I have searched here and other forums regarding this but haven't found what I'm looking for, the answer to why?
First, I currently sharpen my own knives on Japanese water stones, self taught and it's the only system I know or have ever used. I'm no expert but I hold my own, and am still improving. I can say my knives are sharper than any one else's in class.
Second, and very important to this discussion, even though I am in culinary school, I am an engineer by degree and at heart.
Is there an advantage to free hand sharpening over a system like Apex Edge Pro or Wicked Edge?
The Wicked Edge system really has caught my attention. As an engineer the ability to be able to sharpen to the exact same angle every time is extremely appealing. I enjoy sharpening but there is nothing esoteric in it for me. I would enjoy the precision of a system just as much. Like I said, I'm an engineer. The best I can tell, all the people I have read regarding free hand sharpening do it because they see something noble in it, a lost art or because that's the way they have always done it, so it is there comfort zone.
Are there any advantages to free hand over a system? I have not been able to find a good compare and contrast breakdown of pros and cons of freehand versus a system. And more importantly, why free hand?
BTW, remove cost from the issue. I could easily be in the equivalent dollars for water stones as I would spend on an Apex or Wicked Edge or Lansky, etc. system if I wanted to.