Comparisons of Knife Sharpeners
Wicked Edge - Naniwa Chosera 5000x Stones
This test was really fun. I bought a bunch of identical knives at the kitchen section of a local store and brought them back to the office to test on a variety of sharpeners. The purpose isn't so much to compare brands as it is to compare sharpening methods. I followed the instructions on each sharpener and measured the angles with the goniometer, then took photos under the microscope. I also tried the edges on squishy tomotoes to see how they would perform on an everyday activity. For scientific testing, I'll probably repeat the sharpening and send the knives off to CATRA. In the meantime, enjoy the images:
This is the factory edge of the utility knife, right out of the box.
This is the edge after sharpening on one of the many types of crossed ceramic sticks. The sticks did help to polish and refine the egde a little though I didn't notice any performance improvement from the factory edge. The crossed sticks are really best for honing once you've already created a good edge on another type of system. Users need a lot of practice to hold their wrists steady for consistent results. (Edge Mark)
The edge of a new knife after sharpening on one of the many electric sharpeners available. The electric motors moves the diamond abrasive in a semi circular pattern while the user draws the knife through the groove. Magnets help to hold the knife at angle. Maintaining consistant pressure and speed while drawing the knife through the groove is important. (Chef's Choice - $99-$599)
This is the edge of a new knife after running it through a sharpener with crossed and fluted carbide rollers. I was amazed to see the serrations quickly cut into the metal, easily visible to the naked eye. As with all pull through devices, you need good wrist control for consistent results. The knife cut the tomato aggressively at first but quickly needed resharpening. A knife would wear out soon with repeated use and sharpening in this device. (Chantry - $54.95)
A couple of manufacturers have introduced spring-loaded and semi-guided crossed stick sharpeners. This knife was sharpened on a unit with diamond abrasives and steel hones. The steel wire hones are at a slightly wider angle to ensure that they reach the edge, which is a pretty ingenious way of making touch-ups faster. The knife cut moderately well but dulled quickly. (Warthog - $99.95)
A new knife after being pulled through one of the many crossed carbide, crossed ceramic sharpeners. The photo above is from the carbide phase.
The same knife passed through the ceramic phase after first being sharpened in the carbide phase. (Smiths - $5.99)
The concept is to draw the knife through the carbides to cut a the bevel into the blade, then to draw the knife through the ceramics to polish and hone it. The carbide quickly peeled off the metal and left quite a pile of curly metal shavings. The ceramics did some good in polishing the egde though performance was poor and quickly got worse. Most of these type of sharpeners range in price from $6 to $25. As with any pull through device, you need lots of practice and steady hands for consistent results.
A new knife sharpend on one of several hand held, angle guided sharpeners available. The scratch pattern on the bevel is pretty uniform and the edge is fairly straight. The faceting is a result of the play in various components in these types of systems. The knife was plenty sharp and durable. Touch ups are not fast as they usually require recreating of the entire bevel. (Gatco - $42.95 - $119.95)
This is from the only fixed clamp, angle guided sharpener that allows exact positioning and two sided sharpening. The egdge was extremely sharp and durable. (Wicked Edge - $275)
There are several sharpeners that I would love to test. If anyone would like to loan me a Spyderco Sharpmaker or an Edge Pro, I'd be grateful to test them and photograph the results, then send them right back.