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Chef's Choice Electric Knife Sharpener

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Clinton Oct 31, 2007 08:35 AM

Anyone have any comments or complaints about this product. I saw it at Costco and decided to finally get a "good" knife sharpener for my Henkels. I've looked at several types of electric models but they all say they're the best. I'm kind of leery about these gadgets that grind away at the metal but that's the only way to really sharpen a knife. I just want to minimize the process if I can. Is there a special way to run your knife through the sharpener? I hate to turn my 12" flat blade into a stilleto.

Here's a picture of it:
http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product....

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    rtmonty RE: Clinton Oct 31, 2007 09:46 AM

    We've had one of these since they first came out years ago. I really like it and find it to work very well. Station one on it is a grinding wheel that you would only use on the oldest and dullest of knives. The other two stations are the diamond areas and just a quick 2 or 3 swipes in there and your knife is sharp. It sits on my countertop and gets used daily. Don't remember when they came out but I'm guessing our unit is atleast 10 years old or more and it's still sharpening like the day we bought it.

    Oh, bet it's a lot cheaper at Costco than it was at Macy's or Nordstrums, where ever I bought it.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rtmonty
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      Clinton RE: rtmonty Oct 31, 2007 10:15 AM

      Thanks for the reply rtmonty. I bought one yesterday at our local Costco store for around $59.00 and thought it was a good deal. Will try it out later and avoid stage 1 on my good knives for now.

      1. re: Clinton
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        cookstr RE: Clinton Nov 4, 2007 07:44 AM

        These electric knife sharpeners are metal eaters. I use a flat stone on my knives about once a month on the average and steel each knife before each use, which means, daily to align the burs. If you like, I will go over to your kitchen and show you how to do it.

        1. re: cookstr
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          Clinton RE: cookstr Nov 5, 2007 10:07 AM

          My knives are pretty sharp since I only use a ceramic or a sharpening stick to hone the blade and occasionally I use a wetstone to refresh the cutting angle. I just bought this gadget to basically hone the blade and to sparingly refresh the edge. I know they eat metal but I like new gadgets. You can help me mow the lawn if you like when you come and visit!

    2. s
      simnick RE: Clinton Nov 6, 2007 04:47 PM

      I have the 110, and it does a good job on respectable knives, but use it sparingly. Use a steel weekly, and use setting three first. Setting one will grind a lot if used regularly, but can be real handy for a knife that is really out of shape. I fixed a tip that had broken off, and removed some dents from bones using the first slot, so it is useful, just be careful. And do not use it on Shun or similar asian knives that have a 16 degree bevel (As opposed to the 20-22 degree german on), as it would destroy that edge.
      My main problem is that it can grab and jerk the knife, messing up the edge, if you press too hard, or really really lightly. Place mild force down and let the machine draw the knife through.

      1. pitu RE: Clinton Nov 6, 2007 04:51 PM

        eeek!
        what makes you think "that's the only way to really sharpen a knife."???
        Whetstone and a steel, that's all you need. Then learn how to use them.
        Nothing electric.

        1. Richard 16 RE: Clinton Nov 6, 2007 07:43 PM

          I used to sharpen all my knives by hand, but health problems have put a halt to that. I bought a 110 and have had nothing but problems with it. I have tried every variation I can think of -- light to hard pressure and all points between, dragging or pushing the knife and letting it get pulled, different angles, etc., etc.

          I exchanged it for a replacement, made many a phone call to the company, etc. The knives bounced around and sharpening was abysmal. Now I take my knives to a restaurant supply store that does sharpening -- including the single bevel Japanese knives -- and hone regularly. What a relief.

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            CrazyOne RE: Clinton Nov 7, 2007 07:34 AM

            Anyone think the Model 130, in which the 2nd and especially 3rd stages seem significantly different than prior models, might make this product reasonable to use? See top of this page http://www.chefschoice.com/page2a.html or see some comments at Amazon seemingly favorable http://www.amazon.com/Chefs-Choice-Pr... 150 bucks but maybe worth it for the convenience?

