The E5 sharpener comes with a quick start guide and a user guide. I recommend you to read them both. The quick start guide can be confusing if you don’t know the anatomy of your knife since the picture is slightly complicated but more about that later. The E5 sharpener has different versions, one with a honing rod and one without a honing rod. The version I have has a honing rod that is detachable from the handle. The reason for that is because of the Microforge that is included with the Works Sharp Honing rod. But more about the Microforge later. You also get the E5 sharpener with a dust cover. The E5 sharpener comes with two red medium grit-rated belts, and the last item in the box is the power adapter.
The aesthetics and build quality of the E5 sharpener
The E5 sharpener is compact and can be easily stored. The metal part at the front and the top are slightly texturized but still very smooth to the touch. The plastic parts are nicely coated, so they are not slippery. You can easily lift the E5 sharpener because of the texturized rubber behind the edge guards. The E5 sharpener comes with four nonslip feet beneath the sharpener. The E5 will not move at all while you are using it. The design and the information cards inside the E5 sharpener make it easy to use without the chances of mistakes. There are also instructions on the inside, just in case you forgot how to use the sharpener. The E5 sharpener is well built, and there are no loose parts. The complete unit is very sturdy. Despite the compact design, you also get a compartment to place your belts. The chamber can even fit six belts at the maximum. The angle guides are also from a very well-built quality and snap easily in place. The leather lining has an embossed logo of Work Sharp.
Two red medium grit-rated belts.
The E5 comes with two red belts with a medium grit rating. One of the red belts is in the hidden chamber. The one that was hidden had a crack in the belt due to the limited chamber space. The cracks are normal and do not come loose, and it will not affect the performance of the belts at all. What is interesting is that the E5 sharpener only comes with red belts. Separate belts with different grit ratings are optional.
Shape, sharpen and refine
The exciting part is that one single belt can shape, sharpen, and refine your knife edge. A single belt can create different grit ratings due to the rotating speed of the E5 sharpener and the abrasion used on the belt. It means that the E5 sharpener can mimic a specific grit rating but can’t copy it exactly. So the single red belt can act as a coarse, medium, and fine grit. The quality of results is also dependent on the knife steel structure, the harder the steel, the better the results. And that is how one single belt can Shape, Sharpen and Refine.
The E5 Ceramic Honing Rod (optional)
The optional honing rod is detachable. The most exciting part is the ceramic rod, which caught me by surprise. The smoothness on the ceramic rod is higher than the 3000 grit rating. After talking to Work Sharp, they told me that it is close to 6000 grit. And the corrugated side is of the same density. However, because of the higher density and harder ceramic bond, it will make it cut faster and feel rougher than a 6000 grit Ceramic Waterstone. The corrugated side has the same grit rating but acts as a rougher surface due to less surface area for increased material removal. The honing rod comes with a 17-degree angle guide. Wich accommodates the standard included angle guides of the E5 sharpener. Not only is the honing rod detachable, but you can also easily rotate the honing rod. You can use both the smooth and the corrugated sides with the angle guide on the handle. The handle comes with texturized rubber for extra grip and a very well-placed thumb rest and finger placement. The rubberized tip on the honing rod also prevents you from slipping. The handle of the rod also includes something that Work Sharp calls the Microforge.
The name MicroForge comes from Microscopic cold Forge. The design of the Microforge is to increase the lifespan of a knife with softer steel. They do that by adding microscopic recessed cutting edges on the edge of your blade. The exciting part is the spacing of the recessed cutting edge. They have a specific spacing and no toothy edge that you see on most serrated knives. The recessed side is also increasing the durability since it protects the knife from impact and rolling damage. Because you are forging it without heat and at room temperature, it is safe to use the MicroForge on knives with a Rockwell below 63. However, the benefits are minimal for knives above a Rockwell of 59. But more about the MicroForge and when you want to use it in a different video.
Convex Edge VS Flat Grind
The E5 Culinary sharpener creates a convex edge, which increases the durability of your knife, and your knife will roll less due to improper use. In short, the convex edge is ideal for domestic cooks. Since most professional cooks use the honing rod far more often and sharpen their multiple knives at a different angles, the convex edge is not ideal for professional cooks. Therefore most if not all professional cooks will use a flat grind edge on their kitchen knives. With a flat grind, you have less steel behind the edge, and therefore you can use the flat side as an angle guideline for the honing session. Since you also use the honing rod multiple times a day, you can get away with honing far more often before needing a sharpening session. And since you already know how to handle a knife properly, you won’t benefit from the extra durability of the cutting core of a convex grind.
