the clamp is properly tightened you need to remove the blade height stop pin.

With the stop pin removed you will have room to work on the blade.

Altogether the Field and Sport has four grits, 100, 200, 400 and 600, and here I also have the 800/1000 stones. The following series of photos is intended to show how those grits compare from most coarse to least.







What it is like to use?

This review has taken a while as even a ‘normal’ reviewer doesn’t sharpen knives at the same rate as a professional knife maker, or knife sharpener. What you will also find is that the Wicked Edge takes time to wear in and actually improves over time. Wicked Edge even recommend you start using it on a few ‘inexpensive knives’ first.

During the coarse of this review testing I’ve used the Wicked Edge on all sorts of blades, and in this next sequence is actually a titanium diving knife. Titanium is notoriously difficult to get a good edge on, but you would never know it, I didn’t do anything different and it was a super slicer at the end of this re-profile.

This blunt tip diving knife has had the left edge re-profiled and the right has not yet been done. We will step though the process…

I’ve taken to putting masking tape onto the blade before fitting to the clamp to ensure there are no marks left. This can lead to some movement depending on how thick and soft the tape is, so be careful with the tape you choose and see if this works for you or not. For some blades I don’t do this.

There are plenty of videos showing the Wicked Edge sharpening action. It is a two handed process where you push the stones away from the edge and away from you stroking the entire edge, first one side, then the other. The speed you work will depend on how practiced you are, and how precisely you want to work (and how much material needs to be removed). I also worked the stones up and down when I had a lot of material to remove.

An interesting point to note is that unlike just about every other sharpening system, due to the ability to immediately alternate sides, when doing this, you won’t raise a wire edge. The only way to do this is to stop the alternating action and just work on one side at a time until you have achieved the burr/wire-edge, then swap to do the same for the other side before getting going with the alternating action and working through the grits.

The 100 grit leaves a very clear scratch pattern, and you can see I’ve worked it up and down here as the scratches are at two angles. This was a reprofile so needed a lot of work.

Starting to work out the 100grit scratches with the 200 grit, but some scratches are pretty deep. This is one of the ‘features’ of the new stones, they can have some hot spots which create deeper scratches. Only when really worn-in are these avoided.

Just keep refining through the grits. The precision of the guide system just makes a beautiful edge appear before your eyes. For this blade I did not want to polish the edge as I wanted some bite and micro-serrations, so stopped here at the 600 grit.

Now changing blades and onto a large CRKT folder which needed a re-profile. Here you can see how I’ve used the marker pen to blacken the original edge so I can see when I’ve completely removed it and achieved the angle I want.

In this case the intention was to get to a polished edge…. just because, OK. So here we have the glass platens onto which you stick the diamond films.

The platens have Fine and Coarse marked on them, but this is for your reference and to tell you which side to fit the different diamond grits, not because like this there is any difference.

The Diamond films are simply peeled off the sheets and stuck onto the platens ready to be used as the final stage. These films cut fast and will get dirty pretty quickly. Kyle of Wicked Edge showed me a nice trick for cleaning these up with a bit of alcohol hand rub on some tissue which brought them back to life and gave them a new lease of life, so don’t give up on them too quickly.
NOTE, unlike the diamond stones which can be used onto or off the edge, you MUST use the diamond films OFF the edge otherwise the edge can bite into the film and ruin it – just like any other strop.

What becomes really obvious at this point are two aspects. The first is that the brand new stones make it much more difficult to properly work through the grits and remove the scratches from the coarser grits, and the second is that this will really show you up if you haven’t worked through the grits well enough!! Lessons get learnt.

Ultimately we get there though, and the Wicked Edge precision mirror edge is mine – ALL MINE!

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Ultimate precision knife edge. Can get expensive depending on options.
Fully adjustable for any angle. Needs wearing-in for best results.
Completely repeatable (as long as you note down the settings). It can get time consuming chasing perfection.
Minimal metal removal on repeated sharpening. Addictive mirror edges.
Many options and kits available.


Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

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Gear Review: Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker (Sharpener)

Spyderco’s Tri-Angle Sharpmaker is a surprisingly versatile sharpening system (based on the V-sharpener concept), designed to be simple to use, and make it easy to maintain a consistent sharpening angle.

The details:

Let’s dive into the details and talk about it more in the next section.

