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Customer Review

on May 26, 2008
I've owned the Lansky system for almost 20 years and have been very happy with it. It enables me to get fantastically sharp knives every time with a bit of elbow grease but without having much actual skill. Lansky's system is a brilliant arrangement of a knife clamp with sets of holes that ensure consistent grinding angle for the stones that have long steel guides. This solves the problem of how to hold the stone to the knife at a consistent angle. Using stones to sharpen your knives gives you total control and allows you to achieve the finest edge (much finer than using a chef's choice, motorized bench grinder (which can overheat the blade ruining the temper), or any of those ceramic wheel/rod dohickeys). The available angle choices are 17 degrees (for Asian knives), 20 and 25 (for Western knives) and 30 degrees (for hatchets). Lansky offers various different stones (from natural Arkansas stones, to diamond abrasive). This particular set includes their entire line of synthetic stones - extra coarse, coarse, medium, fine, and extra fine. The stones are of good quality. You'll only use the extra coarse the first time you sharpen a given knife it cuts very quickly). The fine is fine enough to get your blades shaving sharp, but the extra fine really puts the last bit of super sharpness. They also give you a bottle of sharpening oil to help carry away the metal shavings to keep the stones cutting. I don't like using oil so I keep a wet paper towel handy when sharpening and wipe the metal off the stones and blade periodically while sharpening that that works fine for me.

To use the Lansky the process is simple - clamp the blade into the clamp - then scrub the blade against the stone with a consistent angle until you feel a burr (a thin raised seam) along the edge. The burr is your cue to flip the blade over and do the other side. When you get burr on the other side, move onto the next stone. By the time you get to the final fine grade polishing stone and get burr on the last side, then flip and give slight touch with the stone on the other side (to remove the burr but not raise another one) and you'll find your knife is literally shaving sharp (will cut the hairs off your arm).

Is Lansky the perfect sharpening system? For medium and small knives it probably is. Knives over 6"-7" long, however, require you to sharpen 1/2 the knife and then move the clamp and sharpen the other half because the edge angle changes too much if you attempt to sharpen too far from the guide hole. The stones themselves are pretty small (about as wide as your middle finger and as long as your hand) so it can take a long time to do a big knife. I can do a 5" utility knife in about 5-10 minutes, but an 8" Chef's knife can take more than double that - which starts to become a bit of a big project. If you do a lot of big knives you'll probably want to spring for an Edge Pro Apex (same mechanical concept, bigger size for much much more money). If you only periodically sharpen then this can be lived with. You shouldn't sharpen your knives more than once or twice a year (or they wear out too quickly) since sharpening removes metal. You should use a honing steel frequently in between sharpenings to keep your knives sharp.

Lansky's system is the best way for normal regular people (non fanatics) to sharpen their knives. It's pretty easy, fun, satisfying, and extremely effective.
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