Work Sharp knife sharpener tried and tested


products - Credit: Archant

Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition knife sharpener - tried and tested by Phil Price


products - Credit: Archant

I use knives a lot and appreciate a sharp edge, but, until recently, I’ve never found getting one easy. A while ago I tried a Work Sharp power sharpener and immediately found that it was what I needed. It works by driving a belt around three pulleys and using guides to hold your knife at the right angle as you pull it through. I found that I was able to sharpen everything, from the smallest pocket blade to my Sunday roast carving knife with equal ease.

Since then Work Sharp has formed an alliance with an American custom knife maker, Ken Onion, who has redesigned the original to incorporate some improvements.

Firstly, you can feel just how much more substantial the new model is. It has a more powerful motor, which has better cooling.

Next, we find an adjustable belt speed and adjustable guides to allow you to choose exactly the angle you want for the job you’re planning to take on. I also noted a new support roller that the blade will run on as you pull it past the abrasive belts.

The abrasive belts come in five grades – from extra coarse that rips through metal at a scary rate, to 6000 extra fine that hones the final edge to perfection. I find that once I get my edge right, just a few strokes on each side with the fine belt maintains it, ready for use. However, an edge that’s become really blunt needs to be recovered by working through the belt grades slowly until a razor sharpness is delivered. It’s wise to read the manual, but you don’t need a degree in mechanical engineering to get the best from it.

The key is to decide the kind of edge you want, read the quick-start guide and follow the set-up. Then work methodically through the five grades, pulling the blade through smoothly and continuously.

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I found it quick and easy to get an edge on almost any knife, no matter how blunt it had become. Very poor grade steel will never get really keen, but most knives can become impressively sharp. The main thing is that it takes no skill, no time to learn and almost no effort. Follow the instructions and you get what you want.

It can also sharpen scissors, axes, your lawnmower blade, gut hooks and almost any edged tool, with just a few adjustments. Although in principle it is the same as the original, the new version feels much more solid and has the ability to give you exactly the edge you dream of through its additional adjustability. It’s more of a workshop tool than a hobby sharpener, and is much the better for it. It reminds me of an old advert that read: ‘the best just got better’.

Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition

RRP: £169.95

Tel: 01628 330330