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Smith's 3-in-1 Sharpening System – a field-test review at Cabela's

Smith's 3-in-1 Sharpening System – a field-test review

Author: Frank Ross

If you've ever found yourself in a remote setting, wishing you had remembered to sharpen your knife before you left home, I have a solution.

Frank Ross hones a blade as his daughter Eliana learns the techniques.
Smith's 3-in-1 Sharpening System has everything you need to put a top-quality edge on anything that needs to be sharp, from straight-edged and serrated knives to fish hooks. The system includes two pre-aligned carbides, a diamond stone, multiple-use ceramic rods, a hook-sharpening groove and a protective storage lid. And the best feature is that it's compact and, you can easily find a place for it in your gear bag or backpack, so it's always handy.

The two pre-aligned carbides make it easy to set an edge at just the right angle, with only three or four strokes. This tool should be used only on very dull knives, blades that have been honed to a poor angle or on damaged blades that need restored. These carbides are reversible and replaceable once they have lost their edge. The edge of these carbides will last a long time, but once they have been used up on one edge, simply loosen the setscrew, reverse both pieces and you're back in business.

Diamond stone
Multiple layers of micron-sized monocrystalline diamonds, bonded securely in nickel to a flat metal surface, create a fine 750-grit diamond stone that is perfect for sharpening hard metals such as 420HC stainless steel. This stone has an interrupted surface designed to catch the residue of sharpening that normally collects in small pores, making a stone ineffectual.

Two fine ceramic rods, stored in the bottom of the sharpener system's base plate, provide the finishing touches, taking it to a razor's edge. To make this unit more valuable, a special hook groove has been provided in the diamond stone and on the ceramic rods as well. These grooves will sharpen any size hook. The rods are teardrop-shaped and reversible. The round side is used for straight edges and the pointed side is for serrated blades. Insert the rods firmly into the base before use. Achieve the desired angle by holding your blade vertically and pulling the blade across the rods, starting at the base of the blade, moving to the point and alternating sides with each stroke.

The diamond hone makes quick work of sharpening any blade.
A convenient lid protects the diamond stone and also serves as a hand guard, protecting your hand during sharpening passes on the ceramic rods. The lid slides off and inserts into a groove between the diamond stone and the ceramic rods. For travel, a special place is provided for the rods underneath the stone, with two swiveling ears to retain them in transit.

Since my knives are always kept sharp, I used this tool on a co-worker's hard stainless steel knife that looked like it had been sharpened with a rock. When he handed me the knife, I was dubious about the possibility of it being anything other than a pry bar. It was an inexpensive knife that would have struggled to part anything other than gravy, without excessive force.

I began by using the carbides to correct the angle, and then worked it over the diamond-impregnated sharpening stone, finishing with half a dozen strokes over the ceramic rods. The result was not what you'd call "razor sharp"; however, it was a dramatic improvement over the pitiful blade I had begun with. Being somewhat belligerent about maintaining an edge, I decided to go one more time around the track. This time I gave particular attention to the diamond stone and worked the ceramic rods heavily. The resulting edge was much improved, slicing a piece of paper handily.

I've since carried the Smith 3-in-1 in my backpack on several trips. It's just too handy not to have along, and so light that you won't notice the weight. Most of the time I need to use only the ceramic rods to restore a fine edge. One thing I realized years ago is that I'm a creature of convenience and habit. If I have a tool handy, I'll use it. If a tool isn't handy, or I have to look for it, I'll put off the task until it can't be ignored. The pleasure of using a very sharp blade is its own reward.

Click here to purchase Smith's® 3-in-1 Field Sharpener.