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Electric Knife Sharpeners

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JCap Feb 21, 2008 10:44 AM

I'm a person who's probably never going to take the time to get the stone technique down, and I've been unimpressed by a local place that sharpens knives. That's why I'm thinking about purchasing one of these sharpeners.

I saw a piece about them on America's Test Kitchen, and it looked like they work well. Does anyone have one, and how what has your experience been?

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    FlyFish RE: JCap Feb 21, 2008 11:10 AM

    I didn't see the piece on ATC, so I'm guessing that you're referring to the Chef's Choice brand sharpener? If so, they're probably the best of the electric sharpeners, but that's damning with faint praise. I have one that I bought in a moment of temporary insanity. In spite of testimonials to the contrary, I was unable to put what I consider to be a first-class edge on any knife and found that it was removing steel at an alarming rate. I suspect that more experience with the machine would have improved my results, but I had neither the time nor the knives that I would have had to sacrifice to obtain the requisite education. I've since gone back to using a stone (I like the DMT synthetic diamond "stones") and both I and my knives are much happier.

    1. saltwater RE: JCap Feb 21, 2008 08:12 PM

      I am not happy with my electric sharpener. It doesn't compare to having someone sharpen them with a stone. It does help some, though. Actually, it worked fairly well on my paring knife, but it never really did well with the knife that mattered (the chef). I have high carbon stainless knives, if that is relevant to the outcome.

      If you do buy one, buy one that can do the entire length of the knife. Some are such that the first part of the knife by the handle cannot be sharpened on some knives. You have to look at how the stones meet with how the knife drops into the slot. Chef's Choice have some that are right and some that are wrong.

      1. Richard 16 RE: JCap Feb 21, 2008 10:41 PM

        I couldn't stand my Chef's Choice 110. My knives never went through without bouncing around. It never worked no matter how many variations of touch/pressure and angles I tried; following e-mailed advice from the company and exchanging it for another made no difference.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Richard 16
          CindyJ RE: Richard 16 Feb 27, 2008 10:48 AM

          That's EXACTLY the result I encountered with the Chef's Choice 110. My knives bounced as I pulled them through, and I never felt as though they were placed at the right angle even though they're supposed to do that automatically when they're in the slot. The sharpener I've been using lately is a manual sharpener -- the MinoSharp 440 http://www.amazon.com/Global-MinoShar.... It does a fairly good job, but I'm still on the lookout for a good, no-fail sharpener designed someone like myself who just hasn't learned to master the honing technique.

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          LabRat RE: JCap Feb 22, 2008 06:03 AM

          I have one of the Chef's Choice sharpeners and it is OK, but you'll never get as good an edge as you will with a stone. One other thing to consider is that most electric knife sharpeners available in this country are made for European style knives. Japanese knives tend to have a different bevel angle (traditional and western styles) than their European counterparts and should not be run through an electric sharpener that isn't designed for them.

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            sueatmo RE: JCap Feb 22, 2008 06:51 AM

            I bought a Chef's Choice non-electric shapener about a decade ago, and I have been using it ever since. I have discovered that puting the length of the knife blade through the honer side before each use does help hold an edge. I do sharpen as well, and as another poster said, you lose some steel when you do this often. However, if you cannot easily get professional sharpening, and don't have the stone skills (neither do I), you might try the non-electric chef's choice. It is not that expensive, so if it doesn't meet your needs, you will have invested relatively little.

            1. Caroline1 RE: JCap Feb 22, 2008 01:56 PM

              If you have good knives, never never never use an electric knife sharpener on them, and I don't care who makes it. Buy yourself a really good steel and learn how to correctly steel your knives BEFORE every use! I don't care what Alton Brown or anyone else says about sharpening knives once a year, if you steel religiously, you won't need to. My beloved 10 inch Sabatier chef's knife is forty eight years old, has been steeled prior to every single use, and I may have to have it professionally sharpened one of these days because it has developed a small indent at the heel from all of these years of steeling it. But it is as sharp as the day I bought it. Do NOT use electric knife sharpeners on anything!

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                embee RE: JCap Feb 22, 2008 02:21 PM

                It comes down to trade offs. If you have the skill and patience to steel your knives regularly, you can (and actually do) use a stone, and you get around to having them sharpened professionally whenever they need a really good sharpening, an electric sharpener is a waste of money.

                But I'm lazy and impatient and my sharpening skills aren't great. This is how you describe yourself. I've had a three slot Chef's Choice for more than twenty years and I've been very pleased. It keeps my knives sharp with little effort and it hasn't destroyed a knife yet. (The brute force coarse sharpening slot will remove a lot of metal, but I haven't needed to use this slot more than once on any knife.)

                Since you aren't going to do it the best way, you should do it the best way you can. I'd suggest that you get an electric Chef's Choice, being careful to select a model that you find easy to use.

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                  sobriquet RE: JCap Feb 23, 2008 09:57 PM

                  I have the model they recommended I think. The 130. The answer to your question comes down to what kind of knives you have. I've found it did a great job on my stamped knives, but I tried it on one of my thicker forged knives and it didn't work nearly as well. On the stamped knife, the edge was actually surprisingly sharp.

                  Do a search of the board for a thread I started in the Los Angeles forum about "wickedly sharp." One of the responses includes a link to a national sharpening service you can send your knives to via mail. That might be a viable alternative if you have expensive forged knives that you're picky about.

