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Jan 14, 2007 01:23 PM

Knife sharpening for dummies - the accu sharp

I received one of these as a gift and it seems to work really well.

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  1. I can't believe how well they work. To a knife knut like me, It doesn't make sense as putting on a razor sharp edge requires using grinding and honing stones and grinding perpendicular to the blade. With the Accusharp, you drag the blade across the carbide V sharpeners and it puts on an edge better than I could using an angle sharpener like a Lansky sharpening system. I read a few negative reviews and figured it would only profile the blade and maybe get it as sharp as an opened tin can lid. Yet it puts on a hair shaving edge on my knives and scissors. They don't work as well on big thick hunting style knives, or on heavily worn knives that require a lot of reprofiling which something like Lansky's would work better and then touch it up with the Accusharp. However, it will revitalize those old kitchen and pocket knives, and dull scissors you considered chucking out.

    1. Those cheap hand-held sharpeners use 3 basic technologies:

      1. Two tungsten cutters

      2. Two ceramic or diamond encrusted rods

      3. Two diamond encrusted wheels

      Sounds like the accusharpe is type 1, and those are the absolute worst. Sure, they put a nice edge on a blade, especially one made from relatively soft steel. But they take off a huge amount of metal compared to the other two types (they actually shave tiny slivers of metal off the blade). I ruined a couple of very good knives learning this. I don't recall the brand, but it looked very much like the Accusharp.

      I see they make sharpeners for ice augers, pruning shears, axes and such. I'm sure they do an excellent job on those, but do you want to use the same technique on your expensive kitchen knives?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Zeldog

        "Sounds like the accusharpe is type 1, and those are the absolute worst."

        You're right that the accusharp is type 1. But 'worst' is really a matter of trade-offs. The major downside of type 2 and 3 cheap hand-held sharpeners is that they don't work very well in the first place. For a lot of people, being gentle and not-too-aggressive on the edge of a knife is a secondary concern if your sharpener barely/doesn't get the knife sharp. The carbide-shearing type sharpeners can create a significantly sharper edge. I should note that how sharp depends on the knife being sharpened - some steals shear into very sharp edges whereas other don't. Personally, I think an accusharp is actually a fairly nice sharpener for something cheap, soft, but decent like a forschner.

        Another problem with carbide shearing sharpeners you didn't note is that the carbides tend to wear out very quickly. Yeah, they're cheap, but if you have a set of knives, don't expect too many sharpenings until you need to replace the carbides. Just something to consider.

        Personally, I think you're right in not recommending it for high-end knives. If you spend big money on something nice, get it professionally sharpened or (even better) learn to hand sharpen or use an edgepro.

        Also, I've never used a carbide shearing sharpener on hard brittle steel like that in most Japanese knives, and I couldn't fully predict how a hard brittle steel would behave in one. Due to the edge angle of most Japanese knives, the hard/brittle steel, and the price, I wouldn't recommend it.

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. Something like the Accusharp is great for less expensive knives. As said, they take off a huge amount of metal. You can see the large shavings fall off on each pass of the blade. These sharpeners will ruin a blade.

          Use on "disposable" knives & you'll be ok. Use on your high-end or prized knives and you'll be crying in a month.

          28 Replies
          1. re: JayL

            An excellent gift for a person you don't like, no?

            1. re: JayL

              why? The accusharp produces a sharp knife. Most people don't consider knives religious artifacts, but tools that are supposed to be used. No one is suggesting that knife fetishists be forced to use it.

              1. re: dscheidt

                But folks are allowed their opinion on the subject. These sharpeners do ruin blades...that's a fact. They also "sharpen" a blade...for a short period of time.

                It makes sense to me for folks to warn unwitting souls out there who purchase expensive cutlery, and have no idea as to why they actually purchased them in the first place, that something like the accusharp will ruin their pricey blade in short order.

                Would I use the accusharp...yes. Have I used an accusharp...yes. With that said...I would NEVER use one on a blade I cherished or wanted to keep around for years to come.

