I’ve always loved sharpening knives, and in particular, I’ve always been fascinated with the sheer number of knife sharpening systems. In my experience, there isn’t a be all end all sharpener. It all depends on what type of sharpening you need to do. Reprofiling a blade requires a very different tool than touching up an edge in the field. Some sharpeners are quite portable, while others are rather cumbersome. The ViperSharp Ceramic Knife Sharpener falls somewhere in between, and that’s one of many things I like about it.
The ViperSharp Ceramic Knife Sharpener is a fixed-angle sharpener, which means that the sharpening stones (after you set them) remain at the same angle throughout the sharpening process. I’ve sharpening numerous blades with it over the last few weeks, and here are my thoughts.
The price is reasonable. When you look at other fixed-angle sharpeners of similar quality, you’ll find many more expensive than the ViperSharp. At $185, it is more than capable of putting a scary-sharp edge on any knife in your collection.
Seven stages of sharpening make it a versatile tool. The ViperSharp system starts out at 80-grit, which makes quick work of reprofiling. I used it to quickly remove a few nicks on my Benchmade Bugout and easily brought back to a razor-sharp edge. After finishing with the leather hone, it was hair popping sharp.
The sharpening rod is tight. Most of the fixed-angle systems under $100 are loose because the rod sits in an enlarged hole. The ViperSharp slides around on a tight ball bearing that creates an appreciated level of precision.
It’s portable. Everything fits in a small case that I would absolutely toss in my camp box. I love sharpening knives at the campsite, so yes, I would bring this thing along. I attached a small clamp each time I used it, and it worked remarkably well.
Easy to remove the blade during sharpening. Like every knife geek, I like to test my blade often throughout the sharpening process. The ViperSharp allows me to remove the knife while still in the bracket to test the sharpness. I like to use the three-finger test, which requires both hands to do safely. I wouldn’t be comfortable doing this with the knife still attached to the sharpener.
Changing stones takes a few seconds. Admittedly, the way the stones attach looked cheap to me at first glance. However, after a few hours of use, I began to appreciate it because it’s so easy. They clip in and out with little effort, and they stay in place.
Removing the clamp to switch sides. This isn’t something I want to gripe about too much, because sharpeners with swiveling brackets are generally much more expensive. Dual stone, two-handed sharpeners can run $300-$500. While it would be more convenient to swivel the knife, it didn’t take long to safely and quickly remove the bracket.
Lightweight base. For the first few knives, I held my hand on the base, and it worked well, but a heavier base would make for a more comfortable experience. ViperSharp does sell a 2 lb 5 oz stone base for $72 that would be nice to have, but honestly, I don’t think I need it. The clamp I used did an excellent job.
I have to say that I really enjoyed using the ViperSharp Ceramic Knife Sharpener. I’d strongly recommend a digital level if you purchase a fixed-angle sharpener. It’s necessary to know exactly what angle you’re at, and they have a magnetic base, which makes it easy to use. The experience of sharpening knives on the ViperSharp is straightforward, and honestly – foolproof. I have Japanese water stones that are excellent, but take a lot of time to learn. The first blade I sharpened on the ViperSharp turned out great, and I immediately found myself walking around the house looking for another dull knife (it took a while; I don’t have many). If you’ve been thinking about a fixed-angle sharpener, I think the ViperSharp deserves serious consideration.