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May 07, 2008

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Video Clip: About Ceramic Sharpeners

Here are a few things you should know about ceramic sharpening-rods sets. First, there are some truly lousy ones on the market. The two good ones that I know of are the Lansky Kitchen Combo and the A.G. Russell Ceramic Sharpener. The Lansky comes with three sets of rods ranging from coarse through fine and A.G.'s is fine only. Fine is all I ever use, and I don't believe you can get a shaving edge without it.

Ceramic rods will never wear out, but if you drop them they are guaranteed to shatter. So don't drop them. Also, I was not kidding about cutting your arm in the video. A knifemaker friend of mine cut himself so badly pulling that stunt that he had to go to the hospital.


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Jim in Mo.

Dr. R,
Learning to properly use a fly rod is something I've wanted to do and I think this may be the year. But, I think your forgetting that a man can boast of just purchasing a $500 so&so fly rod and he's barely in the middle of the pack for quality and now comes the reel. The average joe just wants a day out with the family.

Clay Cooper

I was expecting the guy to cut his finger off or something. Surprising how many people don’t know how to sharpen a blade.
The most dangerous knife is not a sharp knife; it’s the dull knife that is the most dangerous!


Good report. For 'production skinning' i.e., skinning and fleshing of multiple very large brown bears both my guides and I agree that the fastest and most efficient for us in the field and in the skinning shed was the 3x12" flat diamond steels (coarse, med, fine) and a diamond steel similar to the old butcher (round) steel, but this one is about 3/4" wide and slightly oval shaped. Dexter, among others, make the oval. The 3x12 flats will fit on the old Norton 3 stone holder which includes an oil bath reservoir to turn and dip the stones in. This not needed on the diamond, of course, but it makes a handy base to hold them. We use the same equipment commercial fishing for halibut where knives are in play a lot.

Tom Kelly

Dave; Great video,What make knife are you sharpening? How about showing us some of your favorite knives?


Jesus, Dave:

Are you looking for a Cable TV gig ?

Jim in Mo.

I'm glad you posted because you mentioned the Dexter oval stone (which I have a 50 yr old, fixed to a rosewood handle I believe) and you mentioned Norton.
I use my Dexter as the final 'fine' stropping stone after I have gone thru the Lansky stones. Lansky gives me a sharp edge but its the ultra fine Dexter that cleans it up and gives me a 'Don't touch me Edge'.
Problem is my Dexter is from Mass. the newest web site from them is in Fla. and somewhere else, and they only advertise course and medium. Theres no way mine is either. Any suggestions where to search if the day comes I need a replacement?

Trae B.

"Also, so I wouldn't look like a dork in gym class I would test the blade on the hairs above my ankles so my tube socks would cover it up." You wore tube socks in gym class? You wore tube socks with shorts? We have two completly different definetions of dork.

Trae B.

I have a unnamed finishinf "whetrock" as we call them and it gets the job done for me, and I dont have a single hair on my left arm because of it. im 16 by the way and I know how to sharpen a knife and I know proper knife safty.

Jim in Mo.

Hey wait a minute Trae B,
You must be younger than us, back then there wasn't anything else.
Other than wearing black socks and flip flops with shorts.

Jim in Mo.

I rest my case!!


Thank you for the instructional video. Many years ago I picked up a filet knife and prepared to sharpen it on a set of rods exactly like the ones in your video. The rod broke on the first stroke (thank God the knife was dull!) and the resulting wound in my forearm took 3 butterfly bandages to close with lots of gauze to stop the blood. I wasn't near an emergency room to get stitches. One bit of advice you left out: It helps if you sharpen the knife BEFORE you drink several beers! Keep up the good work.


Another good one is from Spyderco, best I have ever used.


I vaguely remember reading in F & S or somewhere years ago of a variation of the powered grinding rock that Dave mentioned. The difference was that it had a wheel to which was attached numerous strips of sandpaper like material. The article stated that any good knife would be magically sharp in seconds even if performed by the biggest klutz. Anyone recollect seeing this method and remember more about it?
By the way Dave I also was impressed by your ability to demonstrate the crock stick sharpening technique as well as the clarity with which you verbalized the instructions. Obviously you were not reading from a pre-printed card. Not bad for a yankee, not bad at all. Somehow I feel that the Utah education might have improved your skills. But then what do I know after living 32 years in Mississippi and 28 in Wyoming, I even still say "Y'all".


Dave I forgot to mention that a suggestion for your next tutorial might be how to properly install a scope and sight in a rifle. Maybe how to locate a garbage dump which allows shooting and contains a rather large infestation of vermin. I also have a 2 year old gelding that loves to buck, are you any good at breaking colts? I can get one of the BEST OF THE WEST video camera operators to be on site.


Trae B
Hey it was a 70's thing, our short were really shorts too

Del in KS


Yeah it blew pretty good the other day. Had 'nother storm come thru tonight. So far the longest streak of dry days this year is 5 according to one of the local news weather guys.

