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Old 03-18-2008, 01:44 PM   #1
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Which Edge Pro Apex Kit?

I need some help from all the knife experts as to which kit I should purchase. I'm getting ready to order an Edge Pro Apex but I don't know if I should get Kit 2 or Kit 3. I know that Kit 3 comes with additional 120 grit coarse, 800 grit ultra fine water stones, 1 polish tape mounting blanks, and a pack of 15- 2000 grit polish tapes. I'm just not familiar enough with sharpening knives to know whether I'll need all the additional items yet.

The knives I have right now are a couple of Wusthof Grand Prix II, a Chinese butcher knife, and a very old block set of Chicago Cutlery. I have plans to get a Japanese knife in the next month or so.

Any guidance and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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Old 03-18-2008, 11:48 PM   #2
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I'd personally recommend kit 3; it's great to start out with everything. You get all the stones, polishing tapes & tape blank plus the Ceramic hone and the DVD. Here is a good vendor: he's an honest dealer with fast shipping and good service (and listed by Ben Dale on EP's own site).

Btw, I think you'll be ecstatic with your Apex- I know I love mine!
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Old 03-19-2008, 12:08 AM   #3
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I have a 6 and one half inch Japanese knife I have had forever and I can out slice,dice,and chop most cooks alive today. Stick to a good Japanese knife
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Old 03-19-2008, 02:37 AM   #4
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Never heard of the apex kit. I have diamond surfaced sharpening stones as well as ceramic steels assorted wet stones and files. The common thread is that none are tapes. To my mind tapes sounds like kissing cousin to sand paper. What is good about something as thinly bonded as tape or paper? The stones steels etc. have lasted for years and have kept my knives sharp enough to shave the hair off the back of my hand. Now my stepson is asking me to sharpen his japanese knives. He caught his wife using one to open a cardboard box!
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Old 03-19-2008, 03:59 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by oneoffour View Post
Never heard of the apex kit. I have diamond surfaced sharpening stones as well as ceramic steels assorted wet stones and files. The common thread is that none are tapes. To my mind tapes sounds like kissing cousin to sand paper. What is good about something as thinly bonded as tape or paper?

I guess you could view them as sandpaper- of course, we're talking 40,000 grit sandpaper. Polishing tapes (and I use that phrase as a shorthand: we often mean paper, such as Post-It notes with a compound, pre-fab mylar tapes with extremely fine grit, or even Nex-Care medical tape with compound) can be finer than any Japanese waterstone. In fact, it's sort of a hybrid between sharpening and stropping. Some abrasive compounds used with tape may be only 3 microns- vastly smaller than the finest waterstones you'll ever find. And of course, for a fraction of the cost.

Now diamonds...I have no use for them. They have a very sharp angular granular shapes that, while they can remove metal very quickly, create a really ugly scratch pattern that takes forever to buff out with waterstones. I won't use a diamond for anything except flattening my 'stones; for this they work exceptionally well. I keep a DMT Dia-Sharp on hand just for that purpose. But IMOHO they're a hamfisted approach to use on fine Japanese knives. Still, if you must have diamonds, Ben does have diamond plates for use with the EdgePro, although he advises they're greatly inferior to the waterstones included with the kit. The diamonds do cut slower but they also last longer, fwiw.

The EdgePro Apex was designed by a professional sharpener, and many professionals use the Apex (and the upgrade model, the "Pro"). It uses synthetic waterstones in conjuction with tapes on a glass or aluminum blank- and of course, anything that your inguinuity allows you to come up with. It is hand sharpening, but it enables your stone passes to be made with virtually no error. I'm no nOOb to hand sharpening but I can't imagine equalling the precision I get with the Apex. It won't sharpen knives by itself- it needs a human hand and brain to run it. And it won't work magically, you still need to understand the 'wet rock' on a fundamental level, but it will take human frailty and physical error almost completely out of the mix.

This is not to denigrate your freehanding skills. Just bear in mind that not everyone has that skill, nor can they all aquire it. For example, my Dad is an old-school mountain man, very skilled in woodcraft, tracking, hunting, knife lore and freehand-sharpening. But the loss of one eye along with a myriad of other physical disabilities (including the destruction of this right shoulder) has made freehand sharpening nearly impossible nowadays. But the Apex allows him to bring his 50+ years of sharpening skill to bear while eliminating his main weakness- a lack of strength and coordination.

No single solution is ideal for everyone, but my decades of experience as a professional chef and knife junkie has persuaded me that the Edge Pro is "the real deal." I doubt anyone who gave it a chance would find it a useless tool.
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Old 03-19-2008, 04:09 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by plumies View Post
[...]I'm just not familiar enough with sharpening knives to know whether I'll need all the additional items yet.

The knives I have right now are a couple of Wusthof Grand Prix II, a Chinese butcher knife, and a very old block set of Chicago Cutlery. I have plans to get a Japanese knife in the next month or so.
If you plan a foray into Japanese knives you really should get Option 3. A Japanese knive is ground to a very thin edge and will greatly benefit from polish to a mirror edge. That's what you buy a Japanese knife for! The price difference is really minor, and it's much cheaper to buy the full kit than to add the other stones down the road.

