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Edge Pro Apex vs Free Hand for My Particular Needs

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hello Everyone,


I’ve been poking around this and other forums for a little while on this topic, and recognize there are some similar topics. This forum is a really great community and resource! Newbie knife sharpener here. I’ve read up on pro and cons of using jigs versus going free-hand, but want to see if I can get some feedback as to which of the following options would be best suited for me, given the below information:


1. An Edge Pro Apex with the 500, 1000, 4000 Shapton Glass Stones
2. Freehand wet & go stones such as Shapton Glass (at least SG for the medium, based on what I’ve read)

- My wife and I are home cooks who cook 5 times per week, and sharpening cooking knives would be the primary target.
- I mostly have a set of 8 year old Henckels Four-Start knives, with a few other of similar quality thrown in, including a Chinese meat cleaver with a 3.75” tall blade (doesn’t get used that often, so sending it off is an option)
- In the future, I’d like to get some nicer knives (possibly Japenese steel), but I don’t see that happening for at least 3 years.
- I want to be able to get to being able to put a factory or better edge on a knife, with out extensive effort.
- If I could be comfortable getting to sharpening to a factory type edge within say a dozen(?) sharpenings, I’d be pretty happy
- I won’t be striving for the ‘perfect’ edge, just a very good edge
- Would love to be able to sharpen serrated blades, but haven’t looked into this at all yet.
- I can appreciate the connection with the stone, zen, etc — but for me, this will be more utility than hobby (already have enough to consume my free time)
- I’m not concerned with the setup time for the Edge Pro — I think I could probably do it in 1-2 mins
- Time is a relative premium… always have more stuff to do than time, so I don’t want to deal with waiting on soaking stones. Splash & Go sounds like a good fit
- Part of me is drawn to the simplicity of just using the stones, whereas the engineer in me appreciates things like Jigs… I’m conflicted!
- Want to be cost conscious and not go overboard, but I’m not concerned with spending a little more if it serves me well in the long run, so long as it is a quality/lasting solution and a decent value
- Focused on a single solution at this point in time. It’s possible I could have both free hand stones and jigs in the future, but for now not planning on it.


Based on this, is the solution clear to those of you with experience sharpening? Also, it would be helpful if you have experience with both, EP, or free hand stones.


Thanks in advance!


Edited by rossn - 3/20/15 at 12:08pm
post #2 of 19

Get a basic medium grit synthetic stone, watch the JKI sharpening videos, and have at it.  It'll cost you a fraction of the edge pro and is a good foundation for any better knives you might buy.  Really you can get better than the factory edge in a few tries on freehand.


As an engineer, you can probably see that the edge pro uses a much smaller stone.  You're getting less per pass, so it will take longer.  It's designed for small knives, pocket folders, hunting, things like that. 


My problems with edge pro:

- comparatively expensive

- not good for large knives

- does not handle asymmetry without a lot of readjustments (if you go japanese, you will need to sharpen asymmetric knives)

- doesn't do single bevels

- doesn't do thinning

- setup and adjustment required is cumbersome compared to changing the angle I hold the knife at in my hand

- creates sharp shoulders that are bad for cutting


There's more to a knife than the edge bevel.

post #3 of 19
Exactly, sharpening is not about putting an edge on a piece of steel. It's moving an entire previous configuration a bit towards the spine. That's why you start a good sharpening job by thinning a bit behind the edge, to compensate for the taper. With a jig system you get great edges, and poor cutters.
post #4 of 19

Agree with most all so far and also your Henkles really need replacing more than you need an edge pro.  And as Benuser points out you knives need thinning even more than decent sharpening.


You can get a very good edge with the EP, but it will probably take as long or longer to master the EP for that as going free-hand.


Soaking time isn't the only consideration for stones, there is also cutting speed.  And something called "feedback."  So you could consider stones other than the SG's, though they are very good.  They are probably the best thing for the EP as they dish so slowly.


