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May 17, 2011 03:08 PM

Kinfe sharpening equipment? For a beginner?

Hi-- I am trying to start on making charcuterie, so I really need to practice my butchering.

the only problem?

I am completely new to this and have no idea of what equipment to buy that is needed for sharpening a knife. Help?

I am looking for something that can take me from beginner/novice mode to semi-advanced with my sharpening. Preferably something non-electric.


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  1. How does charcuterie has to do with knife sharpening?

    There are three major ways to sharpening/upkeeping a knife. They are the electric knife sharpeners. manual pull through gadgets and sharpening whetstones.

    I am proponent of free hand sharpening using whetstones, and particularly waterstone. For equipment, I would get a waterstone between 800-1200 grit. I think that is a good starting stone. Some examples:

    As for the sharpening process, youtubes have many good video. I thought Thomas Stuckey has some nice videos. Here are two examples:

    Of course, the infamous Dave Martell has a few videos. They may seem a bit nonsense for beginner, but they will eventually make more sense as you learn more:

    1. In my neck of the woods, which is Saratoga Springs, the local cookware store sharpens knives for $3.00 each. I gave up on sharpening them at home, although I have a Chef's Choice sharpener. My recommendation would be to take them to the professionals, and don't bother with home sharpening. I get mine done about every six months, and use a sharpening steel at home during the intervals. If you don't have a source for sharpening, just ask the local deli, bar, restaurant of your choice. They can usually point you towards the people who do their knives.

      2 Replies
      1. re: trakman

        trakman - wondering why you don't use your chef's choice sharpener?

        1. re: smilingal

          Didn't seem to give me the results I was looking for. Might be the machine, might be the guy who's running the machine. Don't really know. I use it for most of my non daily use knives, but for the big three, all Wusthof's, I figure $9.00 twice a year isn't such a big deal to get them done professionally.

      2. Like Chem, I also sharpen free-hand on waterstones. It's the most versatile way to sharpen and it produces excellent results once you're good at it. It doesn't have to be very expensive, but there is a definite learning curve to it. If you want to go that route, Chem's suggestions are good. Though I'll add that chefknivestogo has a free series of youtube tutorials that's not bad - not flawless but more comprehensive than the videos Chem listed. Here's the link:
        If you have further questions, we can help.

        However, from your post, it seems your concern is navigating the learning curve. If you don't mind spending some money, an edgepro makes it much easier for a beginner to create a fantastic edge. Produces a great edge, versatility is second only to free-hand methods, easy to learn, big price tag.

        More affordable is the spyderco sharpmaker. It's very good at keeping a knife sharp, less good at sharpening a really dull knife. Produces a fairly nice edge, a little slow, less versatile, moderately priced. I don't know if I would consider using one 'semi-advanced.'

        There are cheaper gizmos, some of which can create a usably sharp (but not great) edge. The accusharp comes to mind. These are problematic if you have high standards for sharpness or expensive knives. But they're quick, easy, and affordable.

        39 Replies
        1. re: cowboyardee

          What do you think of the the Wicked Edge? I remember seeing a few negative reviews on youtube a few years pass. For some reasons, I cannot no longer find them. I am sure Clay has made some improvements since then. What are the "words on the street" these days?

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            I've never played around with it personally. Seems to be creating good competition for the edge pro. The few reports I've heard of it are good - the buzz is that it's about equally well designed. Here's what I can tell just from their website ( ):

            Pros (as compared to the edge pro):
            -The knife is clamped into place, freeing up one of your hands
            -Can sharpen both sides without flipping the knife. Using alternating strokes, you can sharpen both sides at the same time.
            -Potentially faster than the edge pro

            - Not as many accessories included in the $250 price tag as the edge pro Apex 4
            - Sharpening both sides at the same time is problematic if you rely on burr formation (of course you can just sharpen one side at a time, just like the edge pro, so it's not much of a con
            ) - Sharpening a longer knife at a consistent angle can be a bit more of a PITA due to having to unclamp, reposition, and reclamp it (the instruction manual says to hit the whole edge with each swipe, but that's a potential issue with longer blades, especially any long single bevel knives)
            - AFAIK the Wicked Edge still can't sharpen below 15 degrees per side. This might not be an issue for the OP, but it might be an issue for me if I was looking to buy this or an edge pro.

            In my eyes, only the 15 degree thing is really much of a problem, and even that wouldn't be an issue for most people. Looks like a good high-end system.

