Is this sharpening system good?

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by esquared, Oct 14, 2011.

  1. esquared

    esquared Banned

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  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    The Edgepro can produce amazing edges. It's only effective on about 4 inches at a time though so you have to reset it a lot for Kitchen knives. High hassle factor for kitchen sharpening.
     
  3. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    I have to disagree with Phatch.  The Edge Pro Apex is an excellent method for sharpening kitchen knives if you don't know how to freehand effectively, or if you sharpen more than a couple of knives at a time. 

    The learning curve to extremely sharp is far flatter for an EP than for bench stones. It's a definite home run in that respect.

    Setup is only slightly less convenient than bench stones. 

    Use is easy.  You do have to slide a long knife across the table as you sharpen, and also rotate it as you sharpen near the tip.  However, that doesn't mean changing the setup for a given knife.  I think Phatch has the EP confused with other, smaller rod-guide systems which rely on clamping like the Lasky and Gatco. 

    If your stones are already prepped, and you're a practiced freehander, you can do one knife faster and two knives just as fast on bench stones as with an EP.  After that, the EP is definitely faster. 

    If you have very oddly shaped knives (you probably don't), are sharpening Japanese "single-bevel" or you're an extremely skilled freehander, you can probably get a better edge on bench and slip stones.  But, brother, if you fall in any of those categories, it's not terribly likely we'd be talking to one another about the EP. 

    If you're not an excellent sharpener, and are sharpening "normal" knives, you'll almost certainly do better with an EP. 

    The EP will give you a better edge than any electric or manual "pull through," or "V" stick type sharpener, not to mention a much wider range of polish options.  It is, without question, one of very few "best" methods for kitchen knife sharpening. 

    However, an EP is expensive enough to fall in the category of "serious interest."  You have to use knives which can take a very good edge and want them very sharp to make an EP at all cost effective.

    Whether it's best for you depends on several factors:
    • What kind of knives do you have? 
    • How are you sharpening them now? 
    • Do you already have and use a rod hone (knife steel)? 
    • What kind?
    • Price range?
    • Etc.
    The EP comes as two models, Apex and Professional, and each model comes in one of several "kits;" none cheap. You're looking at the "Apex kit 2" right now.  If the EP is the right way to go, whether that's the right model and kit is still open.  Apex is more than likely right, but kit 2? 

    If you're wondering about me, I have a strong interest in sharpening, almost five decades of experience sharpening, very good sharpening skills and four completely different sharpening kits: Water stone; Oil stone; Strop; and EP Apex (Chosera kit); and also use a two rod-hone set for some of my knives.  My knives are largely old Sabatier carbons of one type and manufacturer; high end, Japanese, "wa" knives; and Forschners.In addition to my own experience I keep up with the subject on the boards. 

    I don't always recommend what I use for other people, because I'm not other people and they're not me.  But my own experience as well as a lot of others' makes it easy to give the EP Apex a strong recommendation for anyone getting serious.

    Hope this helps,

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2011
  4. esquared

    esquared Banned

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    I have been using crappy knives for a long time and just ordered a set of Wusthof classic ikon knives. I would rather sharpen them myself. I will add more as I need them but the 8 pieces I ordered should do most evrything. I have had it with crappy knives that wont hold a edge even if a pro sharpened them so I ordered some decent ones. I have a set of ceramics that hold the stones at a angle but it does a lousy job on my kitchen knives so I want better. I mainly cook for me and my friends and will use them on a daily basis. The guy that sells that sharpening system locally said he would teach me how to use the steel but I would rather not have to take them somewhere to get sharpened. Had a close call 2 weeks ago slicing up 60 pounds of pork tenderloin so I need good sharp knives. I buy meat when it is cheap and cut it for what I want like soups and fajitas then freeze it. Also cut my own beef for soups as well as chicken. I have had knives slip several times but when a chef friend let me use his set, no issues at all and they were really sharp. I know there are better knives but his ikons fit me perfect and I blazed through the pork and I like them. I cut about 40 pounds of tenderloin for a friend with his knife and it was over quickly, half into 1" chops and the rest cubed, think it took under 30 minutes so I was sold. 