                As I said before...a more appropriate title to this thread would read "Knife Ruining for Dummies". (I hope it doesn't get deleted this time...kind of petty in my opinion)

                1. re: JayL

                  This is why I like chowhound so much. All the opinions and the explanations as to why you feel the way you do about a kitchen item. That is how I can come to a decision. It is especially helpful that you post the warnings so we don't ruin something.

                2. re: dscheidt

                  Yes, but most people don't use copper cookware, induction cooking, nor eat at expensive restaurants, but we discuss these topics on this website as well. I think JayL has already said "Accusharp is great for less expensive knives". Suggestion of "not using Accusharp on expensive knives" are probably less fetish than many other topics here.

                  1. re: dscheidt

                    If someone mentioned that doing _____ would cut the lifespan of, say, your powerdrill, I don't think anyone would start calling people fetishists for pointing it out or taking notice. If shortened life-span for convenience and ease of use is a good trade-off to you, then go for the accusharp. Just know that it is a trade-off.

                    I don't think anyone quite explained why taking off a lot of metal is a problem. There's the obvious factor of running through knives quicker. But also, you will quickly run into a problem where the area behind a knife's edge starts thickening up, negatively affecting performance. With good knives, this will only take a few sharpenings to be quite noticeable. Generally, the cheaper the knife (the worse the grind is in the first place), the less of an issue this is.

                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      Remember that someone considering the accusharp, or like devices, is really faced with two options: use something like the accusharp, or use dull knives. They're clearly not willing to spend the minimal time involved in learning how to properly sharpen things, and no one who has someone else sharpen their knives has it done anywhere near often enough. It's total knife fetish to insist that someone use a dull knife, instead of one that's been sharpened in way you don't approve of.

                      1. re: dscheidt

                        "It's total knife fetish to insist that someone use a dull knife, instead of one that's been sharpened in way you don't approve of."

                        I guess i'd agree (though I'm not sure 'fetish' is the term I'd use). But every critique of the accusharp in this thread said it was fine for cheap knives.

                        Are you objecting to the suggestion no one made - that no one should ever use the Accusharp? Or the advice for people not to take an accusharp to an expensive, high performance knife? Cuz I stand by that advice. Why bother using nice knives only to ruin em in a few months? Heck, I don't even know that an accusharp would work properly with the hard steel found in many high-end knives today.

                        1. re: dscheidt


                          That is a strawman argument. No one said anything about never use Accusharp. JayL specifically said that it is great for less expensive knives and that he has used it. Similarly, Zeldog and cowboy has suggested as such. There is nothing wrong with providing facts. Accusharp takes a lot of metal off the blade. If the users do not mind this side effect, then great. If the users care, then they should know.

                          Lipitor is an excellent drug for lowering blood cholsterol, but it has the side effects of headaches, muscle pain.... Of course, I am not against a patient using Lipitor, but I definitely am not against full disclosure of the side effects. The patients and their doctors can make that decision by weighing the pros and the cons.

                          You seem to be suggesting that full disclosure is bad and that Zeldog, JayL and cowboy should have never mentioned any side effect of Accusharp.

                          The bottomline is this. Is there anything they said which is factually wrong? If not, why against a honest information.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Everything is relative really, while some here don't seem to be phased about spending hundreds on a single chef's knife, others are probably shocked by such a prospect. My guess is that if you just spent $300 on a single knife, you would never consider using an Accusharp on it, conversely if you just spent $20 on your new knife, an Accusharp looks like a good piece of equipment. Chances are that if you shelled out $300 for a knife you feel you can tell the difference between that and a $20 knife, if so, you also probably have enough interest in knives to learn about the steel, the handle, the way the edge is ground, and most importantly, how to properly treat it and keep it shap. However, if you bought a $20 knife, you may just be interested in it enough to cut something with it and at least keep it reasonably sharp. Does buying a $300 knife mean you have a fetish, well in the eyes of some perhaps, but so does the person that has 30 pieces of LC in their kittchen.

