As the video of our test shows, the Trizor XV took a very dull, very heavy (and slightly bent) 12-inch Wüsthof chef’s knife and made it tomato-slicing sharp. Setting the new edge took about 20 strokes on the coarse wheel; the fine and polishing steps took about 10 and five strokes respectively. All told, the process was perhaps three minutes of work. The motor was impressively powerful, never allowing the sharpening wheels to bog down or “catch” in the metal of the knife. It sharpened blades to within about ⅜ inch of the heel—as with the manual ProntoPro 4643, excellent performance, and a testament to the attention that Chef’sChoice pays to overall design throughout its extensive product range. This sharpening of virtually the entire blade is important. Without it, not only do you lose the ability to cut with the heel of the knife—especially useful when you’re cutting tough root vegetables, where employing the heel provides stability and pressure—but also over time the blade edge develops a “dish,” or dip, that prevents the rear portion of the blade from contacting the cutting board and slicing all the way through a food item.
Once the burr is removed, it's time to test the sharpness with paper. Hold a piece of newspaper at about 45°, with a bit of tension, and slash lightly with each point of the blade. If it cuts through easily, your knife's sharp. Warner speedily lacerated his newspaper, but I of course struggled. There is an element of technique involved, he reassured me.
Once you set the sharpener up, start your blade from where the edge starts closest to the tang and run it down the hone, at the same time pulling the blade back toward you, ensuring the hone contacts the entire length of the cutting edge all the way to the tip. Hence, you’re doing two simultaneous motions—moving down the hone and pulling the blade back toward you. Do it all with light pressure.
There are numerous types of stone sharpeners on the market. However, the Chosera 5,000 Grit Stone remains one of the best. This wet stone knife sharpener is an improvement on previous versions, allowing you to handle more blades. It uses magnesium as a binder. Since these stones don’t soak up water, you will have to sprinkle it with water regularly, during the sharpening process. Due to its hardness, it does not wear out easily, which adds to the overall durability.
The Idahone stood out on a couple of fine details, too: Its ergonomic maple wood handle was more comfortable than the synthetic handles on the rest of the competitors, and its hanging ring is amply sized and sturdily made of steel. The other ceramic rods we tested had smaller hanging rings, plastic rings, or no hanging ring at all. Hanging a ceramic rod is a good idea, because the material is somewhat brittle and can chip or break if it gets jostled around in a drawer or utensil holder.
The iconic Wiltshire Stay Sharp Knives have been in homes since 1938, and are known and trusted for their self-sharpening mechanism, as well as providing good quality durable knives. The Wiltshire Utility Knife is ideal for trimming and precision cutting fruit, veges and meat with its high quality stainless steel blade. Scabbard sharpens and hones the knife each time the knife is removed, while the triple rivet handle provides strength and durability. The coloured trim is perfect for quick identification in the drawer. The locking system ensures the knife is securely held in place, and has a safety lock button to release the knife.
Then, to start sharpening, pull your knife through the "coarse" slot (made of carbide steel) and then the "fine" slot (made of ceramic). Depending how dull your knives are, it can work well in one swipe, or require multiple passes. My knives were so dull, it took about 20 passes on each side. Also, make sure to use some pressure: At first, I was too light with my swipes, but as soon as I stepped it up — magic.
The Brød & Taylor Pocket Knife Sharpener (which is no longer available) uses the same carbide stones as the full-size model noted above, and it sharpens and hones just as well. It would make a solid, pocketable tool for campers, hunters, and anglers. But this compact model is not stable enough for long or heavy kitchen knives, and you can’t engage the spring-loaded arms in order to use a polishing function.
Sharpening stones have been around since the dawn of civilization for a very good reason: they work. Yes, they’re more labor intensive than most electric sharpeners but they also allow you an unprecedented level of control. Once you get used to something like the Fallkniven DC3 Diamond/Ceramic Whetstone Sharpener you may never take out your electric sharpener again.
Cost – While you can get a perfectly serviceable sharpening stick or stone sharpener for short money and some very high-quality tabletop manual 2 and 3-stage sharpeners for less than $50, high-quality mechanical systems will often run you $200 or even more. While that’s not so much money it’s likely to impact the quality of your life it is a lot to pay to keep a decent edge on your knives. While how much you ultimately pay for a sharpener is entirely up to you, you may want to consider your commitment to cooking and how often you are actually liable to use the device. If this is your first sharpener you might also want to consider learning how to sharpen a blade using a classic stick or stone sharpener first, before deciding if moving up to a mechanical sharpener is the right thing for you.
Hobby microscope view of a 220 grit diamond sharpening stone. Tiny diamonds are electroplated to a perforated metal carrier strip and bonded to a plastic backing. The feature identified with the red line across it measures about 0.08 mm across. The dark area at upper right is a void designed to allow for swarf created during sharpening to be cleared from the diamonds. This relatively coarse stone would be used to reshape a damaged blade edge which would be refined by finer grit stones.
I do have to question the grit ratings of these stones. I didn't notice anything before using them, but after a day, the 2000 grit actually felt courser than the 1000 grit side of the other stone. Whether that could be a byproduct of other factors or an indication of the more obvious, being that the grit ratings aren't accurate, I don't know. But that seemed to be the main criticism of cheaper whetstones, that their grit ratings often aren't accurate. Or maybe it's less a problem with accuracy and more a difference that most synthetic stones might have in common when being compared to much pricier natural stones?
Though "whetstone" is often mistaken as a reference to the water sometimes used to lubricate such stones, the term is based on the word "whet", which means to sharpen a blade, not on the word "wet". The verb nowadays usually used to describe the process of using a sharpening stone is to sharpen, but the older term to whet is still sometimes used. The term to stone is so rare in this sense that it is no longer mentioned in for example the Oxford Living Dictionaries. One of the most common mistaken idioms in English involves the phrase "to whet your appetite", too often mistakenly written as "to wet". But to "whet" quite appropriately means "to sharpen" one's appetite, not to douse it with water.