The Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition Knife & Tool Sharpener MK.2

by Tommy Grant

Seven years ago, Work Sharp partnered with legendary knife designer Ken Onion to release the Knife & Tool Sharpener. The system utilized flexible abrasive belt technology, and the base model included a Triangle Cassette Sharpener with an adjustable sharpening guide. However, for those with a little more experience, the company also offered the blade grinding attachment for freehand sharpening. The system revolutionized the home knife sharpening game. Over the past seven years, Ken and Work Sharp have evaluated ways to make the system better and now offer the MK.2.

The Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition MK.2 Knife Sharpening System

I have been using the Ken Onion Knife Sharpening System with Blade Grinding Attachment since it first came out. From the first time I used it I couldn’t see any reason to ever switch to another sharpening system. Then Work Sharp came out with the MK.2. Unlike many updated products, the MK.2 really came with a lot of excellent changes.

At the heart of the system is the 7-speed motor, which received an overhaul for better ergonomics and easier operation. The handle now fits the hand a little better, and repositions the controls for one-handed operation.

Although the trigger is still in the same location, the Continuous Run button is now on the top of the handle. As a result, starting the motor and locking it in continuous run mode can be done with the same hand. Likewise, the button to deactivate continuous run and power the unit down is located in the same area.

The Motor Speed Control buttons are located in the same panel for easy one-handed operation. The panel features seven speeds and displays seven LEDs to indicate your set speed. It is recommended that you use speeds 1-3 for knives and 4-7 for tools.

The top of the handle now houses the speed controls, continuous run button, and power button for one-handed operation.

“The Ken Onion Edition Knife and Tool Sharpener has faithfully served hundreds of thousands of customers for a decade now, and while we’re proud of the service this product has delivered, it was time for a refresh,” says Product Line Manager Steve Baker.

“Relying on our experience, as well as years of customer feedback, we went back to the drawing board to collaborate with Ken Onion again to modify and improve on the products’ existing form. We’re excited about the result and are confident that the Ken Onion MK.2 will deliver on our promise of performance, value, and reliability.”

Standard Triangle Cassette Sharpener

The Ken Onion MK.2 is available in two different options—a stand-alone system (with triangle cassette sharpener) or the MK.2 Elite (with Belt Grinding Attachment).

The Triangle Cassette Sharpener features a new scope click adjustment knob positioned on top for better visualization during adjustments. Providing 0.5° precision click settings, the knob allows for any edge angle from 15° to 30°. Correspondingly, the angle guides are now lined with leather to prevent blade scratching and lean back to clear the way for thumb studs. Additionally, the edge guide supports the blade from heel to tip for better control and precision.

The Triangle Cassette Sharpener makes sharpening easy for people new to sharpening.

Utilizing flexible abrasive belt technology, the Triangle Cassette Sharpener includes five belts of progressive grits. The belts include P120 (extra-course), X65 (course), X22 (medium), X4 (fine), and 6000 (extra-fine) to take any sharpening task from start to hair popping sharp. When changing the belts, users of the MK.1 will notice the MK.2’s upgraded belt tensioner, which now locks back. This is a huge upgrade from the previous model.

Blade Grinding Attachment

The Elite Package includes the Blade Grinding Attachment (BGA) for more experienced sharpeners, providing full control over the sharpening process. I have used the Blade Grinding Attachment since it came out and can attest that the biggest changes are here. There are so many changes to this attachment that it is hard to determine where to start.

Right off the bat, the upgraded BGA features a similar form factor to the original, but only at a base level. The new BGA now has a cover plate over the side of the belt for additional safety.

The Work Sharp Ken Onion Blade Grinding Attachment offers full control and received a lot of updates.

Like the original, the updated attachment still includes the front reference plate to establish the proper hold on your knife. However, there is now a rear reference plate that can be raised or lowered to your desired height. So, now you can set your grip just above the sharpening plane. Not to mention, the rear plate couples with a 90° platen grinder for a variety of tools.

Adjusting the grind angle is incredibly easy with the new BGA. Unlike the original, where you adjusted the angle with the pully, the new model has a knob at the front of the unit. Likewise, the indicator is visible from the top now, so you can see your adjustments—from 10° to 35°—from above.

Adjusting the grind angle on the Blade Grinding Attachment is much easier now and the angle indicator is now visible from above.

In addition, the front pully is now adjustable for three convex grind settings—brilliant!

Like the Triangle Cassette Sharpener, the BGA comes with five belts with progressive grits. The grits include P120 (extra-course), X65 (course), X22 (medium), X4 (fine), and 12000 (ultra-fine).