            I'd like to think I could learn to use manual sharpening and steeling methods, but I've never found anything that makes the remotest sense to me in how to use particularly a steel. We only have 3 Wusthof knives, but even this is starting to feel like kind of a waste as we have no way to maintain their edges at home. "Professional" sharpening sounds at least as hit or miss as this latest machine.

            2 Replies
            1. re: CrazyOne
              ttriche RE: CrazyOne Nov 12, 2007 01:14 PM

              Learn to use a steel regardless of how you sharpen your knives. Get a smooth, large steel (the round-file versions will eat up your edges) and either find someone who can show you (a good butcher, if you frequent such establishments) or practice. Here is a video that shows pretty much what I was taught:

              http://www.cuisineathome.com/main/vid...

              The purpose of a steel is to straighten an edge, not to sharpen (hone) a dull blade. But it is surprising how often a 'dull' knife has simply got its edge pulled to one side or the other. You can usually find this out by dragging the blade backwards (as if you were shaving in reverse) up your forearm, a paper towel, or other fairly soft material, and seeing if it catches. That is usually a sign that the edge has developed a burr (gone out of true), but has not yet dulled.

              I'm not going to take sides among the knife fanatics, but I will say that sparing use of an electric sharpener and generous use of a steel has not removed a perceptible amount of material from my blades in the 5 or so years I've been using them. I have used a whetstone to sharpen pocket and hunting knives in the past, but I don't think they are very practical for on-demand sharpening as you are rushing to get dinner prepared. But you certainly have a lot more flexibility regarding your bevel angle when you hone manually. Most reasonable choices are trade-offs.

              Anyways, learn to select and use a steel properly, and you will likely discover that sharpening is not so frequent a need. If you can slice a ripe tomato skin-on and paper-thin without bruising it, then as far as I am concerned, the knife is sharp enough not to worry about it.

              Your mileage may (probably will) vary. But a good steel is cheap, and useful. You can always get your knives professionally sharpened when they become dull.

              The other posters who were suggesting you learn to steel correctly are right on.

              1. re: CrazyOne
                yayadave RE: CrazyOne Nov 12, 2007 06:17 PM

                The first stage is a moving stone, I think. The third stage is a moving strop, I think. The second, middle stage is - ummm - a stationary steel. I have a steel. I have a diamond steel. I have a ceramic "steel." It bothered me to pay top dollar for a gadget with a steel in it. I still don't know what I was thinking. Why not just buy a very fine wheel and a leather strop wheel for my double ended grinder? I already have enough steels.

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                Peppermint Patty RE: Clinton Nov 7, 2007 09:03 AM

                Chefs Catalog has a more expensive one than costco.com but it is extremely popular and you can tell by review that it is an alltime favorite.
                See below:
                http://www.chefscatalog.com/product/1...

                1. goodhealthgourmet RE: Clinton Nov 7, 2007 09:07 AM

                  i have to echo the warnings and concerns of other posters. it's really easy to ruin your knives with those electric sharpeners.

                  just hone with stone or steel, and when they really need to be sharpened, have a professional do it. a better investment than the machine...which could end up costing you an entire new set of heckels as well!

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                    ricepad RE: Clinton Nov 7, 2007 11:34 AM

                    Altho it's too late, I'm going to cast yet another vote against electric knife sharpeners for anybody who is serious about their knives. If you have cheap knives and don't mind replacing them, electric sharpeners are fine. If, OTOH, you have good knives and think of them as extensions of your hands, you're far better off buying a couple of whetstones and hone and learning to use them.

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                      FlyFish RE: Clinton Nov 8, 2007 04:22 AM

                      I also got a Chef's Choice in a moment of temporary insanity prompted by bad advice from someone who should have known better (or I should have known better). I managed to essentially ruin a couple of expensive knives before recognizing that there's just no way the thing can work as claimed and it shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a quality knife. I've now gone back to the hand-honing I always used to do and both I and my knives are much happier.

