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Old 06-27-2009, 03:40 AM   #1
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Revisiting some recommendations: Forschner & Edgemaker Pro

Hey, gang. Well, after a long time of recommending Forschner Fibrox knives for those on a budget and Edgemaker Pro sharpeners for those who want to sharpen with minimal fuss, I want to take a moment to revisit the topics in light of the last year or so of experience.

First off, the Fibrox- this is the darling of Cooks Illustrated magazine and a perenial best-seller, and not completely without good reason. The Fibrox has comfortable, durable handles with a texture that gives a good grip even when wet, and they come very sharp out-of-the-box (ootb) considering their price. They're relatively easy to resharpen (more on that later) and hold an edge decently if you're careful (also more on this later).

About 3 months ago I took a job in a new restaurant opening by the guys I used to work for in a variety of roles over the years (ranging from Sous Chef to Exec/KM). They bought all new knives, all Forschner Fibrox. At first most of the cooks thought they were incredibly sharp, and of course most people, even pro cooks, don't really know much about knives. And they worked pretty well...for awhile. Now, 3 months later, it's hard to tell which side is sharpened! Well, that's 3 months in a high volume kitchen, you might say...and I'd concede your point. They'll last longer at home. And of course a cutting board was not always utilized, I'm sure. Still, once the edge was gone I was surprised by how poorly they cut. Normally a thin knife cuts decently even when it gets dull, just by virtue of lack of friction.

No knife will stay sharp forever, and if a salesman says otherwise run the other direction. But better knives will stay sharper, longer. However, in my experience a knife should stay sharper longer than our mess of brand new Forschners.

The next topic is the Edgemaker Pro sharpening system. I've really banged the drum over this product (and probably to the great chagrin of Buzzard!] as a great system for those who want sharp knives but don't want to fuss much over the process. The EMP (for short) is dead simple: you lay it down on a table and run the knife thru at about a 45 degree angle, 'aiming' at a notch in the back. You start with the coarsest rods and firm pressure, gradually pushing more gently. Repeat with each grit til you've gone thru them all to the finest, the yellow "Handy Honer". It won't get a good knife as sharp as waterstones and not every knife on the market will respond well, but the majority of blades will get shaving sharp with a few minutes or less of work.

A couple days ago a coworker of mine, fresh out of culinary school, was asking me some questions about knives. He'd brought his roll in and lamented that his knives really weren't that sharp anymore and he needed to get 'em sharpened. I lent him the full EMP set and demonstrated how to use them, then let him try. He went thru his entire roll, just Germans but not bad, and touched 'em all up. He was really shocked by how sharp they got. I told him I'd be happy to take his favorite one home and give it the 'royal treatment' on my Apex with waterstones but he felt like it was now sharp enough (can't win 'em all!).

So, my updated advice:

1) A Fibrox is still a decent entry level knife, but if you love cooking you might strongly consider something better...and by that I mean something Japanese. You can get a Fujiwara or Tojiro without breaking the bank and you'll be a lot happier. If you get the Fibrox, do not let it get too dull!

2) I still haven't found anything so idiiot-proof or so effective as the Edgemaker Pro for sharpening entry level knives (basically everything from a Forschner up to and including a Wusthof or Henckel). It doesn't remove a lot of metal and is easy to learn.* Yeah, you're better off learning to use stones, but for many people that's just too much effort. If you want a good, serviceable edge without a lot of muss and fuss, the EMP is the tool for you.

* What little effect it has on the edge beyond just sharpening is easily smoothed out on the stones.

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Old 06-27-2009, 07:25 AM   #2
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No arguments here, Rob. The knives are fine and I have a couple of them. The Edgemaker works well enough, not to extreme levels, but well enough. The combination of price, speed, and convenience makes for a good combination.

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Old 06-27-2009, 05:32 PM   #3
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Yeah, that's a good way to put it. I have to temper my enthusiasm for the product by pointing out that you can't reach that level of "electric tingle" sharpness with the EMP. A decent knife can be made sharp enough to fillet a sheet of heavy paper but it won't pass the "Carter 3 Finger Test." But then again, it's largely a waste of time and energy to try to get a mediocre knife that sharp, as you well know.
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Old 06-27-2009, 07:13 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Babcock View Post
But then again, it's largely a waste of time and energy to try to get a mediocre knife that sharp, as you well know.
I have a set of Chicago Cutlery steak knives that are probably Chinese made and most likely out of 440A or the equivalent. They must have screwed the heat treatment royally because they will not take an edge. Nothing, nada. I'd rather use my EDC than those things.
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