High-Tech Sticks

We're having a hard time dragging Al Cambronne out of the Stone Age. But he had good things to say about these A.G. Russell ceramic sharpening sticks.

I'm not much for gadgets, and when it comes to sharpening knives I'm still in the Stone Age. After all, once you've had a little practice, a good sharpening stone is all you need.

But for the final touches on a knife that's already sharp, I've been enjoying the ceramic sharpening sticks from A.G. Russell. Similar models are also available elsewhere, often under the generic name "crock sticks." They make it easy to get an edge that's literally sharp enough to shave with. And because I'm left-handed, this explains the bare patches on my right arm. Just testing.

The wooden base is drilled with two holes for storing the ceramic rods. Just pivot the nifty little door, remove the rods and insert them in the base to make a nice V. Next, slice vertically as though you're trying to scrape a decal off the rods. Be sure to keep your edge at the same consistent angle, as close to vertical as possible. Draw the knife toward you just slightly, making sure to get the entire length of the blade with each stroke. Alternate sides, about a dozen strokes on each side, and you'll quickly have a razor edge. It's as easy as that!

Al Cambronne is the author of Gut It. Cut It. Cook It.: The Deer Hunter's Guide to Processing and Preparing Venison. His most recent book is Deerland: America's Hunt for Ecological Balance and the Essence of Wildness. On Twitter: @AlCambronne.


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