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                        Clinton RE: Clinton Nov 11, 2007 09:14 PM

                        OK, OK...After reading the recommendations and arguments from all the informative postings, I got up and took that nifty knife shapener back (without even opening the box) back to Costco and got a full refund. I even brought out the old wetstone and sharpened my old trusty 12" chef knife by hand. I thought I'd saved myself $69 plus tax but blew it on other junks while I was there. The devil made me do it...

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Clinton
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                          Throckmorton RE: Clinton Nov 14, 2008 04:15 AM

                          I was given a set of Wustoff Grand Prix as a wedding present in 2001. I love these knives. Although I'm a huge Alton Brown fan, who recommends professional sharpening, I did some research and settled on buying the Chef's Choice 120 back in 2002. I have only had to use it a few times. I imagine you could ruin your knives on this thing, but only if you didn't read the directions. If you have a set of good German knives, this machine is great. It has three slots. You are rarely to use the first slot... there is even a sticker on this piece of the machine warning not to use it often. In fact, you are supposed to start with the second slot. If you cannot get a burr after several passes, it is only then recommended to use the first. The third slot is used for honing/polishing the blade.

                          I image that you could get a better edge from some professionals. You might even be able to put a better edge on a knife if you invest the time in learning how to use a stone. However, I have used this machine to great success and think that it was a good investment. Do your homework, read some forums, read the reviews. For my situation and set of knives, the Chef's Choice 120 was a good buy.

                          1. re: Throckmorton
                            applehome RE: Throckmorton Nov 15, 2008 01:08 AM

                            On what serious knife forum do you see anybody recommending a chef's choice for high-quality knives? Please reference some for us. It would have to be a joke.

                            This business of the "patented tri-zore edge" means that it doesn't conform to a standard belt-sharpened edge - so you can't hone it with a steel. In fact, they warn you - if you steel it, you have to restart from the first stage. They insist that you only hone by using the final stage on the machine - that means that the machine has to stay on the counter.

                            These things eat steel. So much so that your bolstered knives will need to be ground down to keep the blade flat, if you expect to cut flat, as when chopping with a chef's knife. Because of the round wheel, there is always a small area in front of the bolster that also becomes useless. So people who like German forged knives are going to have to learn not to cut close to the handle, even on the 3 1/2" pairing knives.

                            I started with a Chef's Choice when I first got into sharp knives, and I thought they worked. But as I got into better quality knives, I found that what I had thought of as sharp enough just wasn't cutting it any more... I learned that you really have to hone with a steel, all the time, to maintain the edge. You steel the knife before you use it, often times in the middle of a job, like when you're cutting a lot of meat, and always after hand-washing and drying, before you store it. If you do this, the edge will last a long time. When it finally goes, take it to a pro, or learn to use a whetstone. No home machine or funky tool will get your knife as sharp. If you're happy with one of those little ceramic pull-through jobbies or a chef's choice, great - good for you - but don't think that it's some form of ultimate sharpness - it's not. The sharper the blade, the less work, the less crying (cutting an onion) and the safer - you don't have to push as hard so there's less force behind each slice or cut - the less chance of a blade slipping out of control.

                            1. re: applehome
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                              FlyFish RE: applehome Nov 15, 2008 06:14 AM

                              That sums it up perfectly. (And thanks also for spelling "whetstone" correctly.)

                              1. re: applehome
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                                Throckmorton RE: applehome Nov 15, 2008 06:49 AM

                                Hey now... I never claimed to be an expert, nor did I claim that this gave the ultimate edge. I even mentioned that you would probably get a better edge from a pro or using a stone. I do agree with your point about the bolster however. I did use the first slot once, and it did eat a bit of the knife, but I've never had to use it since. Do you happen to remember the version of the Chef's Choice that you used. I have consistently seen great reviews for the 130 and 120, but not so much for others.

                                I also completely agree with honing with a steel. I only use the machine to sharpen. I always hone with the steel that came with my set before I use it. Seems to work fine in conjunction with the Chef's Choice. I never keep the machine on my counter. After saying all this, I have been looking at a couple places on how to sharpen with a whetstone. Part of the reason I enjoy cooking is getting down to the basics. I would like to learn to sharpen without using a machine.

