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Knife Sharpener


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Knife Sharpener:                                                              July 4, 2015

Sharp knives are great.  I got tired of the time needed to really sharpen all my kitchen knives  and keep them sharp with very fine grit materials like 750 Emery Cloth and 2000 grit Crocus Cloth.  I bought an expensive electric sharpener that does reasonably well.  It grinds and hones edges to Japanese and to American/European standards adequately well; usually.  Some of the knives in my kitchen drawers don’t sharpen with the electric sharpener.  Dunno.  Like three paring knives all bought at the same time;  same manufacturer;  identical design.  Two get great edges in the electric sharpener and the third is a lost cause?

I was reading and watching You-Tube videos and decided to try the Harbor Freight One Inch Belt Sander.  I bought the next-fancier sander with the 5 inch disk sander included.  The One Inch Belt part appears to be the same. 

Harbor Freight sells two ‘Tool Stands.’  I bought the larger one.  The top frame of mine is almost square.  The other one is the same length but narrower. What Harbor Freight sells is the parts for the frame.  A power tool can be bolted to the frame or mounted on a self-made top.

Pictures below of my Top and Shelf.  I used scrap 2x8 boards and some ¼ inch plywood discarded from a neighbor’s house renovation. [Anything put out for the trash pickup is fair game.  This has been all the way through the Supreme Court.] 

The only power tools I had before the new Sander and Tool Stand was complete were a circular saw (from Harbor Freight,  bought long ago) and a 3/8†Craftsman drill.

I cut the 2x8 parts to length with the saw;  made two cross braces from 1x6;  used [sheet metal] screws [with tight drilled clearance holes for the shaft cores] to tie the cross braces to the heavier parts and glued it all with Gorilla Glue as I went along.  That way I got a finished product as flat and straight as I could manage that was also solid when done.  The 1x6’s were measured to just fit inside the top frame and then allowed some clearance.  When I assembled the final thing it was all a press fit.  Fantastic. 

The Tool Stand has a secondary frame halfway down.  A wood table can be put on it but must be placed before the framing is completely bolted together.  There is no way to fit a full-size shelf into place if it is all bolted together.

I cut my shelf to size and cut the small amount of extra wood into four strips 3 inches wide to use for a fence around the shelf.  So things put there would not slide off the edges and be lost on the garage floor.  This shelf is not actually attached.  It sits on top of the framing.  The 1x2 [i make lots of stuff from 1x2 but the stock pieces for this project also came from that trash pile] support parts were notched to fit around and under the steel frame members so the shelf is trapped in place.  I notched the 1x2’s  to fit together and used screws and Gorilla Glue to attach them to the bottom of the shelf.

I stained and varnished the shelf and fence parts with left-overs from other projects described in other posts here.  When the Tool Stand was completely together I added the fence.  I glued the parts to the shelf for about 6 inches in the middles;  taped inside the steel vertical frame parts to isolate them from glue and glued the fence parts together at the corners.  It is all quite solid. 

I used Formby Tung Oil [a little orange-color bottle] to coat the top on all surfaces.  I think the Formby’s is an acrylic.  It soaked in very quickly and the surface is very good.  I can recommend this treatment. 

Final step was to tie the Top to the Tool Stand with Carriage Bolts.  I used an adapter [short shaft;  hex on one end and ¼ square drive on the other] in the drill motor with standard deep sockets to pull the [self-locking] nuts down tight.  Flat washers underneath the Top worked well.  The Carriage Bolt tops pulled well into the surface of the wood which is good.  It keeps them from rubbing or getting in the way of work or of tools mounted on the table.

I made belts from 2000 grit sandpaper sheets as described in the You-Tube videos.  One belt works and one will not stay taped together.  I bought a leather buffing belt and have mixed results but it does work; some.  The instructions said to put the supplied compound on the rough side before putting the belt on the machine and use it that way for a while.  I ran the belt this way before putting the compound on it and it ran properly.  After adding compound the belt will not stay on the machine.  I turned the belt smooth side out and added compound while the machine was running and it works that way.

Building a “Knife Sharpener†like this is clearly serious overkill.  The Tool stand with a heavy top and a shelf or storage drawers unit would make a great Reloading Bench too.  One that could be made and used even in an apartment.  In an apartment it might be best to not try to stain or varnish or use the Tung Oil stuff unless there was a place outdoors that could be pressed into service for a few hours and where spills and mess would be tolerated.  I paint in my backyard on the firewood or on a couple of big cardboard boxes that have not yet been discarded.

