Chef's Choice® EdgeSelect™ 120, a Field-Test Review

By: Frank Ross

I've always been a stickler for having a keen edge on a knife, and it's one of my quirks my wife appreciates in her kitchen.

The first step is a course diamond hone that is used to dress up an edge.

Over the years, I've developed a close attachment to my Arkansas and Washita stones and my sharpening steel. With the latest innovations in steel, I've added diamond hones to my collection of honing tools. Until recently, sitting down to refine the edge of a knife was a solemn occasion that elicited a well-deserved ration of admiration from my wife. She would bring me a dull, abused blade and I would work my magic and return it with a sharp edge and receive well-deserved adoration.

I say recently because after bringing home a Chef's Choice® EdgeSelect™ 120 for a field test, some of the mystery has been lost from my previous ceremonies of romancing the blade. This unit is far too easy to use, and maintaining my grip on this methodical and time-consuming man-task has become difficult. They've made it so simple, even the steps are numbered. If you can count to three, a keen edge is a certainty.

The first step is a course diamond hone that is used to dress up an edge, but you don't always have to start with the first step. Once you've established a good edge, it can be maintained by using the last polishing step, or at most, steps two and three. This first stage is particularly useful if a blade has a ding or nick that needs to be worked out, but use it sparingly. This is a very aggressive wheel and you can remove a lot of metal very quickly if you overdo it.

Blades that have been abused at the hands of an amateur hand sharpener usually have a bad angle, and that is one of the great things about this electric sharpener. Precision, spring-action polymer guides align the blade at exactly the right angle to ensure perfect results every time. By using this guide you eliminate all of the guesswork and tedium of slowly moving a blade over a stone while constantly watching the angle for precise alignment.

It took one, two, three steps and I'm out of the old sharpening game.

Make one or two passes through the first stage and inspect the blade to make sure you have a smooth edge from hilt to tip. Once you've achieved a good rough cut, move on to step two, where you will refine the edge with the next diamond-impregnated disc made of a finer grade. While step two involves a less aggressive wheel, you don't want to linger too long here either. Diamonds are a girl's best friend, but they can be a guy's best friend as well, when used sparingly. That's one of the neat things about this sharpener. It's fast, real fast! With a 125-watt motor, it's powerful as well.

The final step is a flexible stropping disk that will remove any microscopic burrs and add the finishing touches required for a razor edge. It works equally well on both straight and serrated blades. I still used a sharpening steel, perhaps largely due to my reluctance to let go of old techniques, but it really wasn't necessary.

After sharpening about 20 knives and checking the results, my left forearm is missing most of its hair. It was just too tempting to run a finger over a really sharp edge and not test it to see if it would shave. Fortunately, since every knife in the house and my shop are now at maximum readiness, I'll have several weeks to replenish my fur before it's time to fire up the EdgeSelect™ 120 for another round of honing.

This unit is available in White, Aluminum and Stainless versions.

Now the only problem I have is that, with the simplicity of using this sharpener, my wife can hone her own knives and I no longer am considered the baron of blades and the guru of grinding. It took one, two, three steps and I'm out of the old sharpening game.

At least I still have my chainsaw. Cutting down trees is a domain I will protect with a fervor enshrouded by a cloud of oil-tainted smoke and testosterone. Come to think of it, diamonds really are a guy's best friend.