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                    Nyleve RE: JCap Feb 25, 2008 06:46 AM

                    Like you, I have accepted the fact that I am not, and will never be, a good knife-sharpener. I will simply never take the time to learn how to do it well and so I have two choices. One: take my knives out for professional sharpening. Or, two: use one of those electric Chef's Choice gizmos. I live in a small town in the middle of nowhere. If I want my knives sharpened, I have to drive to a neighbouring town (30 minutes each way) where there is ONE place that can sharpen knives. They will keep the knife for a day or two to do the job. I will then have to drive back to pick it up. And - surprise, surprise - their sharpening actually sucks and has chewed up more of my good knives than I care to think about. So I bought a Chef's Choice and I use it. I love it. It does a better job than the idiot "professional" and I don't have to make two round-trips to get the frigging things done.

                    So the answer, I believe, very much depends on your situation. In my situation, the machine is the better choice. In yours, maybe not.

                    1. Mild Bill RE: JCap Feb 25, 2008 06:53 PM

                      I've had a bunch of Henckels and Wusthof knives for 15 years and I use them...
                      I LOVE my Chef's Choice 120 that I had all that time...

                      My knives get on the final honing/buffing wheel frequently and that usually gets me the edge I need---- and sometimes they spend a minute on the middle/gentle sharpening wheel--- then the buffer...

                      I've never ever used the first coarse heavy duty grinding wheel...
                      I think that's to turn a butter knife into a steak knife...

                      They'll glide thru paper---- and none of them have that anorexic oversharpened look...
                      They all look as they always have...

                      I don't need my knives any sharper, and it takes seconds...
                      My highest recommendation...

                      http://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a15...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Mild Bill
                        psb RE: Mild Bill Feb 26, 2008 05:03 AM

                        >anorexic oversharpened look...
                        >
                        nice description. i understand and imaged exactly what you meant.
                        george orwell would be proud of you.

                        1. re: Mild Bill
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                          embee RE: Mild Bill Feb 26, 2008 06:11 AM

                          I like your "butter knife into steak knife" comment, but the first slot does have a meaningful use. If you have a knife that has been mistreated for years and is extremely dull, very careful grinding in that slot may restore a usable edge. The alternative would be throwing the knife away. You can also put a temporary sharp edge on a crappy knife in a prep emergency.

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                          CrazyOne RE: JCap Feb 26, 2008 04:28 AM

                          Well, I have a new Chef's Choice model 130, but I haven't tried it yet. Christmas present. This thing has a non-motorized steeling slot in it that sounded like a better idea than all the older models, though I do see that some here have done well with those over the years. Seems like the first aggressive slot would never be used. I don't have the patience for the manual steeling, and perhaps more importantly my girlfriend has even less and she uses the knives more often. I'm sure some would say then I should just buy cheap stamped knives and stuff and forget sharpening, and if I did it all over again maybe I would have. But I did buy one Wusthof a couple years ago and got a couple more as gifts. So we have those three with no steeling or anything for the past few years. They've not seen what I would think is heavy use, but they didn't just hang on the magnet doing nothing.

                          I also brought home a decades-old Sabatier from my mother's house. This one is abused, just sitting bare in a drawer I believe and about as dull as a butter knife too. This could be a candidate for the aggressive grinding. I figure I'll see what it can do to that just for extra insurance that I won't ruin (too badly) my Wusthofs.

                          I'll report back when I've tried it. I have no room in the kitchen right now. I've been waiting on getting a new pot rack up (another gift) which will, with the shuffling of other items, free up some counter space. :-)

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: CrazyOne
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                            embee RE: CrazyOne Feb 26, 2008 06:14 AM

                            Don't put down "cheap stamped knives". Forschner knives have been top rated by for years by both Consumer Reports and Cooks Illustrated. And they sharpen beautifully.

                            1. re: embee
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                              sobriquet RE: embee Feb 27, 2008 09:23 PM

                              Not all stamped knives are cheap, either. MAC comes to mind. I think I read that Thomas Keller uses them. I doubt he'd tolerate anything substandard.

                              I have a Wusthof stamped 8" chef's knife that I use on occasion to carve. I find the thinner blade profile helps it glide through meat without sticking - and the 130 really did put a nice edge on it.

                              Stamped blades just don't have the appealing heft I'm looking for. I also don't like them as much for mashing garlic.

                              1. re: embee
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                                CrazyOne RE: embee Feb 28, 2008 12:47 PM

                                I meant "cheap stamped knives", not Forschner or similar quality ones. I might be more ahead with throwaways myself $-wise, but most of what I have has been gifted to me.

                                No need to be defensive; I didn't put down anything.

                              2. re: CrazyOne
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                                Nyleve RE: CrazyOne Feb 26, 2008 06:21 AM

                                I've bought old, abused knives at garages sales and very successfully rehabilitated them with the Chef's Choice. In that case I have used the first grinder slot.

                                Having said this, my understanding of the gizmo is that it puts a very specific type of edge on knives, consisting of a triple-angle hone. The first slot puts the first angle on it, the second does the next one down and, finally, the third does the third angle and the finest hone. Of course, this could all be bull*it, for all I know. But I remember reading that in the instruction booklet which said after you've once used the first slot on a knife, you almost never have to use it again because the next two slots are all that's needed to restore a usable edge.

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                                Jack_ RE: JCap Feb 28, 2008 01:39 PM

                                couple of things I'd like to through in. I hand sharpen all my own knives and woodworking tools. I use Japanese waterstones now but started looking into a motorized sharpener of some kind. One thing about the Chefs Choice is the angles. It sharpens at an angle of 22.5 degrees and hones at 25 degrees. Wustoff says there regulare chefs knives shpould be sharpened to 20 degrees and the Santukos to 17 degrees. At this point I'm looking at something like this

                                http://woodworker.com/cgi-bin/FULLPRE... that will let me change the angles.

                                If you think you can't sharpen by hand you should try looking at some of the intructional viideos on http://www.dmtsharp.com/

                                You can buy one of there jigs with 3 different grits of diamond stones at Amazon for $50

                                http://www.amazon.com/Diamond-Machini...

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