    This is the set I ordered but I paid less for it here, price went up the day after I bought for $404.00. I plan on adding a 10" chefs knife as well as a 7"santoku as I think the 10" will be better when cutting large roasts into stew meat and I love using a santoku for veggies for my meals. I tend to use a chefs knife for most everything if I am cooking for more than myself as it goes so fast. 

    http://www.metrokitchen.com/product/WU-9908

    So what do you think, am I in the right ballpark with this sharpening system for the knives I am getting and what I am doing? Am I better with wood for veggies and plastic for meat with this set? I have been using a plastic board for meat as I believe it is easier to clean and I usually bleach it after use to make sure it is clean.
     
  5. esquared

    esquared Banned

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    Oh and the price of this sharpening system is not a issue at all for me. 
     
  6. knifesavers

    knifesavers

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    Unless a knife is very dull 1000 grit is where I will start. That kit tops out at 1000 so if you stay on top of sharpening you will have 4 stones that you never use.

    OTOH this EdgePro kit from CKTG........

    http://www.chefknivestogo.com/edge-pro-sharpener.html

     has 4 stones 1000 or above so this has 4 stones you will use. 2 crucial factors in sharpening are grit selection and angle control and this kit gives you those. 

    Regardless of the system, the result is going to be based on your skill. Angle control, grit selection, and when to stop with that grit and start another are keys.

    You cut up a bunch of product with the Ikons and were happy with their performance. That is the ultimate test of if that is the knife for you.

    Jim
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2011
  7. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    The Apex is a tremendously powerful and flexible sharpening tool.  If you plan to sharpen double beveled knives, you will never need to buy another sharpening device- ever.  There's some controversy as to whether it should be used on single beveled knives but that's beyond the scope of your needs so I won't go there.

    The Chocera kit linked in the post above is a great one.  I heartily recommend CKtG; wonderful vendor and all around good folks.  If you don't want to spend the money on the Choceras and just plan to sharpen German knives you can get along with the stock stones.  And you can always add upgraded stones later on.
     
  8. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Sounds like you're leaning very strongly towards an EP.  Good choice.

    The Apex Chosera kit is very good.  It's Apex Kit 1 + five Choseras cut for the EP: 400, 1000, 3000, 5000, 10000.  The Choseras are a little faster and more pleasant to use than the EP stones and tapes. 

    Speaking of tapes, if you're going to mix stones and tapes, you'll want an angle cube or other angle finder to compensate for their different thicknesses.   

    There are a lot of grit numbering systems.   The Apex Kit 2 which was recommended to you has coarse, medium and fine.  Ep rates its medium stone at 320#, but numbers aside it's equivalent to a Japanese (JIS) 800#.  The finer stone, is labeled 1200# and is about the same as 3000# JIS.   Kit 2 also comes with a fine textured honing rod. 

    There's no one grit which is the right starting point or ending point for any particular knife.  You choose the right grit for the situation.  It's unlikely you'd use the coarse EP or Chosera very much, but you would use it occasionally.  With respect, "always starting at 1000" is not knowing how to sharpen very well. 

    You didn't ask about your knives.  You bought what you wanted, are happy, so I'm not going to critique them.  There are a few sharpening issues, though.  First, you will need a fine honing rod. The one which came with your set is too coarse and is best left in the block and only removed to occasionally wash.  The one which comes with Kit 2 is inconvenient (better if you order a handle, which I believe EP sells), mostly because its so thin and without a handle.  I recommend the Idahone fine ceramic -- 12", if you're going to use a 10" knife.  Your knives will need A LOT of steeling. 

    Another issue with your knives is their fairly low "scratch hardness."  They will never take a high polish, and will lose even a moderate polish fairly quickly.  Consequently, the highest useful polish for most of them will be in the 3000# - 5000# (JIS) range, and you may want to stop at 1000# (aka EP 320) for a few of them.  From a polishing perspective Kit 2 is fine for your purposes, and the Chosera kit is somewhat overkill. 

    If you've never done much sharpening, training is an excellent idea.  If you already have a basic idea of how to sharpen and what sharp is, then the EP system is simple enough that you don't need one to one training, but it "couldn't hurt."  You don't even need a kit which includes EP's excellent DVD, or to buy it separately, because EP has everything you need to know in videos up on You Tube.

