Friday, January 25, 2013

Rick's Review: Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener

Photo Courtesy Of Work Smart.
Just before Christmas The Outdoor Blogger Network and Work Sharp Tools selected me (among others) to review the Guided Field Sharpener. When the box arrived I was pleasantly surprised to find not only the sharpener, but also a t-shirt, a whole bunch of stickers with some rather catchy quotes, and a USB drive with some great professional materials that I could choose to use as part of my review. With all of that great stuff at my finger tips I was anxious and excited to get to work. Before I did, I gathered up a few blades and took a few pictures. Then the man in me took over and I did what any guy would do when he gets a new tool. I opened it up and went to work on the nearest knife I could find and tried to get it sharp enough to shave with.

At first glance the Guided Field Sharpener appears kind of gimmicky. The bright yellow colors and light weight plastic body coupled with all of the gadgets and odd angles give this tool the appearance of something you would find on a late-night television shopping program rather then a quality tool that a professional might use. Once I started using it the quality of the materials and the design layout of the tool comes through. Work Sharp did a nice job packing in everything needed to sharpen just about anything that has an edge. Two replaceable diamond grit sharpening plates for re-shaping and sharpening blades. a round honing stone with three grit options; course for minor reshaping, fine to get that ultra sharp edge, and the third is for sharpening fish hooks. There is also a small round honing stone for sharpening serrated blades. All you archery hunters will love the built in broad head wrenches located under the diamond plates that are held on by some pretty strong magnets. Finally, it has a leather strop for the final honing and polishing to get that extra sharp edge.

I was able to take my oldest and most abused knifes and re-shape the edges with the rough diamond grit, and take that to a good sharp edge with the fine diamond grit, and hone it to the point where I could almost shave the hair off of the back of my hand with the honing stone. Overall, the 20* angle guides were a big plus. They helped a lot when it came to keeping the correct angle from stroke to stroke, and knife to knife. I usually put a 15* angle on my blades allowing me to get a super sharp razor like edge, but, the 20* angle that Work Sharp uses creates a blade that has a much longer working life then my way of doing it, and produces almost as sharp an edge. The only problems I had with the guides were a couple of knives that have opening knobs that won't let you put the blade down flat on the guide or odd curves on the flat of the blade that create different angles, but those are the exceptions not the rules.

 I really don't have much to go on as a comparison to other fishing hook sharpeners. Personally, I have never sharpened any of my fishing hooks. I never saw the benefit in doing that, after all they are sharp enough out of the package and cheap enough to replace, right? In recent years my fishing started to get more serious and I started realizing that I was missing a lot of hook ups because of dull hooks. I know I should have, but I never did buy a sharpener. So I was really excited to learn that one of the three settings on the honing stone is a fish hook sharpener. even with a distinct lack of instructions on how to use the fishing hook sharpener the depth of the groove keeps the hook where it is supposed to be and gives you a guide and it only took a couple of moments to figure it out. Just a few back and forth movements against the bottom of the groove with the point slightly angled down and the hook is sharper then when it came out of the package.

I have never seen a hatchet that wasn't used to chop a brick or rocks or a large bolder or some other blade munching material in the process of cutting up some fire wood. Using a hatchet in this manner causes large dings in the edge of the blade from hitting rocks and such. This leaves the tool in really bad shape and takes a really long to fix. My hatchet is no different, and probably worse than most. Normally I would take an electric bench grinder to the blade to get the major dings out, but this is supposed to be a field sharpener so I just went to work on the hatchet with the rough diamond side. This made surprisingly quick work of all of those nasty dents. It only took me about two hours of working on this, while I was watching Rambo kill a bunch of Burmese military overlords, to get a nice clean sharp almost factory looking edge on it. I was really impressed with the results on this application for the Guided Field Sharpener.

Modified Grip. Watch Your Fingers.
There is one major drawback to The Guided Field Sharpener that is kind of hard to overlook. From the first stroke I noticed a significant problem with this sharpener. The only handle is barely big enough to use pinched between the thumb and a bent forefinger. Using it in this manner makes it extremely unstable resulting in a rounded over edge instead of the desired flat edge needed for true sharpness. This grip also results in a fair amount of hand fatigue making it rather uncomfortable to use. The natural correction I had to this  was to cup the tool on the bottom side with two or three fingers, and use my thumb on the handle for stability. This grip works fairly well, but you do need to watch that finger placement or you can get cut rather easily. With this modified grip and a soft touch I was able to get a decent edge, but the inherent instability of not having a good handle makes the 20* angle of the guide almost impossible to maintain throughout the stroke. Fairly sharp is the best I was able to attain in a little over two hours of constant trying. The only way, I found, to make this stable enough to achieve any where near a razor sharp edge is to use it as a bench top tool which is counter to what it's name suggests. After all it is kind of hard to find a bench when you are out in the field.

Over all, I think the Guided Field Sharpener is a decent product that delivers adequate results. The guides make it easy to keep the perfect angle on the blade, and the diamond grit sharpening plates make quick work of some pretty gnarly blades. I was unable to get the "razor sharp edge" that the packaging promised, but that is probably more the operators fault than the tool design. The design is well thought out and includes a great deal of features that are essential to putting a sharp edge on a blade. This is all packed into a nice little package that is light enough to carry into the field in a hunting pack or tackle box. The biggest drawback to it is the lack of a decent handle which creates instability and safety issues.

The Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener was provided to me at no charge for the purpose of reviewing the product. No other compensation was provided to me or to Shot Guns and Fishing Poles. The opinions expressed represent my honest feelings about this this product.


  1. Enjoyed this review. I usually put a wet towel under a sharpener and dip the blades in water too.

    1. Thanks Reverend. A little bit of oil on a whet stone works well too.

  2. thanks for an honest review, gotta keep those blades sharp

    1. So true,Blake. I am bad about sharpening my blades, but this will help out quite a bit.

      Thanks for commenting.