Monday, February 18, 2019
Spyderco 204MF Tri-Angle Sharpmaker System Review
Set angle of ceramic stones delivers foolproof sharpening
Fragile ceramic stones shatter easily if dropped
Manually sharpening almost any kind of blade
$50-$95 (Limited lifetime warranty)
The Spyderco 204MF Tri-Angle Sharpmaker System is a manual V-type crock-stick knife sharpening kit that is designed to accommodate both European and Asian knives, as well as a wide variety of personal and sporting knives, serrated knives, scissors and pointed objects (ex. fishhooks and darts). The Tri-Angle Sharpmaker System works by securing triangular high alumina ceramic rods into specially designed slots in the base of its plastic storage case. The slots hold the abrasive stones at pre-set angles and help you easily guide a blade along them for foolproof sharpening. A four-stage system, the kit comes with two different sets of the ceramic stones including two with a medium grit for sharpening very dull edges and two with a finer grit for finishing/polishing. All four stones are also designed with a groove along the length of one side, which makes it easy to sharpen pointed objects. For additional versatility, the stones can also fit tightly alongside each other in the base of the storage case if you prefer to use them as a benchstone. To keep your hands protected, the Tri-Angle Sharpmaker System also comes with two brass safety rods and the lid of its storage case folds up over the base, so you can hold it for additional stability during use.
The Spyderco 204MF Tri-Angle Sharpmaker System can be bought online for about $50 - $95.
Product Report Card Grade
We give the Spyderco 204MF Tri-Angle Sharpmaker System an A- because it is top of the line in the manual knife sharpener class. It is far gentler on your expensive kitchen knives and removes less material than electric sharpeners, hence extending the useful life of your knives. Although there is a learning curve associated with the Sharpmaker System, experienced users are overwhelmingly happy with results. We had to deduct a few points due to the fragility of the abrasive ceramic stones that can easily break if dropped on a hard surface. However, we recommend the Sharpmaker System for anyone who is willing to invest the time it takes to sharpen your knives manually and to master the technique.
Moderate price point; exceptionally versatile sharpener; gentle on knife blades; right- and left- handed compatibility; good, compact storage system; no lubricants required; set angle of abrasive stones eliminate guesswork
Easy-Track Guidance system offers fast, foolproof sharpening; one of a few sharpeners to be NSF certified for its superior safety features; removable/replaceable parts provide easy cleaning/upkeep; pressure sensitive motor protects knives from excessive wear
Fast, foolproof sharpening; unique combination of electric and manual stages offer more control over sharpening process; 20° spring loaded knife guides reduce user error; abrasive disks all diamond coated; compatible with serrated knives; includes a manual steeling stage
Ceramic stones are easily broken if dropped; requires time and effort to master technique; instruction manual somewhat confusing; sharpening can be time-consuming especially if restoring notched and damaged blades
Relatively expensive; does not accommodate serrated knives
Relatively expensive; lacks aggressive notch removal stage; tendency to scratch knife blades (typical of electric sharpeners in general)
Manual Crock Stick Knife Sharpener
Commercial Electric Sharpener
Electric Sharpener with 1 Manual Phase
$50 - $95
$150 - $180
Lifetime limited warranty
1-year limited warranty
3-year limited warranty
Product Size (W x D x H)
5.0" x 4.0" x 2.0"
9.8" x 4.8" x 4.0"
12.3" x 6.3" x 6.5"
Triangular high alumina ceramic stones are the abrasive materials in this system.
A 240-grit alumdum grinding wheel is the only abrasive in the sharpener.
100% diamond coated conical disks offer differing levels of abrasion in each of the 3 stages.
40°, 30° and 25° (20°, 15° and 12.5° on each side)
22° (11° on each side)
40° (20° each side)
Keyed slots and holes in the base of the travel case hold the abrasive ceramic stones at various set angles that can be adjusted depending on the type of edge being sharpened. The stones also have a thin groove cut into them for sharpening pointed objects, and they can be converted into a benchstone when necessary.
It uses Edlund's Easy-Track Guidance System, which is designed to quickly sharpen blades at exactly an 11° angle (steeper than domestic knife sharpeners). The motor has 1 ½ amps of power and runs at 1550 rpms, but it will shut off automatically when too much pressure is applied to the guidance system in order to protect the knife from excessive wear.
All 3 sharpening slots have spring-loaded knife guides that are preset to a 40° angle (20° on each side) to help users maintain the correct sharpening angle.
Description of Stages
The brown, medium grit stones are used in the 1st and 2nd stages, and the white, fine grit stones are used in the 3rd and 4th stages. During the 1st and 3rd stages, the blade is pulled over the triangular edges of the stones, and, during the 2nd and 4th stages, the blade is pulled over the flat edge of the stones. The corners of the white stones can be used to sharpen serrated edges. For extremely dull knives, Spyderco diamond embedded abrasive stones can be purchased separately.
The 1st and only stage is electric and quickly sharpens the edge to an 11° angle.
The 1st stage is electric and has the most abrasive disk to raise a burr and create the 1st bevel edge. The 2nd stage is manual and has a small butcher's steel to steel the edge and create micro sharp serrations in it. The 3rd Stage is electric and has a flexible stropping disk to polish/straighten the blade and create the 2nd bevel. The 3rd stage can also be used to sharpen serrated knives.