                            The question becomes what is the best way to keep the knife you have sharp regardless of what you paid for it. Obviously that depends on what you paid for it. The best way to keep that $300 Hunkamoney X sharp is with proper stoning and stropping. Will that really make a difference to the person that bought the $20 Chepodeluxo and just wants to cut some onions on a glass cutting board? Probably not, their just as well off with the Accusharp.

                            My Mother never owned a good knife in her entire life, my mother-in-law has our old set of Chiago Cuttelry that I sharpened on a Chefs Choice electric sharpener and she is thrilled with them, the best knives she has ever had. Would she be happier with them if I had spent the time to hone them by hand on a $200 waterstone? I doubt it. My point being, everything is relative.

                            1. re: mikie


                              Agree. I am not against using something like Accusharp. I have personally used these tools before, not Accusharp per se.

                              Many things are relative and subjective. For example, Is Miss USA beautiful? Was FDR a great president? Does an Accusharp worth $? We will get different answers from different people based on their own personal experience and perception. However, hard data are not relative. Is Miss USA 6 feet tall? Was FDR a US president? Does Accusharp take off more metal than other sharpeners?

                              I think Zeldog and JayL were rightly to provide some hard fact experience on this. When they said an Accusharp takes off a lot of metal, I see that as a hard evidence, and not a relative descrption.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                Chem, I agree, you can't dispute facts. But, is the question, does the Accusharp remove a lot of metal? or is it, does the Accusharp sharpen a knife that results in a blade that's better than one might have gotten with another but improperly opperated tool or nothing at all? I'm not sure I actually have the answer to that as I've never used an Accusharp.

                                I recently upgraded knives, Whustof Classics, a huge step up from the Chicago Cultery. The most expensive was a 10" Chefs at about $120, it works wonders on an accorn squash. So far with the use of a steel, I've been able to keep them sharp. Due in part to tossing out that glass cutting board the wife was so intent on using. I love her, but she's a Neandertharl when it comes to knife care. My son's wife won't even touch his knives, so if she wants to cut something she uses a table knife. It's a process I guess.

                                1. re: mikie


                                  Quoting Zeldog:

                                  "Sure, they put a nice edge on a blade, especially one made from relatively soft steel. But they take off a huge amount of metal compared to the other two types ... . I ruined a couple of very good knives learning this."

                                  Quoting JayL:

                                  "Something like the Accusharp is great for less expensive knives. As said, they take off a huge amount of metal. ... These sharpeners will ruin a blade."

                                  They have provided arguments for and against Accurshape. I think their comments are very balanced.

                                  I understand some people may like Accurshape a lot, but I am not sure how they can criticize Zeldog and JayL's comments. Exactly what is wrong? The fact that they said Accursharp is a tungsten cutter? That is factually correct.


                                  The fact that they said it takes off a lot of metal (compare to others)? That is true too.

                                  The fact that they said Accusharp is good for cheap soft steel knives and not for expensive thick blade knives and expensive hard steel knives? That sounds very resonable.

                                  I guess my question to people who criticized Zeldog, JayL and cowboy is: what is the problem?

                                  I mean, are these people unhappy because Zeldog et. al said accursharp does not work well with an expensive hard steel knife? Is that it? You want them to say Accursharp is great for everything? Unfortunately, that would be untrue.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    I used Accusharp like sharpeners before getting hooked on better and sharper knives. Let's be real, there is no comparison. What you think of as sharp is relative to your experience. Someone who is a master at sharpening might find my knives dull by comparison.

                                    An Accusharp on a high end Japanese knife? Just isn't right.

                                    1. re: scubadoo97


                                      You got me wrong. I didn't say don't use Accusharp. Zeldog and JayL are the ones who said Accursharp is good for inexpensive knives, but not so good for high quality knives. I merely agree with them. Reading from your comment, you seem to agree with them as well.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        Chem, I wasn't disagreeing with you. Just backing you up. Sorry if it didn't come off that way.

