What is a good, affordable, knife sharpener?

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by abefroman, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. abefroman

    abefroman

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    What is a good, affordable, knife sharpener?

    TIA
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    What budget are you looking at? What skill level do you have with sharpening?
     
  3. abefroman

    abefroman

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    Couple hundred bucks or so.

    I have zero skill sharpening knives.
     
     
  4. chef harold 52

    chef harold 52

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    Online to CountryKnives.com  Check out the different types and prices, Any questions,  ask anyone. It's family owned. I have used Tri Sticks by Spyderco for years. Takes a little time every couple of months for great results. Keep a steel at my elbow for constant edge. Never on a machine. You are only fast and efficient if your tools are sharp and ready to go. Mine all always washed, steel, rinse and into my tool box ready to go. A knife is an extension of your hand and should have a personal feel to it. If you are using a dull knife, you are really working too hard for nothing. Time is money, prep time adds to your day, and your staff payroll is most likely your biggest expense. 
     
  5. supercenterchef

    supercenterchef

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    I think phatch has hit the nail on the head...we may also need to ask about your level of interest in sharpening...

    ...in that price range, if you're willing to put some effort into it...the EdgePro would prolly be my choice...
     
  6. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Hall's Pro Edge is also family owned and offers excellent advice.  That's where I recently got a combination soft arkansas and hard surgical stone for that final finished edge.  Should you go the oil stone route (my stones are oil stones), the the sharpening oil you should use is mineral oil that you can get at any tack and feed (horses, you know) shop for less than $20 a gallon.  NEVER purchase "sharpening oil" as it's way overpriced and offers no benefits other than fancy labeling.
     
  7. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Given that we have your budget, your best choice will likely depend on the answers to three other questions:
    • What kind of knives do you have? 
    • Are you thinking about getting more and/or better knives?
    • How much time and effort are you willing to put into learning to sharpen and sharpening itself?
    BDL
     
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  8. abefroman

    abefroman

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    • What kind of knives do you have? 
    >>They are all $100-200 knives
    • Are you thinking about getting more and/or better knives?
      >>No, I like these
    • How much time and effort are you willing to put into learning to sharpen and sharpening itself?
    >>not long, I want something quick and easy.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2012
  9. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Is there some reason for not wanting to use oil stones for sharpening Japanese-made knives?
     
  10. abefroman

    abefroman

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    I tried the stones, they aren't getting the blade sharp enough.  I've gone too long without sharpening them it seems.
     
  11. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Whose stones are you using???  Need more information.  Are they coarse, fine or what?  Made by who???????
     
  12. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Koko,
    It depends somewhat on which knives and stones... but yes.  In general oil stones are too slow for the steel alloys and hardening favored by Japanese makers.  A slow stone makes for other problems besides the amount of time it takes to reach a certain result -- the result being a well chased burr, or polished bevel.  The biggest of those is wobble based error.
    You're definitely on to something very important, but you're missing something equally important as well.  Abe's problems weren't the stones as much as with his lack of knowledge in how to use them.  It's almost tautological.  If Abe knew how to use bench stones, he'd have good ones. 

    Even if Abe decides to give freehand sharpening another try, it won't be enough to recommend better equipment.  He'll have to learn something of the theory and practice as well -- and be willing to dedicate the money, time, learning curve, and effort.  On the contrary, like many people Abe might well be best off with a Chef's Choice sharpening machine.  No matter how sure we are that our own chosen methods are the best, there's no "one size fits all" solution when it comes to sharpening. 

    Maybe this isn't the place, but...  Like you, when it comes to Arkansas stones I'm a big fan of Hall's ProEdge.  But I prefer Norton India stones for the coarser grits.

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2012
  13. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Although I know nothing of Norton's arkansas line of stones, I'm a really firm believer of Hall's products and their arkansas stones took my knives to the next level.  Really, though, if one want to truly learn sharpening skills, it's got to be done and redone and redone until the edge/bevel is just right.

    IMHO the portion of the blade that's the most difficult to sharpen is the camber, where the edge curves near the point.  Thank goodness for magic marker as I've literally spent hours learning to get that section of the bevel just right.
     
  14. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    I need more information to help you.
    • All European stainless?  Some Japanese?  Some carbons? (FYI, "high carbon" is not the same thing as "carbon."  A "carbon" knife is one which stains and/or rusts.)
    • What brands?  For instance, are they Henckels? Tojiro?  A mix of Wusthof and Forschner? 
    • Are they all fairly high end?  Or, is their some cheap stuff mixed in. 
    • Which profiles?  Chef's? Parers? 
    • Anything super heavy-duty? 
    • Super thin?
    • Anything else you can think of?
    That information will tell me which alloys we're dealing with, the preferred edge angles and geometry, etc.

    From the price range, I gather your kit is mostly high-end German.  But it would be in your best interest if I knew instead of guessed.  
    Given what I already know about you, I think you'd be best off with something even simpler than an EdgePro -- which is also more than you want to spend.  That means no bench stones, either; and limits the choices to gags like the Spyderco Sharpmaker; the Chef's Choice electric machines; or maybe one of the Chef's Choice manual pull-throughs.   

    A lot of people love their Sharpmakers, but they're too small for many kitchen knives.  Besides, they're dreadfully slow.  You can find high quality ceramic rod sharpeners big enough for kitchen knives (e.g., Lansky and Idahone), but they're all slow, slow, slow.  Nature of the beast.  Something like "sharpening steels" they're more for maintaining an old edge than creating a new, fresh metal edge. 

