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Chef's Choice vs. Prof. Knife Sharpening?


jeancho
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I've had a Chef's Choice for over 15 years and notice that my knives are getting duller and don't keep their edge (despite regrinding on slot 1). I've used a steel in the past, but learned that you can't use both a steel and Chef's Choice. Am I better sending my knives to a professional sharpener and using the steel in between, or getting a new Chef's Choice and sharpening them myself? I want to keep a sharp edge longer (I'm pretty lazy) but don't want to grind my knives down too much.

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I highly recommend the excellent eGCI course Knife Maintenance and Sharpening.

Chef's Choice sharpeners present a number of long-term issues, though I've never heard that you couldn't use a steel in conjunction with them -- where does that advice come from?

Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I think it depends on how much effort and responsibility you want to spend on maintaining your knives. If you're really into your knives (I'm thinking, the way a soldier thinks of his rifle) then sharpen them yourself. Otherwise, use a professional sharpener and a steel in between. It's only a few bucks and one less corded device to store.

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The real concern in knife sharpening is heat. Too much heat and you will lose the temper or hardness in the steel. I suspect that is what happened to your knives. The use of these so called 'Chef's Choice' or a so called Professional sharpening service is all done basically with grinding wheels. Guaranteed to heat your blade and lose the temper. I know of only two ways to sharpen. First is by hand on sharpening stones. Second is the Tomak water cooled device. I use the first method and my brother-in-law has a Tomak. I sharpen everything from my Wusthof knives to custom knives with exotic super hard steels and Japanese Sashimi knives sharpened on hand quarried stones with water. The use of Chef's Choice or a Service would ruin these knives.-Dick

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There can be several reasons why your knives are no longer getting sharp. For example, unless you thin your knife every time you sharpen (or catch up at some point), the thickness of the knife at the edge increases, affecting the quality of the edge.

I highly recommend Dave at http://www.drsharpening.com/ who will accept mail order sharpening jobs. He's very familiar with most knives, and is highly respected in sharpening Japanese knives as well as German. He's acutely aware of heat/temper issues, and will even sharpen your knives on waterstones by hand if the quality of the knife justifies it.

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I have maybe a thousand bucks worth of expensive knives, many going back twenty years. The low carbon Sabatier I bought on my honeymoon sharpens easily -- all that pricey Teutonic steel has been dull as a butterknife for ten years. We have whetstones, Japanese waterstones, diamond edged steel, strops and the concrete front stoop. Nothing, and I mean nothing we've tried, ever got the edge back.

Until I bought one of these heat producing gnashing monsters.They work. We had a happy afternoon restoring the blades of Wusthoffs that caused us to cuss every night for, well, forever, when we stroked them across assorted surfaces, under water, at altitude, in prayer sessions.

The damned thing works. It was our last resort -- give it a try or throw out some serious knives. Hey, if it grinds the edge a little ambitiously, I don't care. The knives are sharp for the first time since Reagan's second term.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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I happily second the EdgePro recommendation. It did a great job on our sharpened-twice-in-twenty-years Chicago Cutlery set. The EdgePro also did a fine job on a new Hattori HD gyuto (the old knives got sharp, but the steel was not hard enough to stay sharp).

EdgePro (clickety)

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I have maybe a thousand bucks worth of expensive knives, many going back twenty years.  The low carbon Sabatier I bought on my honeymoon sharpens easily -- all that pricey Teutonic steel has been dull as a butterknife for ten years. We have whetstones, Japanese waterstones, diamond edged steel, strops and the concrete front stoop. Nothing, and I mean nothing we've tried, ever got the edge back.

Until I bought one of these heat producing gnashing monsters.They work. We had a happy afternoon restoring the blades of Wusthoffs that caused us to cuss every night for, well, forever, when we stroked them across assorted surfaces, under water, at altitude, in prayer sessions.

The damned thing works. It was our last resort -- give it a try or throw out some serious knives. Hey, if it grinds the edge a little ambitiously, I don't care. The knives are sharp for the first time since Reagan's second term.

If you must use a powered device then consider the Tormek http://www.sharptoolsusa.com/ .

