Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Worksharp Guided Field Sharpener - Gear Review

I win contests about as often as Alabama loses national championship games.  When I was about five I won a Polaroid camera at a restaurant opening, but since I didn't know how to write at that point I'm pretty sure I didn't enter the contest (thanks Mom).  Since then, in spite of entering virtually everything that doesn't ask for my credit card number, I haven't won diddly.

Imagine my surprise when back in December I saw my name on the Outdoor Blogger Network as a lucky recipient of a sharpening tool. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

Worksharp Guided Field Sharpener

And it wasn't just that I'd actually won a contest that had me all excited.  For years I had a set of three Arkansas stones, old school stuff, messy with the required honing oil, but they did the job.  They took a while to get it done, too.  These stones mysteriously disappeared a few years ago.  Equally mysterious is that no one in the house claims any knowledge of them ever being here.  Needless to say my knives were getting a bit dull, so this arrived at a very opportune time.

When it's not hunting season I spend some time knocking around in the garage on woodworking projects. Through this I became familiar with a method of sharpening hand plane and chisel blades known as the Scary Sharp (Google it) method.  It incorporates progressively finer grits of sandpaper into a routine that can take 15-20 minutes but produces unbelievably sharp edges.  But this is a whole lot more effort than I care to put into my pocketknives.

Knives sharpened with a Worksharp Field Sharpener
Worksharp's Guided Field Sharpener is a compact little unit that I found put a very sharp edge on a blade in a very short amount of time.  I ran several knives through the routine, a series of 5-10 strokes along a diamond surface followed by 5 strokes along a ceramic honing rod and 5 strokes on a leather strop.  The whole process takes about 2-3 minutes.  One knife, an old, cheap unbranded pocketknife I use as a letter opener, quickly sharpened to a much more usable level.  A 30 year old Buck folding model got similar, but sharper results in the same amount of time.  And my go-to Schrade, a lockback model that I carry in the field, re-gained the edge it had when new.

This tool won't put a razor sharp edge on a blade, at least not quickly.  My razor sharpness test is the hair on the back of my hand and while it clipped a few of them, maybe enough to put it on the level with a two week old razor, Gillette needn't worry.  But it's billed as a field sharpener, and in that role it excels.  It puts a pretty darn sharp edge on just about any blade in a very short amount of time.

Worksharp Guided Field Sharpener uses

I gave it a turn on my wood ax, too, and while it took more than the recommended 5-10 strokes, in less than 5 minutes it did put on a good, sharp edge capable of slicing a sheet of paper.

It sharpens fish hooks, broadheads and scissors, although I didn't try it on any of these.  It handles serrated edges and I did run the serrations on my Schrade down the honing edge. Truthfully I don't use these very often so I have no real gauge to measure any improvement against.

The price on the Worksharp website is $34.95.  I'd say this puts it just above a no-brainer and squarely in the good buy category. And a big thank you to the OBN and Worksharp for ending my 40+ year losing streak.

Your money's worth:  This is a versatile, effective tool for sharpening the variety of edges and points found in an outdoorsman's closet.  It works fast, does a good job, and doesn't take up much space.

Where it comes up short:  Given that it's meant to be a field sharpener, I honestly don't know how they could fit more into or onto this model.  Maybe shave a few ounces of weight off?

Get one if:  You don't enjoy spending long periods of time sharpening your tools but still want a pretty sharp blade.

Look around before shelling out the bucks:  If you demand a razor sharp edge on your tools, this may come up a bit short.  But only a bit.

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