Back in the July 2008 issue of Tactical Knives this column covered the then-new Smith’s Electric Diamond Edge Pro Knife and Scissor Sharpener. I found it to be an excellent machine for those who lacked the skill or training to use a benchstone, which includes the majority of home cooks. That might have been the end of the story but around November Smith’s sent me a press release announcing a “new and improved Diamond Edge Pro Knife and Scissors Sharpener.” Looking at the photo that accompanied the release, I was all but convinced it was the same machine TK had already featured. Several e-mails back and forth from Smith’s followed with them telling me that, no, this really was a redesigned sharpener. Soon after that they sent the magazine an evaluation sample for me to try out.
Many of the new model’s basic features remain the same as the first version. A series of interlocking diamond wheels grind both sides of the edge at the same time. This system is common on a number of very expensive professional-grade grinders made for commercial food processing use, but Smith’s Diamond Edge Pro is the only home sharpener utilizing it. A manual ceramic V on the end of the machine allows any burr formed by the electric wheels to be removed. The ceramic V can also be used to touch-up serrated edges unsuited to the electric grinding wheels. A set of carbide cutters are mounted next to the ceramic hones for “sharpening badly abused edges.” Both the carbide cutter and the ceramic rods can be reversed when they wear down or completely replaced in extreme cases. A second set of ceramic hones pulls out of the end of the machine for sharpening both left- and right-hand scissors. Another interesting feature of the electric wheels is that they can be set at either high or low RPM. The higher speed is for edges that need major amounts of metal removed and the lower for simple touch-ups of blades dulled by everyday use.
What’s The Diference?
Finding the difference between the two machines required a very close look at the diamond-surfaced sharpening wheels. The first model had a total of four grinding surfaces on the abrasive wheels, while the new version has twelve. Obviously, that is a major increase in spinning diamonds but this is only important if the edge produced is also equally improved. In fact, I was amazed at how much faster and easier razor-sharp edges were honed on every knife I tried on the new machine.
Smith’s makes a point of stating the wheels hone a very efficient hollow-ground cutting edge on every blade. While ordinarily we think of a hollow-ground edge as a wide depression behind the primary edge extending somewhere up to near the knife’s spine, this Smith’s version works on a different principal. Their hollow-ground edge is strictly on the primary edge bevel. Normally, if the same blade were honed on a flat benchstone, this area would take the same flat shape as the sharpener. I think the point can be made that a flat-ground primary bevel would stand up to more abuse but it is hard to argue that Smith’s hollow-ground blades don’t cut with super efficiency. This is certainly the right edge for most kitchen chores and it would also be ideal for knives restricted to actually working on game.
The carbide cutters are a little more questionable in my mind. Frankly, I didn’t have any knives that had been abused to the point the diamond-surfaced wheels couldn’t handle the job. Carbide cutters tend to “shave” steel off badly dinged-up edges, which is not a bad thing if you don’t have any other options. In my case, I would still probably prefer using a coarse grit benchstone for the job. All of the knives I sharpened were simply ground on the wheels and then pulled through the ceramic rods to remove any burr. In each and every case, I found I had an edge that would shave my arm smooth with ease.
I have much less experience sharpening scissors, but I gave it a try with a pair of left-handed Fiskars. Smith’s sharpener switches from right to left hand by simply turning the attachment over. It seemed to restore the bite of my shears without any problem so this should be a popular feature with those doing a lot of sewing and needlework.
As with the first machine, the new Smith’s electric sharpener is totally foolproof and requires almost zero skill to use. At $120 suggested retail, the machine will quickly pay for itself by ending all of the frustration of trying to cut with a dull knife. For more information please contact www.smithsedge.com, 800-221-4156.