It's quick and easy to operate, but mixed feedback on sharpness quality lands the Chef's Choice Diamond Hone EdgeSelect 120 behind the slightly pricier Chef's Choice Professional Sharpening Station 130.
Mixed feedback on sharpening performance. Joe Yonan and Bonnie S. Benwick of the Washington Post, who test several knife sharpeners with the help of a professional, report that the Chef's Choice 120 delivers better results than any other manual or electric sharpener in their tests. They say its three-stage sharpening process -- pre-sharpening, sharpening and polishing -- produced an edge "that could slice paper or tomato at the slightest touch." The Chef's Choice 120 also gets top marks for performance in tests conducted by a foodie magazine. However, both Pete Thibodeau of the LA Times and the editors of the cooking website CookingCache.com say its sharpness results are merely "acceptable." Moreover, Thibodeau describes this sharpener as "very aggressive," saying that even the finer sharpening wheel takes off a lot of metal.
Owners at Amazon.com generally say this sharpener delivers a great edge, and most think it doesn't take off too much metal. However, we did see quite a few complaints about the Chef's Choice 120 leaving scratches along the length of knife blades. Also, while the manufacturer claims that this sharpener works with both straight and serrated blades, some users say that it doesn't do a good job with serrated knives. It also can't handle heavy blades, such as hunting knives, or Asian knives such as santokus with a 15-degree bevel.
Simple to use, after a little practice. Several reviews specifically point to its built-in knife guides, which have springs to hold the knife blade at the proper angle. (This also makes the Chef's Choice 120 suitable for both right- and left-handed users.) Thibodeau says the process couldn't be simpler -- "Just turn it on, insert a knife and pull through" -- and two other reviews call it "foolproof." However, home users at Amazon.com are a little more reserved in their praise, saying that it actually does take some practice to get the hang of this sharpener. The top review at Amazon.com urges owners to read the manual carefully; otherwise, the reviewer says, "the way you assume it works may be wrong (the big mistake might actually be overusing it)."
A few reviews recommend that when you first start to use this sharpener, you should practice with "some knives that you don't care about" to get the feel of the sharpener before tackling your actual kitchen knives. One review notes that the initial "pre-sharpening" stage is only necessary for very dull knives; after the initial sharpening, they can be touched up with the second and third stages as needed. The manufacturer estimates that the initial sharpening takes about a minute and touch-ups no more than 10 seconds.
Very safe, like most electric knife sharpeners. The knife blade stays tucked securely into the sharpener slot, so it can't possibly make contact with the user's skin. The sharpening surface itself also poses no problems, since the knife slot is too narrow for a user's hand -- even a child's hand -- to squeeze into.
Few comments on noise, period. However, the Washington Post article notes that it "makes a bit of a screeching sound when the blade hits the stone." This makes it "a little scary to use at first," according to reviewers.
Review Credibility: Very Good In more than 230 owner-written reviews, the Chef's Choice Diamond Hone EdgeSelect 120 earns an overall rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. Owners say this electric sharpener produces a great edge, and most say it doesn't take too much metal off the blade. However, reviews warn that it takes a little practice to learn to use this sharpener accurately. We also saw several complaints that it leaves scratches along the length of knife blades. Users also note that, manufacturer claims notwithstanding, it doesn't work well on serrated knives.
Review: Chef's Choice 120 Diamond Hone 3-Stage Professional Knife Sharpener, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2012
2. Cook's Illustrated Magazine
Review Credibility: Very Good In this review, the magazine's editors test six electric knife sharpeners, rating each on performance and ease of use. Several Chef's Choice models, including the Diamond Hone EdgeSelect 120, are among those tested. Two sharpeners are recommended, one highly. In addition to ratings, this article also details how knife sharpeners and sharpening steels work. The editors also contrast electric sharpeners with manual ones, which they say are less expensive but harder to use.
Review: Electric Knife Sharpeners, Editors of Cook's Illustrated magazine, Nov. 1, 2006
3. The Washington Post
Review Credibility: Very Good Joe Yonan and Bonnie S. Benwick enlist the help of professional knife-sharpening expert Frank Monaldi Sr. to test five sharpeners, both electric and manual. Various knives are tested, first in Monaldi's shop and then in the reporters' homes. The testers measure sharpness by the slash-and-slice test, using a piece of paper and very ripe tomatoes. The Chef's Choice 120 garners the top pick, even though its screeching sounds make it "a little scary to use at first."
Review: Knife Sharpeners That Make the Cut, Joe Yonan and Bonnie S. Benwick, March 26, 2008
4. Los Angeles Times
Review Credibility: Good In this article, Pete Thibodeau tests a variety of home knife-sharpening systems. The author considers dozens of sharpeners and tests each one on three different knife types. Thibodeau is disenchanted with the Chef's Choice Diamond Hone EdgeSelect 120, deeming its sharpness results merely "acceptable" and warning that it can wear down knives quickly. Overall, he finds that simple manual grindstones give better results.
Review: Sharpeners Prove Their Point, Pete Thibodeau, Dec. 8, 2004
Review Credibility: Good CookingCache.com, a website devoted mostly to recipes, reviews knife sharpeners and steels, listing its favorites by category. Editors don't indicate how many they test overall, but their reviews, although not in-depth, do reveal that their panel has a thorough knowledge of kitchen knives and knife sharpeners. The Chef's Choice Diamond Hone EdgeSelect 120 is the top pick among electric sharpeners. Editors say it produces only an "acceptably sharp" edge, but they find it "quick and fool proof" to use.
Review: Knife Sharpener Reviews, Editors of CookingCache.com, Oct. 19, 2007