In the knife aficionado and fanatic circles, we talk a lot about knives, but seldom do we delve deeply into discussion of knife sharpeners. This has always struck me as quite odd. We’ll spend thousands of dollars on cutlery (sometimes only on one knife!), but rarely go into what is required to upkeep said knives.
When it comes to sharpening, I admittedly am a bit of a mixed bag. I’m happy using tools on both ends of the sharpening spectrum: from modern and industrial with 2×72 belt grinders, to going real old school with Japanese waterstones. I briefly looked into the Wicked Edge platform, but honestly, the price scared me away.
The Hapstone sharpening system is dragging me into this world of contraptions, and whilst I have reservations over how time consuming this set up is to use effectively, I cannot deny the results. I spent 20 or so minutes doing a basic test on my Spyderco UKPK and the results were extremely impressive.
Hapstone Pro Manual Knife Sharpener – eBay
If you have seen the Edge Pro system, you know the game here. The sharpener is basically a slanted platform with a guiding rod that holds abrasive stones.
With that said, it’s all in the detail. Not all systems are created equal, and Wicked Edge being profitable whilst charging $850 bucks is testament to that fact. A dependable platform that produces extreme results will find a fan base no matter the cost, and realistically, whilst I cannot justify $850 bucks for a sharpener – I can definitely see people with extremely rare customs not giving the price a second glance!
But enough of the Wicked Edge – the Hapstone Pro is thankfully not that expensive, and whilst it’s still not cheap, I think the construction and general feature set make this sharpener a genuinely great value product, all things considered. The price? $200 bucks for the bare bones edition, with significant increases based on optional stones you may want thrown into the mix. Not the sort of purchase one makes on a whim, but definitely in safe territory (and let’s be honest, about the price of one of those titanium framelocks in your collection.
Right off the bat, the build quality of the Hapstone Pro is ridiculous. This is a Russian designed and produced product, and I hate to be the guy with the stereotypes, but… it shows. We are talking bomb proof people. When it arrived in the mail, I was confused by how heavy the package was, and wondered what on earth they’d bundled in!
This is one heavy, heavy piece of kit. Precision machined steel and aluminium parts galore – this ain’t a cheap plastic toy. I don’t think it’s really possible to break this thing, and Hapstone is quite happy to provide you with a limited lifetime warranty for that reason; it’s very little risk for them after all. The only way the Hapstone Pro will suffer failures is if you shoot it, and even then, large caliber only!
Assembly was pretty straightforward and Hapstone provide a set of tools (magnetically held; nice touch) on the base of the sharpener. Took around 5 minutes just matching parts with the picture on the front of the manual. No issues whatsoever. Each part of the Hapstone Pro is machined nicely and everything fits together perfectly.
I considered (for a split second) going through each part individually for this review, but then I remembered that I value both my sanity and my readers’ patience. Needless to say, it’s a complicatedly simple structure. Once it’s assembled, it’s almost beautiful in its simplicity, but you are dealing with quite a few bobs and pieces to slot together initially.
That black rubber rectangle on the end? It’s where the blade eventually sits. It’s a rubberized magnet base, and I was beyond impressed with how well it worked. The orange plate can be used to clamp the blade into place, and whilst I did do that for this review, honestly, for a light EDC folder it’s not a prerequisite. The magnet is strong enough to handle most sub 4 inch blade knives without risking any wobble (at least in my experience).
As I was putting this overbuilt slab together, I began to muse about expectations. This in a lot of ways is how I imagine a MiG designer would crank out a knife sharpener. It’s so heavy duty, and yet so precise, that I found myself impressed even before using the tool. Take the rod in the picture below. It screws into the base and then they added a nut. Not a lil’ nut, a heavy duty one, just to make sure this thing is super solid.
When it comes to flaws (perceived or otherwise) I feel the general sense of Hapstone’s thinking was that they could just overbuild it. Everything is just so ridiculously solid that I find myself handling my Japanese waterstones feeling as though they’re a smidgen lightweight, and not robust enough. As a prepper, I think this is pretty much the most overbuilt precision sharpening system you can buy which has inherent appeal – it can fit over a 100+ different stones, including the Apex Edge ones. Its versatility, whilst maintaining tight tolerances and precision, is the sort of thing I think preppers and “lifetime tool” people will gyrate towards.
Contrary to the way things look in these pictures, the guiding nut (I can’t think of a better way to describe it) is in fact dead center once it is installed. Really smart design decision there. The nut is also encased in what seems to be a giant phosphor bronze bushing/sheath. Not sure if it’s worth discussing, but I find these little details interesting, and it certainly justifies the price for me. If all I had was two rods and a base with no visible complexity I would be hard pressed to say that this is worth $200+, even if the performance was rock solid.