                          2. Delucacheesemonger RE: Clinton Nov 15, 2008 03:30 AM

                            They have worked for me. Bought the original at the factory in early 80's and recently added a model 120 . Was never clever enough to get a stone to sharpen for me. Have a lot of kitchen knives, mostly wood-handled carbon steel Dexters and Sabatiers from the 40's and 50's and the sharpener turns them into razors. Never use position one, as have been sharpening them on Chef's for 20 years. Knives, by appearance have virtually lost no steel. Even my salmon knife, old when l got it, at 1/4 inch blade is still 1/4 inch 25 years later. Their knives were less successful , but the sharpeners work perfectly for me.

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                              grant.cook RE: Clinton Nov 17, 2008 08:47 AM

                              Don't buy an electric sharpener - get a steel and a set of stones if you are dedicated (250/1000/4000 if you are up for the work).

                              Otherwise, find a local sharpening service.

                              As for the poster that sharpens daily in the machine, I'd question that - you should steel your knives whenever you use them, but sharpening, at least for me, is done twice a year. If I cooked frantically, I'd probably do more, but they hold an edge with that frequency.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: grant.cook
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                                Throckmorton RE: grant.cook Nov 17, 2008 09:10 AM

                                Grant... just curious. Would you only use the 250 if you had a badly worn blade and couldn't get a burr from the 1000?

                                1. re: Throckmorton
                                  applehome RE: Throckmorton Nov 17, 2008 11:08 AM

                                  Getting a burr is so, so wrong... part of what's wrong with the CC. Imagine needing to fold the edge over before you know that you've taken off enough metal. That's the brute strength approach - the finesse approach is to sneak up on the edge, removing a bit of metal at a time.

                                  Learn from a real master bladesmith - get this DVD, get the advanced one while you're at it. (Look at the knives while you're there - amazing stuff.)
                                  http://www.cartercutlery.com/DVDs.cfm

                                  A decent alternative (not as comprehensive):
                                  http://www.korin.com/models.php?cat=5...

                                  Korin has some good info on their site as well:
                                  http://www.korin.com/knives/knife_sha...

                                  Neither site, nor any of the knife experts talk about getting this burr, other than to point to it as nonsense. Murray Carter's three-finger test is the best way to determine how sharp a blade is and whether you've taken off enough metal. Also, thinning the blade, which both DVD's show is so important to cutting in the kitchen. Having a very sharp edge does you little good if you have to push past the thickening of your blade after the edge.

                                  Doing it right takes time to learn. Technique is everything - more than the stone, grit, whatever. Carter demonstrates sharpening a super dull knife on a cinder block and a piece of cardboard to finish. I think it's worth the time to learn - not just from the "sharpest kitchen knife ever" perspective, but from your own satisfaction of working with metal and creating something so good - something no machine could do.

                                  1. re: applehome
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                                    mateo21 RE: applehome Nov 17, 2008 05:27 PM

                                    Does that mean that everyone here is... wrong about sharpening? http://www.knifeforums.com

                                    Interesting.

                                    1. re: mateo21
                                      applehome RE: mateo21 Nov 17, 2008 07:22 PM

                                      I'm sorry but you're going to have to point me to a specific thread - there are a lot of opinions there (just like here). I'm not even sure what you're specifically referring to - is it this the business of a burr or wire? There is extensive stuff written there and on other sites like Knifeart.com or Knives.com. On most, no burr mentioned. Many people prefer to flip with each stroke, especially as you're approaching the limit - you'll never develop a burr doing that, but you will get a very sharp primary edge.

                                      Here's one sharpening article:
                                      http://www.knives.com/sharpen.html

                                  2. re: Throckmorton
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                                    grant.cook RE: Throckmorton Nov 17, 2008 12:25 PM

                                    yes, the 250 doesn't get a lot of swipes when I am sharpening normally.

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                                  bnemes3343 RE: Clinton Nov 17, 2008 09:03 AM

                                  I have this model and love it. It was the top rated knife sharpener by America's Test Kitchen. Takes just a minute or two to sharpen a knife and it does a great job. I sharpen mine every week or two.

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