Originally published 26 May 2015 after I had the system for about a month.
In the last year or so, Edge Pro has added some 1/2 inch wide stones in 220, 400, 600 and 1000 grit for ‘recurve knives and/or tantos’. I’ll post a review once I get a chance to use them on a couple of knives that fit the bill. I’m thinking they’ll do very nicely.
Also, on the Edge Pro web site, you can find some really good tips on sharpening smaller knifes or knives with a thumb bolt (like spring assisted knives). If you’ve not given this system serious consideration, you ought to.
In our quest for consistency in keeping our field and personal use knives razor sharp, DTG has owned several sharpening systems, ranging from the very inexpensive to the (so far) most expensive system we’ve found that provides a superb edge (which makes the cash outlay not so painful because the system provides a superb ROI), the Edge Pro Apex 4 system.
This system is worth the read and time spent. It’s been 4 years DTG’s been using the Apex 4. In that time, I’ve added another grit of polishing tape to the kit (6000) for a really, really, really nice, although possibly into the realm of overkill, finish on any blade I feel needs it, and a couple of glass blanks, pictured here, for use with the tape. Makes a difference because the glass is, compared to the aluminum, perfectly flat without any minute ‘bumps’ that may cause an uneven polish with the tape. Bottom line is that you should save your pennies and get one, if you want to perfect the edge of the knife you’re sharpening.
Every time I pull out my Edge Pro to either touch up a knife or put an edge on something I discover in my collection, I’m not disappointed. I’ve taken my Wall Model 18 DTG knife into the bush and used it hard and had the edge still very sharp afterwards; brought it back to optimum in less than 5 minutes. My CRKT m-16 stays razor sharp with the most minor touch ups (as I used it for anything from opening packages to cutting cardboard to whatever). My Randall Made knife edges are like a mirror. I cannot say this enough: This system has returned the best ROI of any system I’ve owned (spent money on) in the last 10 years for knife sharpening and edge maintenance.
So, how does this apply to the folks putting together a NPT? In a nutshell, this is a great system for a NPT of up to 16 people, because it can handle all the work from edge maintenance to repairing damaged edges. It’s also very easy to learn, especially with the tutorial videos on the Edge Pro site. It’s so robust that I was able to modify a serrated knife to a plain edge knife in about 30 minutes – including final sharpening and polishing!
Here’s the basic video from their site. You can see how easy it is to use.
Now, obviously, this isn’t a ‘ruck system.’ I imagine it could be packed in a ruck and taken along if absolutely necessary (it’s light enough, that’s for sure; maybe 2.5 pounds for the basic kit), but it’s not a ‘bug out’ system. In the event my ‘SHTF’ knife started to show signs of becoming dull, I’d take the ceramic rod and handle with me, along with a different whet stone that was a water or dry use stone. There are some good ones out there for that, but for now, let’s look at this system.
First, the hard news: The Apex 4 set up which is pictured above, including the optional stone leveling kit, is right under $300. You could get away with going without the stone leveling kit for awhile, but it’s essential to extend the life of your stones when they start to show signs of curvature from use. So, yes, it’s expensive. The old saw, ‘you get what you pay for’ comes to mind, though. Invest once, and get the return on your investment you wanted in the first place!
Here’s what the Edge Pro folks say in describing the Apex 4:
“The Apex Model Edge Pro is a patented system that will sharpen any size or shape blade (up to 3 ½” wide), including serrated knives. Knives can be sharpened at exactly the same angle every time, making re-sharpening so fast you will never work with a dull blade again. Our water stones have been custom formulated to free you from messy, gummed-up oil stones. They last a long time and are inexpensive to replace. The Apex will remove far less metal than electric sharpeners or grinders, eliminating wavy edges and adding to the life and performance of your knives.
The Apex removes nicks and dings without distorting the knife edge. It creates no heat, preserving the temper of your knives. It sets up in seconds on any smooth surface. No power required and comes with a convenient carrying case. Requires no maintenance other than routine cleaning.
[Our] Patented Knife guide system does not clamp the blade, so you can sharpen any length or shape blade up to 3 ½” wide. Adjustable sharpening angles, from 10, 15, 18, 21, and 24 degrees and infinitely in between.
Manufactured from the highest quality materials in Hood River, Oregon, US.”
Here’s what they say on this essential piece of equipment:
“The stone leveling kit is a 12” diameter, ¼” thick piece of glass, w/ rubber molding installed around the circumference. It comes with a ½ pound bag of 60 grit (coarse) silicon carbide. Use the stone leveling kit to resurface your sharpening stones after heavy use. By sprinkling about a ½ teaspoon of the silicon carbide on the stone leveling kit, and adding a little water, you can grind the high spots of the stone down until it is level again. Use the opposite side as a perfect surface for mounting your Professional or Apex model. The rubber guard will help contain metal shavings and deaden the sound created from leveling stones. “
Stone maintenance during sharpening is pretty easy: saturate the stone with purified water mixed with a drop or two of common dish soap (the dish soap makes cleaning the stones up much easier). Keep the water handy as you work, because the stones must stay wet.
Setting the angle for sharpening is pretty maintenance free, also, as the user manual/instructions demonstrate how to set the approximate angle for the type of knife you’re using, and also details how to find and use the factory edge as a guide in setting the proper angle for your particular knife. The methods are demonstrated on the included DVD which makes your first time using it much less worrisome. Once the angle is set properly (and the DVD will show you how to use a ‘Sharpie’ type marker to get it right very quickly), the grind is going to be very consistent and doesn’t require much more force than the weight of your hand on stone arm. Very user friendly and effective all the way around!
I wanted to put the system to the test quickly, so I brought out a couple older, not sharp ‘force multiplication’ knives I had to practice on. The first was an ‘Ek’ knock-off. Man, oh man, did the edge come to that blade quickly! About 15 minutes tops, and I went through the 220 to 600 grit before I started to polish the edges with the 1000 and 3000 grit tapes. The cutting edge is polished like a mirror!
So, after another experiment with a new, old stock Camillus version of the USMC Ka-Bar (famous for not being easy to put a good edge on) with the same results, I decided to finish up my Wall Model 18 pictured below. It was already shaving sharp, but I wanted to see if polishing the blade would make it ‘scary sharp’. I wasn’t disappointed.
I’m used to checking edges by shaving an arm for an inch or two; this time, when I laid the blade against my arm as per usual, something happened I didn’t expect. I drew blood. The weight of the blade on my arm at just a small fraction off for shaving was enough to instantly cut me! Ok, shave experiment concluded on THAT knife!
Here’s a few of the other knives I’ve finished the edge on: Buck 110, Case Stockman (Medium), Case ‘Hobo’, Case Folding Hunter, Ek (a real one, not the knock off), Wustof Kitchen knives (ranging from paring to meat carvers), and a few others.
I can only say that I have yet to find out the limits of this system. It’s worth the money, and once you master the simple techniques necessary to operate it, you’re going to have a system that will last you many, many years, whether SHTF or not. A nice bonus: Made in the USA. All you need is some water…
We give this system
5 6 stars!