                          2. re: dscheidt

                            But dsheidt, it is still nice and necassary for the warnings, before I start sharpening my expensive knives in the Accusharp. I would use it for my scissors and everyday inexpensive knives.
                            This is much like the conversations in teaching more healthy eating. Organic fruits and veggies are the best. But if you don't have access or funds for organic, then, by all means go with the fresh fruits and veggies that are not organic. For they are still far superior to processed foods.

                        2. re: dscheidt

                          Totally agree with you dscheidt. I used to be a knife snob like some of the things expressed by some here and had the same narrow minded attitudes: "The blade MUST be damascus, D2, VG-10 laminated with 420J, with micarta or G10 handles...blah, blah, blah." I know the big names in sports knives: Busse, Reeves...I own Benchmade and Spydercos so knife snobs don't impress me. There's no reasoning with a knife snob as it's like trying to fruitlessly convince a watch nut that my Casio Pathfinder has more technology in it, is more accurate, and has more useful features than his $10000 Rolex. It's hard to justify typical use to fanatics who are heavily invested in their hobbies. I won't even get into people into high end audio. Yikes! The thing is that the average person is NOT going to spend 30 minutes of their time profiling and honing their J.A. Henkels, or even $20 Victorinox Fibrox chef knife trying to get the finest edge and no one uses their knife expecting it to last a lifetime. You use it, abuse, then lose it! No one wants anything - knives, cars, their spouse - for a lifetime. To the home cook who just needs to quickly sharpen their knife to slice a turkey the Accusharp works even if it's only for a limited use. A high end sharpening system, or constantly taking a kitchen knife to a professional sharpener isn't always realistic. No, the Accusharp and other V carbide sharpeners won't replace a very good sharpening system in capable hands but then there's the catch: not everyone wants to invest in complicated sharpening stones, and not everyone has the skills to put a good profile and edge on a knife. Oh, and BTW to all you knife snobs: there's NOTHING wrong with properly heat treated 440A steel. :-p

                          1. re: pickygourmet2000

                            Amen! Finally some reasoned voices.

                            I've been using Accusharp for a couple of years on scissors and knives. Works just fine.

                            1. re: Ambimom

                              "I've been using Accusharp for a couple of years on scissors..."
                              Just to be clear to impressionables, don't use a regular accusharp on scissors unless you don't mind ruining the scissors (not ruined as in the bevel's no longer perfect, but ruined as in they no longer cut at all).

                              Accusharp makes a product called Shearsharp for scissors. And don't use even that on scissors like hair shears, because their bevels aren't shaped like most scissors and won't work with an Shearsharp.

                            2. re: pickygourmet2000

                              Words of wisdom from my Grandfather; "You don't need to buy a better brush than you are a painter." He applied this to just about everything. I think one could apply this to knife selection and sharpening. If you have no skills with a knife and you have no skills as a knife sharpener, you don't need a $400 knife and a $200 system to keep it sharp. You're not going to nitice the difference anyway. On the other hand, if you have knife skills and want the best in knives, you should certianly have or aquire the sharpening skills to go with it.

                              My analogy has always been golf, who's a better golfer, me with a $5,000 set of clubs or Tiger Woods with a $200 set of clubs? For those that don't know me, it's Tiger Woods. My golf score will not change with the type of ball I hit, the type of club I hit it with, or if I wear a glove or not. His will. He has golf skills that allow him to take advantage of higher quality equipment, I don't.

                              1. re: mikie

                                "For those that don't know me, it's Tiger Woods."

                                I was betting on you. :)

                                1. re: mikie

                                  That's why I advocate using a cheaper knife and knowing how to keep it sharp than buying an expensive one and using it dull.

                                2. re: pickygourmet2000

                                  Somehow, just got an image in my head of a surgeon taking his 440A scalpel and running it through an accusharp before slicing you open...