I'm in the mechanical end of engineering also.  As an engineer you probably know something of machining.  If you know something of machining then you might also know that precision machining equipment requires a lot of hand finishing to actually get them accurate, the ways and other surfaces are actually scraped in by hand.  So as engineering goes hand sharpening really comes as close to the skin as any piece of equipment.




Edited by Rick Alan - 3/21/15 at 12:48pm
post #5 of 19
Henckels need replacing... Now that's really funny Rick. I needed a laugh this AM. thanks. It's been a rough couple of days.
post #6 of 19

Eh, it's an ill wind blows no one any good.


Speaking of funny, it would be hilarious watching a person using a Henkles 4 star with a factory cross-section profile and edge trying to cut onions and celery as I do.  So one way or the other it's all good for something I guess.



post #7 of 19

If rossn (the OP) has had the Henckels 4-Star for 8 years or so, then that's almost invariably a really dull knife.  My guess is that it can use some thinning, but whatever bevel there is will probably just be worthless.


I've got a Henckels "5-Star" santuko ("ergo" handle version of the 4-Star), and it's a nasty piece of steel to try to sharpen.  Rick Alan's suggestion of a new knife isn't all that far off base.  With Amazon.com selling the 240 mm Tojiro DP for $68 and change, it can be a revelation, both in use and in sharpening.


Watching Jon Broida at JKI (Japanese Knife Imports) is the video site to go to.  And getting some stones is also necessary.


But don't assume that a Shapton Glass Stone at 5K is a medium stone.  That's actually a bit towards the finish level (actually, with Henckels 4-Star, that IS a finish level stone).


With stones, you need a 500 grit stone for rough grinding, a 1000 (1K) to 1200 grit stone for medium work and the aforesaid 5K stone for most polishing/finishing.  Then, you're going to need a flattening plate to keep your stones level.


That will probably run about $200.


As for angles, I feel that nothing beats a good and accurate physical guide for letting me feel the proper angle I want to use.  My favorite tool is a set of machinist's angle blocks, held upright on a homemade jig.  An el cheapo set of 10 angle blocks, with whole angle measurements (in degrees) of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 degrees will have an accuracy per block of 20 seconds plus or minus, and will cost somewhere on eBay for $30.


For the jig, I went to a hobby store and bought a piece of finish grade plywood, 3/8 inch thick by 4 inches by 12 inches.  I sawed off 3 inches (along the length), leaving me with two rectangular pieces, one 3" x 4", the other 9" x 4".  On the 9" x 4" piece, at the smooth 4" end (I'm not all that good a woodworker), I measured in about 1 inch at the bottom, and about 1/2" along the top, then I took that to an adjustable miter box and cut that piece, so I made a wedge 4" long, with 1/2" and 1" ends.  Then I measured 6 inches on the remainder of the 9" piece from my first cut and made a right angle cut.


I now had 4 pieces: a 6" x 4" piece, a 3" x 4" piece, a 4" wedge and a remainder piece.  I used the 6" piece as my base, and glued the 3" piece to the base, so that the factory straight edge was roughly in the middle of the 6".  I let that set and I cleaned up any glue in the middle of the block.  Then I put the remainder piece on the other end of the base and glued it, so that the "wedge" cut was also towards the middle and a space somewhat around 1/2" at the top and 1" at the bottom (matching the wedge) is left open.  After the glue sets for the second piece, I removed any excess glue in the middle, The wedge itself is not glued, but is loose.  I now had my jig.  Angle blocks go into the middle area upright and are wedged into place.


I deliberately used 3/8" plywood, since angle blocks have a 1/4" base area.  The 3/8" allows me to stack two blocks together, so I can set any whole angle measurement from 7 degrees through 30+ degrees.  The combined height of the jig (twice 3/8", or 3/4" total) also approximates the thickness of stones and allows me to get a better feel for what the angle would be on my stone, rather than trying to do it directly from table height.  Then it's just keep my wrist steady when I'm on the stone.


Hope that helps.



Galley Swiller

post #8 of 19

Well it would only take me 3 hours with my bench grinder and course stone to turn rossn's 8" (?) Henkles 4 star chef knife into something somewhat serviceable, if not "relatively" good.  But of course you still have that soft German stainless to deal with.