The Tri-Angle Sharpmaker arrives in a combined cardboard/blister pack.
 photo 01 Sharpmaker boxed v2 P1170441.jpg

Included with the Sharpmaker is a set of instructions and an instructional DVD.
 photo 02 Sharpmaker box contents v2 P1170448.jpg

Breaking out all the parts, we have a lid to keep all the components in place, a base plate with various shaped holes, four high alumina ceramic stones/rods (a pair of brown/grey medium grit, and a pair of white fine grit) and very importantly two brass safety guard rods.
 photo 03 Sharpmaker parts P1170452.jpg

The FIRST thing you should do is to fit the guard rods (for whichever angle you are working to). Notice how the lid fits over the base at a halfway point to act as a handle.
 photo 04 Sharpmaker guards P1170458.jpg

These guard rods angle back over the user’s hand to prevent stray sharpening strokes testing the edge on your hand. This is all the more important for experienced users as they tend to work faster and with less care.
 photo 05 Sharpmaker holding P1170461.jpg

Just in case you forget – ‘USE SAFETY GUARDS’.
 photo 06 Sharpmaker reminder P1170463.jpg

The two types of stone included with the Sharpmaker (shown here in perfectly clean and unused condition).
 photo 18 Sharpmaker stones P1170503.jpg

So why are those holes the shape they are? It’s all very clever actually. The Tri-Angle Sharpmaker, comes with …. yes, tri-angular stones. The stones also have a groove in them for hooks and other pointed objects.
This means we have three different working surfaces on the stones, the flat side, a pointed corner, and the groove. Here we have the stone fitted into the base so that we use the flat surface.
 photo 08-Sharpmaker-stone-rotation-1-P1170470.jpg

Now, taking the stone out and rotating it, it can be fitted back into the base with the corner as the working surface.
 photo 09-Sharpmaker-stone-rotation-2-P1170471.jpg

Lastly the grooved flat surface is presented for working with. All with one hole that holds the stone at the correct angle.
 photo 10-Sharpmaker-stone-rotation-3-P1170472.jpg

Here we are, fully assembled with ‘stage one’ sharpening (the coarsest arrangement) and on the 40 degree inclusive angle.
 photo 11 Sharpmaker assembled P1170475.jpg

What it is like to use?

Some of my most used sharpening stones are a set of Spyderco pocket stones, so I know how well the Spyderco ceramic stones perform. However, once you start using diamond stones they can seem a little slow, especially on some of the super-steels.

Though not strictly a guided system, I’m going to consider it one to mention the very specific benefit of these systems, which even people with considerable sharpening experience should not dismiss. Quite simply, guided systems help reduce the amount of steel you need to remove to restore an edge. This means that as well as making the sharpening process easier for everyone, it also makes it more efficient. You only remove as much steel as is needed which prolongs the life of the blade and makes sharpening quicker.

With the triangular stones, this is one of the few systems that can sharpen serrations, and is also happy working on hawksbill and recurve blades. To understand fully why, we need only look at the four ‘grades’ of sharpening that are achieved from the two stones.

In order, from most coarse to finest, we have these configurations of the stones:

1. Brown/Grey stone Corners – Coarse edge reshaping
2. Brown/Grey stone Flats – Producing a utility edge (how Spyderco say that most new knives come)
3. White stone Corners – To achieve ‘butcher’ sharp.
4. White stone Flats – for the finest razor edge.

The Sharpmaker base also has two sets of holes which give an inclusive angle of 30 degrees or 40 degrees. In the design of the Sharpmaker, the 30 degree angle is primarily intended to be used for creating a ‘back bevel’ (to thin out the edge). Though some knives might be sharpened to this 30 degree angle, the 40 degree angle is considered by Spyderco to be the best compromise for most blades.

Serrations can be sharpened thanks to the corners of the stones, meaning steps 1 and 3 can be used. Spyderco recommend that only the step three (white stone corners) is used, as step one is a bit too aggressive. Serrations need a slightly different technique, as generally they are formed with a single bevel (chisel) grind. In this case you work only on one side for three or four strokes, then use a single stroke on the other side to remove the burr that forms.

For flexible blades, you only use the corners (steps 1 and 3) as it is difficult to keep the edge sitting on the flat surfaces.

