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 Post subject: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:15 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:18 pm
Posts: 10864
Location: Madison Wisconsin
It is hard describing my skills, my knowledge, or the lack of both of the former. I cook a lot...I teach cooking classes from time to time...but though I am not a dummy I am still on a great learning curve about knives and sharpening. Which can be confusing areas all by themselves.

It all started with my newest cutting board, from Boardsmith. That led to forums and sites and days later my head is swimming. At some point I'll bite the bullet on a new knife...but right now I am focusing on sharpening.

I hone, and from time to time when I drive to Chicago I throw knives in the car and take them all to Midwestern Cutlery for sharpening. But I want to do more myself.

I was reading one of the posts from Boar d laze and he mentioned the Edge Pro Apex sets. More costly than I had originally planned, but they seem more mistake proof than many options. I tossed a kit in the shopping cart (along with a type of edge guide) but thought I would ask you about the choice.

Right now I have a modest bunch of German knives....ancient French knives...and a couple of Japanese. Nothing that would make an aficionado drool, but they work.

How do you like the sharpening set for a home cook who chops things daily...

Thanks! Take your rush.


Mark Richmond
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 Post subject: Re: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:32 pm 

Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2014 12:00 am
Posts: 678
The way I see the Edge pro is a a modern tool. It's great at what it does but it's just that, a tool. Free hand sharpening is a craft and a skill. it connects you to the blacksmith and the steel you work with.

When faced with the exact same dilemma I chose free-hand and never looked back. It might not be as precise, but ask how many knife sharpeners in japan use an edge pro ;)

 Post subject: Re: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:33 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 06, 2013 6:44 pm
Posts: 1374
I haven't used an edge pro system, but I will say that sharpening by hand is certainly not hard. Once you are used to holding a consistent sharpening angle nothing else will be in your way. On the way to attaining that goal there are a few tricks that people use.

A sharpie marker to draw along the edge; this will show you that metal is actually being removed from the edge.
Quarters or a business card as an angle guide. You can even purchase angle guides that slide onto the spine of a knife to help with a consistent angle.

Starting out with a 1k stone to set a nice bevel is a must. Practicing until you can develop a great 1k edge will save you a lot of wasted time refining a poorly set edge. An edge pro would probably mitigate this learning curve, but make up for it in others.

After you can get a consistent 1k edge, a 4k-6k refining stone would smooth it out. Adding a 400 grit for complete bevel repair is recommended at this point as the bevel will only last so long before it too, is worn out and depleted.

Good, well recommended stones include....
Shapton Glass
Latte 400
Green Brick 2k
Arashiyama 1K-6K set
Naniwa Chosera
Nubatama Ume 1k-2k

Please, if you need more specifics, we here at the forum are at your disposal.

Only after Winter comes do we know that the pine and the cypress are the last to fade.
 Post subject: Re: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 5:03 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:10 am
Posts: 158
I have the Edge Pro and I love using it. It gives me a certain gratification, knowing it is going to hold that angle almost precisely and produce a razor edge. I love it for what it is.
But I absolutely love free hand sharpening. First on an old tri-stone (oil stones) I inherited from a fellow chef and then the Japanese water stones Dan recommended in the last post. It feels awesome to be a part of the knife and the craft.
If all you want/need is a great hair-popping edge to your knives, then the Edge Pro will certainly do that for you. But if you want that symbiotic relationship we are talking about....It's free hand all the way.
Keep in mind I want both in my life and it's ok to want it all! ;)

mikey p.

"If you have nothing good to say, at least be specific."
Carl Dvorak
 Post subject: Re: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 5:19 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 12:20 am
Posts: 4209
It was never in my budget to do jig sharpening. But a stone or two can be had for ~$150 and will last many many years.

Since you are using mostly German cutlery you probably do not need a particularly high grit stone. You might consider something like the Latte (400 grit), Green Brick (2k) combo, and maybe if budget permits a diamond lapping plate. I have not used the Latte, but it is inexpensive and well reviewed.

The lapping plate is nice to keep the stones flat. You can also use coarse grit sandpaper taped to a flat surface. I have a block of granite that I got for free from a counter fabricator who broke a piece.

The 400 will allow you to repair all manner of blade damage, but is useful for setting your bevel when it is time to fully sharpen your knives.

The Green Brick is great value and leaves a killer edge for German steels. For normal touch up sharpening, you would start and finish on one stone.

Japanese knives can benefit from a finer edge than a set like this will produce, but western steels will see diminishing returns for the money and effort. There are also other brands of stones you could consider for the coarse/med combo I am recommending here, these are just some of the more popular.

Hope this helps.

 Post subject: Re: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 5:29 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2012 2:11 pm
Posts: 515
Location: NE
I've tried using guided sharpening systems before. I like them and they can teach you a lot about angle and knife orientation to the stone. Hand sharpening (once learned) is the ultimate method to manipulating grinds and edges with unmatched speed.
There isn't a wrong decision here. I would suggest freehand. But if you want "training wheels" there's nothing wrong with that. I spent my first 6mo. learning sharpening with guided systems. It will make transitioning to freehand much easier.

 Post subject: Re: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:50 pm 

Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:57 pm
Posts: 181
I use freestanding stones and the EP both. The learning curve with the EP is less steep and it's harder to screw up with it, so you can learn some of the skills associated with sharpening by using it and then transition to freehand, as atang said. I also feel it requires much less focus (cue the sharpening police :roll: ), so you can listen to some audio books or whatever while you're working. If your hand-eye coordination is less than great, the EP also helps with that. Some people find the "gadgety" nature of the EP a turn off.

Freehanding is initially cheaper (although the cost of the stones tends to mount up once you've convinced yourself you need astronomically high grits and natural stones and whatnot) and quicker, but the learning curve is steeper (but not prohibitively so). Sharpening without a jig is a pretty satisfying skill to practice, too.

 Post subject: Re: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:57 pm 

Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:22 pm
Posts: 1526
I know how to freehand but I use an Edge Pro. The consistency of the angle makes for more efficient sharpening, especially with wear resistant stainless steels. Sure one can bring a carbon laser to sharp with a few strokes freehand. But thinning a German blade could take hours. With the EP every stroke is correct and you have no wasted effort.



 Post subject: Re: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:36 pm 
Forum Moderator

Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:00 pm
Posts: 4638
+1 on what Mikey's Deli said.

Cedarhouse also gave you some great advice on a perfect stone setup for your knives if you choose to learn free hand sharpening. Sounds like you have plenty of good fodder for practice :-).

 Post subject: Re: Sharpening edge pro or free hand?
PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:48 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2013 3:21 pm
Posts: 427
It's better to make lots of mistakes and learn from them. Just because you have a sharpening jig like the edge pro doesn't mean you can't make mistakes.

I think for the money there is much better value to be had with free hand sharpening than the edge pro system. A lot of people enjoy the edge pro system because it takes some guess work out of sharpening but even with the Edge Pro system you still have to pay attention.

One thing that turns me off with Edge Pro is the size of the stones. They are tiny. You get very little stone for the money. Most people who own the edge pro system agree that the stock stones are not that good. So the cost of upgrades might as well been spent on getting actually stones bigger than a few mm.

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