I have no difficulty sharpeneing my Wusthof knives which range from the 13" Bone Splitter to small paring knives. I have probably invested over $3K in Wusthof.-Dick

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I have maybe a thousand bucks worth of expensive knives, many going back twenty years.  The low carbon Sabatier I bought on my honeymoon sharpens easily -- all that pricey Teutonic steel has been dull as a butterknife for ten years. We have whetstones, Japanese waterstones, diamond edged steel, strops and the concrete front stoop. Nothing, and I mean nothing we've tried, ever got the edge back.

Until I bought one of these heat producing gnashing monsters.They work. We had a happy afternoon restoring the blades of Wusthoffs that caused us to cuss every night for, well, forever, when we stroked them across assorted surfaces, under water, at altitude, in prayer sessions.

The damned thing works. It was our last resort -- give it a try or throw out some serious knives. Hey, if it grinds the edge a little ambitiously, I don't care. The knives are sharp for the first time since Reagan's second term.

If you must use a powered device then consider the Tormek http://www.sharptoolsusa.com/ .

I have no difficulty sharpeneing my Wusthof knives which range from the 13" Bone Splitter to small paring knives. I have probably invested over $3K in Wusthof.-Dick

Followed your link; they don't sell to the public anymore! :angry:

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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I have maybe a thousand bucks worth of expensive knives, many going back twenty years.  The low carbon Sabatier I bought on my honeymoon sharpens easily -- all that pricey Teutonic steel has been dull as a butterknife for ten years. We have whetstones, Japanese waterstones, diamond edged steel, strops and the concrete front stoop. Nothing, and I mean nothing we've tried, ever got the edge back.

Until I bought one of these heat producing gnashing monsters.They work. We had a happy afternoon restoring the blades of Wusthoffs that caused us to cuss every night for, well, forever, when we stroked them across assorted surfaces, under water, at altitude, in prayer sessions.

The damned thing works. It was our last resort -- give it a try or throw out some serious knives. Hey, if it grinds the edge a little ambitiously, I don't care. The knives are sharp for the first time since Reagan's second term.

Agreed. I have one of these. My husband uses a steel, which I've never been able to master. But I love this sharpener.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I don't have any super high end Japanese, etc knives, just Wusthof, but I got the new Chef's Choice 130 as seen here and I love it. I have neither the skill or patience required drag out series of whetstones, etc and this does a great job if you read and follow the instructions carefully. It is not as mindless as you think and I will deal with the greater amount of steel it takes off the knife. I figure by the time the knife gets to the point where there is too much steel taken off, I'll buy a new one.

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Get your bitch ass back in the kitchen and make me some pie!!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I clamp my 4x24 Porter-Cable belt sander upside down to the workbench, put on a 180-grit belt, and switch it on. I don't use gloves, so I'm able to tell when the edge is getting too hot.

After re-establishing the bevels, I go to a 600 grit diamond hone, then a 3x12" black Arkansas, then 1500 grit sandpaper on a glass plate; I finish it by stropping with crocus cloth. I can and have used my 10" Wusthof to shave my face with to convert nonbelievers. Not to be done on a daily basis, though, I get kind of rashy.

I've never burned a knife edge. I've been thinking about buying a Tormek system but who has six hundred bucks to spare? I see where Delta has a very good copy at about a fifth the price, I might look at that.

Edited by Reefpimp (log)

This whole love/hate thing would be a lot easier if it was just hate.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks so much for all the feedback. I do not feel I could go the "whetstone" route, and chose instead to go with a professional knife sharpener, Bob Kramer at Bladesmith http://kramerknives.com/index.htm. He is a knife god, and he not only will sharpen knives and return them pretty quickly, but also makes custom carbon steel knives (1 year waiting list for knives that start at $400--he's going to be in Cooks Illustrated this month and has been in Saveur). I sent half my knives and they were extremely sharp--my plan is to use my steel each time I use the knives and send them back out to him once a year for professional sharpening. My formerly dull butter knives can slice paper now.

I'm not going to use my old Chef's Choice any more.