                                  There is sharp, and then there is sharp. From a kitchen standpoint, all that matters is sharp - all the metals, the methods, the sharpening tools - they all add up to nothing more than creating the most useful tool for slicing and dicing. If a particular combination is sharp enough for you, great - if you have no problem with constantly sharpening soft steel with a device that wears it away, great. Others don't share that same level of complacency or satisfaction with a certain level of sharpness. They want to operate at a higher level of sharpness in the kitchen, and they're willing to learn how to do it, and pay the premium. Call it snobbery - whatever you wish. Truthfully, it's just a different level of appreciation. No name calling required.

                                  1. re: pickygourmet2000

                                    "things expressed by some here and had the same narrow minded attitudes: "The blade MUST be damascus, D2, VG-10 laminated with 420J...."

                                    Isn't this a straw man argument? These statements are misrepresenting others. You stated that many people on this post are snobs and have narrow minded attitudes that a knife has to be damascus and VG-10...etc, and then talked about watches and audio systems. Yet, no one here said anything about a knife has to be damascus or VG-10 and certainly no one talked about watches and audio systems. Can you actually find a quote here about these statements? If you want to counter someone's point, then counter someone's point.

                                    In fact several said similar things to what you have suggested. JayL said "Use on "disposable" knives & you'll be ok." You said "You use it, abuse, then lose it! No one wants anything - knives, cars, their spouse - for a lifetime." So you and others basically said Accusharp is good sytem for knives which you don't want to last for a lifetime. For your information, I do want a spouse for a lifetime. I guess I am a snob of that sort. :)

                                    You argued that average home cooks don't have expensive knives and don't worry about the lifespan. That may or may not be true, but I have read so many posts here about shopping for a knife or a pan which can last a lifetime. Keep in mind that CHOW does not represent average home cooks. Many posts here are about heavy copper cookware and >$200 meals. Are you going to call them snobs and narrow-minded? JayL , Zeldog and others did not say Accursharp cannot be used. Rather, they argued that an Accursharp can take off too much metal and is not good for a prized knife. Yes, a user may or may not care the knife last for a lifetime, but that is his/her decision to make. I am not against full disclosure.

                                    Like the example I gave earlier. Lipitor is an excellent drug for lowering blood cholsterol, but it has the potential side effects of headaches, muscle pain.... By in large, most patients should consider using Lipitor, yet there is nothing wrong with telling the patients about these potential side effects. The patients and their doctors can make their decisions by weighing the pros and the cons.

                                    "there's NOTHING wrong with properly heat treated 440A steel"

                                    BTW, no one said anything about 440A.

                                    1. re: pickygourmet2000

                                      >>"No one wants anything - knives, cars, their spouse - for a lifetime."<<

                                      Maybe you don't, but there are those of us who do.

                                      People who view their knives (or cars or spouses) as throwaway items don't need to spend time or money on proper maintenance. For them, good sharpeners, regular oil changes, and the occasional romantic getaway are nothing but a waste.

                                      But there are those who want to take good care of their stuff. That doesn't make them snobs - snobbishness implies a rejection of things that are perceived to be inferior. A person who understands the benefits of a high-quality tool doesn't necessarily reject things that aren't up to that standard. Using myself as an example, the two knives that get the most use in my kitchen are a Forschner parer and a VG-10 Gyuto. They're both good knives, but only one is likely to get handed down to the next generation.

                                      There are lots of folks out there who have mid- to high-end knives (maybe a set of Wusthofs that were purchased in a fit of conspicuous consumption, or some Globals that were a wedding gift) and aren't quite sure what care and feeding is appropriate. Sure, someone like that could treat the knives as disposable, but why not learn to take proper care of them?

                                      It's not rocket science. For $150 you can get a sharpening system that's relatively idiot proof and won't trash a good knife. Spending that kind of money to maintain a $5 paring knife isn't going to provide much return on investment. But if you've got a few hundred (or thousand) dollars worth of cutlery at stake, isn't it worth at least some consideration?

