The Case for Getting a Knife Professionally Sharpened

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Here’s a dark secret of the knife community: most of us don’t really know how to sharpen our knives. Sure, we might be able to establish a functional edge, but few can consistently reshape and hone an edge to truly make it ‘scary sharp.’ Part of it might be a lack of equipment: after spending hundreds of dollars on a knife why spend just as much or more on a sharpening system? Some of it may be based on fear: once the metal is off there’s no getting it back on and no one wants to damage an expensive or discontinued blade. Most of us lack the patience, proper tools, and courage it takes to learn how to confidently sharpen our knives.


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Sharpening is a Skill
“Sharpening is a skill you have to want to learn, and with passion, to get good at,” says TheApostleP, a top YouTube knife reviewer and professional knife sharpener. Having sharpened over 2,000 knives in the last few years, he ought to know. He began sharpening other peoples’ knives as a way to see and handle a lot of different blades for his channel.

What started off as a hobby has become a full-time job. TheApostleP’s customer base is so diverse that you never know what will show up on the bench and in front of the camera next. Traditionals, fixed blades, customs, production knives from every manufacturer, at all price points: few YouTube channels boast such variety.

The Appeal of a Well-Sharpened Blade
Part of the appeal of having a knife professionally sharpened is obvious. We pay a lot for our knives, and we want them to look and function as well as they can. Even collectors sometimes want an edge that is scary sharp and visually impressive (TheApostleP calls this the “Bling Factor”). A good cutting edge is part of the experience of owning any knife, and “a $200 knife with an ugly edge that isn’t sharp kind of wrecks the experience of owning it,” TheApostleP insists.

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ZT0560BLK Freshly Sharpened by TheApostleP

The truth is most knives, even expensive ones leave the factory with an edge that is functional but far from optimal. Part of this results from financial considerations on behalf of the knife companies. TheApostleP reckons that a knife maker that applied the same attention to their blades’ as he does in his shop would add $40-$60 to the cost of the final product. In today’s hyper-competitive market that price jump can be the difference between a knife taking off or getting the cold shoulder.

Variations in Steel
Even if you understand the rudiments of sharpening, not all steels respond the same way to the same process. Some steels like S90V or M4 promise superior edge retention but are almost impossible to work on without more specialized equipment than the average user is likely to own. These exotic, tenaciously sharp steels are desirable to buyers, and the super steel craze shows no sign of slowing down. Having the means to put a great edge on a hard to sharpen steel is more important than ever.

Easier to Maintain
A truly great edge is more than just sharp: it’s also stable and responsive to maintenance. You may not be able to get more than a functional edge out of a Sharpmaker, but according to TheApostleP you can maintain a professionally-done edge on one for a long time. “A good ‘basic geometry platform’ can be touched up by the user relatively simply with a Spyderco Sharpmaker or like device,” he says. In short, a good sharpening can make our steels perform better and retain that performance for longer. TheApostleP argues that professionally sharpened knives “just cut better!”

Getting a knife professionally sharpened starts in the $20-30 range. If you want more information about TheApostleP’s services you can contact him via his FaceBook page.


Knife featured in image: Spyderco Paramilitary 2 (abstract)

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