Chef's Choice M130: Electric Knife Sharpener That May Not Suck

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Most of my knives are in bad shape, so I'd been looking into a knife sharpener. I won't buy one—my knives aren't all that great in the first place and I'd rather find a local guy to just sharpen them anyway—but in my modest amount of researcher, it appears like the electric sharpeners from Chef's Choice, specifically the M130 Professional Knife-Sharpening Station Platinum, are about as good as it gets in powered sharpener.

The M130 is $150 and takes a little bit of practice (and manual reading) to get right, so it's probably best left to heavy cooks and the pros. If you'd like to consider a non-electric model, this thread by Chad Ward on eGullet will tell you just about everything you need to know.

Catalog Page [Amazon]

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19 Comments

  1. … or you could skip reading the informative but incredibly lengthy egullet article and just go for the spyderco sharpmaker for $40.

  2. I’ve had my M120 for a couple of years now. I completely love it. I could never get the hang of manual sharpening, and now I don’t have to.

  3. Electric sharpeners like these are EVIL. They’ll ruin your knives, and quickly.

    My vote for sharpeners is the Edgepro. I own the Apex model, and love it.

    You do need some working knowledge of the basics of sharpening, such as how to know when to stop by feeling for the burr, and which bevel angle is most appropriate for the type of knife. For example, a santoku should have a fine angle for slicing veggies , but a cleaver should have a much more obtuse angle so that it stands up to hacking through bones. A chef’s knife should be somewhere in between. The electric sharpeners don’t give you any choices.

  4. I bought an M120 a few months ago – got it half price. I was far to lazy to learn how to sharpen knives properly. It definitely makes knackered knives a lot sharper, but the Amazon reviews – which suggest it makes everything dangerously razor sharp in seconds – are a bit overblown. If I’d got it quarter price, I’d probably be happy.

  5. I guess if you have cheap knives you can use this…but I wouldn’t put my global knives in one. Buy a proper double sided whetstone and learn how to sharpen a knife. I’m not sticking a $150 knife into a $150 machine to “practice on” until I get it right.

    If you are worried about sharpening by hand, buy an angle guide that clips to the back of your knife to help you with the right angle. You can sharpen 5 knives by hand in about 15 minutes.

  6. The biggest problem I’ve run into with the Chef’s Choice sharpeners is that the magnetic guides do not work well for small knives like paring knives.

    Now, as to “professionals” only using hand stones, that is balderdash. While many people do use hones, steels and strops, many pros rely on a motorized grindstone for results. While you do need to be careful using powered sharpeners it is also very easy to ruin an edge with a hand stone since it takes experience to keep the edge at a consistent angle.

  7. I am a serious foodie who owns some 20-30 kitchen knives and/or other sharp instruments, not including steak knives, etc. I used to try to hone on a stone, but who has a day & a half to sharpen? My M120 and a diamond-dust-coated steel gets them all in 15-20 minutes.

    Yes, the M120 removes much more metal than honing, and if your knives have a bolster at the handle, it can make sharpening down to the handle difficult. But I don’t sharpen THAT often that I am worried about sharpening the edge away from the cutting surface any time soon. I have had them – mostly Henckels 4-Star – as well as the M120 for about 5 years now, and no real issues.

  8. The other argument that generally pops up in discussions about hand-sharpening vs. powered sharpening is the convex vs concave edge. In most powered sharpeners, there are two abrasive wheels set up so that they overlap slightly (Think of a Venn diagram. The knife is then placed in the grove on the top of the two wheels, and it’s is drawn back through them (perpendicular to the wheels). This creates a concave surface on the blade near the edge. Some people think this is wonderful. Some people think this is horrible. When taking a blacksmithing course several years ago, the master smith teaching the course said he disliked that convex surface (called a hollow ground blade) because it made it more difficult to cut through thick or tough materials, and it weakened the blade near the cutting edge, making it prone to break and chip.

    With a hand stone, it is possible to create a flat plane, or even a convex plane near the edge of the blade. The flat plane will make it easier to cut through thick materials while improving the strength of the edge of the blade. A convex plane will make it tougher to cut through thick materials, but it greatly strengthens the edge of the blade.

