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May 26

Smith’s Pocket Pal Knife Sharpener Review

By The Maj

Let me start this review by saying that I have never been a big fan of pocket sharpeners. I like to keep a very tight edge on most of my blades and in my experience most, if not all pocket sharpeners are only good for a 23 to 25 degree edge on most blades. Typically, my functional knives (pocket knives, multi-tools etc) have a 20 degree edge and my detail knives (filet and deboning) are kept at around 15 degrees. In order to get those degrees you have to be able to adjust the knife to the sharpening surface or adjust the sharpening surface to the knife depending on what type of system that you are using.

Smiths Pocket Pal Review

With that said, let’s look at the specifications for the Smith’s Pocket Pal:

Length: 3 ½ inches

Width: 1 inch

Weight: 1 ounce

The sharpening system for straight blades is a two part system consisting of carbide sharpening rods for very dull blades and ceramic rods for honing/fine tuning blades. Both sets of sharpening rods are reversible and replaceable but there is not an adjustment for the angle of the rods and given the compact design there is not enough room to adjust the knife blade to the rod groove. For serrated edges the pocket sharpener has a fold out, tapered diamond file. The only other feature for this simple, compact, pocket sharpener is an integrated lanyard hole which allows the user to attach it to gear or a belt loop.

The first time I came into contact with the Smith’s Pocket Pal knife sharpener, I was on a hunting trip with a close friend. He had purchased the sharpener to keep in his bag in order to keep from having to carry a stone and he is also a big fan of serrated edged knives. When he broke the sharpener out in the cabin, I immediately asked to see it because I thought it was a new pocket knife. As I inspected it, I was impressed with the compact design and light weight but when I took my knife out and just laid the blade into the carbide groove, I could tell that the angle was more than 20 degrees. I handed the sharpener back and he proceeded to run the blade of his skinning knife through the carbide groove and when he checked it after a few passes, he proclaimed that it was actually making the knife dull. After he toyed with the sharpener for a little longer, I retrieved a pack axe from my bag and ran it through the pocket sharpener to show him the difference between angles because the sharpener actually worked on the pack axe which had a thicker blade. Frustrated, my friend retrieved the stone we always keep in the cabin and went to work on his knife.

I was still intrigued by the little pocket sharpener, so I asked my friend if I could take it home with me and give it a try. Since he had paid less than $10.00 for it and it did not work for him, he gave it to me. I was looking at the sharpener from a different angle than my friend and I thought that it might actually have some uses in a bugout situation. When I got home, I took some old pocket knives that were very dull and ran them through the carbide rods until the blade adjusted to the 23 degree angle of the rods. Thicker blade knives adjusted quicker than the thinner blades, but each blade eventually worked into a decent edge. I then ran those same blades through the ceramic rods and since they were adjusted to the angles of the rods at this point it did not take long to hone the edges to a workable condition. The edges would definitely not impress a knife aficionado but they were definitely better edges than when I started. I also ran two machetes, a hatchet, and spear point through the carbide rods during my test run and as I had demonstrated to my friend earlier, the thicker blades on these items benefited from the 23 degree angle of the sharpening rods.

Next, I moved to the fold out, tapered diamond file that was part of pocket sharpener and worked out two serrated blades and a pack saw. The diamond file worked on all three, but as with any file work I had to be patient and careful as I went. While the file worked, I was not overly impressed with the attachment of the file to the pocket sharpener and even though it did not break during my tests, it would not have surprised me if it would have. The file has fine threads that screw down into a plastic pivot arm and with repeated use that pivot arm will give way. On my test model, the plastic around the threads discolored after sharpening those three items, which is a sure sign of plastic fatigue and eventual breakage. However, even if the file does break loose, you will still have the file which you can still use.

Based on my tests, the Smith’s Pocket Pal sharpener gets mixed reviews from me. On the one hand, no sharpening system will ever replace a stone for me, so I would not purchase it when considering it in an everyday use perspective. However, in a survival situation, I believe this little pocket sharpener does have some value. It is compact, light weight, and works on straight blades, heavy blades, serrated blades and wide tooth saw blades. After my tests, I purchased three (one for the bugout bag, one for the vehicle and one to fit in a knife case) for bugout situations. At a price of less than $10.00 they provide options for when a stone may not be available.

 

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5 comments

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  1. jason

    When you visit your local butcher you will never see him using a knife sharpener. He uses a steel and he will use it frequently during the day in order to keep his knives as sharp as possible. The cutting edge of a blade is extremely thin and using a steel will re-shape any very small dents or kinks in the blade and basically stroke it back into shape. Technically, in order to keep your blade sharp for as long as you can, you should use a steel every time you use the knife.

    1. The Maj

      The carbon rods in this sharpener serve the same purpose as a steel which is to hone the blades. Also, most butchers utilize a high carbon / low alloy blade in their knives for which steeling works well. Steeling does not work as well on hardened steel knives, like most utility or pocket knives.

  2. Daniel

    Thanks for the review. I owned a smiths pocket knife sharpener, but mainly for the convenience i get from using it – and for a quick service to some on my not so savvy neighbours, but i have not had too much faith into using one to sharpen the higher end blades – i use an electrical one for them. Your detailed review gave me some ideas on how to use it more often…

    1. PJ

      I agree it was a good review and thank Maj for the contribution. I too own the sharpener and used it this morning. It might not be remotely near the best option for sharpening a blade, but when considering the cost/ease of use and the fact that I use in on a $25 Gerber what is there to lose?

    2. The Maj

      I would not consider using this sharpener on any of my carving or filet blades but for the harder and thicker utility blades, it will do the trick when other sharpening options are not available. For a bugout bag (when space and weight have to be considered), it is hard to beat a sharpener like this even though the design on the attachment of the file could be better.

      Appreciate the comment and input.

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