Cutting-Edge Technology, Put to the Test
Here are the five sharpeners we tested on dull restaurant kitchen knives supplied by Frank Monaldi Sr. of Frank's Cutlery Service in Baltimore, and on some of our own knives (Wusthof, Henckel, Japanese knives). We found that usage directions for some of the sharpeners were not as specific as we would have liked. Sharpeners are listed in order of preference, top to bottom:
Chef's Choice Edge Select 120 Professional Knife Sharpener (electric)
$140 (white), from SharpeningSupplies.com; available at kitchen equipment stores
Upside: Fast. Three clearly marked slots for passing the knife blade through; the first two are medium- and fine-cutting flutes, the last one polishes a beveled edge. Directions for use are clear; takes about four seconds per pull to swipe the knife through each slot. Made the thinnest, easiest cuts on paper and across tomato skins. Can sharpen serrated knives; most of the other systems we tested do not.
Downside: Expensive. Bulky enough to cause storage problems. Created the thinnest beveled edge of all the sharpeners. Sound of screeching knives is akin to hearing nails against a chalkboard. Prolonged running of the motor caused a slight burning odor.
AccuSharp Knife and Tool Sharpener
About $11, at Strosniders and other hardware stores
Upside: Portable, inexpensive, single-unit construction. Creates a good but thin beveled edge with slow, even pulling. Visible shavings came off the knives in five swipes of each blade. Works on thin Japanese knives. Admirable cutting performance on paper and tomatoes.
Downside: Plastic hand guard seems flimsy. Knife must be positioned blade up on a flat surface to be sharpened effectively; onestep process takes at least five passes through the V-shape slot. Could not reduce or eliminate a serious knick in a blade.
Lansky Professional Crock Stick Sharpener
$31.99 for four-ceramic-rod set, from SharpeningSupplies.com
Upside: Keeps knife in vertical position; offbeat design. Only a gentle touch, not great hand strength, is necessary. Takes four to five swipes, or about 30 seconds, to create an adequate edge that cut paper well but was less successful on the tomatoes. Transparent hand guard is efficient. Best for a knife with a wide beveled edge. Rods store neatly beneath the wooden base.
Downside: Rods must be turned/rotated to keep them from wearing down in one spot.
DMT Duo Sharp Kitchen Essentials Sharpening Kit
$79.95, from SharpeningSupplies.com
Upside: Easy to set up; easy to switch from coarse to fine side of the stone. A multitasker; also can sharpen scissors. Uses water to help disseminate the shavings and debris. Takes four or five swipes of the knife, working from the heel of the knife to the point, to create a narrow beveled edge.
Downside: Relatively expensive. Lack of detailed usage directions was most keenly felt when testing this model, especially with regard to holding the knife at the proper angle. Does not specify how much water is needed. Created edges that could cut paper but didn't handle the tomato skin very well.
Good Cook Sharpener (Made by Bradshaw International)
$2.99, at Strosniders, some Safeway stores and online
Upside: About the least-expensive sharpener on the market. Single-unit construction; rubberized rolling guards come off for easy cleaning. Slowly rolling the sharpener away from and toward you on the counter centers the knife in one of the device's two slots. "You can feel the grinding when you roll it," Monaldi says.
Downside: Nothing other than a photo on the package to suggest proper usage. Unstable; easy to get the blade off-track. Sounds and feels like coarse grinding. A little awkward to use; needs a good, deep counter for rolling. Created an edge that did not cut the paper and did only an okay job on the tomatoes.