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Started evaluating my Lansky

Posted: Wed Feb 24, 2021 10:47 am
by playingfetch
I have a Lansky sharpener that I've used for years and always been happy with it. I took a look yesterday under a dissecting microscope at the edge that came with my misuzu bunka as well as my pocket knife (D2 steel) and cheap kitchen knives (high carbon stainless???) that I had previously sharpened with it. I tried taking cell phone pictures through the lens of the microscope, but the factory misuzu edge looked much nicer than the Lansky. The edge of the knives I sharpened with the Lansky were a bit jagged and irregular.

The first picture is the factory Misuzu and the next two are my pocket knife (20 degree angle). There's been some light use on both knives, but nothing major.

The Lansky is a 5 stone ceramic model so it has grits: 70, 120, 280, 600, 1000. A 2000 grit is available as an add on, but I don't own it.

I'm planning on sharpening the Misuzu with the Lansky soon and then will post pictures for comparison, so there is a before and after. But I have a feeling it is going to be disappointing. I can only get to a 17 degree angle too with that sharpener. I'm sure this isn't going to be surprising, but I wanted the pictures out for comparison in case other people are checking into their sharpening systems and also use a Lanksy.

Re: Started evaluating my Lansky

Posted: Tue Mar 02, 2021 7:54 am
by playingfetch
I sharpened the Misuzu with the Lansky yesterday and took a look under the microscope and it wasn't bad. I probably could have spent more time with the finer stones polishing a bit longer. There an obvious difference in the angle since the Lansky only goes to 17 degrees. I got one mar on the blade from the clamp, so I should probably make a habit of taping where the clamp goes.

Re: Started evaluating my Lansky

Posted: Tue Mar 02, 2021 7:55 am
by playingfetch
I do a lengthwise angled stroke with the Lansky instead of an up-down motion so one stroke goes the whole length of the blade. Even number of strokes per side.

The Misuzu edge looks a lot better than the other knives I have. I assume that's due to the metal being higher quality.

I guess the obvious question now is, is there a good reason to upgrade to water stones or is this edge sufficient? I'm a bit hesitant with stones because I've used oil stones in the past and never mastered them. I wish I could get a finer angle with the Lansky, so that seems to be the major handicap of the system.

Re: Started evaluating my Lansky

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2021 1:53 am
by orezeno
I would say that the edge is sufficient if it serves your purposes.

However, if you want to see how sharp the edge can get, consider a different sharpening method. I know a number of people who use the Lansky; mostly on smaller fixed blades and folders. Their sharpening work is certainly serviceable, but not stunning. One of them has found a way to get pretty good edges, though. I'm kind of mystified by this.

With your Lansky properly setup, look at all the play in the system that might contribute to inaccuracy. The vice wobbles. The pivot point is a slot that allows the rod to slide around and move up and down. There is a limited selection of sharpening angles. And It is very difficult to obtain repeatability with the setup. People do it, though.

If you're comfortable with guided sharpening systems you might consider moving to one that provides better precision and flexibility. The systems I know of are EdgePro, KME, and Wicked Edge. I hear good things about the TSProf system as well. I don't used guided systems normally, but I have tried the EdgePro and KME. If you're interested, I'm certain you can learn all about these from YouTube videos.

A note on oil stones. They clog up and lose their effectiveness. It took me years to learn this. The surfaces can be cleaned, and can also be refreshed.

Re: Started evaluating my Lansky

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2021 5:55 am
by Bensbites
Personally I would be less concerned with how the edge looks under the microscope and focus on performance. I started with a lansky, before I understood the basics of raising a burr, flip the burr, abraid the burr off without creating a new one.

My person metrics for evaluating an edge, clean effortless cuts on soft tomatoes or grapes. Dropping through peppers. Bitting into the vertical sides of apples or onion skins. If you can do those tasks, you, may be able to get the edge sharper, but it will be of little benefit in the kitchen. It may feel good, and I understand chasing that feeling. I have done it too.

Re: Started evaluating my Lansky

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2021 9:46 am
by playingfetch
I tried out the Misuzu on a tomato, spinach, and asparagus last night and it is feels sharper than when it came brand new. I'm going to get hand sharpening with my next order (presuming I made the list to get the forum special) and then I'll have something to compare it against. Sharpness is still an abstract concept to me since I only know what I've been able to do myself and never used anything professionally sharpened. I'm anxious for a comparison.

Re: Started evaluating my Lansky

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2021 11:55 am
by Eli Chaps
I'll preface this by saying I have years of experience with a KME (and free hand) system.

The classic Lansky system is fine for serviceable edges and can even go somewhat beyond that. But, it has some very real shortcomings.


1. There is a lot of slop in the system. No matter how much you try, there is going to be variation.

2. The stones are very narrow so you get minimal surface contact along with faster clogging and wear. The ceramic stones will only exacerbate this over diamonds or large free hand stones.

3. You have very limited angle options.

Further, by sliding the stone along the edge rather than up and down, you're essentially functioning as a pull-through sharpener. That is going to be prone to tearing at the edge and might be contributing to what you're seeing. A note of caution about going up and down that is especially prevalent with the Lanksy is to not get too focused on one spot. Those narrow stones can induce a recurve rather quickly, especially in softer metals.

As for oil stones. They do not clog any faster than any other stone and an argument can be made that the clog less than many water stones out there. Use mineral oil! I recommend it in the honing oil variety but you can get by with pharmaceutical grade as well. The odds are your struggles had little to do with the stones and far more to do with your technique. That's fine. That is normal!

Decide on a stone. My preference is, when in doubt, err to coarser. Say maybe a Shapton Glass 500 or 1k. A stone holder is a very good idea but you can find ways around it.

Now get a red (or bright colored) Sharpie, some good light and you are on your way to learning free hand sharpening. Do NOT get concerned with pressure changes and all of that when starting out. When just learning, go a little lighter and just be comfortable. Just enough pressure to keep things stable. Angle is king! And go slow, speed comes through repetition. Early on it is all about finding what is comfortable for you, the fundamentals, and just learning. You will make mistakes. We have and still do.

If you're still interested at this point, we can help further as you go.

That said, as long as you accept the inherent limitations that all systems posses in one way or another, then there's nothing wrong with sticking to them. But they do still require knowledge and technique and your edges will always only be as good as your system allows.