Contributors to this thread:
Sharpening VPA carbon vented broadheads
I followed Rick Barbee's youtube video about sharpening and I can't even get them as sharp as in the package. The only thing I wasn't sure about is my ceramic rod is "medium" which is 800 grit apparently. I don't think that's fine enough, but I'm also thinking I should get a diamond or wet stone that's 1000+ grit or a leather strop, not just to get them razor sharp, but it's also extremely difficult to not round the point off with the rod. I've never sharpened broadheads before. I've only been doing archery for a couple years, and use a work sharp to sharpen my knives so it's all new to me. Any help out there would be nice.
I use a Diamond hone, not sure of the grit, pretty fine. Then the leather strop. I think the key is not to push too hard
3 sided jewel stick, 600, to 1000, to 1200 grit and you will have them scary sharp. One of the easiest heads to sharpen out there. Shawn
I remember having trouble or so I thought sharpening VPA's. It really is simple and I was doing it right all along. I would test by trying to shave hair off my hand/arm afterwards and couldn't ever get it to shave while others could. I simply was "shaving" wrong...lol after sharpening them, try "shaving" down or with the grain of hair not up/against it. Hopefully this helps. I've never seen anyone else mention this. Once I realized that, my confidence in sharpening and in the broad head rose! They are great heads and fly great out of a well tuned/set up bow!
I think the rods would be tough. I went to the hardware store and picked up some 400 grit and 1500 grit wet sanding paper. Tape those down to a hard flat surface and you have a nice big area to work with for less than $10.
I have a set of 8 flat diamond files (med to very light grit) that I use to sharpen the VAPs very sharp. I only use three of them and I am very impressed how sharp I can get them. I always drag the BH backwards ( six time per side and then down on one pull per side) towards me on the file, with point facing away. I hope to send one through a pronghorn a week from today.
I use the 3 sided chock stick in the Spyderco Sharpsmaker kit....but you can find something similar cheaper.
The key is how you do it. First I run mine on a long flat fine diamond stone.
Then I have the head on an arrow over my knee so it can rotate slightly to keep the 3 flat sides exactly against the stick. Then I strop forward lightly....man it gets those VPA's popping sharp.
I think the problem folks are having is when using the rods and other things they change the angle of the edge than cannot get them sharp. The angle is perfect to start just use as I said a 3 sided jewel stick and 4 or 5 strokes on each blade laying flat against the round edge of the stick. Go from fairly course to fine grit, amazingly sharp!! Shawn
Shawn's nailed it. 3 sided jewel stick works perfect!
Wow lots of info here. Thanks. So many different methods everyone uses. I decided to get a set of real arkansas stones, from 600 to 2000 grit. That way I can use my diamond stone to take off material if needed and even out the broadhead then the finer stones to give edge and sharpen. From what I was reading I wasn't decreasing pressure with each stone and the ceramic rod just wasn't working for me, and it wasn't fine enough. Some great ideas here though I will keep in my mind. I will probably still need some leather.
One thing I learned with sharpening 3 Blade VPA is that you need to cover the edges with a sharpie and spend enough time on the coarse stone to make sure you have all the edges true before you move onto the finer stones. If you skip this step you will have a hard time getting them sharp.
@buffalomtn I don't know what's going on because I tried the sharpie and besides blackening my stones I still couldn't get them very sharp. I tried various methods, such as using the sharpie and grinding it down on the course stone, then going to the medium stone and using as many as 20 passes each side going down to 1 pass lighter each time, then repeating on the ultra fine stone (2000 grit black stone). I tried another VPA just doing a firm back and forth pass on each stone 20 times on each side, this time using the same pressure each time, and it was just as sharp (or dull) as the one I really took my time on. I tried another doing the same as the first broadhead with the sharpie and lighter pressure and used backwards strokes on the black stone with the same results. I tried another VPA on my 300 diamond stone to take away material, then the 600 to get an edge, then proceeded with the medium and ultra fine arkansas stones with similar results. Obviously I have no idea what I'm doing other than reading and watching videos, but I would think I could get one to at least grab some hair. Instead It's like a very dull kitchen knife.
My nephew bought the same VPAs as me this year and he's having an equally frustrating experience and he's moderately experienced using knife sharpening stones. He uses the "Smith's Arkansas Tri-Hone" on knives, and he tried some of his other stones on the VPAs and can't get them sharp. My other nephew is a butcher and is fairly experienced sharpening his butcher knifes using stones and ceramic rods and he couldn't do much either. I was thinking the edge angle must be so wide that I can't get an edge, but after doing the sharpie and seeing it disappear I don't know what to think. My old Muzzy 3 blades that I used for target practice all last year are sharper than my "sharpened" VPAs. Something is missing in what we're doing.
badcrc, when finishing off, the pressure is just as light, or lighter, than running your hand over your brides' smooth cheek (pick cheek yourself)!
It's all about pressure in my experience. I just sharpened a few new one last night and touched up another half dozen that are already paired up with arrows. Course diamond, fine diamond, Arkansas stone, then strop each. The stropping to finish them off works great for me.
I think guys that struggle with getting VPA's sharp simply continue to finish broadheads using too much pressure. Also, so many think they are going to get the same feel as they do with a replaceable blade that is thin like a razor blade. The angle on these is not so steep so you don't "feel" like they are sharp. It's that angle that makes them so stout and also gives them the ability to retain the edge going through hide and flesh. I honestly believe that we don't really need to get these VPA's "shaving sharp", but I just feel better when they are.
Shawn, could you provide a picture or link to the 3-sided jewel stick?
Bullhound did a good job of describing how to sharpen the VPAs but I'd like to add a few things.
1. When you use the Sharpie marker you should be removing the sharpie marker with a flat file, and not a stone.
2. I use one diamond stone after the flat file and I've found that I have to clean the diamond stone every time on every head before doing the finishing touches. I use a fair amount of oil also to suspend the metal grit particles and keep them off of the diamond stone. The little metal grit will dull your blade if you don't.
The first 3 pack of VPAs that I bought ran through over a dozen animals, mostly whitetails but also some mule deer and elk. The effort to sharpen them will be worth it.