Diamond knife sharpener kits
Every owner of a pocket knife had to sharpen it at some point. If you ask about a method that allows you to make your pocket knife sharp quickly and easily on your own, you are more likely to hear: "DMT or Lansky". These two companies are on many people's lips, but is it really that easy and do these and similar sharpening tools really provide the desired quality? That is the question we are going to find out.
Sharpening systems which include abrasive stones and come from the factory, have one feature common to all manufacturers - the systems are supplied with abrasive diamond plates based on electroplated bonding. There are a number of technical reasons, which greatly simplify the use of the sharpening system.
1. Purpose and features of electroplated diamond plates
Electroplated diamond plates are metal plates (often aluminum) with one or more layers of artificial diamonds based on a hard nickel bonding agent.
A feature of electroplated bonding is that diamonds are prone to chipping and if used frequently, the service life can reach about 40-50 times of use, according to a number of sources. It is a fast, rough, and fairly short-lasting abrasive material, especially in commercial sharpening. However, if you sharpen 5-6 times a year, it can last a long time.
You can not call electroplated diamond plates strictly bad or good, they are just what they are, and the main thing is the proper use. It is best to choose the right abrasive for the task at hand. There are no abrasives that are both durable, wear-resistant, and effective.
Such abrasives are designed for the customer to be able to unpack the knife sharpener, clamp a pocket knife, and sharpen the blade to an appropriate level of sharpness. In general, such plates are used for profiling secondary bevels, removing sharpening marks, preparing for a finer treatment of the surface, main sharpening, and finishing, depending on the gritness included in the set of plates.
All electroplated abrasives, without exception, feature the following characteristics:
- The sharpening process does not require the use of coolant;
- Electroplated diamond plates provide intensive metal removal and can be used to sharpen the cutting edge of a pocket knife that has significant damage (chips, dents, etc.);
- Equal abrasive thickness, which allows working without raising the angle when used with an advanced knife sharpener with a guide
- Electroplated diamond plates do not require preparation for work (leveling, etc.).
- Best for sharpening inexpensive pocket, kitchen, and utility knives made of soft and relatively hard steel
2. Technical features of the featured models
Certainly, it is necessary to understand that different manufacturers have abrasive plates of different grit and size in the standard set of this or that model of knife sharpener. This fact predetermines the possibility of using it for one or another type: a pocket knife, kitchen, and even hunting knives.
As an example, a 4-inch(10 cm) DMT bar can be used to sharpen or hone a long kitchen knife, which, frankly speaking, is not very comfortable, and sometimes may be unsafe. In other words, the tool needs to be matched to the task at hand.
A wide range of sharpening solutions are available, differing in purpose and size: pocket-sized, portable, compact, medium-sized, and finally, full-sized professional systems.
More correctly, however, all sharpening systems are distributed over other factors, such as useful abrasive length, preset or fixed angles, and the grit size of the supplied diamond abrasive.
An analysis of the specifications of the devices that we will discuss in this article has brought the following interesting comparative results:
According to the effective working length of the abrasive, the presented sharpeners are divided into:
- 4" (10 cm): Lаnsky, DMT, Eze Lap;
- 5,1" (13 cm): Wicked Edge;
- 6” (15 cm) - apex type: TSPROF.
The first four manufacturers have slight differences in the effective size of the diamond abrasive. Considering that the production of such abrasives is not too expensive, the companies could slightly increase the usable length.
The Wicked Edge abrasives are slightly longer and appear to be better and more efficient than the first three competitors.
At the same time, the 6" working length of the Apex type has long been a recognized industry standard. For some reason, however, the most well-known sharpening companies are in no hurry to switch to another standard.
According to the fixed angles:
- Lаnsky: 17, 20, 25, 30;
- DMT: 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40;
- Eze Lap: 15, 20, 25;
- Wicked Edge: stepless, from 14 to 27 degrees per side;
- TSPROF: stepless, depending on the model, from 7 to 39 degrees per side.
A comparison of the products of the first three companies in the list above shows DMT as the undisputed leader in this area although it loses significantly to the Wicked Edge and TSPROF knife sharpener. On the other hand, Wicked Edge and TSPROF belong to a completely different price range and are designed for slightly different tasks of more sophisticated users.
Regarding the DMT knife sharpener, the clamp can also be used with full-size sharpening stones as a workaround solution - using the Adjustable Angle Guide principle.
