Thank you for the responses. All very positive. I will be ordering this item today.
I have an ulterior motive for asking this question. You see the Apex is not for me, but my daughter.
I am very adept at freehand sharpening on a waterstone but my daughter does not seem to be able to develop the knack, although she has tried hard. I wanted to make sure that this product did not have a steep learning curve.
When I get it and play with it, I will report back.
Again, I thank you.
I envy you your freehand sharpening ability! Like your daughter, I've never been able to get the knack, even after years of trying.
I finally gave in and bought an Edgepro Apex about eight years ago, and have been very happy with it. I think it took me about fifteen minutes to get the rhythm, and then it was clear sailing.
One more vote for the Apex. With an absolute minimum of practice you'll be able to put a razor edge - and more significantly, the right edge - on anything from a hatchet to a sashimi slicer. It's not cheap, but pays for itself fairly quickly when compared to professional sharpening.
No regrets. None! Well worth the money and easy to use. You won't be a pro your first time but you can sure sharpen up all your knives to levels that they had never seen even if you used a knife sharpening service. Get the kit with the most stones, ceramic rod and DVD. You'll end up using them. Mine is getting little use at the moment since I just dropped a bundle on Shapton glass stones to learn free hand sharpening. I spent more on the glass stones than on the EdgePro. Even not using it I would hate to part with it. I just keep thinking is there I way I can adapt full size stones to it.
Fantastic product. I recommend that you use it on a smooth-surfaced table and not wood. Sharpening with this device creates a "slurry" of metal filings and water which can easily scratch surfaces. Furthermore, this slurry WILL scratch the sides of your knives if you let it build up, so if you have fancy knives with mirror finishes that you are very attached to, you'll have to be extra vigilant.
The device is not without some minor flaws. It's not possible to get flawless results straight out of the box; it will be easier to get perfect results with a long, perfectly straight knife, because negotiating the curves of the blades requires some practise. Furthermore, I have one knife - a Forschener boning knife - that cannot be sharpened all the way to the hilt due to its shape. Lastly, positioning of the blade on the machine is important, because if you don't advance the blade far enough (so the edge overhangs the support) then you will be sharpening the machine itself and damaging it.
I quite like the machine, I would advise anyone who is interested to go for it.