Overall, if I had to use one system, that would be my choice. It's not if, I was actually using only Edge-Pro Apex since I bought it. It was a replacement for Spyderco Sharpmaker 204 sharpening system, which itself, is a pretty good sharpening system, once you learn how to use it, but lacks versatility Edge-Pro provides, and without the diamond rods, can be very disappointing for the novices. Although, the Edge-Pro Apex has considerably higher price tag. Edge-Pro allows you to achieve pretty much fantastic results, even for the beginners. It's my clear favorite, amongst the various sharpening systems. Chefknivestogo has Edge-Pro Apex 5 and bunch of standard and custom stones to go with it. I use it whenever I need very precise angle on the edge, also it's very helpful with the recurved blades. Major advantages of the Edge-Pro are its versatility and the speed. The only downside I can think of (besides high price) is that it requires water to work, i.e. it uses waterstones and things can get a little messy. Other than that, it's a very simple system, durable and functional.
I've sharpened hundreds of knives on it. All shapes, all steel types and so on. Some are easier to work with, others are more difficult, especially very large blades. But again, nothing impossible. I put initial bevels on Aritsugu Yanagiba with it, that's a pretty big blade and very, very wear resistant too, 65+HRC is no joke for any sharpening. Like I said it's very versatile.
It was on the Edge-Pro when I got my first mirror polished edge, and felt very proud too. Later, I mean few years later once I've mastered freehand sharpening, I use it a lot less, but still, whenever I need to remove lots of metal, it's one of my top choices, especially when I need to keep precise angle. Another major use, the recurved blades. Can't really work on them with Japanese waterstones. All in all, it's relatively expensive system, but well worth it. If you think of buying it, then get full set of stones, you will need all of them. Also, bear in mind, Edge-Pro grits are proprietary. They don't match neither ISO nor Japanese Whetstones grits, you will have to use Edge-Pro Grit conversion table.
General- Edge-Pro Apex package fits in the one medium size bag when disassembled. There are several kits to choose from, but main components are the same. Carrying case, sharpening table, stone holder arm and the rod on which the stone holder/sharpener is mounted, manual, instructional DVD(depends on the kit) and a water bottle. Plus the set of the waterstones and polishing tapes used with it. Depending on the kit, you will get 220 and 320, or 220, 320, 600 and 1000 grit waterstones, ceramic hone for final deburring and so on. The rod comes with 10°,15°,18°,21°,24° angle markers. However, you are not limited to those angles, and you can set pretty much arbitrary angle, between 10° and I guess 60°-70°. Later being obviously impractical for any knife or axe. As you can see it is a very flexible system. As a precaution, if you have not used the Edge-Pro sharpening system before, please watch the demo video and study the manual carefully. Extra 30 minutes you spend on that, will save you hours of time and tons of frustration if you skip all that. It is a very simple and user friendly system, but still requires basic knowledge to use it. If you do not have the DVD, you can always watch the videos on Edge-Pro website.
Usage- As mentioned above, I've sharpened well over a hundred different knives on my Edge-Pro Apex, most of them several times. It worked superbly pretty much for everything, except for the Himalayan Imports Kukris. Those monsters are obviously way too big for the system to accommodate on the table. Other than that, folders, fixed blades and kitchen knives, they were all sharpened to very sharp and precise edges, with minimal times. I won't discuss the actual sharpening techniques here, it's be too much for the review. Just a couple points I've learned hard way. The tip on most of the knives is both, thinner and curved. So, whenever you work on the knife tip, rotate the knife so that the edge is still perpendicular to the stone, and watch the angle, try to keep it consistent, don't lean the knife lower, because the tip is thinner. Another one, it's rather obvious, but if you get carried away, you will forget to water the stones and those are waterstones, which do need H2O to work properly and stay in working shape longer. Final advise, keep your stones properly aligned. Simple sand works ok, I prefer DMT 8XXC benchstone to flatten my Edge-Pro waterstones.
