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Where do you take/send your knives for sharpening?

k
kimbers324 Jul 17, 2013 02:16 PM

I find myself not reaching for my Wusthof knives b/c I have had them for about 10 years and they have dulled. I do have a Chefmate sharpener, but I'm apprehensive about using it b/c I don't want to ruin my knives. Shouldn't have even purchased it!

  1. t
    ThanksVille Jul 24, 2013 10:43 PM

    Over the years have acquired a collection of knives, lots of German blades and some decent Japanese ones which get heavy use from 3 cooks in the family. Used a fairly aggressive steel to maintain the edges which in hindsight was not the smartest decision but also purchased a highly rated 3-stage Chef's Choice electric sharpener that I used too frequently and took off enough metal that after a couple years my knives were decently sharp but the blade shapes had been deformed by battling the bottom of the bolster in the sharpener guide creating an uneven belly in the blade.

    The smartest decision I've since made was to seek out a professional service to reshape the knives by grinding down the heel of the bolster and evening out the belly of the blade followed by high quality sharpening appropriate to each steel and each blade shape.

    Fortunate to find ZB Sharpening in nearby Hillsborough, NJ which has a very convenient pick up and return delivery service as well as a huge mail in service that returned our knives to better than new sharpness and reconciled profiles. A year after my first service with them, I just had master sharpener, Ziggy resharpen most of the knives. The results are excellent with some of my best blades literally as sharp as razors. The fact that I was able to go a full year between his service calls is a testament that Ziggy counseled me to purchase a better,, more gentle steel and how to use it almost daily. The few lessons he shared and his knife repair efforts have helped me avoid having to replace some of the blades the CC nearly ruined. Great knowledgable service, affordable, quick turn around and outstanding results. If you are searching for a sharpening service, check out his website at ZBSharpening.com

    1. Mild Bill Jul 19, 2013 07:23 PM

      I've had my knives and my Chef's Choice 120 for almost 20 years and both are still in top shape... I LOVE my #120 and think folks who toil and send their knives out are crazy...

      In 10 seconds my knife will slice printer paper...

      Not one of my knives is misshapen... I hone mostly, on the last wheel --- or I might run a few swipes on the middle (light sharpen) wheel first... I have yet to use the first coarse grinding wheel that I guess turns a butter knife into a shiv...

      Use the Chef's Choice! Live!

      17 Replies
      1. re: Mild Bill
        k
        kaleokahu Jul 19, 2013 07:35 PM

        "Live." LMFAO

        I agree with you more than 95%. The remaining 5% is just a qualification: After a *long* time, the owner might need to send the blade to be reground back close to its original geometry.

        But this also must be done by people who sharpen with stones...

        Aloha,
        Kaleo

        1. re: kaleokahu
          cowboyardee Jul 19, 2013 08:36 PM

          "But this also must be done by people who sharpen with stones.."
          _______
          ?
          Not if you do it right.

          1. re: cowboyardee
            k
            kaleokahu Jul 19, 2013 09:33 PM

            I think you mean: Not if you spend even more hours changing the gross bevels. Right?

            1. re: kaleokahu
              cowboyardee Jul 19, 2013 09:50 PM

              I don't think I've heard the term 'gross bevels' before, but I assume you're referring to the geometry on the face of the knife and just above the edge bevels? Correct me if I'm mistaken.

              It doesn't take long at all if you do work em down just a bit each time you sharpen the knife. Downside of using flat stones, of course, is you'll inevitably leave some unsightly scratch marks when working by hand and might have to spend a bit of time buffing em out if you care about that kind of thing. Though with the carbon knives I use, they're invisible under the patina again in no time. At worst, a convex grind gets more pronounced over time, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe a minute's worth (if that) of maintenance each time I sharpen.

              Besides, even if you don't work the actual existing face geometry, hand sharpening allows you to just trim the shoulders of the edge bevels down, and keep the knife cutting well with very little work.

