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Jul 27, 2005 12:50 PM

sharpening my santoku

  • s

We are thinking of buying a Chef's Choice 120 3-Stage Diamond Home Professional Sharpener Plus. In reading old posts it seems like there is a divison of opinions regarding this tool- lots love it- one person thought it was ruining his knives. I would be curious to garner more hound's opinions. Specifically would this be okay for my Mac Santoku knife which has a slightly curved blade.
I've just never gotten the hang of steels and stones..
BTW does Chowhound still sell knife sharpeners and how do (did) they compare?

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  1. i have one of these and like it. while i'm able to sharpen on a stone, i'm lazy. i find the machine does an adequate job, but it does not produce as fine an edge, or one as durable, as hand sharpening. i looked at the result on an oscilliscope once. the hand sharpened blade looked fairly smooth while the machine sharpened one exhibited what i'll call microserrations. i assume this is because of the direction of sharpening. these serrations wear down faster than a uniform blade, thus a shorter interim between sharpenings. the coarsest grinding station on the machine does take off quite a bit of material pretty quickly, but the medium & fine stations aren't as aggressive. the strategy i've adopted is to use cheap knives. i buy inexpensive, restaurant-type knives (paring knife is $2, 10" chef's is $16), and sharpen them as needed. since they're cheap, i don't care if they wear down, and i always have sharp knives. i don't know that i would use one of these gadgets on a really nice knife. also, on forged blades, the tang interferes with the machine housing, so i can't sharpen the 1/2" closest to the hand; stamped blades are more compatible. if you have nice knives and don't want to hand sharpen, i've had good luck with belt sanders (it does take some practice).

    8 Replies
    1. re: mark

      I think Mike makes a good point re: "cheap knives". I worked in a packing house in K.C. for awhile (back in the day) and all the cutters used plain old Chicago Cutlery. These guys could bone a loin in seconds. The knives are anything but fancy - plain wooden handles, (sanitation issues I agree), etc. but the neat thing about them is although they don't hold an edge like expensive knives, they can be re-sharpened with a few strokes with a steel and can be customized (I grind the shoulder off mine) and don't cost an arm and a leg. I do have some really nice knives but if I have some major boning and trimming to do, I always fall back on my Chicago. I think too many young couples try to start out with fancy stuff when the same bucks could buy a really nice set of Chicago Cutlery. By the fancy stuff later. Techinque and the proper knife is more important than big buck Japanese or German steel.
      I'll probably get crucified for this post but I'm sticking to my guns.

      1. re: Sony Bob

        I kind of agree-- Forschners w/ the fibrox handles work just fine for me. I have a few nice knives and love them, but for day to day, the 'cheap' ones get used alot more.

        1. re: Sony Bob

          I am a devoted fan of oldfashioned carbon steel. Yes, it will rust and it will blacken, and the edge will go away PDQ - but we have Barkeeper's Friend for the one problem and steel & stones (or that dandy Crock-Stick) for the other. And when I've just touched up any of my old reliables you'd better not look at them too hard or you'll cut your eyeballs!

          After I'd snapped the point off my ancient Sabatier paring knife, the cutlery guy (who stocked nothing but stainless blades) all but refused to order me a carbon steel one, railing that they were old-fashioned and therefore inferior (being the kind of old-fashioned guy whose faith in Modern Progress is unshakable). One of his sons finally expedited the order for me...

          1. re: Will Owen

            I also have an ancient Sabatier knife, chef style with a six-inch carbon steel blade. It has rosewood handles held by brass rivets and takes an edge like you wouldn't believe. Must be more than sixty years old and performs better than any of my new knives. Just have to watch my finger tips!

            1. re: BluPlateSpec

              I'd like to climb on the "Old Knife" bandwagon with my five ancient Sabatiers. Would rescue them first in a house fire. You're absolutely correct about them taking a razor sharp edge. Granted, they're showing their years, but aren't we all! It was a great day when I found the PCD Cooking Enthusiast catalogue. Now, my sons are well-supplied also (because I'm going to go out feet-first before anyone gets their hands on my knives).

              1. re: Sherri

                Too late I realized I forgot to mention that Sabatier offers two lines: the much-beloved 100% carbon steel that several of us treasure, and a high-carbon stainless steel knife. My previous post, extolling the Sabatier, refers to the 100% carbon steel knife. Yes, it stains but, oh that edge ....... barkeepers friend does a fine job of cleaning IF you feel the need to slick 'em up a bit.

        2. re: mark

          You're gonna have to tell us how to look at a knife edge on an oscilloscope...

          1. re: applehome

            my bad... wasn't the oscilloscope, it was the comparator. i always get the names of the machines confused. a comparator allows you to place an object on a stand between a light source and lens. the lens projects an enlarged silhouette onto a viweing screen.

        3. I have a CC Model 110 and have been happy with the results. It took a little practice to get the right feel for drawing the blades across wheels. It has scratched some of my blades in the bare metal above the edge but that doesn't bother me. I've also used crock sticks (two ceramic sticks that make a vee shape when inserted in a wooden block) and they work very well to keep a sharp edge. The sticks have to been cleaned from time to time with a cleanser to renew their abrasive quality.

          1 Reply
          1. re: BluPlateSpec

            I wish you guys would stop bragging about how lazy y'all are when it comes to sharpening knives - I'm pretty sure I've got everyone beat in that department. But I DO have a Crock-Stick, and I DO use it. It doesn't do much for thin stainless (like my cheap Chinatown Chinese chopper), but it kills on carbon steel; my little 4" Sabatier WILL draw blood if you slide any of your body parts over it.

            Great invention.

          2. If you want to spend that much, you should take a look at the Edge Pro Apex. I am very happy with the edge it puts on my knives and am very impressed by the service/support from this little company. It is fairly easy to learn to use and will not wear out your knives. You can even put on fancy dual bevels if you want. The web site is a bit basic but if you like I can point you to some more detailed pics and descriptions.

            Also, you don't mention if you are using a Japanese or German knife, but the japanese knives tend to be sharpened to a smaller angle than the german knives and the Apex can adjust to whatever angle you want.


            1 Reply
            1. re: Nathan P.

              Thanks for the link. It looks complicated.. a novice can learn? Yes, some more detailed pix would be much appreciated. Thanks.
              Of the two knives I use most often, one is German and the other is Japanese..

            2. I may not be a good judge because about 6 years ago I completely converted from German knives to Japanese knives - there is absolutely no comparison. With that being said, it is a big challenge to learn how to care for (sharpen them). I've never used Mac, but although many lower priced Japanese knives are VERY westernized the proper way to sharpen them is on a wet stone. It is worth the time and effort to learn how to use them - I found that diamond stones eat away at knives very quickly (especially Japanese steel). Check out they have everything that you need, including a DVD on sharpening. If you live in NY go check out the store, it is amazing.