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Saturday, 30 March 2024 16:49

ViperSharp Featured

Written by

ViperSharp is one of those companies that's born out of trying to solve a problem. It's a story of ingenuity, determination, and building a better mousetrap.... or sharpener. Owner Mike Wood purchased a sharpener based off of a recommendation. The sharpener did a good job but he noticed some design limitations that caused frustration during sharpening. At first, he sought out to fix those problems on his sharpener, not realizing other systems existed or that some of those limitations were solved. As he went down the rabbit hole, he noted more issues that needed solving, why fix a broken system when you really need to do is go back to the drawing board.

Mike spent over a year working on designs and prototyping, learning more about machining than he expected. His end product is a system that fixes those shortcomings he noticed on that sharpener as well as others in the industry. His goal was to create a tool that offered the precision he wanted and was built to last a lifetime. The end result is a system that's American made and will deliver a perfect angle every time. Today we're checking out the ViperSharp diamond sharpening system, will it make the cut?

Included in the diamond setup are the following items:

Complete ViperSharp Assembly

1200 Grit Diamond Hone

600 Grit Diamond Hone

400 Grit Diamond Hone

250 Grit Diamond Hone

Leather strop

Stone base

Plano GunGuard Case

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The system comes packed in a locking case with foam padding similar to other systems. I like when companies take the effort to offer something like this to their customers. After all what good is a system that can break down if you cannot adequately store it. Taking the system out of the box I didn't feel a sense of overwhelm like some systems I've checked out. The parts are easy to assemble and rather straight forward, instructions are included if you do get stumped though. I like the little 3D printed accessories that comes with the ViperSharp. There's a stone holder, and an Allen key holder that's on the side of the system. Allen keys are used on sharpening systems a lot, and rarely does one give you a place to keep it handy. I put the system together per instructions and checked things out before I put this system to work.

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Before I get started, I want to go over the anatomy of the system. ViperSharp uses different wording of various parts that I've become familiar with.

Clamp assembly = place the knife is clamped into to sharper

Outer sleeve = the main part of the system that's attached to the base

Riser = the angle adjuster for the system

Clamp receiver = this is part of the outer sleeve. It has a channel in which the clamp assembly slides into.

Stone carriage = self-explanatory, with some other systems it's called the stone holder.

Ok, so let's jump into this thing, and sharpen up some blades, and see how the ViperSharp fairs. I'm going to try a few knives of different thickness, because some clamp sharpeners cannot do really thin blades or have trouble with full flat grinds.

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Clamping a knife in the jaws is done via an allen bolt on the top of the clamp. I appreciate the rubber padding on the inside of the jaws, it helps keep things from shifting, and keeps your blades from getting scratched. The variety of knives I sharpened with the system have locked in pretty good. With some blade shapes, especially those with a taper or narrow spine really had to be cranked down. There's no one size fits all solution for clamping knives with different grinds. Each knife requires you to find a good clamping spot that centers the blade and keeps things from wiggling. Flipping or rotating the clamp is not the same as other systems. With the ViperSharp Mike has a sliding clamp that reminds me of tongue and groove. You slide the clamp out and flip things around and then back in again. There is a small thumb screw on the clamp receiver that's designed to help remove any wiggle in the clamp. Due to its design it has to be easy for the customer to slide the clamp in and out. As a result, it's not the tightest of tolerances, and I think something like wire EDM would have really increased production costs.

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I really like the stone carriage on the ViperSharp system, it's smooth in operation and is comfortable to use. The pivot on top of the riser is nicely done and reminds me a lot of what TSProf uses. The system comes with two stop collars so you can prevent your stone from traveling too far in either direction. Unlike some other systems the stone carriage has a ball on top rather than on the end. I feel a system with a handle or ball on the end gives you a pushing motion when sharpening. As where this top mounted ball feels more like I'm directing the stone and not pushing it into the steel. When sharpening with diamonds you want just the weight of the stone being used, too often we feel we need to apply force to remove material. The way the carriage holds the stone is totally unique to the ViperSharp system. Rather than some sort of spring-loaded clamp, the system uses stones that have a plastic clip that snaps into the carriage. It works really well, and I didn't think there was any wiggle between the two. The only downside is the system can only use the stones included. 6-inch stones are the industry standard for sharpening systems, with the exception of KME and Work Sharp. Mike's proprietary system is neat, but it prevents customers from having anything other than what's provided by the company.

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The diamonds stones work really well and do a good job removing material for reprofiling or fixing edge damage. The progression of the stones from 250 to 1200 worked well at refining the scratch pattern and cleaning up edges. Some companies have sets that have a more gradual progression in grits, but the 4 produced do a good job. The systems 4-inch stones can feel rather limiting when doing larger blades. I had to do a sideways slide to compensate for the length of the stone, making sure I didn't run out of real estate. The stones didn't get clogged during testing and they cleaned up super easy with a little soap and water. The systems leather strop doesn't come loaded with any type of compound. I have some chromium oxide, and I loaded up the strop to polish the edges and reduce burr. I think if the system includes a strop, it should come preloaded, or some compound should come with it. It's a small detail, and the compound will do a better job than straight leather.

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The ViperSharp system created clean edges that are extremely sharp. But I do have an issue in regard to angle consistency. Talking with Mike he says one of the drawbacks of his removable clamp, is that the knife has to be similar in thickness to the back shelf on the clamp. It has to do with one side of the clamp being stationary with the other moving. The top of the shelf was designed to be the center point, and different factors in its design slightly effect angle. Does this matter to most folks? Probably not. A difference in angle by a degree or so is not going to change edge performance enough for most people to notice. If your wanting sharp edges, then this will absolutely produce those results. If you really scrutinize your edges for consistency and perfectly crisp lines, this may not be the system for you.

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The ViperSharp is a neat system that does things differently than the rest of the crowd. But it's not without its flaws and does what's advertised. Mike is a one-man operation, who goes above and beyond with customer service. I respect a man who had a dream and saw it to completion. So many of us have an idea or product that can make a difference in the world. But often we don't take that leap and kill that dream. If you're looking for something different and want to support a small company check out ViperSharp.

 

David Bowen

As Co Founder of Multitool.org David has been a multitool enthusaist since the 90's.  David has always been fascinated with the design inginuity and uselfulness of multitools.

David is always looking forward to what's new in the industry and how the humble multitool continues to evolve as it radically changes and improves the lives of users.

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