The range of angles that these sharpening systems allow you to use can be considered sufficient for domestic purposes.
However, a few words must be said about the frames, which have slots or holes with large tolerances. On the Eze Lap frame, as in the image above, for example, there are only 3 slots and angle positions. These sharpening systems are not very stable and furthermore, the steel axis of the guide has quite a significant backlash. An experienced user will doubt the precision of such sharpening and this will be well justified.
According to the grit size of the diamond plates:
- Lаnsky (grit): 70, 120, 280, 600
- DMT (micron): 120, 60, 45, 25, 9, 3
- Eze Lap (grit): 150, 250, 400, 600, 1200
- Wicked Edge (grit): 50/80, 100/200, 200/600, 400/600, 800/1000, 1500/2200, 2200/3000
- TSPROF (grit): 150, 220, 400, 600, 1000
When comparing the grit values given by Lansky and Eze Lap, you immediately notice a small diversity in the range of diamond plates, consisting of four values. Lansky has coarser abrasives and Eze Lap has finer ones. Otherwise, the abrasive pitch is quite clear and usable for honing and sharpening a pocket knife to a satisfying level of sharpness.
DMT offers a larger range of diamond abrasives compared to competitors and there are 6 of them in the line. Factory specifications indicate the usual unit in microns, but for ease of comparison, we will give approximate values in Japanese grits (micron): 120 μ = 100 JIS, 60 μ = 320 JIS, 45 μ = 380 JIS, 25 μ = 700 JIS, 9, 3 μ = 1500 JIS, 3 μ = 4000 JIS. The figures show that the range of stones can cover the entire scope of possible tasks, from roughing to finishing the blade's secondary bevel.
Of all the available abrasives, the number of possible combinations of Wicked Edge diamond abrasives is somewhat striking. Other manufacturers of diamond abrasives also have a large range of plates, but Wicked Edge is significantly different. All Wicked Edge stones are not only double-sided with a different grit on each side but they are also sold exclusively as a set, which makes the whole set quite expensive, making half of each individual set almost useless. There is no real technical or financial benefit at all.
The TSPROF kit contains 5 abrasives and the values are stated in FEPA-F units - 150, 220, 400, 600, 1000. Tests carried out with different steels show that a reasonably high level of sharpness can be achieved at the 1000 FEPA-F level with some steels.
As a general tip, which also applies to a professional knife sharpener, you should not work too long with electroplated bars. It is best to keep the honing of both sides of blades made of soft steel without significant damage in between 1-2 minutes.
In other words, do not go through a long and intensive sharpening process, or you might overdo it.
There are some peculiarities of work, which are typical only for the design of professional sharpening systems with guides and the option of fine adjustment of the sharpening angle. Due to the fact that the abrasive itself is quite aggressive, you should try not to reach the cutting edge, even though it is difficult. Besides, when you change abrasives, it is best to work with a slight increase in the sharpening angle of 0.1 degrees in order to fix the cutting edge, which can undergo considerable deformation caused by the previous coarser abrasive.
According to the design of the guide:
- Steel rod guide: Lаnsky, DMT, Eze Lap;
- Twin guide rod: Wicked Edge;
- Universal guide rod: TSPROF.
The steel guide rod of about 15 cm fixed in a plastic case is typical for Lansky, DMT, Eze Lap, and some other products. In particular, Lansky has instructional videos on how to use the knife sharpener, where it is recommended to bend the steel rod in the desired direction to adjust its horizontal and parallel position relative to the abrasive. This suggests that such rods are not hardened, their diameter is insignificant, and this circumstance leaves the precision of the sharpening angles in question. The situation is similar with DMT and Eze Lap.
Given the abrasive length of 10 centimeters and the length of the steel wire guide of about 12-15 cm, it is possible to sharpen a blade up to 15 cm in length, in exceptional cases up to 20 cm. However, the main limitation is the insignificant length of the working surface of the abrasive.
According to Wicked Edge, their twin guided system can sharpen blades up to 76 centimeters long. However, this raises a natural question about school geometry. The abrasive holder is about 13 centimeters long and the steel rod is 15 centimeters long. Taking into account the 10 centimeters distance from the base, the maximum length of the blade, where the abrasive can reach is about 23 centimeters on each side before it runs off the guide. Besides, there are no stoppers on the guide due to its design. That is, the maximum length of the blade that can be sharpened is about 45 centimeters. In other words, Wicked Edge deliberately specifies parameters that are unachievable in practice.