    At the end of the day, YOUR best choice will probably be one of the CC electrics.  Which is the best machine for you mostly depends on whether your knives should be sharpened to 20* or 15*.  CC's do a good job, and WILL NOT hurt your knives if used properly.  As long as you you keep their wheels and/or pads clean and dressed; empty the dust out of the machine from time to time; replace the wheels and/or pads as necessary -- which means shipping them back to the factory every two or three years -- and RTFM, they're pretty darn good.  

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2012
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  15. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    I have a melange of cutlery: older Sabatiers, the one and only Henckels purchased in '76 ( a truly vintage year) of high quality, and Forshners.  And among them all, the bevel differs with each brand.  Three bevels:
    1. For the Henckels of quality German stainless
    2. For the Forshcners of quality American stainless
    3. For the old Sabatiers marqued with lots of surface pitting because of the metallurgy and not from corrosion.  Quality  carbon steel that hovers around 1095 but little that I know.
    What a learning experience it has been.  And to be the best knife sharpener in the region requires dedication... more than I have to give.  Aw hell, I'm a foodie!
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2012
  16. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    We seem to have lost Abe.

    BDL
     
  17. abefroman

    abefroman

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    I'm back they are Henkles and Shun Ken Onion.
     

    Got 3 Chef's couple parers, and some other kinds, slicers, etc.
     
  18. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Assuming the Henckels are "Zwillings" (with the picture of two little guys holding hands), they are all made from a "proprietary" version of X50CrMoV15, which is going to need a lot of honing because it dings out of true so easily, and beveled to an edge angle of 20*. 

    Ken Onion Shuns are made from a three-layer laminate with a soft stainless (403 and 404 folded together) outside, and a VG-10 core.  Shun edges don't get get bent out of shape as easily as Henckel's, but will need at least some honing between actual sharpening.  Shuns are factory beveled to 16*, but adjusting that to 15* presents no issues whatsoever. 

    You might want to think about a Chef's Choice Model 1520 ($170).  It can handle all of your knives.  If you have a lot of European knives but few Japanese, and you use the Euros for a lot of raw meat, melons, gourds and other tough cutting, you might want to think about a Chef's Choice Model 130 ($160) PLUS some other option for your Shuns -- like a Minosharp Plus3 ($75), or a Chef's Choice Model 316 ($80). 

    Any of those combinations would be a fairly high performance/fairly high end solutions.  Chef's Choice machines are good sharpeners, but they aren't perfect.  In exchange for a very friendly learning curve and enormous convenience, you give up some ultimate edge quality and a fair bit of flexibility.  The Minosharp Plus3 has the same strengths and weaknesses in the same proportions.  If you don't want to learn to freehand and don't want to spend the money on an EP, basing your kit around a CC Machine (with or without the Minosharp) is probably your best and most effective option.   
    • Yes.  A CC will keep your knives sharper than a Spyderco Sharpmaker or any other ceramic "V" gag.  A CC is also MUCH faster and sharpens a much straighter bevel. 
    • Yes.  A CC is MUCH better and faster than any decent 20* pull-through on the market.  It is also far less destructive than just about any other system. 
    • No.  A CC will not eat, scratch or notch your knives any more or less than any other abrasive sharpening process including bench stones.  At least not if used properly, i.e., clean knives; gentle pressure; pull the knives through with an even, fairly slow draw.
    • Yes and No.  You can use the CC's "honing stage" in lieu of a "steel;" but a proper steel (such as an Idahone fine), properly used, will do a better job. 
    The two biggest problems with CCs are failure to RTFM and a misguided belief that they'll perform forever without maintenance.  Just like every other worthwhile sharpening system CC machines require some maintenance.  The machine must be opened periodically (twice a year with normal use) so the metal filings and dust can be dumped.  The discs must be kept clean and dressed (twice a year, also); they load up just like any other sharpener.  CC will send you a pad for cleaning them at your request (it's either cheap or free).  Also the machine should be returned to the factory periodically (say every three years) so the discs can be replaced, and the machine lubricated (inexpensive). 

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2012
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  19. abefroman

    abefroman

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    Thanks!

    I'll check those out.
     
     
  20. durangojo

    durangojo

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    i don't usually stick my nose in this door, but hey, it was open...do hope it's the right knife thread.....

    i actually have been meaning to post this for while, but you know how time slips away....

    anyway, i recently purchased from CKTG the minosharp3 plus knife sharpener on bdl's recommendation here. he bought one for his daughter which was a good enough reason for me as well as seeming to meet my needs. 

    i have an electric chef's choice sharpener and a tri stone, but i found that i needed something smaller and handheld that i could use everyday easily.....bingo! the minosharp3 is good...more than good and it does a fine job on most of my knives...the smaller, thinner and faux japanese(nikiri) ones. it takes longer to put an edge on my heavier germans but i was warned about that...so it takes a bit longer...meh...

    i find the minosharp easy to use and waay convienient, which is what i was after. if i have any complaint it is having to put/get the knife edge in the channel with each pull. i don't put my index finger on the top of my knife to pull it through as the manual(brochure really) suggests...for some reason, perhaps it'ds just me but it just doesn't feel right and seems to add to finger fatigue, if there is such a thing. not quite sure of the advantage of having your finger on the top other than to guide, but i can guide just fine without doing it that way....all in all i am pleased with it and for the 75 dollar price tag i think it can't be beat as an inexpensive good sharpener.

    joey

    to be noted, this is not in any way to replace good sharpening....it's sort of just a 'breather', which sometimes is just what you need
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012
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