Buying something like a 240 Tojiro DP as GS suggested is a much better use of resources.  It would be a revelation for you, and you'd likely find yourself using anything else much.


With that you can think of the Henkles as sharpening practice knives.  But even for that purpose the are not ideal because the edge is so thick.  You'd be going a lot easier on the stones with the Tojiro, and sharpening much less.  You don't use a steel on this knife of course, instead a fine ceramic hone or stropping on a fine stone.


That's a well engineered jig GS came up with.  But something that just gives you a good visual perspective is very helpful.  Cutting some poster-board wedges using a protractor and hardening them with superglue will do for this particular purpose.  Lay the knife up with the wedge on the stone itself and you will have adequate perspective to start with.


The cktg 3-stone, (500, 1.2K and 5k) set is $140, and for $200 you can have the Geshin set (400, 2K, 6K).  Consensus seems to be the Geshin's are the fastest cutting and best all-round performing stones out there.  And these, unlike the EP stones, will likely last you a lifetime.




post #9 of 19

Wow, with all the razor sharp knives you guys have, I don't want to mess with any of you.


I would say that for cheaper knives the Edge Pro I have is great.

Edited by OregonYeti - 3/21/15 at 8:31pm
post #10 of 19
Could you please elaborate? My cheap carbons require frequent thinning behind the edge, just as the more expensive ones. When I sharpen a Victorinox at work I start with thinning 1" behind the edge with coarse sandpaper.
The EdgePRO is quite expensive. Better use the money for better knives.
The knives sharpened with the EdgePRO I've seen all had excellent edges, razor sharp, no exception. But the geometry was lost. So, again, great edges, poor cutters.
post #11 of 19

I bought this type about 10 years ago. Very effective for average knives and a low-cost sharpener. Not the new model you guys are talking about.

post #12 of 19

Yeah, we're talking about edge pro apex.  V sharpeners are much worse, working by ripping out chunks of metal.

post #13 of 19
Originally Posted by OregonYeti View Post

I bought this type about 10 years ago. Very effective for average knives and a low-cost sharpener. Not the new model you guys are talking about.


What the hell is that OregonYeti? My eyes hurt. Your knives will claim revenge in next reincarnations.  Beware of Karma!

Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi All,


I had to step away from e-mail for the weekend, and returned to find all your feedback — what a great forum. I read all your comments, and what a lot of insightful information.


Noted that looking into a new knife might serve me well. And while I might look to upgrade soon, prefer to start with learning to sharpen on what I have... at least if I make some major mistakes, I won't feel too bad. Good point, on the value of a better knife though --- will keep that in mind.


Also, nice points on the video recommendations, jig information, and the comments about moving the entire knife configuration closer to the spine (hadn't view it as that previously).


Thanks for all the information... gives me some useful information to go on when making my decision.



post #15 of 19
+2 for learning to sharpen with the henckels. if you can put a nice clean bevel on those by the time you order Japanese knives you'll be well on your way to being a decent freehand sharpener.
post #16 of 19
I expect an 8 years old Henckels to be quite thick behind the edge. So, it would need a lot of thinning which is not the first step a novice should learn, and certainly not with a soft stainless, which is very abrasion resistant. Have it done by a pro. Better start with a basic carbon blade, and start with learning the basics: raising a burr, chasing it, and getting rid of it.
post #17 of 19

Hand sharpening is not hard to learn it's all about feedback.  Feedback from the steel, the stone and the sound of the steel on the stone.  Youtube some Murray Carter videos, or better yet go to http://cartercutlery.com and subscribe to his videos and you might get a 25%off coupon for some of the best knives being hand made today.


Other videos to watch are Jon from JKI and this one:



post #18 of 19

I can't run sound right now.  Is this the one where the guy says, "Is powda sharpen de knife!"  That one gives me endless kicks.




post #19 of 19

Probably the one and you know it's the first one I watched when I started free handing and it still rings true. 

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