Submitted by Eric Daniel
All this talk of knives got me to thinking. "Sure, all knives come plenty sharp from the factory, but what do you do when they get dull?"
Just like small arms, I freely admit I am not a knife person. I use them, and when they get dull I flail about and sharpen them to the best of my ability. Hell, I've more experience sharpening hand tools with a Nicholson mill bastard file than I do sharpening knives.
Prior to my last deployment I made the decision to remedy this defect. I had purchased a sharpening kit for my brother a number of years ago for his kitchen knives (he BBQs a lot and likes having sharp cutlery for carving.) He was pleased with the kit I'd gotten him so I figured if it were good enough for him, it'd be good enough for me.
What I'd gotten was the Spyderco Sharpmaker (model 204.) The kit comes with two pair of stones; two medium grit stones for initial sharpening, and two fine grit stones for finishing up. By varying the angle you set the stones into the sharpener base you can quite literally sharpen anything from darts and fish hooks to pocketknives and pruning shears. The kit itself comes with a comprehensive guide to sharpening, describing which stones to use and what angle to set them, based on the type of instrument being sharpened and what kind of edge you want on it. In addition, the stones themselves are meant to be used dry, which is great for field applications, as there's no need to pack special oil or other fluids just for use with the stones. Finally, in addition to the fine and medium grit stones included with the kit, a diamond coated "stone" (made of steel actually) and an ultra fine grit stone are also available for the Sharpmaker, in the event you need to either do some heavy duty or very fine grinding.