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Knife Sharpening System, DIY

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hello guys,

 

There are so many experts here!

 

I have looked into many knife sharpening systems, I have not found one that I feel will do the many things I want:

 

1. It should be durable and heavy duty.

 

2. It should be able to sharpen any knife, from paring to chef to cleavers.

 

3. It should be able to use any sharpening stone and sandpaper.

 

So I am thinking of making my own.

 

Have you seen one that will do the above?

 

Have you seen someone has make a good one?

 

Is there a WEB site I can look into?

 

Thanks.

 

dcarch

post #2 of 17

In many respects, engineering is the process of optimizing design compromises toward a specific application. If you change the criteria to making a tool suitable for a broad range applications then you must accept more compromises or de-optimize for a specific application. Knife sharpeners are an interesting problem--as long as we've been using blades we've also been trying to figure out a better way to sharpen them, and some 2.5 million years later we're still frustrated that nobody has designed a simple solution that doesn't include a bunch of compromises and works equally well for any blade. So if you do invent THE solution, the once and for all optimal sharpener for all people and all blades, I'd love to kick in a few thou on that manufacturing startup. I think the Edge Pro is probably the one I'd look at for starters. www.edgeproinc.com I use Lansky because it works ok, the diamond stones are good, and cost is a factor for me. There is knockoff of the Edge Pro being sold on ebay. Not as well made but essentially the same system. Perhaps a good point of departure for your new system.

post #3 of 17
There are a couple of rod-guide tool and jig systems which work with full sized stones. One, the EZESharp Bladesharpener, is made in Australia, the other (Ken Schwartz's "Gizmo") is semi-custom made in the USA. Based on rumor, word of mouth, and disparate internet posting, I don't get the impression that one is significantly better than the other. Nevertheless, if you MUST use full sized stones, I suggest buying one rather than trying to re-invent the wheel; especially if your time and money are at issue.

On the other hand, if you have a few shop tools sitting around and you don't mind wasting a LOT of time you could reverse engineer something very much like the Gizmo or EZESharp by looking at pictures and save a few bucks; but I don't think it'd be worth it.

If you're looking to make money as an inventor by creating the ultimate sharpening system, all I can say is that no one's made very much so far with full size systems.

Smaller is another story.

A few OEM suppliers (including the already mentioned Ken Schwartz) supply other makers' stones, cut down to fit the Edge Pro jig, including Chosera and Shapton Pro as well as a few others and some strops too. I agree with Sal. To my mind, the EP is not only the tool most like what you seek but is also available for a fairly reasonable price.

That said, the one system which really does darn near everything really well is no system. If you want the most options, get yourself a few good stones, some sort of strop holding system, a few strops and a few strop compounds and learn to sharpen and strop free hand. Yes there's a learning curve, but it's not that steep.

FYI, "Scary Sharp" sharpening on sandpaper has some good points especially for carpentry tools and (perhaps) pocket knives. but they're outweighed when it comes to sharpening longer, kitchen-type knives. Although it gets a lot of play and discussion with intermediate level knife sharpeners, Scary Sharp is one of those things a lot of sharpeners try, but few stick with. Ordinary stones and strops are far more efficient; and since sandpaper doesn't last long and you can sharpen so many knives on a quality stone before you using it up, the efficiency trumps Scary Sharp's lower initial expense advantage, even home sharpeners.

A real issue is not only knowing how to sharpen, but knowing which materials work best for sharpening particular blades for particular tasks. In your case, that's really a better place to start. And honestly, I think you'd be better off asking specific questions about specific knives rather than wasting too much thought on the characteristics of an ideal, universal which doesn't exist.

On the other hand, who wouldn't want one?

Where's all this coming from? I have four separate sharpening kits -- oil stone, water stone, strop, and EP (with Chosera stones) -- and can use all of them pretty well. In terms of everything else, I haven't tried them all, but damn near.

Trust me on this,
BDL
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post #4 of 17

I use a Chef's Choice 2100 Commercial Diamond Grind machine. It is a 3 step process, step one to grind, step two to polish and step three to leather strop. It does everything frrom a 2" turning knife to a 16" scimitar, cleavers and it can even clean up a serrated edge. Super easy to use, super safe and puts on a perfect edge everytime. It can edge 500 blades a months easily...downside is that it costs $750.00...

post #5 of 17
CC electric sharpeners are the best choice for many people and situations, but certainly have issues other than price. For one thing they only sharpen to one angle/profile (in your case, a > than 20* "trizor", which isn't the best choice for all knives. And Chef Choice machine edges are not particularly fine or polished (even if you use one of their machines with a polishing surface). That means that CC edges are a bit toothy and never sharper than "adequate."