A Top could also be made from just 2x4 stock.  Cross pieces also from 2x4.  It would be best to clamp everything together with glue in place and then drill and screw the cross members into position.  Harbor Freight sells clamp parts that fit onto black iron pipe so a clamp or clamps of any needed size can be managed.  I did not use a clamp and my 2x8’s moved a tiny bit apart in spite of my efforts to not let that happen.  The Gorilla Glue foams a little and took up the slack, however.  I used a chisel to remove the raised lumps of glue before they got too hard.

Now that I do have this new power tool and the vise I bought decades ago has a home I have been able to do more projects that would have not been possible not very long ago.  Even slightly re-sanded and reshaped the handle on my little front-stuffer Pocket Pistol [see other post in this forum] to a better fit.





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That is the type of sharpener I've seen in the local knife shop. I've been using a Smith's of Arkansas electric sharpener for a couple of years now, it has adjustable angles from 10-30 degrees. It works very well, like you I got tired of the time it took me to sharpen the traditional way, I still have some of my knives and all my bayonets I sharpen the old fashion way. This one would be a good choice especially for someone who has little or no experience in sharpening.

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Nice set-up Dusty, and the attention to detail that you are known for!  :thumb:  I used to hate sharpening knives, and I really do not like stones or any other manual method of putting an edge on steel.  I have a similar belt sander, mine is a Dremel, and I found the belt speed (on mine) was a bit too fast for knives - it heats up the steel and was causing me to un-temper the blades, especially kitchen knives. I finally settled on a "Chefs Choice", it is an electric powered three-stage diamond sharpener, no adjustments to make. 1st time you sharpen a knife on this you use stage 1 to put the initial edge on the blade, then only #2 & 3 after that to touch it up. You end up with a compound edge on the blade that lasts a long time. It is not for all knives, such as sushi knives are only sharpened on one side and a serrated blade would be ruined on this sharpener. I have had this for close to 20 years, and no maintenance or service other than fabricating a new blade stop - years of sharp knives had cut into the frame of the sharpener.

THIS is the model I have, (#120), although mine is chrome. Not sure what all of the other models do that this one doesn't. And of course it costs a lot more $$$ now than it did 20 years ago.

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The electric sharpener I bought a year or two ago that gives me mixed results is a Chef's Choice.  I bought another one about this past February as a late Christmas present for my son and it seems to be just different enough to be different.  It may work better than mine.  I have a "1520 Angle Select."  I think I bought mine because it was less expensive than most of the other possibilities while still having the 15 degree and 20 degree options.  The one I bought for my son cost about what the one in your link costs.  I may need buy one of the better versions for myself before all this is over.

My sharpener is designed to sharpen either Japanese 15 degree edges or 20 degree American/European edges.  Pick one?  Or,  it says,  put all your general-purpose knives through the 15 degree part and get the thinner edge.  All edges are supposed to be honed/polished in that part of the sharpener after any grinding.  I am impressed about your compound edges.

I am converting most of my knives to the 15 degree Japanese edge.  I like to cook with a Chinese Chef's Knife and the ones I bought online direct from a couple of Asian manufacturers have the finer edge already.  I love the quality steel of a really decent knife and these big 'paring knives' get used almost every day.  And the edges are kept touched up on one of the sharpeners.  As often as not just honing a little is more than enough.

It is possible to sharpen at least some serrated knives.  One side of the blade is wavy which creates the toothed edge.  The other side of the blade is flat.  The sharpener can be used to lightly grind only the flat side and turn the toothed edge (of a relatively dull knife) into an amazingly effective cutting tool.  It's in the instructions that came with my sharpener.  The sharpened serrated paring knives are something to be very careful about when using.  :-)

I bought a Patch Knife for my little Pocket Pistol.  I had a Patch Knife for it but the one I had was rather large for the Pistol.  The newest one turned out to be about as big as one of my fingers.  Just right.  The "edge" was about as sharp as the back.  I used the belt sander with the leather buffer belt and 2000 grit homemade belt to put a sufficient edge on it to cut cotton cloth.  Nevermind that in actual loading for shooting I use pre-cut patches.  LOL.

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