Yes, Virginia, here are my thoughts about knife sharpeners…

—–Original Message—–

I received a Chef’s Choice Hybrid “Diamond Hone Knife Sharpener” for Christmas and have no idea if this is something I can use on my knives or if I should use it on them. I was hoping you would be able to help me out so I know whether to return it or keep it.

Thanks for your help and Happy New Year!

-Virginia

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Dear Virginia…

I hope your holidays were wonderful.

I’ve used electric knife sharpeners in the past, and I owned this one. What follows is my opinion and “your mileage may vary”. Long story short, I don’t use electric sharpeners any more.

Here are my reasons:

  • ¬†When you’re using the wheel, you’re removing more metal that is necessary to sharpen the blade.
  • I messed up one of my knives using an electric sharpener. The intended way to use these sharpeners is to slowly & evenly drag your knife from heel-to-tip across the spinning wheels. I was good at dragging it “slowly”, but not so good at dragging it “evenly”. As evidenced by the damage to my knife, I tended to push down just after the heel of the knife crossed the wheels, and that part of my knife got curved from the increased exposure/pressure by the wheel. Basically, the part of the knife that’s flattest (near the heel) was bowed upward and no longer made contact with the cutting board. The knife was salvageable, but required time & expense.
  • Because they move much faster than sharpening by hand, it is faster & easier to damage your knife if you’re holding or dragging it incorrectly.
  • The electric sharpener is bulky and requires electricity, and is less portable to/from the kitchen.

That being said, there is no reason why you cannot learn from my mistakes and form your own opinion about the electric knife sharpeners.

If you drag the knife slowly and evenly across the wheel, you may not encounter the problem I did.

What I do now:

  • Steel my knives before, during, and after use as necessary. Remember to wash your blade after steeling to remove any metal particles.
  • Touch up with a whetstone as needed. I’ve got easy access to these at the restaurant and at school, so they’re always within reach. Again, remember to wash your blade afterward.
  • Once every year or so, I’ll take them to be professionally sharpened. It’s worth the small expense to have them done by a pro.

So, there you have it, Virginia. Keep those knives sharp!