  9. Hey I have to jump in here and share a story, and let you know about the best knife sharpener you will ever own… Technically, I’m an Executive Chef, I don’t do it anymore though, but in my 14 years in the business I worked with and for some of the top chefs and I ran restaurants as well. Obviously I have good knives, Forschner and Mundial brand.. no I don’t like Henkels.. I don’t like how they feel to me.. anyway, one day one of my suppliers comes in to get my order for dry proucts, paper goods, utensils etc, he had his new catalog with him and I browsed through it, they had various stones and electric knife sharpeners on sale.. Mind you this guy gets comissions as well, he had a few whetstones and a couple electric sharperners on sale, ranging from $50 – $150, so I tell him I’m looking for one and wanted to know which one was most likely the best since he talks to other people he might have a better view and opinions.. He told me ‘none of them’ and recommended me one for $10, yes that’s ten dollars.. It’s called the ‘Accusharp’ and it’s a hand sharpener, google the name and the site pops up instantly, but that was about ten years ago now and I have only bought one more since then to replace the original.. There are knock-offs that look like it but they aren’t the same.. I kid you not here, the Accusharp is the only sharpener you’ll ever need, you do not need something that costs $150.. trust me on this

  10. I’m going to have to co-sign on what Kristofer said above about the Accusharp. I picked mine up at an upscale shop in Richmond, and haven’t had to use anything else since. The only problem is that Accusharp will not be one of those items that you will buy only once in your life though, because once you use it and your friends/family see you using it they will beg/borrow/steal it from you and you’ll have to get another one to replace it, or buy them one just to get them to shutup. Oh yeah, and it makes a great Secret Santa present also. Either way, the sharpening blades are double-sided, so when they get dull, just pop them out and put them back in 180 degrees from factory. To get the best results, place the blade to be sharpened on a firm surface sharp end up, and stroke the Accusharp across the blade. Northern Tool sells these puppies for $10.00 and if the WHT/BLU color scheme doesn’t suit you, there is a camo version as well…..

  11. Oh hey, that Accusharp speaks to my inner cheapskate. They’ve got them on Amazon, but they’re backordered. I’ll give them a shot but I wouldn’t expect a review until after Xmas.

  12. One thing I really like about the Accusharp is depending on the pressure you apply that is how much metal gets taken off the blade, meaning that it can actually be used to fix small chips in blades, it essentially can put a brand new blade on a knife if need be. I’ve used the Accusharp to put a new edge on a chisel edged knife, in other words I created a V type edge when there wasn’t one originally. I think you’ll be very happy with the Accusharp really.. I do own diamond steels, regular steels and whetstones, but the stones have been put away in favor of the accusharp. A couple strokes of it and you’ve got a razor sharp knife..

  13. I’m not a chef or anything, but I’ve been really happy with the DMT Diamond honing stones. Get the DiaFold with a Medium and Fine pair and you’re set.

    http://www.dmtsharp.com

    They’re pretty cheap too, and the just need some water for lubrication.

  14. “The only problem is that Accusharp will not be one of those items that you will buy only once in your life though, because once you use it and your friends/family see you using it they will beg/borrow/steal it from you and you’ll have to get another one to replace it, or buy them one just to get them to shutup. Oh yeah, and it makes a great Secret Santa present also.”

    Hmm…an effusive and glowing review of a competing product by a first time poster. I suppose it could be real but it reads suspiciously like ad copy.

  15. It’s kinda-sorta true though really.. I know when I pulled it out of my knife kit and used it at work people always came over to me and asked me about it and asked to borrow it and ended up buying one themselves usually..

  16. LOL, I’m an Industrial Designer by trade, so simple machines that do the job quickly, effortlessly and cheaply are my “Kwan”. ^___^

  17. Skep, Kristofer and Shichae sounded just a tiny bit off to me, too, so I ran the standard astroturf check: I googled on some of their phrases, plus different combinations of their more distinctive words. Nothing suspicious turned up. They’re clean. They just really like the Accusharp sharpener.

    Then I went to Amazon and had a look at the item itself.

    “Oh!” I said. “It’s that thing.” I’ve owned one for years, though I’d long since forgotten its name. I’m glad to learn that I can buy replacement blades for it. Has anyone mentioned yet that it will sharpen serrate blades? It’s a good little gadget for most purposes, though I wouldn’t use it on our two hand-forged Japanese knives.

    What else I found: over fifty user reviews, more than three-quarters of which were extremely enthusiastic. This is one of those gadgets that people love. Kristofer and Shichae were actually restrained in their remarks, compared to some of the Amazon reviews.

    Forgive us our doubts.

    Not everyone loves the Accusharp. People who left three-star reviews mostly said it didn’t actually give a professional edge, but that it was fine for their cheaper knives. One of them talked about its giving a “strange edge,” but he’s clearly one of those people with a feel for an edge. If we all had that kind of feel, we’d all just own sharpening stones and we wouldn’t need to talk about it.

    Another guy said the carbon inserts had to be replaced too often. I can speak to that: if you don’t reverse or replace them, you won’t get the remarkably sharp edge you get when the device is new, but it’ll still sharpen a knife.

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