Asian/Western Manual Knife Sharpeners

Published July 1, 2011. From Cook's Illustrated.

Could a manual sharpener perform just as well as an electric one for a fraction of the cost?

Overview:

Western knives have a wider cutting angle on the blade than their Asian counterparts, so owning both kinds of knives used to mean owning two different sharpeners—if you expected to get back a razor edge. The pricey Chef’sChoice AngleSelect 1520 Electric Knife Sharpener ($169) solved the problem with two sharpening slots: one for 15-degree Asian knives and one for 20-degree Western knives. But now far more affordable manual sharpeners have come on the market that also accommodate both cutting edges. We compared two of these with the electric device by dulling and then sharpening multiple copies of our favorite Japanese and Western chef’s knives and slicing tomatoes. While one of our contestants  actually chipped a knife, the diamond abrasives on our winner restored the edges almost as effectively as the company’s plug-in sharpener. It takes more strokes—but it’s a good bargain alternative.

Western knives have a wider cutting angle on the blade than their Asian counterparts, so owning both kinds of knives used to mean owning two different sharpeners—if you expected to get back a razor edge. The pricey Chef’sChoice AngleSelect 1520 Electric Knife Sharpener ($169) solved the problem with two sharpening slots: one for 15-degree Asian knives and one for 20-degree Western knives. But now far more affordable manual sharpeners have come on the market that also accommodate both cutting edges. We compared two of these with the electric device by dulling and then sharpening multiple copies of our favorite Japanese and Western chef’s knives and slicing tomatoes. While one of our contestants  actually chipped a knife, the diamond abrasives on our winner restored the edges almost as effectively as the company’s plug-in sharpener. It takes more strokes—but it’s a good bargain alternative.

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