Review of the Month; Vulkanus sharpener

The most serious problem when it comes to designing a sharpener for whatever kind of knife is that consumer are lazy bastards that would rather buy a new knife than learn to sharpen them. Thus, a design that would make sharpening a knife not only fast but an easy task while still giving at least a decently sharp blade has been the aim. The thing is, most traditional methods require learning sharpening a knife, the angles and whatnot. To be completely honest, I expect people to know how to sharpen a knife. However, I too am a lazy bastard and looking for any way to make things easier and faster while is something I tend to do.

Vulkanus sharpener seemed like what the doctor ordered. A sturdily built device that both sharpens and hones the blade in the same package without any stone changing. Seemed pretty decent, and further support came from various magazines and sites promoting it as their top choice sharpener. In my search for a comfortable and quick solution to battle my laziness I went and dropped 59€ for the Vulkanus in good hopes that the word on the street was valid.

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The Vulkanus is a neat device in that it’s something you could call zero-force device. Sharpening overall doesn’t require strength, just skill and time. The whole idea of the sharpener is that the cross-shaped gate holds two pieces both sides of the blade and gives the right angle when you pull the blade from the gate. Back and forth motion is not be done in this device. You can see the flakes from the blades on its base. Indeed, the sharpening does eat into your blade, but you don’t need to do this often. Only dull blades with rounded edges really need to be sharpened in order to create a new blade, the rest are to be honed.

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The way you sharpen with the Vulkanus is that you hold the blade towards the ground as imaged, then pull it from the gate. The blade’s own weight and motion will push the crossed sharpeners down the necessary amount. While I’ve seen some reports saying that you hold your hands too close to the knife while doing this, you don’t. The best place where to hold the sharpener is from one if its “horns.”  Holding it from the base seemed awkward, but I can see it being bolted to the tabletop or using something to squeeze it in place, eliminating the need for holding it in place altogether.

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Honing is done by holding the blade towards the sky, but as much as in the image. A more levelled position is enough. This changes the which part of the sharpener is in contact with the blade. Both sharpening and honing is quick, and I’ve noticed that you’ve honed enough when certain crunching resistance disappears. After that, just clean the blades with a cloth to remove all the excess metal waste and get using your newly sharpened knife.

You can also sharpen bread knives with their saw edge. You do this by pushing the blade towards one of the sides where it has been originally sharpened.

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This might take some effort, as the springs are surprisingly resilient

The sharpness it yields is, without a doubt, perfectly fit for household use. It’s designed to be used with Western blades, thus sharpening Japanese kitchen knifes should not be sharpened with the Vulkanus. You’d better get few good sets of Japanese whetstones with various grits and learn how to use them. I honestly would recommend that anyway.

As said, the sharpness is pretty good, serviceable even in forest knives I somewhat haphazardly collect here and there. It manages to give a generic, chromed pig steel faux Rambo knife from 1998 a pretty damn impressive and lasting sharpness too.

The problem with the Vulkanus is that it can oversharpen and end up making your blade jagged. I noticed this with one of my knives, where the Vulkanus didn’t cut the burr properly, but instead napped some of the material further down. Of course, this could be also because the blade’s metal and original blade geometry are different and don’t work with the Vulkanus, but I noticed something similar with a store-bought knife that retained its burr. To add to that, it just might be I kept honing the blades too long to the point that Vulkanus own capabilities just ran out.

That is most likely Vulkanus’ weakness; the blades don’t end up in the best possible condition, but I’m setting the bar stupidly high. Usually when I sharpen and hone by hand I aim for that mirror clean sheen. Vulkanus is designed for general kitchen use where that mirror surface doesn’t survive too long. Or in the forest, for the matter. As long as the blade is sharp enough that it cuts with no effort, it should be enough and in that Vulkanus does its job in a very commendable way.

Would I recommend the Vulkanus? If you’re not into learning ins and outs of blade sharpening and honing, want something quick and effective, Vulkanus is probably your safest bet, even when its pricepoint is a bit on the high side. It’s easy enough to use for everybody, and even one-handed people should be able to use it just fine. You’d need to be some sort of special snowflake with serious lack of eye-hand coordination not to be able to make your generic kitchen knife sharp with it. It just works as intended with good built quality.

That is something that you also need to consider when it comes to Vulkanus; the knife. Investing into a good, solid and  long-lasting knife is something that will pay its back as you prepare dinner or otherwise use a knife somewhere. Going for the cheapest shit will only give you gray hair and headache, so I would recommend everybody to first check whether or not your knife is a no-brand chrome stick, or a good and proper knife.

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