Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chestnut Sharpener

I know what you're thinking. You're wondering who in their right mind would want to sharpen chestnuts. I wondered the same thing, but wonder no longer! I just got this little dealie here from Lee Valley Tools (and pinched the image from their website). It's a knife sharpener. It's made in Canada (well, the handle is made in Canada and the company manufacturing it is Canadian), it's guaranteed for life, and it works! No, it's not going to put a polished edge on your chip-carving knives, but I had brought home my cable knife from work to try it out. My poor cable knife, used by electricians and me to cut things that really shouldn't be cut with a knife, like copper wire, and doing horrible things like digging plastic out of metal cavities with the tip, was in rather sorry shape. Not hideous shape, because, hey, it's still my knife, but it was rough. I pulled it across this pocket-sized sharpener a few times, and I could shave hairs off of my arm with it. No, not perfectly cleanly in a honed-on-16000-grit-ceramic-and-then-buffed-on-virgin-sheepskin-with-sub-micron-diamond-paste kind of way, but there was shaving going on, and it took less than 5 seconds to do the sharpening, so I was pretty darned impressed. Impressed enough that I'm typing this blog entry instead of going to sleep like I would be doing if I wasn't suffering from temporary insanity over this knife sharpener. I'll have to buy another one to keep at home because this one is going to work with me. Oh, and it cost less than $16. Sweet.


Anonymous said...

It is too bad that it will not work for scissors. I could use a scissor sharpener.

Martin said...

Here is my debate with Lee Valley Tools - your comments are appreciated.

Hi there,

I just purchased this knife sharpener. It is unclear what right-handed or left-handed means for the tool. Does it come ready for a person to hold the knife sharpener in their right hand and knife in their left hand? Or vice-versa? It is important as the way the sharpening carbide blades are positioned is different and I guess could be damaged. The instructions on the sharpener do not make this clear and I cannot find the answer on the internet.

Thanks so much,


Thank you for your e-mail. If you are right handed, the tool is ready to use when received since a right-handed person would hold the sharpener in the left hand and the knife in the right hand. If you are left-handed, you will need to change the cutter orientation since we hold the knife in our left hand and the sharpener in the right.


Caroline Brisson

Thanks! That is what I thought but when holding it according to that configuration, the sharpening carbide blades are internally angled away from the blade which makes it very difficult to pull the blade through them (and I thought might damage the sharpening blades). Plus, the picture on the instructions has a sketch of a person holding the knife with their LEFT hand which would lead me to believe that this is the way it intends most of its customers to hold it.

I am probably confusing the issue - but when you have such a great/useful product I want to make sure I am doing it right - and using it holding the knife in my left hand seem to obtain the edge that the product promotes with the ease that it is indicating...


Metalworker Mike said...

The way mine came it was set for right-handed use (that is to say, the knife held in the right hand). The instructions that came with it showed the correct orientation. You need to pull it through the 'sharp way' because although the cutters are micro-grain carbide, it's still carbide which is as hard as anything (near enough to diamond to make little difference in the application) which makes it brittle. If you pull the knife through the 'easy way' so that the edges of the cutters are tapering away from the tip of the knife, then you will erode the edges of the cutters. Think of it like the teeth on a file or a saw. Using a file backwards dulls the teeth, too.


Anonymous said...


thanks so much - great answer (it's a good tool and I really wanted to make sure I was using it correctly)