              1. re: cowboyardee
                k
                kaleokahu Jul 19, 2013 09:58 PM

                Hi, cowboy:

                Yes, that was my meaning. With all due respect, few people are going to "work em down just a bit each time you sharpen". For the vast majority of people (even those sharpening with stones), things will eventually get out of kilter. But hats off to those who: (a) know how to work ALL the bevels every single time they sharpen; and (b) have the time to do it.

                I think that was Mild Bill's point.

                Aloha,
                Kaleo

                1. re: kaleokahu
                  cowboyardee Jul 23, 2013 08:48 AM

                  You're probably right that most hand sharpeners don't do this regularly if at all. Of note though, some of the better online/video tutorials in hand sharpening do in fact advise people to do this (or at least a slightly simplified version of it) - Murray Carter's videos do. Jbroida has videos about blending bevels. I believe Dave Martell's vids cover this as well, though I haven't seen the whole series so I could be wrong.

        2. re: Mild Bill
          cowboyardee Jul 19, 2013 10:12 PM

          The Chef's Choice is a good solution for a lot of people. It's certainly fast, relatively easy, and gets a knife sharp enough to use good cutting technique. Within the context of this thread, it's a good recommendation. But people who avoid it aren't necessarily crazy. There are a few downsides:

          -It doesn't work as well on some knives (often Japanese) that have different edge angles than Western knives, and are often asymmetrical.

          - As Kaleo pointed out, you eventually sharpen enough times that the knife gets less 'tall.' Happens with any kind of sharpener. Because most knives get thicker toward the spine, eventually the edge gets wider even though the angle hasn't changed. And then the knife doesn't cut as well as it used to. The chef's choice doesn't have a real way to deal with this issue (though using the 'coarse' wheel on the 120 on rare occasions actually helps a bit since it's set at a lower angle IIRC).

          - It causes problems on knives with full length bolsters, and doesn't have any way of correcting those problems. Then again, that's many sharpening methods. Full length bolsters kind of suck.

          - Though it gets a knife respectably sharp, you can get it sharper with stones. Why bother? Mostly because absurdly sharp knives are just fun to use.

          - Though stones admittedly take some time and effort to master, once you learn to use em well sharpening a knife only takes a few minutes. It's not that fussy. It's almost therapeutic, actually, IME.

          1. re: cowboyardee
            SWISSAIRE Jul 19, 2013 10:27 PM

            We have a friend in the next town over who has made a very good living sharpening surgical instruments. He has so much business he now only works here and in Southern Germany.

            He rents a hotel room for a week and then has an assistant pick-up the instruments. Swiss cleaned and sharpened under a microscope, 24 x 7.

            I asked him what he uses, and how he sharpens his kitchen knives, waiting for an exotic answer or super technical tool list of some sort.

            " I just use a honing steel. I don't have time for a stone, or all that other ----. "

            1. re: SWISSAIRE
              cowboyardee Jul 19, 2013 11:04 PM

              That's telling of... something.

              A honing steel can actually sharpen (as in remove metal) in some situations. But it depends on the knife, the steel, how much pressure you use, angle, etc. More often than not though, a knife maintained only on a steel for years at a time can barely cut a tomato. Which some people are fine with, i guess.

              1. re: SWISSAIRE
                Chemicalkinetics Jul 20, 2013 05:39 AM

                There are some honing steels which can sharpen, like diamond honing steels:

                http://www.amazon.com/Wusthof-4483-10...

                Even then, it is very difficult to get a good consistent angle with these abrasive steels. If he is not using special honing steels, then he is really not removing metal in an effective or consistent manner -- thus he is not helping people.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                  scubadoo97 Jul 20, 2013 06:55 AM

                  Add ceramic to the list of "steels". I would think the only steels that don't remove metal are the smooth glass or metal ones

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                    SWISSAIRE Jul 20, 2013 08:05 AM

                    A misunderstanding.

                    This was regarding his own personal kitchen knives. Not the surgical instruments for his clients.

                    1. re: SWISSAIRE
                      Chemicalkinetics Jul 20, 2013 08:14 AM

                      Oh. Sorry. I see. I was really worry that he was just honing surgical instruments. That would be very bad. Thanks for the correction.

