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Sharpening an Emerson Knife Using a Fixture

I frequently get emails and phone calls about using a sharpening tool, fixture, or gadget to sharpen an Emerson knife.  The first question that is always asked is this, “What is the angle on the edge of an Emerson Knife?”  Well I’m going to be real frank with you.  I don’t know.  I think it is somewhere between 25 degrees and 35 degrees.  All of our knives are sharpened by hand and I don’t pay attention to the exact angle.  Now, there are physicists, engineers, and scientists out there that will argue till they’re blue in the face about the ultimate degree of the edge angle.  I always ask them two simple questions, “What’s the edge angle on a razor blade? They’re pretty sharp,” and then I follow with, “What’s the edge angle on a paper cutter? They’re pretty sharp too.” But you see, the angle is way different on both of those two items.  So, my philosophy has always been this.  Either a knife is sharp or it isn’t, and I don’t need to be a theoretical physicist to figure that out.  I’ve sharpened knives with a rock, a piece of pipe, sand paper wrapped around a stick, a piece of brick, and a piece of broken glass.  Do you think I knew what angle I was using?

Now be aware that as Matthew Quigley said in the movie, Quigley Down Under, in the famous duel scene with six guns, he remarked, “I said I never had much use for one. Never said I didn’t know how to use it.”

When it comes to those sharpening gadgets, “I said I never had much use for one. Never said I didn’t know how to use it.” I do know how to use those sharpening tools and I’ve never had any problem using one.  I just never had much use for one.

But for those of you who do use them I will offer this advice.  If you are worried about the angle to set your fixture to, just blacken the edge of the knife with some black magic marker and set your fixture to remove the black marker all the way to the edge.  You then have the correct angle.  Will it be the same on your other Emerson Knives? I don’t know.  Different models and blade shapes are sharpened slightly different from each other, so there would never be a standard angle for Emerson Knives in any case.  All I know is that when they leave our shop they are sharp, real sharp, and I know that if we can do it, you can too.  Just don’t over complicate the process.