    Okay one of the lower priced, stock EP Kits will work well for you.  But you've got a lot of guys saying, "Chosera."  Is their more pleasant touch and bit of extra speed worth the extra money?  Yes, actually.  The Chosera kit is only available through one retailer, CKtG, but CKtG will also sell you the stones cut for the EP individually, or in the form of a seven stone set.  I gather you know someone who will both sell you an Apex and include training.  Tough choice.  Why not buy the Apex from your friend, and order three or four Choseras ala carte from CKtG along with an Idahone rod?  Best of all worlds. 

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2011
  9. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    All you will need is a 5/16" drill stop collar.  You can pick one up for about $1.50 at any hardware store.  I can point you to some videos on how to  use it.  It's the only way to fly!  You get the angle set where you want it and can use the collar to hit the angle dead-bang with every stone, no matter if it's 1/8" thick or 1/2" thick.  It will cut your sharpening time by 75% or more, easy, while improving your accuracy.
     
  10. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Should have said "angle cube to find an exact angle, and collar stop to repeat it with stones of different thickness." 

    Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

    BDL
     
  11. kmstl

    kmstl

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    I'm also looking at buying an EdgePro and have a few questions.

    As a quick background, I've only taken cooking serious for the last 6 months or so. So i'm very much a beginner.

    I have researched some on what types of knives I should be focusing on and started learning proper knife technique. I'm also signed up with rouxbe.com and really enjoy that resource as well.  For me their videos are a nice complement to what I have been reading.

    Here are my knives ...

    Wustof bread knife 10" -- wedding gift. Still in very good shape.

    Henckel 4 star slicer 10" -- estate sale $5

    Henckel 6" petty -- estate sale $5

    Henckel 6" Chef -- estate sale $5 (have replaced this one)

    Victorinox 10" Chef -- new from local store

    Victorinox parrying 3-4" -- new from local store

    Henckel Honing Steel 10" -- estate sale $5

    All the Henckel stuff was sold together as a lot for $20, so figured it would be worth it if I used any thing from it. I don't know how old those knives are but overall they look to be in good condition though the chef has a bent tip.

    After reading the pros/cons I think the EP system will work for me better than free handing. I was a biochemist in college and do IT stuff now. I like precision and the idea of using something with settings, and measurements I can repeat gives me a "comfort" factor I don't think I can get free handing. Also, I am much more interested in a repeatably sharp and properly cared for knife than I am in learning "the art" of sharpening for it's own sake. 

    With that in mind I'm trying to work out what grits of stones I should be using and if I should be using the honing steel I have (Henckel 10") or the one that comes in the EP kit or get a different one entirely like the Idaho fine ceramic 12" ?

    Down the road as my skills improve I'll likely get a couple of Japanese knives (petty and chef). Though that will be as much for the "coolness" factor they will give me as for any other reason. At least I can use those, unlike the Japanese swords I think make great displays. So I'd like a honing steel that will be useful for those down the road too. They would be SS or the hybrid semi-stainless and not carbon steel.

    I looked up a video regarding the drill stop collar and found the youtube video



    Seeing that extra information on how to use the EP gave me more confidence I'll be successful with it. Would 20 degrees be a good angle to go with for my knives? I'm not sure why he is going with 13 degrees in the video. That seem like a very big difference.
     
  12. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    The EP is a great system and would serve you well.  It's probably overkill for the knives you have now but it will give you a great edge.  And if/when you step up to better knives you'll be amazed at how sharp they'll get.

    Rookie (the guy in the video) is using 13 degrees per side because all of his knives are very high end Japanese stuff.  For instance one of his latest acquisitions is a Konosuke gyuto in ZDP-189 steel, a $700 or so knife.  Pretty much every blade he owns is top drawer.  Those kinds of blades are made of very high quality steel that can be sharpened to very acute angles.

    You'll have pretty good luck with 20 degrees per side for the knives you list.  If you're careful and use a good cutting board you can get away with going lower on some of them.  Overall 20 will be a good compromise.  With most Japanese knives you might be in the market for one day I generally start at about 15 degrees per side and go down from there.
     
