Chef'sChoice Food Slicer (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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- Cast-aluminum and stainless-steel slicer with gear-driven, cool-running, high-torque motor
- Approximate Maximum Slice Thickness - 3/4 inch. Approximate Maximum Length of Food - 9-5/8 inch
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Rugged slicer for slicing hams, roasts, breads and more.
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*It can slice through everything. I prefer using it on completely frozen meat, and it's great. Instead of paying $40+ per person to get shabushabu at a restaurant, I can just slice the meat myself at home. Basically, this is a small table saw for meat.
*It can slice very thin. Some people have commented that it can't slice super thin, but unless your definition of super thin is "paper thin," then you're going to be satisfied. It can cut shabushabu thinner than the restaurants will do for you, so that's good enough for me.
*It feels safe. Despite wielding a rapidly spinning razor sharp blade, as long as you're using it the way it's intended (there's a hand guard you're supposed to use to move the meat) it feels safe. If you're holding the meat with your bare hands and not paying attention, then this machine won't be very safe because of course it's a moving blade. Just use it the way it's supposed to be used (and it's easy to use) and you'll feel safe using it too.
*It's inexpensive and it'll pay for itself. I've saved a lot of money by slicing my own sandwich meat and shabushabu meat. A few years ago I remember searching for a meat slicer online and found out that most of them were hundreds of dollars, or more. Chef's Choice makes these units basically for consumers only (not the types they use in stores which are much larger), but for a consumer item it's really a great deal. The price is great (typically under $100), and if your budget is higher for a home-use machine you can get the other models which have an all-metal surface which looks even nicer.
*It's solid and sturdy. I don't have to worry if this thing is going to fall over, or move while I'm cutting meat. It's got weight, and reminds me of working with a KitchenAid stand mixer (also another good item to have in your kitchen). A machine like this should be heavy.
*You feel like a boss using it. That is all.
* Cleaning. It's not the easiest machine to clean. You have to take certain parts of it off and wash them separately, and other parts wash with a sponge and dry on the machine itself (such as washing the body). It's kind of heavy so it usually takes me about 10~15 minutes to wash it completely. Also the blade needs to be cleaned carefully because it's sharp, and you don't want to just submerse it in water because you'd lose the grease in the center. Cleaning this thing is a careful job and needs to be done each time you're finished using it. Still, besides this con, I think this is going to be the same with any large machine you purchase, so I wouldn't remove a star because of it.
NOTE: Also make sure to pick up the "Chef`s Choice Non-serrated Blade" for this. The one it comes with works perfectly and can even cut shabushabu fine, but the non-serrated blade is able to get an even thinner cut for that "see-through" thinness you've only seen in butcher shops. The non-serrated blade is also a bit quieter when it cuts, and makes less of a mess (less tiny pieces of meat hitting the machine) and might work better for you when you're slicing through things that are frozen.
In a word - excellent. The thickness adjustment plate is made of aluminum and the guide rods appear to be stainless steel. The shell that holds the drive train is also cast aluminum. The food carriage is ABS plastic with a stainless steel top. The glide rails are made of a low friction plastic. The blade is stainless steel and very sharp. Operation is smooth and the fit and finish leave nothing to be desired.
I included some pictures of the drive train up top under customer images. The motor is a husky high RPM DC type with a metal worm gear that drives a plastic copolymer spur gear that finally drives a large ring gear attached to the blade. Lubrication on the worm gear in my unit was a bit light so I applied some old teletype grease I've been using for years - and years - and more years. The back plate is an aluminum casting that holds all the parts securely. Wire routing is superb. The drive train cover holds a cowl that fits over the motor and directs the air from the fan over the windings. The unit has a very precise look - like something that might be made in Germany though it's not.
The brushes are carbon/copper composite and the commutator is about an inch in diameter with many segments. The bearings appear to be phosbronze rather than ball bearings but the side thrust is minimal due to the worm gear drive so sleeve bearings are fine here. I have nothing but good things to say about the way the drive train is designed or the materials used. Top shelf all the way.
Some reviewers (I suspect they're mostly grumpy old men who think a 56 Chevy was the last good car ever to hit the showroom floor) criticize the use of plastic gears. I disagree. Plastic gears have been used successfully for thirty years now and for small appliances like this they are much better than metal gears. They have a slicker surface so they glide better. They are strong. They are quiet. However, the slicer has no safety clutch and the high gearing means that the motor can apply tremendous torque to the toothed gears that drive the blade. People who break the teeth are probably jamming materials into the blade too fast. The blade turns at approximately 20 inches per second under no load and the feed rate on dense and frozen food should be no more than 2 inches per second. If the blade is slowing down the feed rate is too high. One characteristic of a DC motor like this one is that its torque increases as it is placed under load. It's like the starter motor in your car. I make a point not to apply any more pusher pressure than is needed to keep the cut uniform and I release pressure when I pull the carriage back. This minimizes load on the blade. The addition of a clutch would be an improvement but it would add to the cost. My advice is to take it slow - this isn't a $2000 Hobart.
Disassembly is easy. All major parts come off in just a few seconds. They even made the blade stripper removable - it's a small black plastic piece at the bottom of the blade. Cleaning the blade is a challenge simply because it's so sharp. I use a general purpose pot and pan brush. Be careful! You can shave with this thing. I usually apply a dab of vaseline to the drive train spur gear when I reattach the blade. I also remove the drive train face plate (two screws and clip on the right side) and lubricate the worm gear when I plan to do heavy cutting. Lack of lubrication at worm gear will cause heat buildup due to the very high RPM operation.
