Chef’s Choice electric knife sharpeners are some of the best in the world. They manufacture a variety of different models, and it can be difficult to distinguish the differences between all of them. In this article, I’ll cover some of the major models that Chef’s Choice makes and explain their particular uses and benefits.
I’d like to first mention a couple of the things I like about Chef’s Choice electric sharpeners in general. One thing that’s great about Chef’s Choice is that they offer so many different models for different purposes. Heavy sharpening, light sharpening, unique edges – they do it all.
Second, I like that each model sharpens one side of a blade’s edge at a time because it reminds me of using a whetstone. Not to say that sharpeners that do both sides at once are inferior – there are many great sharpeners that use that method. However, it’s nice to be able to control the number of times you sharpen each side, just in case you have a knife that’s slightly lopsided.
Finally, all of the models I’ll mention below are assembled in the USA and come with a two-year warranty from Chef’s Choice with proper use and care. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Okay, now onto the models…
Chef’s Choice 120:
The Chef’s Choice 120 is their most straightforward model for European-style cutlery like chef’s knives, paring knives, etc. It comes in many styles (white, stainless, brushed metal, etc.) and it uses three sharpening stages. The first two stages use sharpening wheels coated with diamond abrasives, and the third stage uses a ceramic stropping/polishing disc.
If I were using only chef’s knives, bread knives, small cleavers, and other European-style cutlery, this would most likely be the Chef’s Choice model that I would pick. It offers a lot of options if you want to get different types of edges, so it can accommodate oddball knives like serrated utility knives, bread knives, and even small cleavers. A super-thick blade won’t fit into the slots, but those are usually limited to enormous cleavers and single-bevel Japanese cutlery, which require different edges anyway, so it’s really not an issue.
The only reasons I would recommend not to get this sharpener is if you either A) want a steeled edge with “bite,” for cutting fibrous foods, B) don’t do very much heavy sharpening, or C) want to sharpen both Japanese and European-style knives. The next three units I’ll cover will address these two concerns.
Chef’s Choice 130:
The Chef’s Choice 130 model is similar to a Chef’s Choice 120, except the second stage is a steeling stage. This is great for chefs who would like to put a steeled edge on some knives. A steeled edge is somewhat similar to a serrated edge, except the serrations are much, much smaller.
An edge like this can be great on fibrous foods, like cabbage – easy to cut after its boiled, but kind of a pain when it’s raw. Ever try hand-chopping cabbage for cole slaw? It’s not a laughing matter, but a steeled edge can help this. I’ve also found that a steeled edge is great for cutting beef and pork. Many steak knives come with serrated edges for this reason. You may want to try putting a steeled edge on your steak knives or boning knives and see how you like it.
Chef’s Choice 320:
Here’s my personal favorite. The Chef’s Choice 320 is as straightforward as the Chef’s Choice 120, but it only has two stages – one sharpening stage with diamond abrasives and one stropping/polishing stage. This means that it’s not suitable for heavy sharpening of super-dull knives, but it’s smaller and less expensive. If you sharpen your knives regularly, store them properly, wash them by hand, and use proper cutting surfaces like wood or poly cutting boards, you should never need to do any heavy sharpening anyway.
Chef’s Choice 1520:
This Chef’s Choice 1520 model is the most versatile of the Chef’s Choice sharpeners. It can do Japanese-style knives with a 15-degree edge on each side (30 degrees total) as well as European-style knives with the classic 20-degree edge (40 total).
It’s also perfect for those of us who want to put a sharper edge on their current cutlery. You can put a 15-degree edge on European-style knives with this unit if you’d like to do so, but they won’t hold an edge for as long as Japanese knives because they typically use softer steel.
Overall, I can sum up these four models as follows:
- 120 – Straightforward, good for European-style cutlery.
- 130 – Like the 120, but capable of producing a steeled edge with “bite.”
- 320 – Affordable, smaller unit for regular, light sharpening.
- 1520 – Versatile unit for both Japanese and European-style knives.
If you want to know more about these sharpeners or which type of model you should buy for your specific needs, visit our Chef’s Choice sharpeners page. We’re happy to help you.