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Sharpening Knives

Do electric knife sharpeners work well? I see mixed reviews online. My knives are in pretty poor shape and I'm not sure I have the patience or skill to sharpen by hand. Suggestions welcome.
LBGE & SBGE.  Central Texas.  

Comments

  • Que_n_BrewQue_n_Brew Posts: 544
    I have Henckel knives that were dulling, so I bought a sharpener last year. Althought they are very sharp after running them thought the sharpener, they seem to fade quickly. Basically when you sharpen for the first time, you are changin the edge on the knife...so once you commit, you're all in. I guess it's better than taking them someone every time they need to be touched up. I don't know.
    PROUD MEMBER OF THE WHO DAT NATION!
  • SamFerriseSamFerrise Posts: 544
    The understanding of how a sharp edge is formed is confusing for some.  Learning how to align the burr on the edge is the key no matter what system you use.  Learning how to hone an edge is the most important part of the process.  If you have good quality blades you only need to use you steel or hone device to quickly resharpen an edge.  About once a year I grab all my blades and touch them up on my Japanese water stones which are the best sharpening stones around. A good knife should never be abused and I do most of my cutting and chopping on a Boos wooden board.  My wife and children never touch my knives because I have asked them not to because they are very sharp and they are not skilled enough to use such sharp blades.  I have provided them with knives to use that I keep sharp enough to cut up apple and veggies with.  About 10 years ago my wife almost took off the tip of her index finger with one of my knives.  There is a lot of info on the web regarding sharpening knives.  Use your common sense and stay away from fancy machines or gadgets.  Simple is always better, 

    Simple ingredients, amazing results!
  • spgsethspgseth Posts: 24
    If you want to sharpen your own knives to perfection check out the wicked edge knife sharpener. Its not cheap but well worth the money, you can actually shave your face comfortably after sharpening your knife on the wicked edge. I have the leather strops which of course are extra and that is pretty much all I use to touch them up unless there seriously dull.
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,305
    What kind of knives do you have?

    Well known cook - food expert, Alton Brown, mentioned he took his 6 knives to a professional sharpener once every 6 months. I would assume he used a honing steel often, maybe even a strop. For him, a professional w. lots of skill and equipment was the right choice.

    But I do suppose Mr. Brown was using fairly good knives. Commodity knives (I have several old Chicago cutlery and Dexter-Russells) will take a pretty good edge, but even w. honing, need to be sharpened frequently with daily use.(They are beaters. Mash them into bones, hack at hard squash) It might be worth the $150-ish for a decent electric sharpener to keep knives like those in good condition. After a few years, the blades will be significantly reduced in size, and have a different shape.

    But if you are only using the knives a few times a week, it might be cheaper to just buy a new one once a year. Myself, I would by a manual sharpener like a Furi Diamond Fingers for knives like those. Cheap, easy to use, and will bring a standard stainless knife to sharpness w. just a few passes. And, certainly, hone w. every use. And buy a couple of now very cheap ceramic knives for fine cuts on very soft foods.

    Finer knives often have more acute bevels than what home electric sharpeners provide. They also have steels than can take and hold a finer edge than what the sharpening machines will deliver. A good Shun that has gone dull can be improved, but will not be as good as what can be done w. a manual set-up.

    I might trust a finer blade to someone using a higher end mechanical sharpener like a Tormek running Japanese water stones, and operated by someone w. a couple of years of experience.

    Assuming you don't want to learn to sharpen your own blades manually, quality knives are worth mailing to a pro, and then carefully honing the knives by yourself. Some good blades require a ceramic hone, as they are harder than average honing steels.

  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 12,251
    Here's a primer on knife sharpening.  There are many tools out there.  At the very minimum, you need a honing steel. 

    Knife sharpening proceeds in several stages, in order from coarsest (most destructive) to finest (most delicate). These may be referred to either by the effect or by the tool. Naming by effect, the stages are:

    1. sharpening – removing metal to form a new edge
      1. rough sharpening (using either water stones, oil stones, or medium grits of sandpaper in the scary sharp method of sharpening)
      2. fine sharpening (using the same tools as above, but in finer grits)
    2. straightening – straightening the existing metal on the blade, but not removing significant quantities of metal
    3. polishing (also called stropping)– giving a mirror finish, but not significantly altering the edge.
      • polishing may also be achieved by buffing a blade: instead of moving the knife against a flat leather strop loaded with fine abrasive, the knife is held still and a powered circular cloth wheel is moved against the knife.

    Named by tools, the same three stages are:

    1. grinding (on a grinding wheel) or whetting (on a whetstone)
    2. steeling, using a honing steel
    3. stropping, on a razor strop or buffing on a wheel

    The word "honing" is ambiguous, and may refer to either fine sharpening (step 1.2) or straightening (step 2).

    The finest level of sharpening is done most frequently, while the coarser levels are done progressively more rarely, and sharpening methods differ between blades and applications.

    For example, a straight razor used for shaving is stropped before each use, and may be stropped part-way through use, while it will be fine sharpened on a stone a few times per year, and re-ground on a rough stone after several years.

    By contrast, a kitchen knife is steeled before or after each use (and may be steeled during heavy use, as by butchers), and sharpened on a stone a few times per year.


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    Large and Medium BGE, Kamado Joe Jr., smoker with a 5k btu AC, gas grill, fire pit, pack of angry cats, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.
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  • CPARKTXCPARKTX Posts: 868
    Tanks for all the feedback. So do you think a better course world be to get a couple of new knives like http://www.amazon.com/Wusthof-Classic-8-Inch-Cooks-Knife/dp/B00005MEH1/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=RLZ749APG6UH&coliid=I25AIM8VTGDRMB and a honing stone like http://www.amazon.com/Wüsthof-4473-Wusthof-10-Inch-Sharpening/dp/B00009WDT8/ref=pd_sim_k_2 ?
    LBGE & SBGE.  Central Texas.  
  • hoffmandhoffmand Posts: 91
    I recommend skipping electric sharpeners and either have them sharpened by a good vendor or learn to do it yourself.

    If you're in Cedar Park you can find a sharpening guy at the farmers market at Lakeline mall on Saturdays. Looks like he uses a belt setup which is what I use. If you have someone sharpen for you always give then one knife first to make sure they aren't hacks. There are plenty of them out there and you don't want to trash all your knives at once.

    There's also Knife Sharpest on Burnet. They're very good but not exactly the most friendly folks in the world.

    If you decide to sharpen yourself then you should look at Edge Pro or Wicked Edge for a guided stone system or research 1x30 belt sanders with high grit belts. But both of those are a few hundred bucks so they're not for everyone. You can get your knives sharpened 2x/year for a long time and still save money.

    Don't spend $100 on a new Wusthof or Henkels chef knife. They are good knives but expensive compared to other options. I strongly recommend the Victorinox 8"/10" chef knife for $30 or make the switch to Japanese knives with a 210 or 240 mm Tojiro DP for $80-100.

    Cedar Park, TX
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