The key to getting a knife very, very sharp is the ability to repeatedly hone its edge at the exact same angle with each stroke of the sharpening stone. That’s why we’ve been loving the Lansky sharpening system that we reviewed literally years ago. But while the Lansky is fantastic for smaller knives, it is somewhat too small for larger knives, and the limited set angles don’t always end up matching the angles on our knives. Enter the Wicked Edge. A much larger system that incorporates a greater degree of variability, the Wicked Edge is similar to a Lansky in that it holds both the knife and the sharpening stones in fixed positions, but differs in the degree of variability it allows.
While using the Wicked Edge is not an overly complicated procedure, it does reward a methodical and careful user, and getting a knife properly set up in the clamp is easily the most time-consuming part of the sharpening process. Using the marker included in the Field and Sport kit, a knife’s edge is first marked black to provide a guide for clamping the knife down, and then shuffled around in the clamp until a stone’s movement across the edge produces a nice wear pattern across the entire blade bevel. During this process, the arms that guide the sharpening stones are also moved in and out to match the existing angle on the blade’s bevel, and tightened down once the correct angle has been found.
Once that’s all done, and the knife is firmly fixed in the clamp, the process of sharpening is so easy a caveman could do it. By allowing the use of two stones simultaneously, the system prevents the formation of an unaddressed burr on one side of the knife, and also allows a knife to be sharpened very quickly. But a word to the wise: The stones ship in a very rough state, and during their break-in period are very, very abrasive. We strongly suggest using a junk knife to both practice your technique on, while also allowing the stones to wear in a little bit, as they will be just a bit too rough to get a good edge from initially.
But once the stones are broken in, the Wicked Edge kit produces a very, very good edge. And it’s not difficult to understand why. By holding everything at very fixed angles (there’s no play in this system, unlike the Lansky) the knife edge ends up being dressed perfectly by both stones. The bevel is perfectly symmetrical, and if you do your bit during the set-up process, it will be almost exactly the same angle from one end of the blade to another; something that can be very difficult to obtain on other sharpening systems. And the assortment of stones in the kit, ranging from a 100- to 600-grit, can turn even the bluntest of edges into something capable of shaving with.
That said, just about the only issue we found with the Wicked Edge was the stone assortment. While the 600-grit stone in the kit renders an edge that’s certainly very sharp, those that have grown accustomed to getting a more finely-finished bevel will want to seek out some smoother finishing stones, of which Wicked Edge has an assortment to choose from. We ordered a pair of 800/1000 grit stones, and a set of 1200/1600 grit ceramic stones, but they aren’t especially cheap additions to a kit that is itself almost $400 Canadian. Each pair of additional stones runs between $50 and $100, but admittedly includes four stones and two grits for all intents and purposes, so they’re really closer to $12-$25 per “stone” if you ever want to make yourself feel better about their purchase.
If you want the absolute best sharpening system on the planet; one that’s capable of honing everything from paring knives to razors, this is it. No, it’s not cheap, and yes, there’s a large chance that you’ll end up spending even more money on stones, strops, and other accessories after you buy it… but you know what you’ll never do? Replace it.