Wicked Edge Precision Knife Sharpener

Basic Instructions

How to Find Your Angle

There are three ways to find out the angle at which a knife has been sharpened.

  1. Consult the manufacturer's documentation
  2. Use a laser goniometer available from CATRA at www.catra.org
  3. Use a marker to color in the bevel

Here we'll outline the procedure using a marker. In the graphic below, we show a knife bevel with the edge and shoulder marked in fig. 1. Color in the entire bevel of the knife with a marker as shown in fig. 2; we prefer the Sharpie brand. Set a stone on the guide rod and lay it up against the knife, adjusting the collar until the stone appears to lay flat on the bevel. Make a pass or two with the stone and observe where the marker is removed along the bevel. If the marker is removed only from the bottom of the bevel on the shoulder as in fig. 4, then the angle is set too narrowly. Move the collar out a degree and try again. If the marker is removed only from the top of the bevel along the edge, the angle is set too widely. Move the collar in one degree and try again. When the stone removes all the marker in one pass, observe the angle indicated on the base rod at the inside of the collar. This is your angle per side. Your included angle will be the angle of each side added together.


Drawing a Burr

When you're first sharpening a blade, successfully drawing a burr from each side of the knife is the most important step. It is very difficult to know for certain without the presense of a burr if the bevels on each side of the blade actually extend to the edge. If the bevels do not extend all the way to the edge, the edge of the knife will be blunt and the knife will not be sharp.

A burr is defined as (From Wikipedia) 'In engineering, a burr refers to the raised edge on a metal part. It may be present in the form of a fine wire on the edge of a freshly sharpened tool or as a raised portion on a surface, after being struck a blow from an equally hard, or heavy object.' A burr, also called a wire edge, is created as a result of sharpening metal. The burr forms on the edge of the knife where the planes of the bevels (or, in the case of one-sided knives or chisels, the plane of one face and the bevel) intersect. The diagram below shows the burr projecting from the edge of the knife:

knife edge

The next diagram shows the formation of a burr in greater detail.


Basic Instructions

Step 1:

Insert the two prongs of the Depth Key into the two holes in the Alignment Guide as shown in Fig. 1.

Using the Depth Key and Alignment Guide in the Wicked Edge Precision Sharpener

Step 2:

For narrow-bladed knives, insert the Depth Key into the top pair of holes in the Vise. For wider blades, use the lower pair for increased holding power. See Fig. 2

Preparing to mount the knife in the Wicked Edge Sharpener

Step 3:

Using the Vise Key, loosen the top screw of the Vise until the back of your knife fits easily between the jaws of the vise and rests on the prongs of the Depth Key.

Step 4:

Holding the knife so that the back of the blade is in contact with both prongs of the Depth Key and the tip of the blade is pointing directly away from you, slide the knife forward or backward until the blade is approximately centered in the Vise, then further adjust the position of the knife until the tip is lined up with the nearest mark on the Alignment Guide, as shown in Fig. 3

Placing the knife in the clamp of the Wicked Edge knife sharpener

Step 5:

Tighten the top screw of the Vise until the knife is lightly held in place, then tighten the bottom screw until the knife is firmly held in place. Do not over tighten! Remove the Depth Key and Alignment Guide from the Vise. For long, thin blades, such as a filet knife, insert the Knife Brace into the hole in the top of the Base with the slotted end up, then place the knife into the Vise and the slot in the Knife Brace as shown in Fig. 4

Using the Knife Brace on the Wicked Edge Knife Sharpener

Step 6:

Loosen the thumbscrews on each Collar and slide the Collars in or out along the Base Rod until the inside edge of each Collar is aligned with the desired degree mark, then tighten the thumbscrews by hand. Do not use pliers.  See Fig. 5

Setting the angle on the Wicked Edge knife sharpener

For assistance with angle selection, consult your knife manufacturer’s recommendations, or see the chart at the end of these instructions for suggestions.

Step 7:

If this is the first time your knife has been sharpened using the Wicked Edge™, or if you are changing the angle of the knife’s edge, place the red/orange, Coarse/Medium-Coarse 100-200 grit pair of Diamond Blocks on the Guide Rods. If you have already sharpened your knife on the Wicked Edge™ and you are just touching it up, then skip ahead to the end of these instructions to the section titled: Touch-ups.

Step 8:

With the tip of the knife pointing away from you, grasp the Diamond Blocks with your fingertips in the indentations, being careful to keep your fingertips behind the colored trays that hold the stones. Rotate the Diamond Blocks upward and place the red, 100 grit Coarse Stone flat against the heel of the blade, as shown in Fig. 6. Hold the other Diamond Block out away from the knife.

