A few years ago I had an assignment to evaluate a large roundup of knife-sharpening products in one article. Not having enough dull knives of my own, I asked my wife to post a notice where she was employed that I would happily sharpen any kitchen knives her co-workers were willing to bring in. I was soon faced with a couple hundred blades that ranged from the least expensive grocery store checkout line items up to the finest professional-grade German models. What quickly became evident to me was that the average home users never sharpened their kitchen cutlery. The edges ran from simply being impossibly rounded-over-dull to blades that had obviously been used as screwdrivers, paint scrapers, and dandelion diggers. My end conclusion was that a kitchen knife resharpened on a regular basis with just about anything was far superior to what most cooks were using.
While most large cities have sharpening services that will do the job for you, it doesn’t take long to exceed the original price of an average knife when using them. Because traditional benchstones seem to be a complete mystery to the majority of people, I have long recommended one of the better electric sharpeners as an answer to the problem. Cutlery snobs tend to have fits at the very suggestion of a power hone. The usual reason given is that they “eat” blades up. They are probably right about some of the lower-end products built into can openers and the like, but used properly, the better models do not shorten the life of a blade any more than frequent honing on a benchstone. I have several kitchen knives that have been honed on electric sharpeners for a couple of decades and they still have plenty of useful life left in them.
A few years ago I had an assignment to evaluate a large roundup of…
by Lawrence Heiskell, M.D. / Jul 1, 2008