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Jeancho, glad that you've decided to send them to someone who knows what they're doing. Learning to sharpen your own knives on stones is not as hard as you may think. Enjoy your newly sharpened knives but I think you might find them getting dull even with steeling more often than once per year. Kramers Damascus is sweet. Some day...some day.

My Photography: Bob Worthington Photography

 

My music: Coronado Big Band
 

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Chef's Choice uses abrasive wheels and after 15 years they are probably too worn to sharpen properly. I don't know if there are replacements for the parts, but that might be the problem with it not sharpening well any longer.

I've had a Chef's Choice for over 15 years and notice that my knives are getting duller and don't keep their edge (despite regrinding on slot 1).  I've used a steel in the past, but learned that you can't use both a steel and Chef's Choice.  Am I better sending my knives to a professional sharpener and using the steel in between, or getting a new Chef's Choice and sharpening them myself?  I want to keep a sharp edge longer (I'm pretty lazy) but don't want to grind my knives down too much.

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  • 7 years later...

I've had a Chef's Choice 120 for I would guess fifteen years.  I've always been pleased with its results.  Recently I've acquired a New West chef's knife and I decided it was time for a new sharpener that could handle a narrow blade.  I ordered a 1520 from amazon yesterday evening and it arrived this afternoon.  (Pretty good service for the weekend with free shipping.)

 

So far so good.  I've been having fun.  I noticed the biggest difference with my little paring knife.

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For several years, we periodically sent our knives to Bob Kramer for sharpening, and he did a terrific job with them. But then he appeared in magazines and no longer had time to sharpen knives that he didn't make. That was when we bought an EdgePro, and we've been very happy with it.

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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nothing touches the EP for a perfect blade.  you can get that other ways, but never better nor easier.

 

time after time.

 

best and wisest kitchen investment Ive ever made.  might be even better than my SV rig.

 

not free.  worth every penny.  both of them

Edited by rotuts (log)
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This decision has to based on how much work you're willing to do and how sharp you want your knives to be. Realistically, if you use a professional sharpening service, it's likely to be a once-in-a-while kind of maintenance. And unless you go to one of the high-end, expensive artisans (Dave Martell, Korin, Bob Cramer, etc.) you're probably going to get a knife that's quickly ground on a wheel or a belt sander. You'll get an ok edge similar to the factory edge, and probably see a lot of metal taken off. So you get ok performance, and an edge that can be more or less maintained on a steel. 

 

If you want really sharp knives you need knives that support a thin edge and a high polish, and you need to touch them up on stones often. A pro will hit the stones every night. A home cook every few nights to every couple of weeks, depending on use.

 

The chef's choice machine is a kind of middle ground. It will do a better job than cheap commercial sharpening services, and is quick and easy. The results will be a bit better than the factory edge on a typical European knife, but not close to what's possible with waterstones on a good Japanese knife. If you have one of these machines, it's a good idea to skip the coarse and medium grit slots unless the knife really needs them. They grind off a lot of metal.

 

A lot of people fear the learning curve with stones. The good news is that even with a little bit of practice, you'll get better edges than you've ever used before. If you really don't want to practice, you can get an edge pro. It takes almost all the manual skill out of it. It just takes more time to use, and costs more. There are good stones available for it now from 3rd parties ... these add to the expense, but make the system competitive with hand sharpening.

Notes from the underbelly

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The chef's choice machine will completely destroy a thin bladed high end steel knife, Japanese or not, with one pass.

 

nothing wrong w making this your choice, but get middle to low end knives for it from BB&B at 20 % off a pop.

 

why spend more and waste it?

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The chef's choice machine will completely destroy a thin bladed high end steel knife, Japanese or not, with one pass.

 

nothing wrong w making this your choice, but get middle to low end knives for it from BB&B at 20 % off a pop.

 

why spend more and waste it?

 

I've seen you assert this before.  Where is the proof or documentation that Chef's Choice will completely destroy a thin bladed high end steel knife, Japanese or not, with one pass?

 

More than forty years ago I invested in stones, including a natural Arkansas.  After much practice I never had a sharp knife but I had a lot of oily mess.  Chef's Choice works -- though I'm not saying there may not be a better system.  Your mileage may vary.

 

Cf. maggiethecat's Chef's Chioce post above.

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