Reviewed by: CAPT. MIKE SCHOONVELD
Step into my kitchen and look on the top of the refrigerator. What is that contraption? I had three fishing friends over recently and covering the Warthog Knife Sharpener sticker, I gave them the test. Two of them failed completely. One of them guessed, “Some sort of knife sharpener.” For one, it was in the kitchen and also, he recognized surface of the sharpening rods as diamond encrusted hones. I knew what it was since I ordered it but it does look to be something of a rather Rube Goldberg mechanism with all the springs, levers and knobs on the tool.
Does it have to be that complex? After all, experts can sharpen a knife with only a flat whetstone. It can’t get any simpler than that.
I’m no expert, however, and I’ve tried any number of simple (and not so simple), stone, ceramic, carbide and diamond grit sharpeners. Most of them were manually operated tools but I’ve tried a couple of electric models. My results using these gizmos has been all over the place. A couple basically ruined the blade being sharpened. Most did a fair job, but none, even the most complex gadgets returned the blade to “as good as new” condition.
Sharpening should be a simple process. Anything that will uniformly remove tiny chips or flakes of steel from the cutting edge of a knife will sharpen it. Various abrasives will do that, diamonds do it best – better than hardened steel files, stone, tungsten carbide or ceramic. Rub the abrasive material and the knife blade against each other at an angle to produce a sharp edge.
There are variables to this simple job. One is the grit-size of the abrasive. Another is amount of force applied during the sharpening process and the last is the angle the blade tapers to the edge and how precise that angle is maintained for each abrasive stroke.
The Warthog Elite A4 comes with a 325 grit, diamond impregnated abrasive rods. (In grit parlance, that’s medium-fine.) Rods with finer or more coarse grit are available as options.
The rods can be adjusted to hone an edge at 15, 20, 25 and 30 degree angles. Fifteen or twenty is good for fillet knives, 25 degrees is good for hunting knives and a 30 degree sharpening angles is about right for a machete.
The unusual look for the Warthog comes from the knife blade guide and the springs and slides that control the amount of pressure that’s applied as the knife is stroked along the sharpening rods. Place the knife blade flat against the guide, then keeping it flat to the guide, slice downward with a forward and back strokes the length of the blade. The diamond rods will spread outward on the slides as the downward cutting motion is made so the entire length of the sharpening rod is used. The mechanism is spring loaded with the springs chosen to apply the perfect amount of pressure between the blade and sharpening rods.
A knife doesn’t need frequent sharpenings if a sharpening steel is used frequently. The steel on the reverse side of the A4’s abrasive rods are not encrusted with diamond grit. So just turn the rods around in the mechanism and the A4 becomes a sharpening steel. After every few fish give the knife three or four strokes through the Warthog and the razor edge will be steeled-straight to keep that perfect edge.
I chose the Elite A4 because I liked the finished wooden base. The mechanics of the V-Sharp A4 Knife Sharpener is identical but without the wooden base. Check them out at www.warthogusa.com.