As someone who loves to cook, I well know how important it is to have sharp knives. Unfortunately, my knives are sharp only about once a year for a short period of time. Now, Chef’s Choice Professional Sharpening Station 130 is changing all that.
I hate dull knives, but I’m not skilled enough with hand sharpening methods and sharpening them professionally can run $1 or more an inch. Since I have than a dozen knives, many of them quite large, that can add up. Wanting to solve this cook’s dilemma, several years ago I purchased a Chef’s Choice Sharpening Pro, an electric knife sharpening system that involved three sharpening surfaces that moved back and forth. I’d run the blade of the knife through each side of each stage seven times from roughest to smoothest to sharpen the knife. It worked, well, so-so. I hated the loud, grinding noise it made, especially the first station, and each knife took too long to sharpen. Additionally, the system didn’t sharpen knives in a way kept the knives sharp for very long. Soon—way too soon—the knives were dull and needed sharpening again.
After a while, I abandoned this system and started sharpening my knives once a year at Sur La Tab’s annual free knife sharpening event. The knives would be nice and sharp–for a while. Then it was back to dull knives and searching for a serrated knife whenever I needed to cut a tomato.
New, Improved System
Last year, when I was picking up my knives at the Sur La Tab sharpening event, I asked the clerk how she sharpened the knives. She told me they used a Chef’s Choice Professional Sharpening Station. Wait, I protested, I’d bought one of those Chef’s Choice Pros and mine didn’t work well.
The clerk told me that Chef’s Choice had completely redesigned their sharpening system. My old Chef’s Choice had vibrating sharpening discs and magnets that kept the right angle during sharpening—sort of. The new system features diamond abrasive discs that rotate, easy-to-use precision guides to keep the blade at exactly the right angle during sharpening, and the model 130 offers a three stage system for sharpening, steeling, and stropping knives. The new Chef’s Choice Professional Sharpening System 130 even sharpens serrated knives.
Super Easy, Super Fast
I was excited and–a little intimidated–when the Chef’s Choice 130 arrived. With the old sharpener, it was easy to shave off too much of the knife if I didn’t hold the edge perfectly against the magnet. Not so with the new model 130.
This knife sharpener is really easy and quick to use. The position guides effortlessly hold the knife at just the right angle and, unlike my old sharpener, the 130 is relatively quiet. It’s also fast. Instead of spending several minutes on each knife, I could sharpen an edge in 15-30 seconds.
One of the unique features of the Chef’s Choice Professional Sharpening Station 130 is that you can create two distinctly different edges on your knives, depending on how you’re going to use them. Using stations 1 and 3 (sharpening and stropping/polishing), creates what they call the “ultimate fine edge.” This is great for knives you want to use for precise cutting.
Using stage 1 (sharpening) and then steeling the knife with stage 2 gives the knife more of a “bite,” an edge that professional chefs often favor, especially for more fibrous foods like meat, chicken, or fish.
And finally, you can use the last station, stropping and polishing, for sharpening serrated knives. That was something even Sur La Tab didn’t offer during their sharpening sessions.
The first knife I pulled through the model 130 was a revelation. I was surprised how easily and quickly the blade moved through the sharpener. I was also impressed that the positioning guides completely took the guesswork out of the correct angle to hold the knife during sharpening. A couple of passes through the stage 1 sharpening and the instructions said to check for the burr, a slight rough and bent extension of the edge. Yep, it was right there. Then two more sets of passes (right and left side of the blade) through stage 3 stropping and polishing and the knife was sharp. It cut through an Italian tomato like butter.
Curious about the steeling edge, the next knife I sharpened with a couple of passes through stage 1. I checked for the burr. Then I turned off the motor and inserted the knife into the slot between the guide plane and the blade retaining spring in stage 2 (the steeling stage), alternating between the right and left sides for 10 pairs of pulls. (You can also run the knife one time on each side through the stropping/polishing stage to create a polished steel edge, but I did not.)
I liked the feel of the steeled edge even better than the fine edge! The chef’s knife I’d chosen slipped through the tomato making super thin slices. Then I used it to cut a pile of root vegetables making made short work of them.
According to the instructions, you can re-establish this “bite” on the steeled knife blade periodically by repeating 10 alternating pulls through stage 2 (steeling).
I even sharpened my serrated bread knife by passing it five alternating times through the stropping/polishing stage 3. This straightens, realigns, and re-sharpens the “teeth” on the serrated knife. My serrated knife passed easily through some heavy multi-grain bread with almost no effort. Unfortunately, the 130 doesn’t sharpen scissors.
The best news? I was able to sharpen a whole passel of knives, some to a fine edge, others to a steeled edge, in just a few minutes time. According to the literature, the edge created by the Chef’s Choice Professional Sharpening System is sharper and longer lasting than any factory edge. Only time will tell.
But I’m not worried because the model 130 is so easy and quick to use, I’ll just pop my knives into it and re-sharpen them whenever needed. The 130 is reputed not to wear out knives even if you sharpen them often and the Chef’s Choice Professional Sharpening System comes with a beefy 3-year warranty. So, like I said, no more dull knives for me thanks to Chef’s Choice. – by Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor