In today’s world speed often trumps quality in terms of importance. The world of knife sharpening is certainly no exception. The market contains hundreds of electric models that are designed to sharpen a knife in just a matter of seconds.
To many this might seem like very convenient. They can pull out their sharpener and in a matter of minutes be back to cutting and slicing their food. But they could unknowingly also be doing irreparable damage to their knives.
When knives are manufactured the steel is put through a sequence of heating and cooling. This process determines the final hardness of the steel. If a steel is extremely hard it can be sharpened to a razors edge. But it will also be very brittle. This means slicing through harder objects such as bone or even hard vegetables like carrots can cause the steel to chip.
This happens because as you slice the blade can turn or torque causing pressure on the steel in multiple directions. This causes the hard steel to crack.
Other things like dropping the knife in the sink can also cause damage.
In the opposite direction softer steel is more likely to become dull more quickly. As a result knife makers try to establish a balance of durability and sharpness. This is done by bringing the temperature up to a specific point during the final heating process. Once this process is finished the knife is ready to be sharpened.
Sharpening a Knife
Electric knife sharpeners use discs that spin at high RPM to quickly remove material from the edge of the blade. Unfortunately the speed at which these discs spin also create heat along the edge of the blade. If the temperature of the blade rises above the temperature at which the knife was tempered you have then created a more brittle edge. Not only that, but you’ve weakened the knife at the very point at which it should be the strongest.
To make things worse because it’s difficult to apply consistent speed and pressure while using an electric sharpener it’s not uncommon to end up with a wide range of hardness along the entire length of the blade.
This can severely damage the edge and shorten the usable life of the knife. But you can alleviate all of this by using a manual knife sharpener.
Manual Knife Sharpening Systems
Manual knife sharpening systems like the Apex System from Edge Pro Inc allow you to properly sharpen your knife without damaging the temper of the blade.
Instead of relying upon spinning discs to sharpen the knife they utilize a sharpening stone attached to a rod. The rod is pushed along the edge of the blade at a slower speed that won’t damage the blade.
These types of systems also allow you to match the angle of just about any knife. The Apex system allows you to set the sharpener to anything between 10 and 24 degrees.
In addition to the temper, the blade angle is one of the most important factors in properly sharpening your blades. The ability to match the angle of the blade allows you to insure that the blade is consistent with what the manufacturer intended.
All of this combines to insure your knife is sharp, durable, and will last you a lifetime.