What is the Scary Sharp System

The scary sharp system is a method of sharpening knives, woodworking tools, or any other type blade using abrasive sandpaper or lapping film instead of conventional methods such as whetstones, oilstones or grinding machines.

The system is a simple sharpening process that typically consist of 3 major components - 

  1. Abrasive - A sandpaper or lapping film type abrasive
  2. Sharpening Surface - A smooth, perfectly flat hard surface such as glass or granite
  3. Honing Guide - To set and control the proper sharpening angle

1. The Abrasives

There are several type of abrasives that can be used for the scary sharp system. They range from everyday woodworking sandpaper to industrial strength lapping, microfinishing and diamond abrasives.

These abrasives are manufactured with extremely hard materials such as aluminum oxide, silicon carbide and even diamonds. These materials cut fast and after worn down, they are discarded and replaced with a fresh abrasive.

Lapping film industries

Industrial Strength Abrasives

Lapping, microfinishing and diamond abrasives are used in demanding resurfacing applications such as aerospace, automotive, fiber optics, etc. 


2. The Sharpening Surface

The abrasive sandpaper or sharpening film is applied to a hard, perfectly flat surface to create a smooth sharpening platform. Plate glass is commonly used for this. It's important that the surface is not only perfectly smooth and flat but also hard enough to support steel blades and chisels. Heavy plate glass isn't expensive and is perfect for this type of sharpening.

Plate glass for sharpening

Heavy Plate Glass

With it's perfectly flat, smooth surface, plate glass is an ideal sharpening surface for the scary sharp system.



3. The Honing Guide

There are many types of honing guides and jigs used for sharpening ranging in price from $10 to $100 and above. They vary somewhat in how they operate and the way the blade or chisel is secured but they all are designed to help you control the desired angle of the blade while sharpening. You can also find DIY plans for building your own sharpening jig. When choosing a honing guide make sure it will support the size of blade or chisel you will be sharpening.

The sharpening process

The sharpening involves holding the cutting area of the chisel or plane iron or knife to the abrasive and gently moving in either side to side or back to front motions, as one would with a whetstone. A more coarse grit or micron is used first and then finer and finer grades as the sharpening process continues. This produces an extremely sharp edge in a relatively sort amount of time.

Scary Sharp System

What are the advantages of the scary sharp system?

Simplicity - Anyone possessing sandpaper or abrasive film and a flat surface can sharpen any cutting tool. 

Effective - The scary sharp system produces extremely sharp edges on knives, blades and chisels. 

Fast - A fresh sheet of lapping film or sandpaper often cuts significantly faster than a stone. You can sharpen immediately without having to soak, prep or flatten a stone. And the availability of more grades results in faster, more precise sharpening.  

Inexpensive - Compared to most other sharpening systems, the scary sharp system is lower in cost.