Edge-Pro Diamond Stones and tapes- Few years ago Edge-Pro inc. introduced diamond stones and tapes. While diamond benchstones, powders, pastes and liquid solutions are very popular these days for sharpening all sorts of implements, Edge-Pro stones are specifically for ceramic knives. In exceptional cases you may use them on super hard alloys, 65HRC and above. There is a reason for that, and I'll quote Ben Dale, the owner and founder of the Edge-Pro inc:
We only stock them for ceramic knives. I have tested every diamond on the market and not one of them lasted much over a couple of hours and most of them much less. So in total frustration I was telling a engineer friend of my dilemma and he suggested I call a tool company that specializes in diamond tools for industry, to get the straight story. So I did. I asked them if they would build me a tool to use on 58 Rockwell high carbon stainless. They said NO. They said that diamonds should never be used on steel and if they built me the tool, it would not last 10 minutes. Here is what happens. The diamonds sink into the steel, the steel surrounds the diamonds and pulls them off the plates. However if you are using a diamond on ceramic or carbide, the material is way to hard for the diamonds to sink in so they ride along on the points undisturbed. Now I know everyone sells diamonds for knife sharpening and here is why I think they get away with it and I can't. You buy a Gatco or Lansky Diamond, you get it out a few times a year and sharpen a few knives. The diamonds last a few years and you order a new set, thinking that was just fine. I sell a lot of Edge-Pro's to customers going into the sharpening business. These people are sharpening over 100 knives a day. Under these conditions a diamond won't make it to lunch.
I can add from my experience that diamond stone longevity sadly isn't comparable to waterstones. All major diamond sharpening stone manufacturers, including DMT, EzLap, etc, do warn you not to apply excessive pressure when using the stones, exactly because of the reason stated above, diamonds sink into the soft metal and when you push the metal it simply rips diamond crystals out of the base. It makes sense on the physical level. For large amounts of knives, even light pressure won't help. Especially, when you are using higher grit, i.e. bigger crystals. Also, when using the Edge-pro most of the people I have seen live or on videos, tend to apply quite a bit of a pressure, me too :) Makes work faster after all. On the bench stone, it's the opposite, you hold the knife, stone is stationary and unless you are focusing, or if you apply excessive pressure you will loose edge control easily. So, you are being more careful, or alternatively, unsuccessful in sharpening.
As for the actual ceramics sharpening, my experience includes two distinct ceramic knives: Boker 2040 Ceramic Titanium Delta and Kyocera OK-45 Ceramic Utility Knife. I've had both types of Edge-Pro diamond sharpeners, tapes and hones. Both worked pretty much equally well. Obviously, hones or diamond stones do last longer compared ot the tape, but they are also more expensive. Other than that, the positive thing about the tapes is that they are applied to the glass base, i.e. they are very even on the surface. With diamond hones the surface eventually gets uneven and you have to flatten them. And flattening diamonds is not an easy work I can tell you that much. Well, it's still doable, given some persistence and patience.
New Waterstones and tapes- I am very glad to see Edge-Pro evolving and expanding the selection of the sharpening accessories. It's been a long time since I got my Edge-Pro, and since then they've added Diamond tapes, introduced 3000, 6000 and 7000 grit polishing tapes, glass blanks. Those(glass) work superbly for very fine tapes and edges, the surface is very even and smooth, which is critical for the edges as refined as 0.7µm. I've added Edge-Pro Grit conversion table below. If you have additional data, please contact me. Another important and exciting addition was the special run of Japanese waterstones for the Edge-Pro system. In 2009 several of those appeared, I know Mark at chefknivestogo.com. That includes several different grit Naniwa Chosera waterstones on the standard Edge-Pro stone bases. I'm planning to pick up 10000 grit waterstones as a minimum, and then we'll see.
Edge-Pro Grits to Japanese Waterstone Grits and Micron Size Conversion Table
|Edge-Pro||Japanese Waterstone||Particle size(µm)|
Last updated - 02/24/12