                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      cowboyardee Jul 20, 2013 08:35 AM

                      I was assuming he was referring to grooved honing steels.

                      But you're right of course - diamond and ceramic 'steels' remove metal. Smooth steel or glass 'steels' do not. Grooved steels can remove metal in some situations depending on technique, pressure, and the knife you're steeling, but more typically they just realign the edge. And even when they do remove metal, they don't do as good of a job at sharpening as most other sharpening methods.

                  2. re: cowboyardee
                    Chemicalkinetics Jul 20, 2013 06:49 AM

                    A very well written reply. The individual choice truly depends on the trade-off between sharpness and investment. Chef's Choice electric sharpeners are great solutions for people who want a quick and easy solution. They have essentially a zero learning curve. Anyone can learn how to use one in 1-2 min, unlike free hand stone sharpening. They remove metal quickly, unlike Edge Pro Apex or Spyderco Sharpmaker.

                    The flip is that an electric knife sharpener like Chef's Choice cannot produce refined sharp edges like those from Edge Pro or free hand stone sharpening.

                    It is all about priority, and what each of us have to decide for ourselves.

                    At the end, any kind of sharpening (even the mediocre quality one) is better than not sharpening.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      scubadoo97 Jul 20, 2013 06:57 AM

                      Your last sentence says it all

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        t
                        Tom34 Jul 20, 2013 08:20 AM

                        Chefs Choice $125.00 (vs) Edge Pro Apex $225.00 - I have owned both and there is simply no comparison.

                        Chefs Choice 3 station electric sharpener. No learning curve and it did a good job maintaining the angles but if I remember correctly the edge just in front of the bolster did not reach the sharpening stones. Its hard to discuss the degree of sharpness of a knife. Probably the easiest way to put it is it cleaned up an edge nicely but I could never create an edge as sharp as the original factory edge of a high quality German or Japanese knife. I gave mine to my brother.

                        Edge Pro Apex : Clearly not cheap by any means and there is a little learning curve but not much. As far as performance, it will not only recreate the sharpness of the factory edge but significantly surpass it to the point of what some people may consider down right dangerously sharp for a kitchen knife. The aggressive stones quickly re-cut a bevel and the finest polishing stones create a mirror finish. The system will also put multiple bevels on a blade if desired. Only down side I have found is initial cost & very small blades like steak knives can be a little tedious to work with. Last sharpener I will ever own.

                  3. JerryMe Jul 19, 2013 01:32 PM

                    I have a set of Hen and Roosters given to me as a gift and I dearly LOVE them! I use a really old hand sharpening tool from the 1950's - It's hand held with two intertwining wheels that sharpen the blade and it's starting to fall apart.

                    The other option that I have and I use is a mobile knife sharpening service. It's a van that parks near a farmer's market, which is year 'round here. We leave the knives and can pick them up when we're done at the market. It's like $5 per knife but they are very, very sharp. SO has managed to cut himself every time just to "let's see how sharp these are".

                    http://www.sharpvan.com/

                    1. John E. Jul 19, 2013 09:56 AM

                      If you do not wish to sharpen your knives yourself, either by hand or by machine, you should do an internet search for a knife sharpening service in your area.

                      I've tried the butcher shop route (actually, the meat department at an upscale grocery store) but found a better quality sharpening service that was closer to me. The place I found is actually a Wustof factory authorized service center and most of the knives I bring there are Wustof.

                      http://www.eversharpknives.com/

                      1. MidwesternerTT Jul 18, 2013 07:30 PM

                        Very lucky that the upscale grocery stores here in Minneapolis offers free knife sharpening. Drop off 3 knives (at a time), in the butcher area, pick them up sharpened the next day.

                        1. Chemicalkinetics Jul 18, 2013 03:58 PM

                          I used to say that most electric knife sharpeners suck, and that people should sharpen by hands if possible -- either by yourself or by professionals. I still believe exactly the same thing. However, I will add that a semi-imperfect sharpening (from an electric sharpener) is till better than not sharpening at all.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            scubadoo97 Jul 18, 2013 07:23 PM

                            How many uses are there for a 10 yr old dull knife? Not many

                            Any sharpening is better than none

                          2. u
                            unprofessional_chef Jul 18, 2013 03:14 PM

                            Why not run one of the less used Wusthof knives like the 4-6" utility knife through the Chef's Choice? Or test using a cheap kitchen knife around the house.