In addition the sharpening surfaces get loaded up and clog fairly easy, and in the case of the non-commercial machines are very difficult to clean. Furthermore, if you plan on using your sharpener a great deal, CC's stones -- like most diamond surfaces -- wear quickly and -- except for the commercial machines -- aren't replaceable.

Finally, no CC meets the OP's criterion of using "any" sharpening surface, nor for that matter any variety greater than those three built in.

BDL
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post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thank you guys. I know I am in the right forum to discuss this.

 

I have looked into the Chef’s Choice aslo, as BDL pointed out, beside the price, the fact that you can’t vary the angle is not desirable for me, who has a wide collection of knife types. Of course, replacing the CC grinding wheels will be another $200.00.

 

It is not my intention to invent anything; I just want a tool that will use my collection of sharpening stones to sharpen my collection of different knives. Being very handy with machine tooling, gives me the desire to make my own.

 

I am an acceptable knife sharpener freehand, but it takes a lot more time doing it free hand. Also I think using a system will take off less steel each time you sharpen a knife.

 

 I also have a few carbide tipped tools I like to find a way to sharpen them.

 

dcarch

 

post #7 of 17
My EP does a good, fast job. Overall, it's no faster than any of my freehand kits. Now obviously that has a lot to do with how fast a sharpener I am -- which is not amazing but still PDQ. The proviso is that I probably spend as much time flattening and otherwise prepping my water stones as I do sharpening with them, and the EP Choseras don't need much soaking and they're small enough that flattening goes very quickly. The EP is a really good way to go with lots of options (many available from CKtG) and the range will probably satisfy most of your ambitions.

I doubt an EZESharpener, a Gizmo, or homemade version of either will be any faster, but if you have a sizable collection of full-sized stones at least you can keep them working. Also, you can forget about sandpaper and stropping compounds.

Frequently when I run into these sorts of questions, the person asking them -- which would be you! -- has some issues with free handing. Most often they're a mix relating to angle holding, pressure, hand placement, and stone (and possibly strop) preparation and handling. It might be beneficial to clear up the problems which are slowing you down and otherwise limiting your results before moving on to another system.

If you do decide to explore free hand sharpening more deeply, you might want to consider a stropping base which can be used with loaded strops, sandpaper, and so on. Stropping is something we can discuss, as it tends to be a little (okay, a lot) more than kitchen knives need. But, it has its points for sure. Generally, I recommend not using sandpaper except for woodworking tools, as it's (a) more of a problem than its worth; and (b) expensive over the long term.

I don't know if you've read a lot of my sharpening advice, but if you have you know that I don't push my choices or any particular system or kit but try to find the best solutions for a given person -- which,again, would be you. You set yourself high standards, are very detail oriented, admire craftsmanship, enjoy efficiency, and that's the mix I'm trying to satisfy.

BDL
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post #8 of 17

I really like my Norton Tri Hone that I got from SharpeningSupplies.com.  And when I want to get really with the sharpening of my blade, I simply hold it at an angle to the corner of the stone which is a really aggressive approach to blade sharpening.  And as to sharpening oil, I go to the local Tractor Supply Store (tack and feed) and purchase a gallon of mineral oil for around $12-$15.

 

As to stropping, reserve THAT for jack knives.   Actually, once stoned, the blades need reverse sharpening on wet-or-dry (carbide) sandpaper backed by a mouse pad and then followed up with stropping using chrome.  ...if you plan to shave with your chef's knives.  I know what I'd like to shave!

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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post #9 of 17

BDL, your issues with the CC are valid, but incomplete. Perhaps because mine is a brand new commercial model and not a consumner model it's different, or maybe because it's Canadain.

  • Mine comes with 2 inserts, either 15 or 20 degrees, they swap out in seconds and allow me to sharpen a huge range of blades
  • Mine uses both a fine and a very fine diamond impregnated high speed wheel and a leather strop, not cloggable stones
  • My inserts are sink washable in seconds and the wheels are all self clearing
  • New inserts cost about me $125 each and are good for about 1500 sharpenening cycles, more if the blades are in good shape to start
  • I've sharpened everything on mine, from 16" flat carvers to skinning knives to mezzalunas and ulu's and boning knives and and it sharpens all profiles with ease

 

I agree the CC is not perfect, but I would suggest you try one of the new ones like mine with the swapable heads, they are radicaly different from the ones only 3-4 years ago.

post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 

I agree the CC is a very good system for many people, and I would not mind having one for general use.