Limited use of the Work Sharp E5 Culinary Sharpener
There are multiple ways to use your E5 sharpener, but the included red belts limit the options. If you want to remove chips, or repair or create a finer edge, you need to buy the additional belts separately. If you’re going to sharpen your Chinese cleaver or your Japanese knife with a Rockwell above 60, you want to buy the upgrade kit, which includes a 15-degree and a 20-degree angle guide.
How to use the Work Sharp E5 Culinary Sharpener
The E5 Culinary sharpener’s user’s guide has a ton of information and suggestion on which cycle you should use. I highly recommend reading the user’s manual first. There are three stages, Shape, Sharpen, and Refine. You don’t have to use the Shape cycle if your knife is already in decent condition. If your knife is slightly dull, you can get away with just the Shape and Refine cycle. If your knife is completely dull, you need to start with the Shape cycle. The cycles automatically jump to the refine cycle after 90 seconds. Make sure you complete the refine cycle between each session. The LED light will flash on and off, indicating that the cycle is about to finish, so make sure to finish your alternating strokes evenly.
Sharpen the complete blade edge!
The picture on the quick start guide may confuse people, but you have to make sure you get the complete knife heel on the belt. Otherwise, the heel area will not be sharp.
The knife-edge with the red belt (medium)
After testing the finished results, I find that the edge created by the medium grit-sized red belt is acceptable for most home cooks. You will get a sharp edge within a few minutes. The finish on the blade depends on the knife Rockwell, but it sits around a 2000-grit finish if you compare it with a Waterstone.
Suitable for home cooks?
This E5 Electric Sharpener is ideal for home cooks, that don’t have the time to sharpen, it is easy to use, and unlike manual sharpening, you don’t have a steep learning curve of months. You can get the edge on your first try without knowing about grit sizes. The edge it creates will please the majority of home cooks, and you will love how easily you can get your knife sharp with the E5 sharpener. If you own a Japanese knife with a Rockwell higher than 60 or have a Chinese cleaver, then I highly recommend the upgrade kit.
Suitable for knife enthusiasts?
For knife enthusiasts that already know how to sharpen, you will feel that the red belt and the included angle of 17 degrees will fall short for you to like the product. The sharpness won’t amaze you. However, the ease of use and how fast the system is will surprise you. If you want to have more options since the red belt alone will fall short for most knife enthusiasts, I recommend adding the E5 upgrade kit, which includes 15 and 20 degrees angles and new belts from various grits.
Suitable for Professional Cooks?
The E5 is not suitable for professional cooks for various reasons, but one of them is that the E5 is used dry, and therefore the steel particles and dust can fly around in the kitchen. It is not safe for the food that you are serving. In most professional kitchens, we already have limited space to do our prep work. Having a dedicated room for the sharpener is not an option unless you want to kick out the manager or accountant from his tiny space.
E5 Upgrade kits and Belts
I wished that the standard package included some of the optional belts; however, they are inexpensive, so you can just order a few belts optional with the sharpener. If you own Japanese-styled knives with a Rockwell of 61 and above or a Chinese Cleaver, I highly recommend the E5 Upgrade Kit, which includes the correct angles for those knives. You also get a repairing belt to remove chips.
The durability of the E5 sharpener
I used the E5 sharpener for days and hours on more than 25 knives, and the belt is still performing great without any signs of wear. The Electric sharpener itself is also very well built even after 2 hours of constant use. The unit does not feel warm at all, and there is no smell of a burned motor.
🛒S H O P:
Master Belt Kit:
NA: Master Belt Kit
EU: Master Belt Kit
N O T E S: This product really shines for those who don’t know how to manually sharpen, it takes away the steep learning curve and knowledge about the correct grit sizes and sharpening techniques, angles, etc. Therefore ideal for most home cooks!
I N F O: For Knife enthusiasts that want to experiment more with angles and other things I heard that they really like the Ken Onion Edition from Work Sharp with the special grind attachment. Which mimics the manual sharpening methods a bit more.
🛒S H O P: Ken Onion Sharpener + Blade Grinding attachment
I did not test the Ken Onion Sharpener so I can’t give you my opinions or experience with it. Since I got emails from knife enthusiasts that they really like the Ken Onion Sharpener so I wanted to add this as an alternative since so many knife enthusiasts like it.
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