About those cheap sharpeners....

Jun 22, 1999
OK I read Joe T's FAQ on sharpening and know there's a lot to getting a good edge on any blade, especially high quality knives with recurves. What I want to know is whether the cheap sharpeners I see at the stores (ie, like the ones with overlapping ceramic disks) serve any useful purpose on quality knives.

I see them promoted all the time at kitchen cutlery shops also. Are they just a compromise to let the non-sharpening public get a quick edge for the least effort? Aside from the lack of angle control, do these sharpeners do a passable job (if so, then under what conditions...kitchen knives only?) or do they do more damage than good?
There are other sharpeners that use a V-notch between a couple cutter blocks of something hard like silicon carbide. These will shave steel off of harder knife blades. They leave a burred edge that cuts soft kitchen materials very aggressively, but dulls easily when cutting harder materials. They wear blades down rapidly and I wouldn't use them myself. They may be a very valid option for a cook with cheap knives and little inclination to properly sharpen them. If you have a real cheap knife, the scraper type of sharpening may be a more effective edge than the smooth edge from a hone. With decent quality knives I recommend friends keep a ceramic "steel" in the knife drawer and use it briefly once a week or so. This keeps ahead of dullness with minimal real effort.