                            I'm not a fan of electric sharpeners due the aggressiveness of the diamond abrasives which can remove metal too fast. But since you're knives are very dull, they can benefit from the diamond abrasives. The first time, you may have to run it through stage 1 a few times. This is so that the sharpener can install it's primary bevel profile. But you should read the manual.

                            Do a before and after paper test. So you can gauge the performance the electric sharpener. Then decide whether or not to run the reset of your knives through the machine.

                            I sharpen my knives freehand with whetstones from Japan. I would not want to be the one sharpening a Wusthof knife set because that's at least a whole day's work for me.

                            1. k
                              kimbers324 Jul 18, 2013 01:17 PM

                              I meant Chef's Choice, sorry :-). It is an older model but was highly rated at the time.

                              Thanks all for your suggestions!

                              1. m
                                mike0989 Jul 18, 2013 12:34 PM

                                You can talk to who ever cuts you hair. Most Salons have a guy who comes by to sharpen scissors. The better stylists keep their scissors as sharp as a razor. I sure the same guy can touch up your knives.

                                12 Replies
                                1. re: mike0989
                                  Chemicalkinetics Jul 18, 2013 03:59 PM

                                  <Most Salons have a guy who comes by to sharpen scissors.>

                                  Really? I didn't know that.

                                  I will add that many (not all) WIlliams Sonoma and Sur La Table chains offer knife sharpening. I have never tried their service though.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                    k
                                    knifesavers Jul 18, 2013 04:16 PM

                                    "<Most Salons have a guy who comes by to sharpen scissors.>

                                    Really? I didn't know that."

                                    Chem, hair shears, not scissors, are about as expensive as Japanese knives. Cheap student ones are about $100 each and fancy can get stoopidly expensive. Ask your stylist.

                                    They are their own specialty to learn how to sharpen and maintain using damn expensive gear. Usually those sharpeners that do them also do knives but not always.

                                    Jim

                                    1. re: knifesavers
                                      Chemicalkinetics Jul 18, 2013 04:47 PM

                                      Yeah, but I didn't know the sharpeners will come by the salons as opposed to the salons send out the knives.

                                      1. re: knifesavers
                                        cowboyardee Jul 18, 2013 07:12 PM

                                        Hair shears are fascinating. I wish I knew someone who could really teach me the ins and outs of em. I touched up a pair for a friend (who knew I didn't have experience with em). Touch up sharpening following the existing geometry wasn't too hard, but I understand that repairing or reprofiling shears that are even slightly damaged is quite tricky.

                                        Anyway, I imagine that anyone who can sharpen hair shears well can also sharpen knives, since knives are comparatively simple. Whether they are willing to sharpen knives or will do so at a decent price, I don't know.

                                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                        m
                                        mike0989 Jul 19, 2013 08:54 AM

                                        My stylist's salon has a guy comes by. I'm not certain if he does them in his van, or takes them back to a shop. I do know it's not easy to sharpen a good pair of scissors sharpned right. The point is, if you can find the schedule, I'm sure you can get your knives done with her scissors.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                          m
                                          mike0989 Jul 19, 2013 01:22 PM

                                          I gave her a call. It is a mobil service that comes by every other month and he is setup in the back of his van to take care of them on location. He does do knives as well. Knives are a relative bargain at $10\each. Her scissors (she calls them shears) cost $30\each.

                                          1. re: mike0989
                                            Chemicalkinetics Jul 19, 2013 04:29 PM

                                            < he is setup in the back of his van to take care of them on location>

                                            Thanks for the information. It sounds like the knives/scissors/shears can be done on the spot and gotten back within a hour or so.

