Over the holiday Steve and I visited the Smoky Mountain Knife Works. It's on that giant, congested strip of attractions in Sevierville, TN, and it's a very... outdoorsy store, so I didn't have high expectations of finding anything for me. But ooooh we had a great time. I've never seen so many knives and tools and the staff were super knowledgeable and friendly and helpful and we were there for hours learning and shopping.
The inexpensive folding pocket reed knife I purchased didn't end up working out for me. It had the right shape, and I loved the size, and I felt like a real bada$$ whipping it out of my pocket to scrape a reed - but once I started really working I couldn't keep an edge on it and fell out of love pretty quickly. I'm on the lookout for another folding option, though, now that I see what is possible.
I DID discover a spectacular sharpening stone which is about to become my primary tool - and for a crazy low price and in a teensy travel size.
I've experimented with diamond stones before but haven't found one this fine. The coarser ones I've used have made a fairly jagged edge on my knife - no good for reed-making. So I generally work with diamond stones only to reset a VERY dull knife, and follow that up with substantial work on my finer grit stones. This tiny green strip, though, is giving me a terrific edge on my (already sharp) knife, with only a few light swipes. I find that I'm addicted to the burr it gives me, and it's so easy to achieve that I swipe much more frequently than I did before, but that doesn't make me resentful at all. It doesn't feel like having to WORK to keep an edge on, more like choosing to use the absolute best edge I can have instead of the adequate blade I already had.
And for my purposes, as a traveling oboist and teacher, the tiny size is a huge bonus. It's even smaller and lighter than the spyderco doublestuff stone which I have always sworn by. I don't see myself actually attaching it to my keychain - but I COULD. That's the size.
I've only been using it for a week or so, but I'm all in at this point. Great sharpener, great price, everything I need.
Happy January to us all - it's time to get back to work!
Update: my previous post on knife sharpening is HERE.
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