Woods Monkey takes a look at a new sharpening system designed by CRKT to help maximize effectiveness and efficiency for those of us that are somewhat sharpening-impaired.
Slide Sharp: Quick and Easy
CRKT’s Slide Sharp system is designed for people like me who have never been that great at using basic bench stones. There’s a certain knack to maintaining a consistent angle when sharpening a knife freehand on a stone and some guys just pick it up quicker than others. If you do it all the time it becomes second nature, but it takes a while to “get it” and you can just as easily forget it with infrequent practice. Steve McCowen of Iola, Wisconsin, and Charles Kain, of Indianapolis, Indiana, had seen this problem throughout their years in the knife industry and came up with a system that helped to solve that problem in a less complex manner than other systems available on the market.
The Slide Sharp comes in a green hard plastic case with a cardboard outer wrapper that includes basic instructions on how to use the kit. The case is extremely easy to open and the contents are well organized. The kit includes a wooden base, one medium coarse gray sharpening rod, one white fine sharpening rod, two return springs, two sharpening guides, a cap and a one page handout of detailed instructions. The instructions are well written and include step by step pictures on how to use the sharpener. Additional information is included on how to order replacement parts. Assembling the Slide Sharp takes less than a minute and then you can begin sharpening your heap of dull knives. The Slide Sharp retails for $34.99 and replacement sharpening rods can be purchased for $9.99.
Assemble the sharpener by placing the wooden base on a flat surface and fitting the medium gray sharpening rod into the base. Next, take one of the return springs and place it over the sharpening rod. Now select the sharpening guide that best suits your needs. One has a slight angle for putting an edge on sport, work, tactical and kitchen knives. The second has a steeper angle for heavier tools such as choppers and machetes. Finally, take the cap and place it on top. Now you are ready to work. The sharpening action couldn’t be easier. Just pull your blade through a sharpening guide slot and press down lightly. The return spring pops the guide up again for the next stroke. You then repeat the same action as needed in the opposite slot, sharpening both sides of the blade equally, or as needed. Alternatively you can see a small video clip on CRKT’s website that shows you the basic motion used for sharpening with the Slide Sharp. http://www.crkt.com/slideshrp.html.
To test the Slide Sharp I chose five knives from my own collection which I had used during hiking trips, kitchen tasks and everyday carry. The first two knives I used with the Slide Sharp were the CRKT Crawford Designed Point Guard with a partially serrated blade and a Kershaw Onion. These knives served as my everyday carry knives for several years and both had undergone quite a bit of abuse. I started with the medium rough gray porcelain rod and made several passes on each side of the blade. I then switched to the fine white porcelain rod and made a several additional passes. Both of these knives were very dull and required significant time using the sharpener. I spent approximately 20 minutes on each blade. This may seem like a long period of time but I was trying to get used to the action of sharpener. I was cautious to maintain the proper angle and pressure with sharpening guide. It is possible that with more practice using the Slide Sharp the length of time I needed to sharpen my knives will decrease. I then tested the newly honed blades by cutting a few pieces of paper and then I used them to shave some hair from my arm. The amount of time paid off and I can put both knives back into my rotation of everyday carry.
The next knife that I tested was the CRKT Kasper/Crawford folder with a partially serrated blade. The Crawford folder was very dull due to heavy use on camping trips and on home improvement projects. At first I had a difficult time getting the blade sharp. I believe that this was due to the partially serrated edge of the blade. I eventually got the hang of it and was able to put an edge back on the Kasper/Crawford folder. It took me about a half an hour to get the blade sharp enough to shave with.
Lastly, I tested the Slide Sharp with a CRKT First Strike Fixed Blade and a 12” Forschner Butcher Knife. The First Strike has had very little use but I wanted to see how a large knife would work with the sharpening system. I found the First Strike difficult to use with the sharpener due to its Tanto style blade. The First Strike has not had a lot use but I worked the knife on both sides with the Slide Sharp for approximately 10 minutes. The Butcher knife was easier to use with the Slide Sharp and I was impressed on how smooth it was to pull the large blade through sharpening guides. With my large kitchen knives I usually use a Butcher’s steel to hone the edges. According to CRKT’s instructions you can sharpen kitchen knives with the Slide Sharp and my testing supports this claim. Clearly the Slide Sharp was developed for knives of all sizes.
When I first received the Slide Sharp both of the porcelain sharpening rods were broken. I contacted CRKT’s outstanding and friendly Customer Service Department and they immediately sent out new replacement rods. Care should be taken when carrying the Slide Sharp kit as the sharpening rods are not fully supported in the case. I recommend using a piece of foam under the unsupported portions of the rods. In my opinion this item is not the style kit you should include in your hiking gear. Alternatively I would like to see CRKT redesign the case to reduce the likelihood of having broken sharpening rods. Despite this minor initial setback, I was very pleased with the sharpening system.
That’s the Slide Sharp story. It’s simple to use, quick and convenient. It is easy to use as a butcher’s steel, with the accuracy of the more expensive and time-consuming clamped sharpeners. The sharpening guides maintain the edge and angle and do the work for you. There’s no guessing, no rounded edges, and no loss of blade shape from over sharpening. Overall, I enjoyed learning how to use the sharpener and was impressed with the results. It is definitely a tool that I will use to keep my knives in better condition. If you are looking for an easy to use sharpening system that will put a functional edge on your knife then I recommend the Slide Sharp.