            1. re: cowboyardee

              Some of the cons, I got from earlier youtube reviewers were:

              The clamp cannot securely grab the knives. This causes obvious problem, but also scratches where the clamp holds the knives.

              The clamp especially has difficulty to hold on flat ground knives, as shown as number 2 in the diagram:


              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                At near the same price point the EdgePro is the clear winner over the Wicked Edge.

              2. re: cowboyardee

                Although one can get by relatively cheaply with waterstones, it is very easy to spend more on waterstones than an EdgePro. I know, I've done it. I still like to promote the EdgePro for anyone who really isn't comfortable with hand sharpening. The price is not bad when seen over a lifetime of sharpening and the joy of a superbly sharp knife every time you use it is hard to put a price on.

                1. re: scubadoo97

                  True. I'm sure I've spent more than an edge pro's worth on waterstones at this point. I'd say a lot of people who get into waterstone sharpening do this. I think there are two factors involved:

                  1) The beginning sharpener's tendency to assume his mediocre results are due to his tools. For a long time I assumed that you had to get up around at least 5k grit (and use an expensive stone, maybe a strop too) for a knife to shave arm hair. Now I can make a decent knife shave off an 800 grit king stone. Seeing Murray Carter work just two low priced stones to a great edge went right over my head. Likewise, I spent good money on various stropping accessories before realizing (or even trying out) how well newspaper laid on a flat dry stone works.

                  It's too tempting just to throw money into some more stones rather than be patient with what you have.

                  2) Chasing the dragon. The type of person who gets into waterstone sharpening in the first place is the same type of person who will want to create the sharpest edge possible, the longest lasting edge possible; to find the most synergistic stone progression; to experiment with finishing at different grits and techniques.

                  To me that's actually part of the fun. It's a hobby. But if I'm sharpening for someone else, I could just as easily use one or two stones, maybe a newspaper strop, and wow them just the same. I probably only NEED $35 worth of equipment to do that.

                  The edge pro is a great functional method of sharpening knives. But it doesn't have that endless degree of variation and new tricks and toys to try out.

                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    "The edge pro is a great "functional" method of sharpening knives". After watching the edge pro youtube video,I couldn't help but notice how mechanical and soulless this device was.Don't get me wrong,I'm sure the edge pro can put a way better edge on a knife than I can with my stones,but it doesn't look like any fun at all.

                    I derive great pleasure from the whole sharpening experience.The ritual if you will.Like cowboy said, it's a hobby and hand sharpening with stones doesn't have to be expensive.A couple of stones a holder a truing stone a piece of leather or some news paper and you're good to go.

                    Just my 2 cents.

                    No offence to the edge pro fans.To each their own.

                    1. re: petek

                      If sharpening knives is what you do for fun, then the Edgepro's certainly the wrong tool. For me, though, sharpening is a chore. I want a good edge quickly and efficiently with minimal risk of screwing things up. The Edgepro is perfect for that.

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        I hear what you're saying alanbarnes,maybe "fun' was the wrong word to use.But I certainly don't find it a chore and I've never screwed any of my knives up free handing with stones,and I'm no pro.I get the edge that I want with little to no fuss. I figure that I spent good money on "traditional" Japanese knives I might as well use traditional ways to sharpen them.That's just me.

                  2. re: scubadoo97


                    Am I wrong to assume that EdgePro stones do not last as long? Because they look small to me. I think it won't make much difference for average knife users because most knife users will hardly go through a regular size stone, but I have had on my suehiro/steelex stone when I was working on my usuba which was why I asked for advise for replacement stones and I got some excellent advise from you guys. I assume that I would have easily wear out the EdgePro stones and probably in a shorter peroid of time. In other words, is edgepro really cheaper?

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      The stones stand up very well, only 2 of mine show any wear. One being the 400 that I thinned my mc66 with it's about 1/2 gone ( that was probably 30 to 40hrs) and I over tightened either the 800 or 1K and snapped the stone in half. That being said , DON'T over tighten the stone in it's holder the backing plate bends and the stone , it only bends so far.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        As Dave mentioned the standard EP stones hold up well but do need flattening like any stone. They are also very cheap to replace. The array of after market stones you can get for a EP is growing very quickly

                    2. re: cowboyardee

                      Brilliant! Thank you ChemicalKinetics, cowboyardee and scubadoo. The Edgepro it is!

                      Now-- what is this other thing I keep hearing about called a "strop", and a "steel"?

                      Are those needed too?