The motion of the stones with the Wicked Edge knife sharpener

Sharpening motion with the Wicked Edge knife sharpener

Step 9:

While applying moderate pressure to the blade with the Coarse, 100 Grit Stone, slide the stone up and away from you toward the tip of the blade. This stroke is finished when the tip of the blade reaches the bottom of the stone as shown in Fig. 7.

Ending position of the stone with the Wicked Edge knife sharpener

Be careful not to slide the stone off the edge of the knife. Repeat this motion with the opposite stone. Continue this procedure, switching from side-to-side with each stroke. Periodically inspect the blade to see if the scratches made by the stone have reached the edge. If you are not sure, a simple test can be used: Apply five strokes to one side of the blade, then drag a cotton swab up the opposite side of the blade until it comes off the edge. If it snags on the edge, you have completed setting the angle on that side of the knife. Be sure to check along the entire length of the blade. Repeat this procedure on the other side of the blade. Once the angle is set on both sides, polish the edge by progressing through the orange-200 Grit, yellow-400 Grit, and green-600 Grit stones using the same heel-to-tip stroke that you used to begin the sharpening process, alternating between sides at each stroke.

If you have purchased the Extra-Fine/Ultra-Fine Accessory Stones, then you may continue to polish the edges starting with the blue, Extra-Fine Stones and finishing with the purple, Ultra-Fine 800-1000 Grit Stones.

Step 10:

To remove the knife from the sharpener, firmly grasp the handle of the knife with one hand, while loosening the bottom screw of the Vise. Carefully remove the knife. If necessary, loosen the top screw as well. Congratulations! You now have a Wicked Edgeâ„¢ on your knife!


Follow Steps 1 through 5 to mount your knife in the Vise. Be sure to use the Depth Key and Alignment Guide to place your knife in exactly the same position as when you first sharpened it. Now set the sharpening angle as described in Step 6 to the same angle you used previously on this knife. It may be useful to keep a record of the sharpening angles and mounting positions for each of your knives. For your convenience, we have included a table with these instructions that you can fill out and use for future reference. To begin touching-up the edge of your knife, use the green, Fine Stones. Use the same heel-to-tip stroke technique described in step 9. Five to ten passes on each side should be enough for frequent touch-ups or lightly used knives. More passes may be necessary for knives that receive heavy use or infrequent touch-ups. If you have purchased the Extra-Fine/Ultra-Fine 800-1000 Grit Accessory Stones, use the purple, Ultra-Fine Stones first. If you find that your knife’s edge cannot be fully restored with the Ultra-Fine Stones, then you may need to go back to the Extra-Fine Stones. Unless you have badly damaged your knife’s edge, you should never need to use a stone with a coarser grit than the green 600 Grit, Fine Stone.

Sharpening Direction

Sharpening away from the blade from spine to edge is recommended for safety

The universal type joint of the guide rods allows you to sharpen in the direction of your preference with the Wicked Edgeâ„¢. Many arguments are made regarding the proper direction to sharpen a blade. Our test results indicate that whether you sharpen into or away from the blade, the practical results will be virtually identical. Theoretically, there may be some slight differences between the methods though the theory does not appear to extend into the measurable ability of a knife to cut or hold an edge. More important is the way that the micro-serrations are oriented in relation to the type of cutting you wish to do, referred to as the scratch pattern orientation, or rake. The micro-serrations are minute teeth on the edge of the blade left from the sharpening process and function like the teeth on a saw or file. The finer the stone used to sharpen the knife, the smaller the teeth. Large teeth from coarse stones initially cut aggressively but wear quickly requiring more frequent touch-ups. By choosing the orientation of these teeth, you can improve your cutting efficiency. For example, if you are using the knife for slicing, you will most likely be slicing from the heel toward the tip, in which case you would want the teeth facing the heel of the blade as shown in the figure below. To create your scratch pattern with this rear facing orientation, you can move the stones into the blade from heel to tip or away from the blade from tip to heel.

Scratch pattern from knife sharpening

Creating a Double Bevel

Double Bevel - (From Wikipedia) A back bevel, similar to a sabre or flat grind, is put on the blade behind the edge bevel (the bevel which is the foremost cutting surface). This back bevel keeps the section of blade behind the edge thinner which improves cutting ability. Being less acute at the edge than a single bevel, sharpness is sacrificed for resilience: such a grind is much less prone to chipping or rolling than a single bevel blade. In practice, double bevels are common in a variety of edge angles and back bevel angles.' A double bevel is depicted in the image below:

To create a double bevel using the Wicked Edge®, it's easiest to create the back bevel first and then the edge bevel. Start by selecting the angle of the back bevel and working both sides of the blade until the back bevel reaches the edge. Progress through the stones to polish the blade as much as possible. Then move the collars out to the desired angle for your edge bevel. You can start with the 600 grit fine stones or even the 800 grit extra-fine stones. The edge bevel does not need to be large in order to be effective at improving durability.