                                        2. re: mike0989
                                          pamf Jul 18, 2013 04:02 PM

                                          Similar idea, check with a butcher or a market that has an actual butcher counter. They also may have a service that takes care of their knives.

                                          My local market has a sharpening visit monthly and if you drop off your knives the day before you can pick them up in the afternoon. They charge about $10-15 per knife depending on the knife's condition.

                                          1. re: mike0989
                                            z
                                            zinFAN Jul 20, 2013 05:30 PM

                                            My stylist has these crazy expensive Japanese shears and she said that she has to send them to the US service center to get them sharpened because they use a special steel and very acute grind with some degree of convexity. It wouldn't be too bad if you only had to sharpen 1 blade freehand, but the angles need to be just right so it's better for the shop to have a jig.

                                            1. re: zinFAN
                                              cowboyardee Jul 20, 2013 06:03 PM

                                              I think the edge angle is more often than not about 45 degrees, but there is some variation, and the edge is generally convex. The backsides are often concave with flat spots at the edge, just like the back sides of a yanagiba. The blades themselves have a gentle curve that has to be JUST RIGHT. It seems a lot of shear sharpeners (but not all) use specialized gear that employs a slightly curved wheel of abrasive to match the curve of the blade. And a locking blade holder that pivots freely from one set angle to another set angle in order to create a smooth convex grind by twisting the blade without risk of going too obtuse as might happen when sharpening by hand.

                                              Here is a video:
                                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGzl9t...

                                              There's more to it than that, and other shear designs that don't follow that pattern. And also, I hear that you can sharpen a pair of shears so it looks and feels just right coming off the abrasive, but then it still doesn't cut well when they're fastened and tightened because of some minute discrepancy in their geometry. Cool stuff.

                                              1. re: cowboyardee
                                                Eiron Jul 22, 2013 12:09 PM

                                                "... Cool stuff."

                                                Knerd.

                                                :-D

                                                1. re: Eiron
                                                  cowboyardee Jul 23, 2013 08:32 AM

                                                  Takes one to know one.

                                          2. Candy Jul 18, 2013 12:27 PM

                                            My own kitchen. I sharpen my own knives. If you have not sharpened them in 10 years you are going to need to have a new edge put on them. Do you have any kitchen stores ear you? Many of them do sharpen knives. Don't go to a butcher shop for sharpening as some people have mentioned doing. The knives the meat cutters use are not of the same quality and get a lot of grinding and abuse.

                                            I have 2 pull through sharpeners from Wusthof. One is for Asian knives (a 15 degree angle) and one for western knives (a 20 degree angle). These are simple, the hold the blade at the proper angle and I use them routinely to hone my knives when using them. I do have a Chefs Choice electric sharpener, 3 stage which also keeps the knife at the correct angle and another electric from Shun for my Asian knives. Chef's Choice now makes and electric sharpener that is capable of both styles. I may use the electrics ebery other month or so.

                                            1. cowboyardee Jul 17, 2013 06:35 PM

                                              By Chefmate, do you mean the slicer that also sharpens knives?
                                              http://www.globeslicers.com/PDF/gc510%20manual.pdf

                                              Or a Chef's Choice electric slicer?
                                              http://www.amazon.com/Chefs-Choice-Professional-Knife-Sharpening-Platinum/dp/B000CSK0DM

                                              Or something I haven't heard of?

                                              AFAIK, there is no national chain that does good work on knives. There are some sharpeners who take mail orders, but that is both expensive and time consuming.

                                              Your best bet to find a decent local sharpener would be to post on your local board and ask there who they recommend in your area.

                                              BTW, even though I'm kindof a sharpening snob about my knives, I have to admit that even just using a $10, stupid-easy-to-use Accusharp is much better than having dull knives for a long time.

                                              Here is some basic info on various kinds of home sharpening systems, if you can't find a decent pro in your area.
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/797106

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: cowboyardee
                                                Chemicalkinetics Jul 18, 2013 03:56 PM

                                                <Here is some basic info on various kinds of home sharpening systems, if you can't find a decent pro in your area. >

                                                This list is a bit better:

                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7971...

                                                :P

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