Sharpening Tips for the Smith’s Tri-Hone Knife Sharpening System

2010 February 9

Question via Ask the Expert:

tri-honeJust purchased a Tri-Hone Knife Sharpening System. Primarily to be used to sharpen My Narex bench chisels and various other chisels and knifes.  Do you have any recommendations on using the system or videos regarding the system and chisel sharpening?

Thanks, Seems like a great system!

Mr. Welty,

First, let me thank you for your inquiry and for purchasing one of our products.  The Tri-Hone Sharpening System is a classic multi-use sharpener for all your knives and tools with cutting edges.  The three stone system provides a broad capability to sharpen all edge conditions, from extremely dull to a quick touchup of already sharp blades.  The purpose of each stone is provided below.

COARSE – This coarse grit synthetic stone removes large amounts of metal.  It should be used for quick, aggressive sharpening on extremely dull or damaged blades.  This stones takes a very dull or damaged blade and restores a good working edge to the blade.  You should start the sharpening process with this stone only if your blade is extremely dull or damaged.  It should only be used on straight edge blades, and honing solution is required.

MEDIUM (soft) Arkansas Stone – This general purpose sharpening stone is the most used of all the natural Arkansas stones.  It removes moderate amounts of metal while polishing the edge of your blade at the same time.  It should be used to the start the sharpening process for blades that are somewhat dull and still have a consistent edge.  It should be used on straight edge blades only, and honing solution is required.

FINE (hard) Arkansas Stone – Removes the least amount of metal of the three stones.  It produces an extremely fine edge on your blade and is used for finishing, polishing, or smoothing your cutting edge to razor sharpness.  These stones are excellent for maintaining (or touching up) already sharp edges before each use.  We also recommend always using the Fine Arkansas stone after sharpening on the COARSE or MEDIUM stones to finish and polish the edge.

NOTE:  Natural Arkansas Stones are unique sharpeners because they hone and polish the edge at the same time.  No other sharpening apparatus can perform both these tasks simultaneously.  They are perfect for sharpening pocket knives, hunting/fishing knives, hobby knives, tools, and kitchen knives.

HONING SOLUTION: Always use a lubricant when sharpening with these bench stones.  It protects the stones and the blade of the knife or tool by washing away the particles of stone and metal created during the sharpening process.  Without the lubricant’s washing effect, the particles are forced into the pores of the stone and it “glazes” over, reducing the stone’s sharpening effectiveness.  We recommend Smith’s Premium Honing Oil as the best lubricant.  It is mineral-based and is completely safe.  If necessary, water can be used as a substitute.

CARE & STORAGE:  You must wash your stones after each use.  Just clean it off under running water, then store it in a safe place where it won’t get broken.  We strongly suggest cleaning your Arkansas Stone by vigorously brushing it with soap and water and using a stiff, nylon brush after every three or four times of sharpening.  This will keep the pores of your stone clean and it will last for many, many years.

Now to your question regarding sharpening chisels with the Tri-Hone Sharpening System.  We do not have any videos of sharpening chisels using the Tri-Hone Sharpening System.  However, it is basically the same as sharpening a knife blade except for the chisel edge is only ground on one side of the blade.  The other side is flat.  Therefore, only sharpen the side of the blade with the grind.  The key to sharpening a chisel is to try to keep the same grind that is already on the chisel and once finished sharpening knock off the burr on the back side by lightly honing the flat side of the chisel.  Please note, chisel ground edges can be extremely thin and very sharp.  If this is the case with your chisel’s edge, exercise restraint.  Check progress frequently (a few strokes may be all you need, especially if using the coarse or medium bench stones) and don’t use a lot of pressure when stroking.  Obviously, this would not apply if your chisel has a very thick edge on it.

To sharpen the chisel’s edge, put some honing solution on the desired sharpening stone(s).  Use enough to cover the entire surface of the stone.  Place the grind side of the chisel on the flat stone’s surface and hold the chisel at the angle that matches the original angle on the chisel.  Push the chisel down the length of the stone away from your body.  As with sharpening a knife blade, the objective is to start at the edge and stroke away from the edge.  Check progress and continue until you feel a burr on the opposite side of the blade.  Depending on the hardness of the steel used in your chisel, you may have to repeat the process several times on a couple different grit stones and/or make numerous strokes over the sharpening stones.  Once you feel the burr or achieve desired sharpness, flip the chisel over to the other side and lightly hone the back side on the FINE stone to remove the burr.  Use the same technique to lightly hone the back side as you did sharpening the grind on the other side, just use less strokes and less pressure.  Keep the number of strokes to a minimum to avoid rolling the burr back to the other side.  Once you obtain a sharp edge, stop sharpening.  Over-sharpening can be just as bad as not sharpening at all.

So, how do you tell if your chisel is sharp?  The best way to tell if you chisel’s edge is sharp is to use it for its intended use.  If it performs as you expect, then it is sharp.  The real test comes in how well you maintain that sharp edge.

I hope this helps in lieu of our not having an instructional video.  I would also suggest using the world wide web to find various techniques and tips for sharpening chisels and planes.  I did a quick Google search for “sharpening chisels by hand” and numerous resources and links were available with step-by-step instructions and illustrations.

I want to thank you again for your interest in sharpening and our products.  If there is anything else you need or would like to know, please shoot me an email or give me a call at the contact information below.  I would love to help if I can.

Best Regards,
Russ Cowen


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