  13. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    BTW, drop that steel like it's a rod of plutonium!  It's as bad for your edge as the plutonium is for you.  It's a file, no more no less.  The hone that comes with the EP is made by Idahone IIRC.  I have the same one and it's terrific.  That said, the 12" version is nice for larger knives.
     
  14. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    +1 with Phaedrus.

    If your Henckels are Zwillings (mark is two little men, holding hands) they're decent knives.  Sharpen at 20*.  If they're Henckels International (one little man) get an AccuSharp or similar carbide sharpener.  The blade alloy is so soft and tough it won't sharpen well on good sharpening kit.  Also, if they're Henckels International, you'll want to replace them fairly quickly.  You don't need a lot of knives to have a really nice, versatile set either. 

    International or Twins, nearly all Henckels rod hones (aka "steels") are more of problem than solution.  Over the years, they've made some fairly fine rods, but I can't figure out how to communicate what's involved in feeling the difference to someone who doesn't have a lot of experience.  The 12" Idahone fine ceramic (CKtG calls the fine, "1200") is an obvious choice.    

    Forschners will take a good edge and are worth sharpening.  You can sharpen them at 15*.  The chef's won't hold the edge particularly well, at least in the sense that it's going to need a LOT of steeling, but it won't hold a 20* edge well either. 

    You described an ideal EP owner when you described yourself.  Either get Apex Kit 1 and add a 120 and 600 stone ($16 each); or, if you're planning to upgrade your knives -- especially the chef's -- get the Chosera kit now and save yourself some down the line money.  Phaedrus was right about Mad Rookie's angles and knives.  You also don't need the  EP Professional he uses.

    When you wrote about yourself, I could hear how the tumblers must have clicked when you made the Forschner decision.  While R. H. Forschners chef's knives are at least worth sharpening, they're nowhere near as good as their press.  Unless you're all about the budget, you'll outgrow yours pretty quickly. 

    Think of a Forschner cook's knife as the sort of generic accounting software you see at Staples' "under $15" remainder table, and a better Japanese  knife as Quick Books Pro.  Both will balance your checkbook, but...  It's likely you'll get more satisfaction and fun out of a Japanese knife -- and because you're going to use an EP, more performance as well.  It won't make you a better cook, but will take a lot of the onus out of prep  -- and that will make you a better cook.  

    Hope this helps,

    BDL
     
  15. kmstl

    kmstl

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    I appreciate the feedback.

    I will stop using the Henckel steel and will replace it.

    The Henckel knives are all Zwilling J.A. Henckels with the two guys holding hands square pic.  The "four star" slicer is the only one that says what line it is. The others don't say twin or pro or four star etc, just the Zwilling JA Henckel on the left of the two guy pic and friodor (can't recall exact spelling from work) and some other stuff, like a part number on the right side.

    I was hoping they were good enough starter knives. Money isn't an issue per say, though I've been burned in the past rushing into purchases before I have all my facts and then end up rebuying what I really wanted/needed.  I don't want to pay for an expensive knife to find I really wanted a different expensive knife.

    I very well may get the full Chosera kit and then not worry about having to rebuy anything. The extra money up front isn't an issue.

    BTW are you still using the Konosuke HD Chef and Konosuke SS petty you have? or have you switched to something else.  Though it sounds like the chef might take more finesse in knife skills than I have at the moment to get the most out of it. I'm not sure how long it will take my skills to mature to the point where it wouldn't be an issue. If I were to buy today that would be where I would lean. But like I said, I am planning to sit on any nice knife buy decision for a few more months at least in case my thinking shifts around after I learn more.
     
  16. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    I use all three of my Konosukes, 270 HD gyuto, 300 HD suji, and 150 SS petty a lot.  Between those three, something heavy duty, and my bread knife -- all my needs are covered.  As it happens though, I like to fool around with different knives and have a few of various other types and brands mostly Sabatier carbons and Forschners.

    The two HDs fit me better than any other knives I've ever used. 