On the other hand, the TSPROF company with a guide and a universal abrasive holder of Apex type with a length of just over 60 centimeters, specifies modest 40 centimeters in the manual of its top-of-the-line K03 model. Considering that the rack and pinion lift gives a 360-degree rotation of the guide, the K03 system can in theory sharpen a blade much longer than the stated length. According to specifications, it can reach about 60 centimeters with absolute confidence.
According to the design and abrasive mounting method:
- Custom design: Lаnsky, DMT, Eze Lap, Wicked Edge
- Universal design: TSPROF
It should be emphasized that all manufacturers except TSPROF, supply their sharpening systems with abrasives that are suitable for use with their own sharpening frames or guides. You could try to use abrasives on a different sharpening frame, but this would be counterproductive since the sharpening angles would be different. This limits the use of the product and forces the user to stick to a particular manufacturer. There is also a chance that you will not like the system, and it will just sit gathering dust in the corner.
Apex and Wicked Edge abrasives stand out from all others in every way. They can be purchased by the piece or in sets and you can make up sets of abrasives to suit your needs, which other brands do not offer. However, despite the wide supply of Wicked Edge, the cost of such abrasives is relatively high, and among other features, the purchase of such a system at a comparative cost and controversial method of use will be questionable in one way or another.
On the other hand, systems that use Apex-type abrasives for sharpening will always be much more appealing. The reason for this is quite simple - one should not consider the cost of the sharpening machine as such. You need to consider everything as a whole: what knives you have to make sharp, what abrasives are on sale on the market, and what final result this or that knife sharpener can give. Once you have everything you need, the cost of the knife sharpener itself will most certainly come second.
According to the kitting approach:
- knife sharpener with diamond plates: Lаnsky, DMT, Eze Lap, Wicked Edge
- knife sharpener with and without diamond plates: TSPROF
Most companies that sell pocket, portable, compact or desktop household sharpeners and put them in kits with electroplated abrasives do so for a reason. This simplifies the user's choice and allows them to get started immediately after buying and unpacking the knife sharpener, without having to think about the details and complexities.
On the contrary, there are companies that sell their devices and do not put them in kits with any abrasives. Sometimes the kits are available on the market as promotional items at lower prices, compared to buying them individually, but the goal here is somewhat different. In this category, the sharpeners and abrasive kits themselves are designed for sophisticated users and professionals who make money by sharpening.
Pocket tools with abrasives of the usable length of 10-11 cm with a width of 13-20 mm and a guide with a length of about 15 cm with design features of Lansky, DMT, Eze Lap, and Wicked Edge can be used efficiently for sharpening various knives with blades of about 12-15 cm, and sometimes a little longer. Most types of a folding pocket knife, some household knives, hunting knives, and medium-sized kitchen knives made of soft steel are covered by these specifications. The idea is to sharpen the soft with the hard.
The 15 cm long abrasives, used with professional sharpening systems, offer much more possibilities in terms of fine adjustment and the ability to get the full potential from the abrasive.
Once again, it is worth mentioning that electroplated abrasives are fairly aggressive, quick to remove the metal, but relatively low lasting. For this reason, one should work with them with care for between 1-2 minutes on both sides of the blade, depending on the level of damage of the secondary bevels. The choice of sharpening system depends on your need to sharpen those or other types of blades. Small sharpeners are best for small knives in small quantities with considerable success. Besides, it is easy to take a small knife sharpener with you outdoors.
Portable and desktop models are best for home or for the workshop, or for large volumes of work.
What is diamond plate used for?
Diamond plates are used as sharpening systems for knives, chisels, and other cutting tools.
How to clean diamond stones?
To clean diamond plates, use a soft-bristled brush and warm, soapy water. Rinse the plate thoroughly and dry it with a clean cloth.
How much is diamond plate?
The price of diamond plates varies depending on the size, grit level, and brand. They can range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars per plate.
How to cut diamond plate?
Diamond plates do not need to be cut since they come in pre-determined sizes.
How to sharpen with diamond plates?
To sharpen with diamond plates, place the plate on a flat surface and hold the cutting tool at the desired angle. Move the tool back and forth along the plate while applying light pressure. Repeat the process with progressively finer grits until the desired sharpness is achieved.
What is diamond plate made of?
Diamond plates are made of a metal base, such as steel or aluminum, with diamond particles embedded in a resin or metal matrix on the surface.