Work Sharp Knife And Tool Sharpener

By Robert Robillard on Tool Reviews, Weekend warrior

Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener Ken Onion Edition

The folks at Darex, makers of Work Sharp and Drill Doctor, recently sent me their Work Sharp Knife And Tool Sharpener to review and evaluate.  After learning that this tool is mostly built by in the USA by a family owned business in Ashland Oregon  how could I say no?  Darex has been designing and assembling  premium sharpening tools in the USA for over 40 years and employ over 70 people at their  Oregon factory.

  Work Sharp Knife And Tool Sharpener

What is the Knife and Tool Sharpener?

The Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener Ken Onion Edition is a lightweight, portable and compact tool designed to sharpen every knife you own.  It works by using a  combination of an adjustable sharpening guide (15° to 30° in 1° increments), a variable speed trigger and 3/4 x 12-inch flexible abrasive sharpening belts.

This tool is designed to sharpen the following tools and more:

  • straight bladed pocket & hunting knives
  • serrated knives
  • kitchen knives
  • curved knives
  • tanto blades
  • filet knives
  • any shape or type of blade
  • common household scissors to a 60° angle
  • Axes
  • Swords
  • shop and garden tools such as shovels, pruners, mower blades, etc

Why Ken Onion?

Ken Onion is a legendary hall of fame knife maker with a great reputation for quality knife designs.  I personally own a  few of Kens knife designs and love them for every day carry knives.

Ken Onion worked with Darex to develop a new knife and tool sharpening that produces a fast, easy way to sharpen all your knives and tools with precision and repeatability.

Professional knife makers all use flexible belts to put a razor sharp edge on their blades.  The Work Sharp knife and tool sharpener is based off this principle and does not disappoint.

First Impression:

This tool has a 1.5 amp motor, is lightweight and appears durable.  It is designed with cast metal and engineered polymer components weighs 4.6 pounds and measures 5.5 x 10 x 6 inches.

The Secret is in the Angle and Flexible Belts:

The sharpener uses abrasive belts to shape the tool edge.  The flex in the belt creates a convex on any blade resulting in a sharp and durable edge when compared to flat bevel edges.  This is important because a  convex edge provides more steel behind the edge to support  the edge resulting in better longevity for the edge.

This combination of flexible belts, variable speed and a precision guide lets you sharpen your blades fast and easy.   The 3/4″ x 12” flexible engineered abrasive belts from Norton.

This Work Sharp Knife Sharpener uses a precision sharpening guide to index the knives against.  This guide ensures angle consistency angle and  is adjustable in 1° increments from 15° to 30° so you can sharpen any knife to the angle.   The variable speed trigger  operates from 1200 SFM to 2800 SFM and gives you complete control.

This package includes one each of the following belts:

  • P120 Extra Coarse;
  • X65 Coarse;
  • X22 Medium;
  • X4 Fine;
  • 6000 Extra Fine.

Using the Work Sharp Tool:

Sharpening with this tool is fairly straight forward.  I did have a little trouble keeping the blades tight against the sharpening guide slots but got the hang of it after some practice.  I also quickly learned that the blade edge guide is very useful in keeping the edge consistently in contact and in line with the abrasive belt.  The edge guide also turned out to be an awesome way to steady the blade while sharpening the very tip which is usually a difficult thing for me to do with other methods.

TIP:  this tool takes a bit repetition to learn and get down.  Do not sharpen your BEST knife first.  Practice on an old pocket knife or other garden knife until you get the feel for the tool.  It wont take long but it does take some practice.

Changing the belts was easy and straightforward.  All we had to do was press the belt tension lever and slide the old belt off the three pulley wheels and a new belt on.  We found this procedure fast and super, “simple-stupid,” easy to do.

Probably the toughest thing for me was determining the proper grind angle.  I found it difficult and confusing to remember all of the angles and speeds for my different tools.  To combat this, if your like me,  you will need to break out the instructional manual every time you use this tool to remember which knife angle to use.   I’d like to see Darex come up with a durable label affixed to the tool that gives the user the proper sharpening angles.   I’ll be damned if I remember that my kitchen knives need to be set at 17.5 degrees and my EDC outdoor knife at 25 degrees.

An alternative  suggestion for Darex would be to provide a durable, laminated “angle guide” that could be stored with the tool and taken out during sharpening.

While testing the Work sharp knife and tool sharpener we sharpened serrated knives, combination knives, pocket EDC knives, kitchen knives and scissors.  It worked incredibly well, is durable and was easy to use.  I was amazed at the simplicity of this tool.

The working end of the tool rotates via the sharpening cassette lever lock and allows the tool to change from sharpening to light grinding applications, such as an axe  head, a shovel or pruning shears.

A 1/4-20 thread on the bottom of the tool and an included nut and washer allow for bench mounting but the bolt seems to only allow for bolting through 1/4 think material.  A longer threaded bolt would be necessary for thinker materials.  Mounting this tool in combination with the trigger lock could be very useful in multiple sharpening applications.

The belt tracking lever is located on the motor side of the tool and is difficult to manipulate.  Its a small button that depresses and slides but not easily.  Luckily once the belt was properly aligned I did not have to fuss with this lever.

Overall Impression:

We absolutely loved this tool, even with the learning curves and need to constantly reference the sharpening angles.   This multi-position sharpening covered a wide array of knives, tools, scissors  and many of our gardening tools and we loved that it takes up very little real estate in  a tool box drawer.  We also appreciated that it required little to no set up time.

The final product after sharpening with this tool consistently produced precision sharp results with minimal effort and time.

This is a perfect sharpening system for sportsman, knife enthusiasts and homeowners.  Darex hit a home run on this one.

How Much and Where To Buy?

The Work Sharp Knife And Tool Sharpener  sells online for $140.00 here: Work-Sharp-WSKTS-KO-Sharpener-Edition

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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