                                      Nobody here has said that the Accusharp isn't a good tool. It's highly effective at what it does; it just has some limitations. And it's only fair that people who come here looking for information should be aware of the benefits **and** the drawbacks of any knife sharpener.

                                      1. re: pickygourmet2000

                                        People post questions to get a variety of opinions. As one would expect, if you post on CH you have a greater interest in food and food prep than the average individual. It seems the OP has gotten a range of information from those very interested in knives and their maintenance to some that feel any knife is a good one and any method that produces and edge is a good one. Some of us are more "picky" about somethings than others

                                  2. re: JayL

                                    I use an AccuSharp on my carbon steel chef's knife and I haven't yet seen any shavings fall off, large or small. Hasn't ruined my blade yet, and I expect the knife to last as long as I do.

                                  3. I love my accusharp. You'll have to pry it from my cold dead hands. I can use a steel, I just don't care to.

                                    As for removing "too much" metal (whoever the people were who posted that).

                                    Possibly. Don't care. I know it doesn't leave visible shavings the way someone claimed. I always wipe my knife blade with a clean towel after sharpening and it doesn't leave any residue to speak of, looks to the naked eye the same as when I use the steel. I would submit that if you're seeing visible shavings, you're using it incorrectly. As always, a tool is only as good as the person using it.

                                    But then I don't have a $1,000 knife, LOL!

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: ZenSojourner

                                      Re: shavings-
                                      That's how the accusharp works in the first place - by shearing the knife into a new edge. People who see shavings are not using it incorrectly. To confirm, look closer next time you use it - if that fails, try using it over a sheet of white paper, then look at the paper. This is especially noticeable on a knife made of soft steel or when using an accusharp for the first time on a knife (because you are reprofiling the edge). But there are always some shavings.

                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                        You remove metal anytime you sharpen a knife.

                                        However, if you are seeing long strips of metal coming off with the Accusharp, you are using it incorrectly. This is my third Accusharp - lost the first, gave the 2nd to my dad. I've never seen long strips of metal after use as another poster stated. Yeah, there's trace left on the cloth after I wipe the newly sharpened blade - but not long strips of metal.

                                        1. re: ZenSojourner

                                          I don't think anyone said they were long. 'Tiny slivers' as Zeldog put it sounds about right to me. If you're not seeing these slivers, either your accusharp carbides are too worn and dull to work properly or you're not looking hard enough.

                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                            LOL! It's brand new. If you're seeing actually slivers you're pressing. All it takes is a gentle touch. Two or three passes and its sharpened. I got this one (#3) because my son won't use the steel, but I actually prefer it to using a steel anyway.

                                            Possibly my aging eyesight isn't up to the task, but I don't see - or feel - actual slivers of metal. Under a magnifying glass maybe that's what they ARE, but if you're seeing slivers with the naked eye I'd try being a bit more gentle.

                                            1. re: ZenSojourner

                                              I've used these before and know perfectly well how to use one properly. Telling me there are no slivers of metal after using an accusharp is like telling me there's no metal dust after sharpening on a stone (also easily visible if you look closely). How do you think an accusharp works?

                                              As I said above though, you'll see less of these shavings on a knife that has recently been sharpened by an accusharp - as a long time user. that may explain partly why you're not noticing them. They're still there though - probably just very small.

                                              "Two or three passes and its sharpened."
                                              So which is it - fast or gentle on the edge? Cause unless it's only realligning an edge like a steel does, it can't really be both at the same time.

                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                "fast or gentle on the edge? .... it can't really be both at the same time"

                                                Wow, that is a tough one to argue against. :D

                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                  I know how an Accusharp works. As I said, sharpening ALWAYS involves removing some metal. Just not slivers visible to (my, at least) naked eye.

                                                  It's a shame you think "fast" and "gentle" are mutually exclusive.


                                                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                    "It's a shame you think "fast" and "gentle" are mutually exclusive."
                                                    Let's not read more into this than there is. I'm only talking about knife sharpening. ;)