    The Konosuke gyuto is thin enough to be problematic for a user who doesn't keep the knife square to the cut.  If you have any tendency at all to torque the knife across any axis, a very thin blade will fight you when prepping anything large and tough (like a gourd or pineapple), or when chopping.  You know, gyuto stuff.  I don't want to say "don't get a Konosuke" because they are so darn good, and because I'd rather teach you "how," than tell you "do" or "don't." 

    So, yes.  There may be better choices for you while you're still developing skills; but it's easy to overstress very fine distinctions which really don't mean that much.  As always, the best choices for you depend on what you want, what you can afford and what you can maintain.

    Yo or wa?  And, what's your price range?

    BDL
     
  17. kmstl

    kmstl

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    My price range is pretty flexible. I could spend $1000 every other year on knives without any issues. Though I'm hoping with proper care and being happy with my choices I don't need to. My big spending vice is my gaming pc/home theatre upgrades. So if I had to cut back it would be on some of those expenses and still get the knives I want.

    So say under $400 chef, under $200 petty then I would still have $200 + for "something sturdy". I am not concerned about my bread knife atm.  I'm wanting to process whole chickens and make stocks, same with fish. May end up liking to cook ribs but haven't tried it yet, otherwise I'm not sure I would be dealing with cutting around beef bones much. I know I should stay away from bones with the thinner knives.

    The knife budget is separate from my budget for getting other cooking upgrades like the EP and steel.

    I don't have any wa handled knives so I don't know if they would "feel" better or worse.  From just looks alone, I would lean towards a "wa" handle if that is the more traditional style on Japanese knives as it would look more "authentic". I'm 6'5" with long fingers. I'm assuming the diameter of the "wa" handles is enough that your fingers don't curl back into your palm on those more then they would on a traditional handle. My plan was to try out some 'wa' handled knives at the Kitchen Conservatory or somewhere similar in St. Louis and see if I thought handle shape made much difference to me. I'm trying to develop a light pinch grip, so I'm not trying to squeeze the handle. So I guess I'm undecided on handle. 
     
  18. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    A wise policy.  My dad always used to say "measure twice, cut once."  Of course, he often ignored his own advice with humorous results, but the advice is sound nonetheless. 

    Since you seem to be a "propeller-head" (in a good way) and money doesn't seem to be a huge issue, in the spirit of buying a product once that you'll never have to replace, I suggest you may wish to consider spending a bit more and getting the Edge Pro Professional model.  The Apex is good, very good indeed...but the Pro model is better.  It allows you to easily go down to lower angles- this is great for thinning but also lets you use extremely thick stones without running out of vertical space (an issue with some custom EP stones).  The Pro will accept a scissors attachment which could appeal to you down the road.  The main advantage of the Pro is that it's much more adjustable for height and the angle you like to mount the machine at.  It's also incredibly solid and robust.  The vacuum clamp base is strong enough to life my granite reference plate!  The Apex would certainly be all you'd ever "need" but if you're anything like me, just knowing there's a better model will gnaw at  you.  I started with an Apex and used it happily for years before taking the plunge and getting the Pro.  The minute I unboxed it I wished I'd have simply bought the Pro to start with.

    In any event, the Choceras are a very worthwhile upgrade no matter which EP you choose.

    Here are a couple pics of the Apex and Pro side by side:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here's a few pics of my Professional mounted on a custom marble basin made to my specs by Jende, LLC.  You can also see a few of my custom stones, too:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  19. kmstl

    kmstl

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    Thanks Phaedrus, the propeller-head comment made my wife's day. Probably due to the truth in it.  
    Yea, I do fall into that category. I just need to "convince" myself I may need to sharpen a pair of scissors one day so I can justify the extra cost.

    That marble base you have is awesome btw. My wife said "I bet you want one of those now too ... " and we just laughed.

    @BDL
    I responded to this two posts up.  

    Thanks for taking the time to help with all the knife/sharpening questions.  I've learned a lot just searching through previous threads. If you ever get really bored you should roll everything up into a book. I bet a lot of people would buy it.
     
  20. allanm

    allanm

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    Not to derail this thread but I also have the EP Apex and have been thinking of upgrading my stones.  I see a lot of recommendations for the Choceras but I am also wondering what people think of the Shaptons.