This is the third time I'm trying this. Forum gremlins screwed me twice, so the nice long review is in the ether of the internet somewhere, and all you get is this short one. Sorry. If you have questions ask.
Yes, this is being used professionally. I am aware that CKTG does not sell this model, however I see a lot of questions popping up about it here and elsewhere, and not too much in terms of response.
I've only had it for about a week, but I do have over ten hours invested in training myself on it already, and I have about 20 years experience with sharpening on the whole. I started with an Arkansas stone when I was 12, and sharpened all my life on oil and water stones, including professionally for a number of years.
Recently I noticed that people in my generation (Millenials, anyone born after 1980) have been trending towards libertarianism politically, and toward self reliance in their personal lives. That has translated into purchasing, and quality of household items, and such. Basically, my generation seems to value heirloom quality stuff a lot more than our parents, or GenXers did. The era of buy it and toss it consumerism is at least narrowing it's breadth. That is a very good thing. My friends are fixing vintage cars (I myself am in the market for an older Porsche or Ferrrari to displace my newer Corvette), we all seem to buy old tools at rummage sales, we like rehandling ancient hammers, shovels and axes. I personally recently purchased what my father would have considered an outlandishly expensive briefcase, because I know it will last the rest of my professional life. Etc.
This clearly is also seeping into the kitchen cutlery, and edged tools realm as well, but much like the cobblers, and zipper repair shops that used to dot every town (still one of each here, lol) sharpeners and sellers of good knives and cutlery are dried up, almost everything is sent off by mail. I decided to use some of my time to try and fill that gap, and invested in a number of stones some time ago, and have been doing a fair amount of hand sharpening in my spare time, but now I have decided to fold it in under my existing LLC, and set up a nice booth at local farmers markets and such, and provide in store service for restaurants and salons.
I've been researching professional level sharpening equipment on and off for about seven years, and I've demo'd some of the expensive water cooled electric grinders, and the belt sander type units. They take off too much metal, much too quickly, and don't give the image of expertise that I want to purvey to my customers. I tried the Wicked Edge (henceforth referred to as WE), and I tried the Edge Pro Apex. I went with the EP Pro Kit #3...Brass Tacks.
It is an extremely well built system, the plastic used is very dense, and 7/16" thick. The aluminium stock used for the frame is high quality, just like the stuff I used to sell, and it is nicely treated on all edges, and cuts (no sharp corners). All the hardware is stainless steel or brass, and where two pieces of plastic or plastic and aluminium meet high quality pan head stainless sheet metal screws are used to create extremely strong joints. It is built to be used professionally, for years.
The EP Pro comes with all of the stones that the Apex 4 kit comes with, 220, 400, 600, 1000, and 2, 3, and 6k tapes with blank platens (although I will be replacing these with shapton pro stones, probably all the way up to 30K). I ordered a Kangaroo Strop, and .5µ diamond paste (I have A LOT of balsa stock at home already) to compliment this for now, and will begin ordering stones over the coming weeks, starting with a 5 and 8k when they are available.
The machine is an upscaled Apex, made of stronger materials, and a more solid base, and it allows for steeper edge angles, and blades up to 5" tall, also it comes with the "spring mod" built in to the system, and a nice stainless ramp at the end of the stone that allows you to use much longer strokes, and the entire face of your stone. Ideally it would have a similar ramp on both ends of the stone, but as is it will prevent dishing of your stones so long as you alternate the direction you insert your stones into the machine.Why EdgePro and not Wicked Edge?
These two machines are pretty much the cream of the crop for this category of jig/sharpening system. I chose the EP for several reasons, they are as follows: 1.)
Price. The EdgePro is much less expensive than the Wicked Edge. For a setup comparable to what you get from Ben, you'd spend at least half again the cost of the Pro Kit 3. If you want the "Pro" level wicked edge, it is $1,000 more than the pro kit 3, and immobile. 2.)
Stones. The EdgePro has a much wider array of stones available, and with CKTG as an ancillary outlet for high quality stones, the Wicked Edge doesn't compete. 3.)
Stones. The WE comes with diamond plates. I hate using diamond plates. The tactile quality of them reminds me of chewing dry cotton balls, or nails on a chalk board. I hate them. People claim they are cleaner because they don't use water, that's just not correct, they are a dusty mess, just the same as stones are a watery mess, just happens that water with suspended particulates is a lot easier to clean up than ultra fine diamond and steel dust. 4.)
Stones. They are more readily available, and some of the highest quality japanese water stones can be had pre fitted to platens for you. 5.)Clampless. I don't like the clamped blade. I prefer having the ability to position the blade how I want in relationship to the stone. 6.)
SCISSORS. The Edge Pro Professional 3 Kit includes the scissor and chisel attachment. An absolute requirement if you want to be able to make money, rather than have a really good knife sharpener which is what the Wicked Edge is. Styling shears are big money, and salons want to protect that investment. Most ship back to manufacturers for edge care, I can show up, and hand them right back to them in a few minutes with a perfect mirror polished edge. A human hair is as hard as copper wire in the same diameter. Stylists depend on sharp shears to make money, they are very expensive. It is a lucrative market, and It allows me to buy up all of the ancient black painted handle sand cast steel scissors that schools used to have, and sharpen them, rebend the blades, and use them or sell them.Conclusion
I love the Edge Pro Professional. I have a ways to go before I am really good with it, but with just under a dozen hours invested, I am already more than proficient with it, and have sharpened dozens of blades and scissors. I've been buying used kitchen knives left and right at rummage sales, and I am going to raid goodwill tomorrow. It's an EXTREMELY competent piece of kit, and it provides 98% of what even the best whetstone sharpeners can do without 50 years of experience, and hours of time invested in each blade. I know CKTG doesn't sell this model, but they are one of the best sources for stones, and accessories (same size as Apex) and I know a lot of people have questions about the difference between the apex and the professional.
Overall this is in my opinion the best hand sharpening system out there. Ben's design is brilliant, and the personalised touches on your order are nice reminders of when these kinds of things were all made individually to order. The ceramic hone included with the Pro model is also Much nicer than the one with the apex.
Now what you've been waiting for. Pics.
Carrying Case. Very nice, $175 option on the Wicked Edge
Case open. I keep tape and towels in it at all times.
Stones in supplied case. A keen eye will notice that it is a repurposed VHS tape case, it works perfectly. I cut the foam from the foam that was inside the shipping box to prevent the stones from moving around and banging together.
Blade table. 7/16" thick solid plastic. No hollows underneath. I'm going to figure out how to make the magnets fit.
Panavise base. This thing holds so hard, even to bumpy surfaces like you wouldn't believe. Rock Solid.
Scissor/Chisel attachment. Included in Pro Kit 3
Machine set up. Excuse the kitchen, I am staying in one of my rental properties while I finish the kitchen in my house... 48" Viking range with a 24" flat top griddle, and travertine marble tile going in now!
Dirty stones. No clogging so far, they clean right up real nice, and I've sharpened some serious junk on here already.
Scissor attachment set up.
And a motorcycle I'm selling for good measure!