 

What if you want 18 degrees? or any other degrees?

 

Can you tell me if this is true? It seems to me that to use the CC, you have to be able to pull the knife thru the gap at a very even speed and uniform pressure, otherwise it will take off a lot more metal at some spots.

 

dcarch

post #11 of 17

To the best of my knowledge, the inserts available, at least to me, are either 15 or 20 degrees, 2 angles that include the vast majority or blades. I've used both and I can't really tell the difference without looking, except for maybe very delicate things like fresh herbs.

 

As for useing the CC, it's very simple but there are 3 things you must do...

-always go from the handle to the tip , never the other way

-never press down on the blade, let the blade weight be enough, maybe a finger on the tip to help on very long blades

-alway draw the blade steadily towards you at 1 second travel per 1" of blade length

 

I find I only use the stropping setting daily once they were brought back to peak sharpness, once every few hours or so is lots, takes about 30 seconds.

 

The CC is not perfect, but its very safe, reliable and most importantly, puts a 9/10 quality edge on every single time from within 1/8" of the bolster to the very tip in under 2 minutes.

post #12 of 17

I used a Chef's Choice for awhile and ended up going back to free hand. Granted I'm not a pro chef and didn't need to sharpen several times a day though. The edges I got with the CC were ok at first (just ok) but it seemed to become quite a bit less pleasing over time. I worried that it was taking off too much metal, requiring too much pressure, ruining the temper, etc. And since you do have to develop the touch skills that Mike cited, you might as well cut yourself a few angle templates out of cardboard and develop a good feel for that as well. I eventually came to dread pulling it out from under the counter and plugging it in. When you sharpen by hand and pay attention to what's going on, you develop a relationship to the blade and material... you come to understand exactly what it needs and how to gently give it just that, and no more. With an auto-motorized sharpener you are removed from that and the relationship becomes more with the sharpener than the edge. I graciously conceded the CC to ex---who was inherently more congruent with a fixed angle, powered, circular-spinning sort of thing ;-)  And, when you consider that the CC is half a grand and the basic EP is $165... well, the difference could keep you sippin good tequila for a few months.

post #13 of 17

I can speak highly of the EdgePro System.  We have been using a sharpening service for year at our restaurant and found little value b/c of the quality of the knives that we eventually recieved back.  I invested in the Professional model of the Edgepro system and this set me back approx. $600.  The learning curve was fairly short and what I've found is that as I set my sharpening on a biweekly schedule, I can quickly bring all our knives (approx. 15-20) in about a 15 -20 minutes time.  I also found their customer service very good as well.  I am currently using a 400 grit stone as my main one.  the thing I like most about this system is that I set the angle ( I use 18 degrees) and when used correctly, it takes of minimal amount of material in an even manner throughout the length of the knife.

post #14 of 17

I am yet another dedicated Edge Pro user.  In my 45 years of restaurant work,  I have yet to find a better, more efficient system.  Even with knives made of the new steels, such as ZDP189, S90V, 3V, N380 and INFI, the EP is fast, accurate and effective.
 

post #15 of 17

Dcarch,

 

What is it that you wish from a "system"?

 

Consistency of the bevel?

 

Repeatability of the bevel?

 

Opportunity to use existing stones?

 

There are some very simple and cheap "jigs" on the market that are nothing more than a prop-stick that attaches on your knife--holding it at a set angle, and you can use your existing stones.

 

Sharpening--including the use of jigs or freehand, choice of abrasives, and choice of techniques, are about as personal as politics or religion.  Basically, whatever works, works.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #16 of 17

I got an EdgeCare from my guy to try out, and I will admit its kinda cool, but I'll stay with my CC, I prefer it, different strokes i guess.

post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodpump View Post

Dcarch,

 

What is it that you wish from a "system"?

 

Consistency of the bevel?

 

Repeatability of the bevel?

 

Opportunity to use existing stones?

 

There are some very simple and cheap "jigs" on the market that are nothing more than a prop-stick that attaches on your knife--holding it at a set angle, and you can use your existing stones.

 

Sharpening--including the use of jigs or freehand, choice of abrasives, and choice of techniques, are about as personal as politics or religion.  Basically, whatever works, works.

 

All those, in additon, ability to sharpen most commonly used knives, from paring to cleavers.

 

Also, not too expensive. :-)

 

dcarch


Edited by dcarch - 7/17/12 at 7:20pm
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