Dave and the gang,

Back in Feb I bought a cold steel knife that was auctioned at the Kansas Bowhunters Assn meeting. Tonight I used it to clean a dozen large fat Bluegills and it would still shave a gnats ass. Must be pretty good steel. Guys I used the ceramic sticks and Arkansas stones for years but I gotta tell ya the diamond sharpener is better in that: It doesn't require cleaning, needs no lube oil, small enough you can carry it in a pocket, it's unbreakable and you can make a razor's edge with just a few strokes. I use mine at least once a week. I bought it in Fairbanks back in the mid-eighties. Almost threw it away before realizing I was putting too much pressure on the blade. A few very light strokes on each side is all it takes for a shaving edge on my Buck. That Buck steel is so hard it took a long time to get it done using sticks or a set of stones. Haven't used either in many years.

Del in KS

Back in the 80's there was an old guy near Fairbanks that made hunting knives. Many of his blades had Caribou bone handles and curved edges for skinning. For sharpening he had a grinder with a wheel made of some kind of layered cloth. He would put jeweler's rouge on the wheel, turn it on and polish the blade to a razor's edge in just a few moments. Can't remember his name. Did you meet the guy?


Del in KS are you refering to those diamond stone shaped sharpeners like those marketed by Smith's? Looks like metal with little holes in the surface at casual glance. I have examined them but never knew anyone who had actually used one so I was not certain if they would be an improvement over my old Arkansas stone and crocks.
Clay are those big wide Knives of Alaska skinners as good as the manufacturer claims? There are a couple models one of which I owned several years ago but gave it to a friend before getting around to using it.

Del in KS


Do you mean an Ulu (not sure on spelling) knife? The Alaskan natives use them. Thats not the kniffe I was talkinng about.
On the sharpener. It is a small steel rod impregnated with diamond dust. The handle is hollow. Some models the business end retracts into the handle. My old one simply unscrews and the point slides into the handle and screws into place. Been using it since '86. Got better as it got older.

Del in KS


I've seen those new diamond sharpeners that are flat. Didn't buy one cause the old one still works fine. Sorry 'bout the above spelling. Too big hurry.


Been outta town for a couple days. Find this blog interesting as many folks have found many different ways to acquire a cutting edge on a favored blade, or not!
I still prefer the carbon steel blades (Case, Schrade and many others!) to the newer, harder than a bankers heart stuff. My old carbon blades will gut/skin anything I can kill with an occasional swipe of the blade to clean the lard off.
Once I get it home the "Old Hickory" carbon steel blades get a workout.
All my carbon steel blades are kept sharp and working with a small Norton stone and a steel.
The stone applies the edge, the steel re-aligns the edge.


Dave Petzal

To all: Many thanks for the kind words and the good ideas, and for ignoring the fact that my hair was a mess.

To Dr. Ralph: We do not have a general fishing blog, but we are working on one. I don't have much hope for it, as the majority of fishermen seem to be inarticulate brutes who are incapable of absorbing information unless it's accompanied by bad country music. I've been campaigning for years to call the magazine "Field," and drop the fishing altogether, as Sports Afield has, but those responsible for making the decision have told me to go pound sand.

To Ishawooa:
I would be glad to do a video on how to sight in a rifle, but I don't know how.
If I knew where there was a dump with shootable rats, I would be there, not here.
As for the bucking colt, there is a cure, but I can't put it in cyberspace.

To Tom Kelly: The knife is a Cabela's Bell & Carlson Gator, which costs $90 and is such a good knife I'm still having trouble grasping how great it is.

To Lastearlofshaw: In order to get a cable job I would have to be lobotomized, so, no, I'll stay with print.

Jim in Mo.

Concerning the wheel with sand paper strips which you then put into a drill. If you see one at a yard sale don't buy it. We had one long ago, dad was a sucker for gadgets. I don't care what angle you hold your knife those pieces of sandpaper would rip or cut right off.
Hey Dave, maybe thats a good blog; Most useless inventions stuck down a sportsmans throat.


Jim in Mo,
I have used the word 'stone and/or 'steel' to depict the diamond surfaced sharpeners, whether flat or oval. Although I tally two plus decades over 50 I do not remember there being the diamond surfaced sharpeners from my early days. Of course, there are other things I do not rememb er, as well!
As for finding the Dexter oval diamond 'steel' I mentioned, the closest I can offer is further than FL. I regularly buy them in Anchorage, AK and have not shopped for them anywhere else. I would think they have a web site - doesn't everyone nowadays!


Del - Ish,
Re: ulus knives. In the hands of what would now only be an 'elder' Eskimo woman they are a work of art. I have sat many times watching those ladies do all the fleshing and finish work on polar bear hides taken by our clients (circa 1960s) at Point Hope, AK. There is, seemingly, nothing that requires knife work that they could not do with the ulu - which they employed in various sizes from quite small, for work around the head and lips, to quite large for the overall fleshing of the whole hide. Of course, they employ them equally as well in working with fish and other needs.
I have used them myself for bear fleshing and they are great. Since they fit right into the palm of your hand they become almost an extension of your hand. There is none of the wrist fatigue caused by holding a knife handle offset to the direction of your fleshing stroke.
Few white people have become adept at their use and those who are might be going, going, gone soon.

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