It’s an odd thing to think about because surely performance should be all that matters, but materials and complexity does force one to re-evaluate “value.” Take the CRKT Drifter for instance. The tolerances and performance are beyond reproach (at least in my example) and yet it’s a sub $30 knife, which to me is good value. But what if it was priced at $200? Then it would be a big no-no for me. Yet if you made the scales out of titanium and threw in a fancy alphabet steel, it would magically become “worth it.” It’s naive to be a reviewer and pretend we are unbiased to social perception. “Feel” and materials matter, even if they don’t add much to performance in the grand scheme of things, and the Hapstone checks off all of my preconceived notions of how a $200-300 sharpener should feel, even before I start to put an edge on my knife.
All assembled, isn’t she pretty? Nice wood handle for the primary rod & lovely color scheme throughout. It’s very professional looking as opposed to the slurry of plastic Edge Pro knock offs we have seen everywhere recently. This looks and feels like the real deal.
The Deluxe edition comes with an electronic angle measurement add-on (which you can also buy separately). Mine is the version without it, and frankly, it’s not something I obsess over. This review may appear to be shockingly amateurish, but I have sharpened literally thousands of knives and I am quite happy to eyeball the angles myself. You will notice that I don’t even bother to sharpie the edge up (the sharpener comes with a marker for the edge and its use is recommended). This is a personal preference and frankly it’s non-optimal, but that’s the way I do things, no apologies.
The rod that holds the rod (heh) comes with machined markers for some preset angles. I kept mine at the 22 degree setting as per the manual and the results were satisfactory for an initial test. Obviously, as time passes I will experiment further, but I think 22 degrees for an everyday folder is a solid choice.
Hapstone provides a bottle of honing oil. Now I know this is going to create some debate, but personally I despise using honing oil. In my experience, if you put honing oil on a stone, you have to literally boil the stuff out if you ever want to go dry or use water afterward. If you start off with water you can change to oil at a later date – nothing needed to be done to the stone in between. My advise is to stick to water with a smidgen of soap mixed in.
You can also run the stones dry for the lower grits, but personally I stick to water, as I like the slurry it develops. As someone who started off using waterstones, old habits die hard I guess!
Edit: Gritomatic informed us that the bottle of oil provided is actually not for the stones, but rather, to lubricate the pivot unit with. It’s manufactured by Brunox.
The stones I have are the Silicon Carbide ones. Gritomatic (the retailer that sent me the Hapstone Pro to review) does offer an extreme amount of choice with leather strop, glass stones, Japanese waterstones, diamond stones, and aluminium oxide stones (made in the USA by Boride Abrasives). The stones provided are made in Russia, and are pre-lapped (thank God, I have zero interest in lapping Silicon Carbide stones out of the box), and in my experience are extremely high grade.
Silicon Carbide is the optimum choice (outside of diamond) for modern PM steels, as they remove metal quickly, even at higher hardness (60+ HRC).
Now back to the magnet. It’s solid, as I mentioned before. No issues using just the magnet to hold the blade in place, although the clamp is there if you want or need it.
Spyderco UKPK UK Pen Knife Folding EDC – Amazon
I hate to repeat myself, but the fit and finish on the Hapstone Pro is really quite something. It’s reassuringly heavy, and using this tool is very pleasing. Nothing worse than roughly machined knobs on a precision instrument, but thankfully Hapstone paid attention to all details (from what a couple of weeks with it has taught me).
Ready to rock, blade is braced in the correct position. I chose the UKPK because it needed sharpening, but this tool can handle pretty much any sized knife, and even axe heads. The base is so heavy that mounting a 9 inch chopper like my Ontario Marine Raider Bowie would not be an issue in terms of stability.
Slotting the stones in is trivial. Spring latch and an almost ridiculous theoretical length limit. This could fit 6 inch Japanese waterstones easily with how over sized the rod is (travel distance would not be an issue), and the strength of the spring would happily hold it in place. I don’t like proprietary systems, as the idea of having an expensive sharpener, but no viable stones available rubs me the wrong way. With the Hapstone Pro sharpener, it’s never going to happen. Yes, you could stick to buying all your stones from Gritomatic, but there is zero obligation to do so, and I like that.
When I say options, I quite literally mean this thing can support thousands of stones, from Spyderco to KME, to DMT, and more. The list is endless. Is it 4 inches to 8 inches and rectangular? Then it’s an option, and options are good my friends!
The spring isn’t so taunt that you can’t quick change the stone. It’s a solid compromise in terms of usability, and I have zero complaints.