Be advised that the advertised grits don't correspond neatly to those you may be familiar with. There's (sadly) no truly standardized measure of the coarseness of stones. The EP 800 is probably the equivalent of, roughly, a 6,000-8,000 grit Japanese waterstone, depending upon the brand.

Your German knives are probably ground at about 22.5* per side and are hardened, in all likelihood, to Rockwell 56 or less. There's no point to using a super-fine stone on them. They won't take a Japanese-level edge, and aren't hard enough to hold it for long if they could. The medium stones will suffice for them.

One advantage to the more complete kits is the inclusion of a fine ceramic hone. This is far superior to a steel, particularly the crappy groved steels that you typically find with cutlery blocks. All those do is raise microserrations on your edge as they destroy it. Toss your grooved steels in the garbage, and do not under any circumstance use a grooved steel made of metal on any Japanese knife.
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Old 03-19-2008, 04:16 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by oneoffour View Post
The stones steels etc. have lasted for years and have kept my knives sharp enough to shave the hair off the back of my hand.
I suspect you're a skilled sharpener. But I also have to say that shaving hair says nothing at all. That's just the starting point- a knife that can't do that needs major work. A $20 pocket knife sharpened to a wire edge on a 220 grit waterstone will shave hair, but that's not what most of us consider as "sharp." Forgive me if I'm overstating the obvious, but a wire edge will seem sharp, but that sharpness quickly fades as the knife is used.

At any rate, tree-topping hair is a more impressive test (assuming it's appropriate to the style of knife you're sharpening). A truly sharp kitchen knife should be able to filet a human hair lengthwise, preferably into a couple strips. It should easily delaminate thin paper. Another good test is to cut the bottom off of a soda bottle, on the bias- it should cut cleanly thru with one smooth stroke.

I think I need to introduce you to Buzzard767.
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Old 03-19-2008, 07:58 AM   #8
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Hey hey hey Bob,
Glad you gave me the heads up on the japanese knives. I have some fine synthetic stones that I got when the local woodworkers warehouse went out of business. I've been using german knives not japanese so I'll have to pull them out of the tool box.

I like the idea of having such control that you can filet a hair that IS a test of sharpness! I'm not sure of the soda bottle as I dislike the idea of putting a knife to plastic but hey it sounds impressive.

I have seen some ads for glass plates and buffing or was it polishing compounds? How does compare in grit to jewlers rouge? Have a book somewhere on sharpening that lists alot of different compounds and such as to fineness grit texture. LOL if the contractor gets done soon I'll put the house back together and start finding things again.
Thanks for sharing
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Old 03-19-2008, 02:40 PM   #9
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Rob, thanks so much for all the great information. I was leaning towards Kit 3 with the exact thought that it would cost me more in the long run if I needed to add to Kit 2. Your comment about the ceramic hone pretty much nailed Kit 3 for me. That crappy Chicago Cutlery steel hone is going in the garbage. Also, thanks for the vendor recommendation. I'm putting in my order in just a few minutes.

FWIW, the reason I decided on the Apex kit is because I really wanted to purchase a Japanese knife (or 2 or 3). With everything that I've read about maintaining them, I need and wanted to learn how to sharpen knives myself. The question has been whether I could really learn how to freehand well and conclusion is probably not as well as I need to. So a system like the Apex would certainly allow someone like me who've only sharpened knives using Chef's Choice and a steel hone (no flames, please ) to feel comfortable about investing in Japanese knives.

Next, selecting a Japanese knife!
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Old 03-20-2008, 01:08 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oneoffour View Post
Hey hey hey Bob,
Glad you gave me the heads up on the japanese knives. I have some fine synthetic stones that I got when the local woodworkers warehouse went out of business. I've been using german knives not japanese so I'll have to pull them out of the tool box.

I like the idea of having such control that you can filet a hair that IS a test of sharpness! I'm not sure of the soda bottle as I dislike the idea of putting a knife to plastic but hey it sounds impressive.
Yeah, the soda bottle test is a bit extreme! One regular member at another forum has posted several vids of cutting a line of empty soda cans in half! I'd never try that myself, at least not with my own knives! But it takes a very sharp blade. In all likelihood you'll roll your edge a bit...I think it's really just showing off. But cool to try just once!

I do use German knives alongside my Japanese ones, mostly at work. Most of the guys at the place I work really aren't qualified to use the Japanese ones. The ones I've lent them to have cut themselves on them, one fairly badly (had to go to the ER) and they often ding the edge all up. Germans work better for stuff like splitting lobsters- that's something I wouldn't do with a Shun or Hattori.



Quote:
Originally Posted by oneoffour View Post
I have seen some ads for glass plates and buffing or was it polishing compounds? How does compare in grit to jewlers rouge? Have a book somewhere on sharpening that lists alot of different compounds and such as to fineness grit texture. LOL if the contractor gets done soon I'll put the house back together and start finding things again.
Thanks for sharing
Jewlers rouge doesn't cut as fast, or so I've been advised. But I know guys that really like it. HandAmerica sells several different compounds that work well. Ben Dale of Edge Pro now sells glass plates for the Apex & Pro- guys have been making their own and having such good results that it's become a regular option now.
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