                      1. re: achilles007

                        A strop is a piece of leather (or sometimes balsa wood or something else with just a bit of give) glued to or laid on a flat board and often covered with a very fine abrasive for the sake of putting the finishing touches on a knife edge after sharpening. You can make one cheaply if you find you want one.

                        A steel is what you see chefs on TV using - a handheld steel, glass, or ceramic rod that re-aligns the edge during use, does some very minor sharpening, and can help the edge last longer between full sharpenings.

                        You don't necessarily need either if you're getting the edge pro (in fact the fine 'films' that come with the edge pro serve more or less the same purpose as the strop). A steel may be useful if you're using softer steel boning knives and butchering for marathon sessions at a time - it would help you keep a usable edge through a long session of heavy work. Fresh off the edge pro, a steel would actually make the edge duller. A strop may come in handy if you have nicer or harder steel knives whose edges you want to keep pristine and you find it a PITA to bust out the edge pro for just a minor touch-up.

                        But like I said, neither is a must buy.

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          The strop is not a must buy but for harder steels it will prolong the time between sharpening. Because stropping is done free hand unless you count the EdgePro films it could lead to hand sharpening. Just a warning

                        2. re: achilles007

                          Agreeing with cowboy.

                          A leather strop is like these:


                          A honing steel is like these:


                          You don't really need them right now. A steel can be useful if you use the softer steel knives like Henckels and Wusthof, but it is counterproductive for hard steel knives (mostly Japanese knives).

                          1. re: achilles007

                            I'm a big fan of the Edgepro, too. There's a learning curve, but it's short and not very steep. Watch the video included with your set and practice on a cheaper knife - one that can have a few scratches on the blade without reducing you to tears.

                            As far as the strop goes, others have addressed that - the ultra-fine polishing tape that comes with many Edgepro kits will do the job for you.

                            A steel is another matter entirely. If you're using very hard knives (including most Japanese steel), you don't need it. Softer blades (including most made in Europe) really benefit from being straightened out before each use. Edgepro includes a ceramic "steel" in some of its kits that is perfect for this task.

                            1. re: achilles007

                              If you are going to go with the EP I would suggest getting the kit with the stones to 10K

                              1. re: Dave5440

                                Dave; how much will that set someone back?

                                1. re: petek

                                  I think it ended up being 330$ with shipping, duty, taxes, and exchange rate, our dollar was lower then

                              2. re: achilles007

                                Strops are hardly for beginners. A steel is and it's essential.

                                1. re: DPGood

                                  Stropping is not that difficult,the question is more to strop or not to strop? you can strop on an old piece of leather a phone book or rolled up news paper.A steel is essential only if the OP is using knives with softer steel(henckels wusthof etc) it won't do much for harder Japanese steel.

                                    1. re: DPGood

                                      I think achilles007 has his/her mind set on the edge pro,which from what I understand,comes with some kind of film that acts as a strop so bases covered there.A steel or ceramic/glass rod are great for in between touch ups.

                                  1. re: DPGood

                                    "A steel is and it's essential"

                                    Not sure about that statement. Essential is too strong of a word. I believe a lot of people here do not use a honing steel for most of their knives, me included

                                      1. re: DPGood

                                        How do you stand corrected on a statement which is incorrect?


                                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        It really depends on what kind or type of steel your knives are, doesn't it? Just a reminder for some, a steel is used to straighten the edge not sharpen it. Softer knife steels tend to relax and fold over, these need to be drawn across a steel to realign the edge. Harder knife steels don't tend to relax or bend they are more prone to chip and a steel could make the edge worse. It's also of value to note, it takes very little pressure to steel a knnife to realign the edge.

                                        BTW, I'm finding freehand sharpening to be an ominous and frustrating task, I might as well take up golf. That Edgepro my go on my birthday list ;)

                                        1. re: mikie

                                          "It really depends on what kind or type of steel your knives are, doesn't it?"

                                          Agree and I think a steel can be very useful but only for a subset of knives. I think the word "essential" is probably a bit of an exaggegration, which is why many knife experts do no use a honing steel.

