Spyderco's Tri-Angle Sharpmaker: The right way to sharpen your patrol knife
Putting the incorrect angle on a blade is the equivalent to dulling it
By Lindsey J. Bertomen
On patrol, I must have used my knife at least once every shift. Since patrol officers are some of the best knife abusers, I thought I’d share the right way to sharpen a knife. To tell you the truth, many of us have been doing it wrong.
My pick for proper sharpening is the Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker because it puts a properly angled edge on a blade. You see, putting the incorrect angle on a blade is the equivalent to dulling it. Most people don’t know this, but sharpening devices were Spyderco’s first products.
I carried my handiest blade in an unconventional manner that allowed quick, one-handed service. This is important for mundane applications like cutting fingerprint tape. The blade must be sharp and available for either hand. In my law enforcement career, I have cut wire, building materials, large packages of wrapped and rewrapped materials, etc.. I have dulled my patrol steel often, despite its superior steel.
The Tri-Angle Sharpmaker is a sharpening device that holds the sharpening stones at the correct angle. The Sharpmaker consists of a base that has die cut holes strategically placed to hold the ceramic sharpening stones. The stones look like elongated triangular prisms. The base holds the stones at an accurate 30 or 40 degree angle. Users simply have to slice a blade downward toward the base in a cutting motion for a consistent edge.
The Sharpmaker also has a couple of rods that fit into the base designed to protect the user. If the user slips, the rods prevent a disaster.
The Sharpmaker comes with two alumina ceramic stones: medium and fine. The medium stone is pretty aggressive, which is necessary for those new tool steels like CPMS30V, used in Spyderco’s Military model, one of their best offerings ever.
I sharpened my kitchen knives using the 30 degree angle, then proceeded to do the traditional paper thin tomato thing. I think this set of stones is the only route to restoring my serrated knives, from which Spyderco made their name.
I added Spyderco’s new Cubic Boron Nitride (CBN) rods for a couple of good reasons. First, I haul my Sharpmaker around. Ceramic rods break when dropped. These rods consist of CBN embedded on metal. They won’t break. The CBN is particularly aggressive, not only because of its composition and hardness, but also because of the shape of the crystals.
CBN is appropriate for edge reprofiling. I carried a high carbon steel blade for all kinds of tasks. I would regularly use my knife to slice open car seats to expose kilos and rip up sheetrock panels in houses to find a stash. When my blade went dull, an aggressive stone was required.
Using the CBN rods, I reshaped the edge on one of my hatchets, then polished the edge with the alumina ceramic stones.
The Tri-Angle Sharpmaker was designed to be used without any kind of lubricant. Abrasive particles don’t have to be “floated” to the surface. However, I recommend using a little water and light pressure for the CBN rods.
Flipped upside down, the Tri-Angle Sharpmaker base holds two stones parallel. This allows the stones to be used in a conventional manner like a bench stone. The Sharpmaker can sharpen a variety of products, including scissors, fishhooks and awls.
All of the stones are easily cleaned. Everything folds up into a self-contained unit that fits in the officer’s bug out bag.