Having covered some of the theory, let’s get back to looking at the way you use the Sharpmaker. Here is a knife in mid-stroke having started at the plunge/ricasso and being draw down and backwards towards the tip, to run the entire edge over the stone on one side.
 photo 13 Sharpmaker knife P1170484.jpg

Looking directly from behind the knife, this is the critical aspect for the Sharpmaker – you keep the blade held vertically at all times, the stone angle is then determined by the Sharpmaker. Visually, keeping the blade vertical is the easiest position to judge, much easier than any other angle.
 photo 14 Sharpmaker knife P1170485.jpg

Having given one side of the blade a stroke, swap to the other side. Then just keep alternating sides for each stroke. Once you have given each side 20 strokes, you can move to the next stone configuration, refining the edge each time.
 photo 15 Sharpmaker knife side 2 P1170488.jpg

MAKE SURE YOU USE THE SAFETY GUARDS – Can’t stress this enough. I’ve hit them several times during the testing for this review, and would have cut my hand if I had not fitted them.

In one end of the Sharpmaker is another hole for a stone, this time using only one stone at a much lower angle. With a single stone mounted in this position you can sharpen scissors in the same way as you sharpen a knife. Keeping the scissors vertical and stroking the blade across the stone. To take off the burr on scissors you need to use the other stone like a file and lay it onto the blade flat. Doing this will give you a better burr removal than just closing the scissors.
 photo 12 Sharpmaker scissors P1170479.jpg

Also included in the design are two bench-stone options. Using the top channels in the base gives you a wide stone surface for large blades.
 photo 16 Sharpmaker bench stone P1170489.jpg

Flipping the base over and it has two grooves that are close together for sharpening smaller tools like chisels.
 photo 17 Sharpmaker bench stone narrow P1170494.jpg

I’ve already mentioned a couple of characteristics of the Sharpmaker that become quite relevant to start with. Especially compared to diamond, the ceramic stones are not the fastest cutters, and add to this a design that helps keep the overall removal of metal to a minimum by maintaining the angle, and you get a sharpener that can be hard work if you need to reprofile a steep edge angle.

(NOTE: When new, the brown/grey stones have a slight glaze that initially slows the cutting down. This glaze will wear through after a few sharpening sessions, but you can rub the two new stones together to speed this up and improve the cutting performance sooner.)

When starting to use the Sharpmaker, your bevel might not be at 40 degrees, so you can use the marker pen test to see if your bevel angle matches the Sharpmaker. If your initial bevel angle is less than 40 degrees, then you can just touch up the very edge and you don’t need to fully reprofile. Here the remnants of the marker pen are visible where the stones have taken off the ink from the full edge bevel itself. If you find the 40 degree stone angle is only working on the back bevel you are going to need to reprofile.
 photo 19 Sharpmaker check P1250574.jpg

This knife which had a badly damaged edge (from being thrown in with the rest of the washing up) has been restored by running through all four stages and then tested with some thermal receipt paper which simply fell apart on the edge.
 photo 20 Sharpmaker test40 P1250590.jpg

As mentioned above, most sharpening systems actually improve with use, and it was during this session of sharpening a set of sewing scissors that the stones of the Sharpmaker really developed some bite. The difference is significant and you can feel the stones cutting much more aggressively than when new. Perhaps more so than with knives, the process of keeping the blade vertical and drawing it across the stone makes it so easy to sharpen scissors. It only took around 20 minutes in total to get all of these scissors cutting beautifully.
 photo 21 Sharpmaker Scissors P1260926.jpg

Not only is the Sharpmaker simple to use, it is simple to transport and set up. The ceramic stones are used dry so there is no oil/water mess while working, and you use normal kitchen/bathroom cleaning products to clean the stones when clogged. I take it with me to friends and family and into the office kitchen to touch up the edged casualties and give them new life.

The Tri-Angle Sharpmaker is NOT just a knife sharpener and I recommend you watch the Spyderco videos that show just how versatile this sharpener is.

Spyderco Sharpmaker – Introduction (1 of 4)

Spyderco Sharpmaker – Part 2 of 4

Spyderco Sharpmaker – Part 3 of 4

Spyderco Sharpmaker – Part 4 of 4

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Very easy to use – just keep the knife blade vertical. Can be a bit slow, especially on harder steels.
Extremely Portable. Initially requires reprofiling the edge to 40 degrees.
Hugely versatile sharpener for almost any cutting tool. Only two bevel angles available.
Ceramic stones need no oil or water in use and are easy to clean.
Minimum metal removal lengthens blade life.

 photo 11 Sharpmaker assembled P1170475.jpg


Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

BladeForums – Knife Reviews (US based Forum for Knife Discussion)

CandlePowerForums – Knife Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)