TESTED: Scary Sharp knife sharpening tool

ALL fishos know the importance of sharp knives. A razor sharp blade is essential for preparing and filleting fish. Most quality knives are sharp when purchased but a few filleting sessions will see them lose their edge.

Various tools and machines are available to put an edge back on your favourite blade but probably the most effective way to keep a knife sharp is by regularly honing it on a wet or oil stone. The key to using a stone effectively is to maintain a constant angle as you hone the blade. This is difficult, almost impossible, to achieve manually, which is why most knives are never as sharp as they could be. The fact is that you just can’t get a perfect edge to your blade if you can’t maintain precise control over the angle as you sharpen it.

That has now all changed following the invention of the Scary Sharp tool by innovative Kiwi Geoff Furborough. Furborough, a keen hunter, has an obvious need for super sharp knives and applied his mechanical and engineering skills to come up with a simple yet highly effective way to maintain a constant angle when sharpening blades. In Geoff’s case, a super sharp blade is vital so he can dress the deer and other game he shoots in NZ’s spectacular wilderness. Like most really clever devices, the Scary Sharp tool is based on a fairly simple concept. In fact, when you first see and use the tool you wonder why the bloody hell you didn’t think of it! It’s basically a stainless steel frame with a sharpening stone set at a desired pre-set angle to suit the knife edge. A machined nylon block supplied with the kit can alter the angle of the stone for final honing of the cutting edge.

The blade is held by two stainless clamps on the facing edge of the frame and is sharpened via the stone carrier (basically a 520mm stainless steel rod with a frame at one end to hold a standard 50x25x200mm stone). The unit is designed to fit in a vice or to be bolted or screwed to the edge of workbench.

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Operation is simple, meaning even unskilled users can create a perfect edge to their knives. You clamp the blade on and position the stone carrier so the bar rests against the nylon block on top of the frame, thus providing a perfect constant angle as you work the stone over the blade. I gave all my fishing knives a good going over with the test Scary Sharp tool, and can report that it was both easy and quick to give them a sharp and fine edge. Even the edge on the battered old knife I use for cutting up berley was restored and is now super sharp.

I’ve mounted the tool on my workbench in the shed and it’s a simple matter to give my knives a quick going over either before or after a trip out. I’m really impressed with the tool’s solid, quality construction – it requires no maintenance and should, in theory, last several lifetimes – and the simple yet incredibly effective design principles behind the concept. It’s a brilliant idea. I asked my mate Ron “Simo” Simpson, a charter boat operator in Jervis Bay, to come over and assess the tool. Simo, like most good charter skippers, prepares and fillets all his clients’ fish. As you’d expect, he is pretty pedantic when it comes to sharp knives. Simo used the Scary Sharp tool to put an edge on a few blades and gave it the thumbs up as being an innovative and effective device.

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JB charter skipper Ron Simpson uses the innovative and effective Scary Sharp tool to put an edge on a filleting knife.

Check out a comprehensive website at for details on how to use and purchase the tool. It costs NZ $350 plus $40 postage and with current exchange rates represents damn good value!

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