Bush Class Basic Certified
Stone kme sharpening system
This is going to be a rather in depth look at the kme sharpening system.
I have been looking to get one of these for some time now, primarily to start and run a small sharpening business so my opinion on certain things is greatly effected by this.
I get the stone version on the basis that diamonds being that they are in finer layers would not last as well, I failed to consider the source of the stones themselves. DMT
Because these stones are not in fact made or custom cut by the kme sharpening company they are not of equal thickness, Now, a tenth of a millimetre wouldn't make much of a difference to the edge alignment but when one stone is a full millimetre and a half thicker, this greatly changes the actual contact angle. Even adding a piece of wet and dry would make a difference of up to a quarter of a degree. This is not a good thing if you were to stick to only using the stones provided and expected to maintain a high quality business output on finer Japanese steels for example. The diamond stones may have been for me a better choice, but we live we learn.
Fortunately,I will not be sticking to these stones in any case. I will in fact be making blanks from a set thickness of material and using primarily lapping film or to start with wet and dry papers in order to get equal thickness stones and thus perfect edge angles.
I will point out here that my perfect and your perfect may not be the same perfect.
Materials in construction
I am a little personally disappointed in this to be honest. Though I will say that I do expect the materials themselves to last for quite some time, the look of them is extremely unappealing.
The box,is a decent plastic moulded form but not very well designed to hold all the pieces in the way that a moulded case should. The stone holder sits loose, as does the angle rod itself.Now, they do fit into positions that will not rattle around too much though. Because of this the box is as small as it can be. The foam stuff used to keep the main part, oil and three stones in place feels like a cheap eurethayene something or other.
The angle bar holding the rod holder, handle bit and jaws is from a galvanised stock, and for galvanised stock it looks fine but feels cheap somehow.
The jaw screw, three pronged plastic nut does have a steel core to it, but the plastic is sitting out of shape which gives me the impression that it was moulded in someone's garage.
The jaw itself is disappointing because again it's not exactly a high quality looking finish, in fact it looks like a cold rolled mould from some low carbon alloy, ya know that stuff that just could never even be polished if you tried.
The rubber used to make contact with the blades themselves is very very grippy and seems to be of a very high quality.
The stones themselves for what they are do a very good job of removing metal fast. It does say one of the stones in particular will dip and may need flattening. The finest grit stone, the white Arkansas feels to deliver about 1000 grit for a polishing edge. Which will do most users I suppose, but I like a polished edge and I usually only stopped at 4000g (JP) so this for me does limit the true polish potential for higher end 62+ blades. for a regular 58-60 I would not really see this as a problem.
The oil, Because of Janich's works I never ever use oil on any stone, cheap or otherwise, so I cannot say much about this, it does seem to be a fine mineral oil though.
The angle markings on the galvanised stock look awful and I do wonder about the actual angle value, on my KME the markings are clearly nearly two degrees off their alignment which puts this reservation into place. It doesn't make a difference if you are working on your own knives only, but if a customer had a 21 degree angle, you would have to be sure on your angles by using the marker method. Something I don't feel the user should have to do. The angles covered are a little limited 17-30 degrees. But will cover most users needs.
The rotating element is almost crude looking but works flawlessly.
The tension knob could do with a better or wider grip. It's not slippy to grip but takes more time than i think is necessary.
In contrast the blade clamping knob is too wide, working on my shun at 17° this knob got in the way. 2-3mm is all it would take. Sharpening with this limitation increases the time to do the entire centre section and will cause the stone to wear in this part in time. I will probably take sand paper to this myself.
Now one thing that does really bother me, the rubber section of the jaws are flush to each other when no blade is in place. This means that any knife no matter how thin will not be getting the full 100 percent grip area that it could. These parts should be designed to sit flush only when a certain blade is in place. For example a 1/16th blade, or perhaps 3/32nds. This could cause problems with thinner blades than this however by placing the jaws at an angle you have a better balance point of grip. No blade will ever be 0mm thick. Sharpening up a quarter inch blade in this system will prove difficult, the knife does actually wobble up and down in it's position. which means you have to be seriously careful on thick knives. Not a good thing for a bushcrafter's average 1/4"blades.
Swiss army card knife
Brought up a fantastic finish by clamping the handle rather than the blade but did not reach the full edge by about 2mm.
Small paring type knife
Zero problems, full edge polish.
12" kitchen knife
Rod did not reach tip when gripped at ricasso, not a big problem, just move it up a bit.
BARK river north star
Lots of trouble getting the right placement of jaws because the blade is thick, wobbles a bit and jaws themselves kinda got in the way, however I used a foam backing and went up to to 2000grit wet and dry here to maintain the convex edge. The result was a superior finish with added polishing of the geometry behind the edge making an all around tougher edge.
A penknife khukuri, small but substantial chopper, actually the jaws gripped behind the chopping area quite well because it's quite flat unlike the BRKT which tapers quickly from the spine. Did need to hold the knife edge against one side of the jaws though. Using foam and wet and dry to profile the convex edge seems to work well. I am not finished this yet as i want to reprofile it completely and want to try this method with a thinner but more dense neoprene, it's around here somewhere.
Khukuri small knife
I used to keep this sabre ground but stuck a 30 degree angle on this with no trouble and in no time. It's cheap steel at it's best but might work better now. Finish was only good quality because of the limitation of the steel itself.
I stuck this in there to see if I could match the very fine edge I put on myself with a stone and it could not compete, I reckon the edge I have on it is around 15 degrees, but it is s30v. I might reprofile this blade though, to remove the chip and raise the angle now that I have this kit. The jaws however do not grip this heavy handled blade very well at all and I think the near spine taper makes a big difference. Again.
Cheap knife I picked up years ago because i liked the shape, curved like a regular tanto, but has a tactical tip. The kme whipped around it like no bodies business, even the tip and brought it up to a very nice finish. Didn't take a good polish though because it's probably made in Pakistan.
Shun steak knife, 17°
I decided against the the idea of holding back on my shun knife, it didn't really need it but i'm certainly glad i did. After the arkansas i jumped to wet and dry 2000 and got a really amazing job. Then i cut some fresh scrap kangaroo, loaded it with 1 micron powder stuck it on the back of the thinnest stone and did two strokes on that to finish and holy be jesus, the finishing edge was incredible. Cut through a free hanging hair as long as it had some weight on both sides of the hair.
I go through a lot of rotary blades, 45mm. And thought, well if you line the edge up with the edge of the inner circle it's nearly perfectly 17°. took out some chips easily with the med fine stone the fine arkansas did a good polishing job. Now to sharpen the whole blade like this would take 10 rotations or so but it would save you a lot of money on these for a mere 30 minutes work. And if you kept this up, maybe ten minutes.
Pro - Great for pocket knives and kitchen knives, compact and easy, no skill required and the parts are guaranteed for life.
Cons - Materials could be a little nicer, stones not a great match to each other and jaws have problems on some craftier blades.
Worth the money? Yes, there are some improvements that could be made, and i would recommend getting your own stones but it's probably the best thing in this price range and a stepping stone to far more more precision that a normal stone can offer.
Did a lovely 1 micron polishing job
Last edited by 8thsinner; 12-31-2012 at 07:39 PM.
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Bush Class Basic Certified
Here are two tricks i discovered
How to sharpen leatherman tti on the kme
How to sharpen a small axe on the kme