On the original MK.1, to change the belt, you had to hold the belt tensioner back. However, on the new MK.2, the belt tensioner locks back for faster, easier changes. I absolutely love this.

Using the Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition MK.2

Having used the MK.1 for years, when I first got the MK.2 I noticed that it was so familiar, yet so different, at the same time. I was stoked to get to work with it.

As you would expect, although much easier to use than the original, the Triangle Cassette Sharpener was very straightforward. If people are new to sharpening with a system like this, I recommend starting here.

For my purposes, I had a Benchmade Bugout that was in desperate need of some attention. So, I removed the Triangle Cassette Sharpener and replaced it with the Blade Grinding Attachment. Swapping between the two attachments was very easy and required no tools.

Attaching the Blade Grinding Attachment to the Work Sharp Ken Onion MK.2 is easy and doesn’t require any tools.

I will admit that the belt support flange threw me off a bit at first. The motor shaft was exposed on the original system, so installing the flange with the BGA already attached was easy. However, on the MK.2, the face plate covers the motor shaft, so it is hard to get to. Then I looked at the instructions and realized that you install it first, then place the BGA on the base. Instructions for the win.

Making Dull Things Sharp Again

When it was time to get to work, I turned the unit on and locked it on Continuous Run. I love the new location of this feature. Then, I set my speed to three and adjusted my angle. I was able to complete all of these steps quickly and easily without bending over or using two hands. This is how it’s done.

The author appreciates how much easier and faster the sharpening process is with the new Work Sharp Ken Onion MK.2.

After a few initial passes, I started using the rear reference plate and loved how close it is to the sharpening plane. This will make life very easy for anyone new to this kind of sharpening. Additionally, swapping between belts was so much easier with the new lock back feature on the tensioner.

The new Work Sharp Ken Onion MK.2 now has a rear reference plate.

Everything about the new MK.2 is designed to make using it faster and easier. My knife was hair-popping sharp in three-quarters the time it used to take with the MK.1. The MK.1 was an incredible system, and I used it exclusively for years. However, the MK.2 takes the entire operation to the next level.

Work Sharp and Ken Onion Do it Again

I’ve known Ken Onion for many years and can attest that he’s a mad genius when it comes to innovation. The new Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition Knife & Tool Sharpener MK.2 is a testament to that fact. If you are anything like me, you have a lot of knives and like to keep them sharp. With that in mind, I can’t recommend the MK.2 enough.

“I am proud to be affiliated with this company. I am proud of all the projects we have worked on together; because I know how much love and heart, and compassion goes into everything Work Sharp does,” said Ken Onion.

The first 500 Blade Grinding Attachments are also numbered and signed by Ken Onion himself. However, only 450 will be available online. The other 50 will be available at Blade Show Atlanta. So, you want to buy yours early.

Full disclosure: once your friends see how sharp your knives are, you will be sharpening a lot of knives.

For more information, please visit WorkSharpTools.com.

My knife was hair-popping sharp in three-quarters the time it used to take with the MK.1.

Ken Onion Edition Knife & Tool Sharpener Mk.2™ Features

  • Flexible Abrasive Belts: Versatility to sharpen any knife quickly. 6 grits included.
  • Adjustable Sharpening Guide 15°- 30°: Precision sharpness & consistency on every knife.
  • Leather lined Sharpening Guides protect blades from scratching.
  • Edge Guide: Supports the blade when sharpening all the way to the tip.
  • 7-Speed Motor: Low speed and high torque for sharpening control, high-speed for grinding power.
  • Electronic Speed Control: LED indicators provide consistent belt speed and repeatable results.
  • Belt Tensioner Lock Out makes belt changes quick and easy.

Blade Grinding Attachment Mk.2 Features

  • 3 Convex Grind Settings: Adjustable Edge Profiles to create the exact edge you want.
  • 1” x 18” Flexible Abrasive Belts: Versatility to sharpen any knife quickly. 6 grits included.
  • 10° to 35° Adjustable Angles: Precision sharpness & consistency on every knife.
  • 3 Convex Grind Settings: Adjustable Edge Profiles to create the exact edge you want.
  • Angle Adjustment Knob: Quickly set precise angles from 10° to 35° at the turn of a dial
  • 90° Grind Plate & Spring Platen: Grind knife spines or reprofile blades quickly with no chatter
  • Designed, Calibrated, Quality Checked in Ashland Oregon
  • 3 Year Warranty.

MSRP: $199.95 (base), $299.95 (Elite)

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