A couple months ago, Brady started a thread Bonsai Knife for Grafting - #8 by Olpea about grafting knives.
In that thread Brady inquired how my newly purchased Lansky sharpening system worked out for me. I’ve had a chance to use the system and so thought I’d report back. It’s somewhat important grafting knives remain sharp for best results, and this is grafting season.
I’m not anywhere near a knife or knife sharpening expert, so your not going to get an expert’s review here. Just a regular guy who needs a good sharp grafting knife this time of year.
As I mentioned in the previous thread, I’m unable to sharpen a hard steel knife to a razor edge with a free-hand stone. I’ve been able to sharpen soft knife steel razor sharp, but not hard steel (especially stainless steel) free-hand on a stone. I’m sure there are some experts who can sharpen hard knife steel to a razor edge via free-hand, but I’m not one of them.
As an aside, when it comes to sharpening knives, lots of men claim they are great at knife sharpening on a free-hand stone, but more often than not, it’s their testosterone speaking, not logic. It’s simply harder to maintain a constant angle “free-hand” vs. one of these sharpening systems (constancy of angle is key to getting a sharp edge). When it comes to guns and knives, I’ve found most men allow their testosterone speak louder than their reason.
I looked at some relatively inexpensive sharpening “kits”. Mainly I looked at DMT and Lansky. Unlike freehand stones, these kits are designed to keep the blade/stone at a fixed angle during the sharpening process.
The DMT kit seemed too junky to me with their plastic clamp holder. I elected for the Lansky diamond kit (diamond stones last longer). I also purchased the ultra fine ceramic stone with the diamond kit I purchased.
I watched this video a few times to get some pointers how to use the kit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJnmVS_0B4g
This guy seems to know how to get the most out of the kit, so I followed his advice.
Now for my review.
Overall the Lansky kit is decent. In terms of the negatives, I don’t like the way Lansky changed the clamping system. Evidently, too many people complained the old clamping system wouldn’t hold the blade steady, so the new Lansky clamps have a sort of rubber built into the clamp to hold the blade. The problem is the rubber also allows the blade to move and flex during the sharpening process. This is an “engineering fix” which is worse than the original problem. As the guy in the video explains, the clamping problem of not holding the blade firmly in the original Lansky design can be easily overcome by applying a small amount of masking tape to the blade at the point where the clamp attaches. However, Lansky’s new fix to this problem, by building in a rubber pad in the clamp, allows the blade to move somewhat. This isn’t a huge problem, but it is a drawback.
I think next time I sharpen a knife, I will try to remove the rubber pads in the clamp, and just stick with putting masking tape on the blade to hold the blade firmly in the clamp.
The other thing I don’t like about the Lansky system is the case. The case is really cheap plastic. I had to duct tape it to hold it shut. This isn’t a huge deal because I want a knife sharpening system which gets knives sharp, not one with a perfect case. Still, if they could come up with a nice steel case, I’d be willing to pay extra for that, so the junky plastic case is a drawback.
Other than that, I was pretty pleased with the knife sharpening system. Since my grafting knife has a fairly short blade (lengthwise and edgewise) I couldn’t sharpen less than the 25 degree angle, but I think I’m OK with that.
It took about 20 mins to put a good edge on the grafting knife. When I was through, it wasn’t as sharp as a straight razor (which was a small disappointment) but it was still very sharp. I could shave the hair off my arm, but it dragged enough I wouldn’t want to try to use it on my face.
In the end, I think the kit is decent, but I don’t like the rubber gasket on the clamp (which I think could be removed) and the cheap plastic case. Nevertheless, overall I think the kit is worth the money. It will sharpen hard knife steel significantly better than I could ever sharpen it free-hand.