For occasional sharpening of less expensive knives in the common European pattern, the Victorinox 49000 Firestorm could be a handy kitchen tool. Use a more advanced sharpening system on your best cutlery.
Two sets of ceramic wheels in the sharpener offer two stages of grit — coarse for the four-wheel tan set and fine for the two-wheel white set. Start off with the tan stones to reset the knife’s 25 degree bevel and finish up with a few careful passes through the white stones to polish and hone the edge.
Be careful to hold the sharpener steady while in use. You’ll need firm pressure to prevent the sharpener from skating on a smooth countertop. Drawing the blade through the sharpener at anything but 90 degrees to the stones reduces efficiency and increases wear on the wheels. Keeping the edge in contact with all the stones in the sharpening sets can be tricky. The small ceramic abrasive wheels do a lot of grinding for their size, so use a light touch and keep the stones clean. Rinse off steel particles with clean running water after use to prevent clogging the pores of the stones with metal.
Harder steel and thinner blades require something more advanced than the Firestorm, but this compact sharpener could still do a good job on utility knives, paring knives, and even larger blades built for tough chopping jobs. Once the Firestorm reshapes the bevel, using a honing steel improves the quality of the cutting edge.
Also consider longer-lasting diamond grit sharpening systems like the Chef’s Choice 450.
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