The DC motor is reasonably quiet - it's the same motor one finds in small vacuum cleaners so expect it to whine. It's probably turning at 20,000 rpm. The fan on the back is designed to force a high volume of air across the windings and the motor runs quite cool. Any fan running at such high speed makes a fair amount of noise. I have run it for over twenty minutes and there was no indication the motor was getting hot.
The serrated blade is fine for fairly coarse cuts. However, when I attempted to slice chicken breasts (admittedly very well cooked) the result was more like chicken hash than chicken slices. It turned the chicken into crumbs. I have ordered the non-serrated blade (advertised as working on the 610) and will report if this works better. The serrated blade just beats the chicken to death. I had better luck with cooked ham. The trick was to hold the ham fairly high off the tray using the pusher assembly.
Another slight problem is that the front edge of the sliding feed tray is almost 1/4" away from the blade. This causes soft meat to dive under the blade at the front and back edges of the cut and causes a mess. I plan to attach a thin strip of plexiglass on the edge of the tray to take up the gap. The front tray edge is plenty thick enough to drill and tap for a couple of flat head mounting screws. Once I've taken up the gap I expect much less problem with the blade grabbing the food and pushing it down. (Please see 2012-03-10 comment below)
A small plastic tray slides between the left and right pedestals and catches the sliced food well. Because it is held in place it doesn't slide around like it does on the 610. Better design here.
I'm completely satisfied with the unit given the price. It will pay for itself by letting me make my own sandwich meats. Not to mention the health benefits of avoiding all those carcinogenic sodium nitrites used as preservatives.
Based on my observations and experience with small motor appliances over the years I feel very confident this slicer will operate reliably for a long time to come.
2011-12-15 10:35 -
Just received a non-serrated blade for the 610 and it fits perfectly. The blade is made in Germany and assembled in China. It's very sharp. Chef's Choice Non-serrated Blade for Model 610 Food Slicer
2011-12-20 15:14 -
Absolutely LOVE the non-serrated blade. It's super easy to keep clean because the both sides of the blade are smooth. I adjust the thickness guide so it guards the edge of the blade and wipe each side of the blade with a damp sponge while the blade is turning. No need to remove the blade at all. The serrated blade, on the other hand, catches all sorts of food bits on the lumpy side which makes cleaning with a sponge difficult.
I can now cut the chicken breasts in 1/16" slices and they hold together perfectly. The serrated blade turned the chicken into hash.
2011-12-30 16:48 -
Just to let you know, I haven't forgotten about the plex strip but with the new smooth blade there isn't nearly as much of a problem so I haven't felt the need to add it yet. I'll be cutting up another ham in a week or so and I'll have the strip installed for that. I'll post some pictures and any relevant comments.
One slight design flaw I've noticed is that the edge of the plastic insert sticks out past the edge of the blade hole. This causes long cuts more than three inches high to hang up when shoving them through. I'm fortunate to have a lathe large enough to hold the blade so I cut the plastic back and beveled the edge of the locking screw. That helped. I could have faced off the locking screw to flush but didn't want to weaken it.
I've also found that on my unit the locking screw needs only be finger tight. As soon as the blade starts turning it grabs the screw and tightens it - that's the reason the threads are counterclockwise. By letting the machine do the tightening I'm much less likely to overtighten and break what is one of the weakest parts of the machine.
I like to do very thin cuts and my blade was not parallel to the back guide plate so I took off the bottom plate, loosened the 4 mounting screws that hold the blade and motor assembly to the base and inserted two .015" shims (from a set of cheap spark plug gapper blades) on the back side. This brought the blade much closer to parallel. If anyone is interested in this I will be happy to post a picture showing where the shims were inserted.
Happy New Year to all! I'm glad you find the review helpful.
2012-01-22 09:08 -
The smooth blade has eliminated my desire to extend the tray. The blade cuts so smoothly that it doesn't push the food down like the serrated blade. Still very pleased with the unit. It's so easy to clean that I use it without a second thought for tomatoes, onions, etc. Afterward I just wipe it down with a microfiber rag and put it away. The smooth blade makes all the difference. I wish they would sell the unit with the smooth blade as an option. The serrated blade is probably better for things like bread but it makes a mess and is really hard to keep clean.
2012-03-10 16:10 -
At the request of two of the comments I took the time to install a plexiglass spacer strip. It was an education. I used 1/8" plexiglass (and I measured it to make sure), .75" wide and about 6.5" long. As you can see in the images section I cut a bevel on the bottom edge to allow more movement. The plex catches on the blade mounting plate behind the back edge of the blade so I couldn't make the spacer extend all the way to the end of the tray. The use of a shorter spacer won't matter much because the blade catches and pushes food down at the end of the stroke - and that's where the spacer is. It is unusual for me to cut a piece of meat that is more than six inches long.
On a totally different note - my unit started screeching like bejeesus for no apparent reason. I took off the front plate behind the blade and looked around but couldn't see anything wrong. After reassembly the noise was gone. I'll keep a history of this - it was a VERY BAD NOISE and I'm not happy about it. It sure sounded like a dry bearing.
2012-04-11 11:19 -
I'm very pleased with the spacer. Just sliced some fully defrosted ham and got to within 1/8" with no meat diving under the blade. Well worth the time and materials!
2012-10-03 09:16 -
Continue to be pleased with this product. The screeching sound I heard once has never occurred again and I suspect it was just not having the blade cinched down tight enough. I now use the serrated blade for cutting buns and bread - the smooth blade binds too much. It's best for thin sliced meats.
Top international reviews
Works like a charm. Very easy to use and cleaning takes no time.
I have used my slicer everyday since I got it. It's so much fun I'm always looking for things to use it for.
The only thing I'm not keen on is the tray that comes with it ,it doesn't stay in place. I've been using paper towels instead.
The tray is not fixed on machine...awkward. The setting that determines thickness has to be readjusted often.