Passes to Sharpen
Up to 160 passes
3 - 6 passes
Types of Knives Sharpened
It can sharpen a variety of serrated- and straight-edge blades including both European (20° angle) and Asian (15° angle) kitchen knives and sporting/pocket knives. It can also be used to sharpen pointed edges (ie. fishhooks, darts, awls) and scissors (12.5° angle).
It is specifically designed to sharpen kitchen knives in a commercial setting.
It can sharpen a variety of serrated- and straight-edge blades (with a double bevel edge) including European kitchen knives (20° angle) and sporting/pocket knives.
Sharpens Entire Blade (Tip to Bolster)
All of the sharpening components come in a black and grey ABS plastic traveling case that doubles as the base into which the ceramic stones are inserted.
It has a simple rectangular design with an all stainless steel housing and contains no magnets. The knife guidance module is removable, so it is easy to clean, and both the knife guidance module and the grinding wheel assembly are replaceable.
The M130 is available in 5 different finishes including black, white, brushed metal, green and platinum.
It comes with 2 brass safety rods that fit into keyed holes in the base to protect your hands during the sharpening process.
It is NSF certified, the width of the knife opening is only 3/16", and there is also a lighted on/off switch to indicate when the motor is running. Additionally, an interlock switch won't allow the machine to operate until the guidance system is properly in place.
There is a plastic cover over each of the rotating disks to protect your hands during operation.
ProductReportCard Editors' In-Depth Review
Pros And Cons
- Moderately priced
- Exceptionally versatile with ability to sharpen any angle blade or edge
- Set angle of abrasive stones eliminates guesswork
- Gentle on knife blades
- Right- and left-hand compatibility
- Protective brass safety rods
- Doesn't require lubricants, so there is less mess to clean up
- Good storage system that is easy to transport
- Ceramic stones are fragile and easily shattered if dropped
- Practice required to master technique
- Time-consuming to hone hair-splitting edge (160 strokes)
- Medium grit stones lack abrasiveness aggressive enough to re-profile abused, notched and damaged blades
- 28-page instruction manual and how-to DVD make it unnecessarily complicated
- Knife tip can become rounded if you swipe the knife off the corners of the ceramic stones
Type of Sharpener
The Spyderco 204MF is a manual V-type crock-stick knife sharpener.
The travel case measures 5" x 4" x 2" (L x W x H) and weighs 2 pounds fully loaded. The ceramic stones are 7" x ½" (L x W) each.
Triangular high alumina ceramic stones are the sharpening agents for this system.
Built into the base of the ABS plastic travel case are keyed slots and holes that hold the abrasive ceramic stones at the correct angle for sharpening different edges. There is a 30° angle (15° per side) for Asian knives, a 40° angle (20° per side) for Western knives, and a 12.5° angle for sharpening scissors. There is a thin groove cut into each stone for sharpening pointed objects (ex. fishhooks, awls), and the stones can also be converted into a benchstone by placing them flat and together in a special slot on the reverse side of storage case.
The Spyderco 204MF uses a 4-stage sharpening process. The first 2 stages involve pulling the blade over the triangular edges of the brown, medium grit stones, followed by pulls over the flat side of the same stones. Repeat the process in the 3rd and 4th stages using the white, fine grit stones. For serrated knives, you should only sharpen using the corners of the white stones. If needed, a more aggressive stage may be added by ordering a set of Spyderco diamond embedded abrasive stones to remove notches and sharpen extremely dull knives.
Number of Passes
20-40 passes along the brown stones are recommended if knives are moderately dull. Another 10-20 strokes along the white stones will finish and polish your knife-edge. Additional passes may be necessary to achieve factory sharpness if blades are particularly dull.
Two brass rods fit into keyed holes in the base to protect your hands during the sharpening process. The lid of the storage case can also be repositioned over the base, so you can hold it and keep the base more stable.
Types of Knives Sharpened
This versatile sharpener is suited for both European and Asian straight-edge and serrated kitchen knives, as well as sporting, folding pocket and fixed blade knives. It can also be used to sharpen fishhooks, darts, awls and scissors.
Designed to travel with you, the self-contained black and grey ABS plastic case houses all the sharpening components and doubles as the base into which the stones are inserted.
Limited lifetime warranty
The Spyderco 204MF Tri-Angle Sharpmaker System has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers online including a 4.7/5 on Amazon.com (387 reviews). In a 2003 eGullet.org article, Chad Ward endorsed the Spyderco 204MF as the best of the manual V-type sharpening systems, as did Pete Thibodeau in a 2004 Los Angeles Times review of knife sharpeners. Cook's Illustrated recommended it with reservations. Reasons for Cook's Illustrated's reservations include the length and complexity of the instruction guide and the time and control required to produce a sharp edge. Minimal negative feedback online was centered around the fragility of the ceramic stone if dropped, inconsistent quality control and the learning curve associated with the sharpener. The Spyderco 204MF does take a little time and patience to master, but, ultimately, it is an excellent, cost-effective way to keep any type of blade in your home as sharp as the day you bought it.
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