                                          When you get your EdgePro, will you write a small review here? We have a lot of people talk about it, but I am not sure if anyone has written a review on his/her first impression.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                            It's hard to do a review when you have an EP , it's ultra easy to use,instructions are clear, precise. and contains everything you can think of , how not to scratch your knife, thin blades, thick blades, hard ,soft, angles and the owner Ben Dale gives you his email if you have a problem or question(and he replies either the same day or first thing the next, he even gives you his phone number and when to call to get him personaly) and there's so many vids up on u-tube if you still can't figure it out, it is so easy that I put a mirror edge on my furi (I know I know JUNK) from dull dull dull in about an hr, the only downside is the noise it makes, well that's what my wife says so I can't use it when she's home but she's extra sensitive to certain sounds
                                            Richard, I put my email up if you ever want to get a hold of me privately

                                            1. re: Dave5440

                                              And when your wife read this entry, she will be extra sensitive too... just not about sounds. :P

                                              Anyway, I think you have already written a short Edge Pro review. It isn't really a bad idea that a few of EdgePro owners (like scubadoo and you) write down their experience in a separate post, including pros and cons like you did. In the future, people can just point to this list of reviews as citations/references. Something to think about. I started one for the CCK Chinese cleaver and one for the DeBuyer carbon steel pan. I thought both were quiet useful for citation purpose. Ok, the Debuyer one is a lot more organized.


                                              Please tell me you didn't buy the Rachel Ray version of the Furi knife.

                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                Good lord no, I bought them before I knew she had a line out , my wife will never read this but to be on the safe side I didn't respond to the thread about the "most"

                                                1. re: Dave5440

                                                  "Good lord no, I bought them before I knew she had a line out"

                                                  In that case, I have a lot more respect for you than otherwise. It is one thing that you bought a few Furi knives which aren't exactly great -- a kind of mistake which all of us make one way or the other. It is an entirely different thing that you bought Furi knives because Rachel Ray is famous.

                                                  Like this:



                                                  Yeah, a $20 plastic 4 quart bowl from Rachael Ray.... Seriously, man, I can buy a 4 quarts cheap stainless cladded stockpot or Lodge cast iron Dutch Oven for about the same price.

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    I wonder if I can still find one of those,,,,,hahahahahaha

                                                    1. re: Dave5440


                                                      The grey/granite one worths more, get it before they are all gone ($35.50 + shipping):


                                              2. re: Dave5440

                                                You should also write a review of that Furi knife. How'd it take to the mirror edge?

                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                  Oh. That's true. One review for Edge Pro and one review for Furi knife.

                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                    It took it really well , stays incredibly sharp if you don't use it, i'm pretty sure just putting it in the knife block dulls it, it is so soft it's hard to believe there's any carbon in it. When I get back to work i'm going to try case hardening the bottom 1/4 inch. I've heard the furi's are in the 52 rc range, just junk really

                                2. From my experience I would make sure I had the "right" knives. For me and my family those are carbon steel knives. Actually I like SS carbon steel knives.

                                  They're sharp and easy to keep sharp with a honing steel, which you should use before each use. Keep them clean and dry--by hand only (no dishwasher).

                                  At some point they made need sharpening. When that happens depends mostly on how often you use them. At that point, have them sharpened professionally.

                                  That should take you from beginner to novice.

                                  Good, knives are a pleasure to use. Plus a sharp knife is a safe knife. Your knives should feel good in your hands, balanced, not too heavy, not to light, not too big, not too small. Only you can judge. Try before you buy,.

                                  If you want to go beyond novice, there are a lot of smart and knowledgeable people around, including many on here, who can guide you. I'm not there yet. Happy where and I am and with my selection of SS carbon steel knives.

                                  There are many who may disagree and you can learn a lot from them too.

                                  Good luck.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: DPGood

                                    "Actually I like SS carbon steel knives."
                                    Are you referring to high carbon stainless steel knives? Those aren't carbon steel (defined by lack of stainless-ness, not by high amounts of carbon in the steel). 'High carbon stainless steel' is basically a marketing term, since it's often applied to any steel that's high enough in carbon content to make into a knife in the first place.

                                    I'm sorry - I know you're getting beat up a little in this thread, and I hope it doesn't come off that way, like people are picking on you. Some of us knife guys are just very details-oriented and like picking apart statements and advice. Many of your statements (sharp = safe, honing =/= sharpening) are good, accurate advice.

                                    What knives do you have at home that you like using so much? Do you know the brand?

                                    1. re: DPGood


                                      I (and we) weren't trying to beat up on you. Like cowboy said, we kind of detail orienated. Statement like "A honing steel is useful" sounds different different to us than "A honing steel is a must", and I think Pete and I were mostly after that difference. Please don't take it personally. It has nothing against you on a personal level. I think your above post is a good summary. As for you liking of SS vs carbon steel, yes, that is a good topic for other posters to explore too.