The manual advises pulling the stones away from the edge. I know some people differ on this, but I am inclined to agree, and this is what I did. For the sake of you (my wonderful readers) I stood in that position to give you a better idea of how it looks “in action.” In practice, away from my wife’s camera, I would be facing the knife edge on, and not stand behind it. Not that this is an unsafe way to sharpen. Unlike the Wicked Edge with its dual-handed action, I always feel in control. Yes, it’s slower going, but I need not ever worry about getting cut.
A nice fresh edge at a low grit. Very even and smooth from the ricasso to the tip of the knife. As someone who can sometimes rush when sharpening on a waterstone, it is very pleasant to see such a uniform result. You can definitely get some symmetrical mirror edges with this platform – perfect for all your showing-off-on-Instagram needs (I have seen those pictures, don’t you deny it).
Flip the knife to the other side, and repeat with all grits as needed. I would advise keeping track of how many “pulls” you have done on each side so the edge is even. This is especially important with abrasives like Silicon Carbide, as it’s scary how quickly you can eat away steel.
I am one of those people who considers knife sharpening to be a relaxing hobby. There is something very freeing in devoting all your mental energy to achieving a singular goal. It’s nice way to block out the rest of the world. I was worried that using the Hapstone Pro sharpener would be too clinical compared to just using a waterstone, but in practice I found it very pleasant to use such a precise device using simple movements.
There’s a philosophical lesson to be learned there. Something about a girl called Zen and how you should strive to spend time with her.
Quick switch to a higher grit. You don’t need to cycle through every single grit, but I did because this is a review. outside of this review I would go 400, 600, 1000, ceramic, and finally, leather strop. My kit did not include finer grits than 1000 (sadly) so I can’t comment on that. I would definitely have liked a ceramic stone and/or a leather strop to give me that super shiny result.
Remember to always wipe off the slurry when changing stones. You don’t want those abrasive particles to mix in with different grits. Imagine the carnage a 220 grit slurry would do to a 1000 grit stone? Eek.
As you can see below, the slurry piles on nicely over the edge – that’s the only visual feedback I use. I know some people go all out and use a marker on the edge so they can see how much they have removed, but I guess I am old fashioned and just go with what my eyes, fingertips, and gut tell me.
Up to a 1000 grit, 20 passes on the final stone (10 on the previous ones) each side, and it was hair shaving sharp. It took all of 15 minutes and the edge was perfectly uniform and razor sharp.
But I chase that mirror bling, so out came the strop, and after a few passes, it definitely improved the cutting performance (marginally) and the aesthetic of the edge (significantly). I don’t know why, but I want my edge to reflect light like all the cool kids’ knives on Instagram. I know its become ever so vogue over the past decade to seek aesthetic bias as opposed to performance, but I will be damned if I haven’t been suckered in.
Much nicer afterward. Sadly the lens Elise has on her 5D mark II (the 50 mm 1.8) doesn’t like to focus up close, so until the sexy new (to us) 24 mm 1.4 option we just ordered arrives (which isn’t a macro, but hey, should be better!), this is as close as you will get, and you will have to take me on my word that this is a very pretty edge.
When you are done, clean everything up quickly with a tissue, and you can disassemble the sharpener for storage, or like me, just keep it in the closet ready to go (because, let’s be real, for a sharpener it’s very pretty and no doubt you will use it enough to make reassembly too much of a hassle).
I would say it’s almost like a piece of industrial modern art. In the future I may store it on a shelf, and I can expect visitors to be inquisitive as to what this contraption is. I know the way it looks is secondary (by a huge margin) to its performance, but I really do appreciate the construction and materials used.
In conclusion, the Hapstone is an Edge Pro on steroids. The build is bombproof solid – something you would certainly expect from detail-oriented Russians, and the price is (in my opinion) extremely good value for what you get.
This is not the sort of platform where you pay a huge mark up for proprietary technology or artificial scarcity – you definitely get your monies’ worth, and if you are in the market for a precision sharpener that will outlive you (and the planet after WWIII), but with the benefit of flexibility through insane stone choice, then this is a solid recommendation.
As someone who has machined stuff on a CNC machine in the past, I find it very hard to recommend options like the Wicked Edge due to is exorbitant cost relative to materials and machining time. I just can’t stomach it. But with the Hapstone Pro sharpener, I can feel where the money is going, which makes a huge difference (at least for me).
Currently, you can only pick this up from Gritomatic. I am pretty sure you can buy through Amazon, as they seem to have a listing up there, but in case you cannot, stop by their website if you’re interested in grabbing one (it might end up being cheaper purchasing that way, anyway).