I have long been an advocate for the Spyderco Sharpmaker. If you are looking for a simple high quality knife sharpener, I am still convinced that it is a great option. I have had mine for 5+ years, and continue to use it on a weekly basis.
However, at $50+ at retail, the Sharpmaker isn’t an inexpensive option. I am sure some people just getting into knives and sharpening would prefer a cheaper starting point. I’ve played around with the ultra low budget pull sharpeners, and I would not recommend these unless you were looking for a backup sharpener and wanted to sharpen inexpensive knives.
So the quest for an inexpensive knife sharpener continued, and the Lansky Crock Sticks intrigued me. It’s a similar setup to the Sharpmaker, but for under $15 it is a fraction of the cost. Does it work? How does it compare to the Sharpmaker? These were some of the questions I had going into the review.
What You Get
The Crock Sticks come in a simple clear plastic clamshell package. Inside you have the wood box, which performs double duty as your carrying case and base, 2 medium grit ceramic rods (brown), and 2 fine grit ceramic rods (white).
The box is 2 pieces of wood held together with a screw. Turning the small end cap reveals the ceramic rods. It’s a simple system, but it works.
What I like about this system is that it is simple and compact. It’s smaller than the Sharpmaker and more simple.
The Crock Sticks have 2 sets of holes for 2 edge angles: 20 degrees and 25 degrees. I have most of my knives set at a 40 degree inclusive edge thanks to the Sharpmaker, so that is what I stuck with with my Crock Sticks.
Set up is dead simple. Remove the sharpening rods from the box and set them into the base. You are now ready to sharpen. Just like with the Sharpmaker, the trick is to put the system on a flat and level surface, and then hold the knife perpendicularly to the base. Gently run the edge down one of the rods, and then run the edge down the other side. Make sure you are sharpening from heel to tip, and be careful not to pull the tip “over” the rod as you finish your stroke. Do 10-15 passes per side on the brown medium rods and then repeat the process with the white fine rods.
I have tested my crock sticks over the past few months on a number of folding and fixed blade knives. I have found this works great for basic steels and knives that don’t need to be reprofiled. The ceramic rods work well, but you need something more aggressive for re-profiling or repairing a chipped edge. Lansky does offer a version of the Crock Sticks with diamond rods, much like how Spyderco offers diamond rods for the Sharpmaker. The diamond set costs an extra $10 and I haven’t had a chance to check them out yet.
The nice thing about a rod system like this is that you can also sharpen serrations. You can free-hand sharpen individual serrations with the rod, or you can sharpen both sides of the serrations by sharpening the knife just like you would a plain edge (on both sides with the stones in the base).
Since the sharpening rods are made of porous ceramic, you will need to periodically clean the rods to remove built up metal shavings from the ceramic. I use Bar Keepers Friend for this, but any kind of powder cleaner like Ajax will work.
Lansky Crock Sticks vs. Spyderco Sharpmaker
I am guessing that some readers will want some guidance on whether to buy the Crock Sticks or Sharpmaker. Since the Sharpmaker is 3-4x more expensive than the Crock Sticks I think it’s a valid question.
I actually like these Crock Sticks quite a bit, and think that most people will get a lot of value out of these. The biggest trade off I can see is that the sharpening rods on the Crock Sticks are shorter than the Sharpmaker. This will make it harder to sharpen bigger blades.
There may be some advantage to the triangular stones on the Sharpmaker, but practically speaking I’m not sure I notice a difference. With that said, my Sharpmaker is 6 years old, and I’ve owned my Crock Sticks for maybe 6-8 weeks now.
The Sharpmaker remains the gold standard, but I like these Crock Sticks. Especially at the price point. The Crock Sticks work. If you are just getting started in the hobby or simply want to save money I think you can easily get away with a set of Crock Sticks. If you are into sharpening then my guess is you will eventually want to upgrade to a SharpMaker.
Lansky Crock Sticks Review – Final Thoughts
For under $15 I should have bought a set years ago. These work great for small knives with “regular” steel. This wont be the best fit for a dull S110V blade, or a thrashed machete, but it’s perfect for maintaining small EDC knives with steel like AUS-8, 1095, 154CM, S35VN, CTS-XHP, etc. It is a small and portable system that tucks away into a tool box or kitchen drawer and is dead simple to use.
The Crock Sticks strikes me as a great gift option for someone as well. Knife guys take this for granted, but being able to sharpen your knives is empowering. It breathes new life into tools and enhances your work, whether that is in the kitchen or on the job. For well under $20 you can give this to someone and they can sharpen a knife in 5 minutes with minimal skill or instruction. That’s pretty cool and I can’t say that about any other sharpener I have reviewed. This would be a nice gift for a friend or family member that wants to be able to sharpen knives casually.
I highly recommend the Lansky Crock Sticks. This is a low cost alternative to the Spyderco Sharpmaker that gives you 90% of the utility at a fraction of the price.
I recommend purchasing the Lansky Crock Sticks at Amazon. Please consider that purchasing anything through any of the links on this website helps support BladeReviews.com, and keeps the site going. As always, any and all support is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.