Manual sharpeners which work well are relatively new products — until diamond abrasive wheels were available, the results of using a manual sharpening jig were often less than wonderful. The Chef’s Choice 463 Pronto Asian Manual Sharpener applies that new technology to the more acutely beveled santoku’s and other Asian slicing knives. The new system works.
The 463 Pronto gets high marks from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine for quickly restoring 15 degree bevels on intentionally blunted Asian-style plain-edged knives. Even hard steels like VG-10 respond to this treatment, and if used properly, the result is a ready-to-use, razor-sharp knife put back to factory condition. There are still a few things to remember.
Each side of the sharpener hones with a different grade of abrasive — one is coarse for rapid shaping and the other is fine grit for honing and polishing. Don’t overdo the coarse side of the hone; after a few strokes, check the edge. When new steel shows along the full length of the edge, move to the next stage of the hone. Problems happen when users don’t hold the blade horizontally throughout the stroke. Dropping the blade toward the work surface could drag the new edge across the housing instead of the wheel. That means starting over. Straight-edges are much easier to perfect than curved blade edges, which require a complex movement to keep the edge in the proper honing zone.
Using heavy pressure isn’t necessary. Let the weight of the blade apply the pressure to the honing wheels, which should rotate as the blade pulls through.
Don’t confuse the Pronto 463 with the Pronto 464. Each is equal in quality but made for different knife styles. Use the 463 for Asian blades with a 15 degree edge angle, and the 464 for European blades set at 20 degrees. These good hones are not interchangeable.