Work Sharp is an amazing brand name, well known in the knife building and sharpening industry. An American tool company founded in 1973 under the name Darex it is a business that has remained in the family for four generations. Matthew Bernard is the fourth generation family owner of the corporation. The brands under this name are Darex industrial bit sharpeners, Drill Doctor professional and DIY drill bit sharpeners and my personal favorite the Work Sharp line of knife and tool sharpeners.
Not only does Work Sharp (Darex) design and engineer their equipment in house, they also manufacture it entirely under the same roof. Located in Jackson County, Oregon; it is based in a town of approximately 21,000 people called Ashland. Having been through that area I can say it is an absolutely beautiful place with hard working individuals who remember the American work ethic. Makes sense as to why they chose this as their location after founding the company in Illinois, guess you could say the founders were truly forward thinkers in 1978 when they made the move out west!
Something I have always looked at is the ability to have product fixed if it is flawed, Work Sharp offers this with their generous warranty, though to be honest I firmly doubt you will ever need to use it. The product line they manufacture is extraordinary in its quality. Now, again as I always say, it is essential to understand that anything made by man’s hands can fail. Honestly, there is also the old adage, if it is made right the first time it doesn’t need to be done a second time! This is why I take the time to review, use, research and sometimes even abuse various products just to push their limits!
Work Sharp meets and beats my expectations, in fact, I have switched from my favorite carry sharpening kit of DMT diamond credit card hones and a small leather strop to the Work Sharp guided field sharpener! Again, for those who know me that is an amazing thing, I mean, after all, I enjoy using whetstones and my hands, I own dozens of quality Japanese water stones, diamond hones, and strops as well as several various jewelers compounds for putting that mirror edge on my blades. When I make a switch in my survival/ camping kit, it is for good reason. WSGFS, that’s the model that the Work Sharp guided field sharpener comes under on Amazon, and it runs $29. It has several things that anyone who values their blades will find attractive and worth the money, especially considering other all in one options like the Smiths (shuddering) sharpeners. So let me outline the Pros of the guided field sharpener from Work Sharp.
- Two diamond plates, 1 coarse (220 grit) for shaping and repairing or Axe/ hatchets/ large blades and one fine (600 grit) for sharpening (final edge needed for axes/hatchets/ large blades)
- Two ceramic rods – one is a 3-position ceramic rod incorporating a “coarse grit” approximately 800-1200 grit, “fine grit” approximately 2000-3000 grit a fish hook sharpener and lastly the second rod a small serration sharpening/honing rod
- One leather strop, already conditioned with the equivalent of green jewelers rouge for that shaving/mirror edge! (and of course removing burrs)
- Incorporated lanyard hole, broad-head tool and 20 and 25-degree honing guides that make it simple to sharpen your blades if you do not have much experience in doing so.
Whats best is this particular tool is 7” by 1.5” by 1” at its widest and weighs less than the three diamond hone credit card sized plates from DMT (that I still have and love, but am replacing!) With a lanyard hole and a handy broad-head wrench already incorporated it is perfect for the archery hunter and if you do what I do and wrap everything in your bag inside of industrial strength zip-locks with desiccant, well, you wont have any issues with it at all!
Outside of the plates themselves, there is no reason to worry about rusting and from experience, the diamond plates rarely get rusty – though I will say, MAKE SURE you keep them dry, or dry them off if they get wet! Diamond hones and ceramic hones make it easy to sharpen a knife without using water or oil, and given that this product has handy angle guides already in the design, well, it is an easy win!
Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition knife and tool sharpener is an electric version that will let the average individual with a bit of reading through the easy to follow directions and some practice on cheap Wal-Mart brand knives to make some extra money at your local Ham-Fest or Prepper Fest sharpening peoples blades. Charge a few bucks for a good real sharpening and you can easily recoup the $128 price tag. Add the Blade Grinding Attachment and start building knives using an electric oven that heats past 400 degrees for tempering or a decent kiln (propane, coal or hard wood fired) and build your own knives, then you really become an asset to your local prepper family. Power it with a simple solar setup and now you are a blade smith that can turn old plowshares into swords as the Good Book says.
While I wouldn’t recommend it for commercial high rate production, if you are building 3-4 knives a month and sharpening a few dozen every farmer’s market or show, you will easily recoup the $220 total investment and that’s without adding extra belts. (which you will need eventually and should stock up on, but that you do not need to begin as both parts come with a full setup! Remember this is a budget priced approach to making a bit of extra money for those of us on fixed incomes. For myself, I wish I could sell moonshine and mead, after all, mine is liked by everyone who partakes of it. However, I am not licensed to do so, as a result, something like this allows me to offer a service to local community members and do so with very little investment as a startup. With the included and easy to use guides for angles from 15 to 30 degrees on the Knife and Tool Sharpener (WSKTS-K0) and easy bench mount tabs on the Blade Grinding Attachment (WSSAH0881112 – only for the K0 not the other model) well, what can I say but…become the worlds next Ken Onion!
Let’s go over the pros of having the hand held field sharpener and the electric truck bed, back of the van, car trunk or table mounted set-up again in a quick list.
- Easy to use – very well written directions and plenty of visual aids
- Inexpensive – most similar or lesser quality products cost more
- Compact – the electric with the attachment would easily fit in a 15-quart waterproof bag the hand held field sharpener is small enough to keep in a pocket if wanted. Both are lightweight and well made!
- Ready to go – when you get them, literally it is plug and play, read the instructions make sure you understand them and of course practice on inexpensive blades, then start working!
Are there any cons to the products made by Work Sharp (Darex) an American owned, made in America, solidly designed and manufactured company?
- Polymers are used through much of the product, though where it counts hardened steel and well-designed cord angles make what could be a detriment a benefit.
- You may become addicted to sharpening (it really is cathartic, it’s like playing music for people who enjoy blade steel!) and building blades from re-purposed steels (old saw blades, files, truck springs “5160 spring steel” or other older farm implements easily purchased or picked up for free.) or of course designing and building blades from any number of specialized steel manufacturers who sell blanks and powdered steels.
Folks, all I can say is even if all you pick up is the Field Sharpener from Work Sharp, you will be doing yourself and your family a tremendous favor. In the outdoors sharpener- Broadhead wrenches are inside the handle of unit Diamond plates are removable, with additional instructions inside, (and room for fire striker/or small flint – steel combo. And in my strict opinion, again, if you are on a fixed income, sharpening knives is a great way to pick up some extra cash! Overall, this product definitely gets my two thumbs up! Well worth every penny spent and time necessary to learn the use of it.
Free the mind and the body will follow