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What determines the cost of a professional knife sharpening system

What determines the cost of a professional knife sharpening system

Before we examine the factors that are involved in determining how much does the professional sharpening system cost, we should understand what hides behind the concept of professional equipment and what it has to do with knife sharpening. Keep in mind that we are not talking about any particular labor activity. The point is that work activities can be professional and non-professional.

In our case, we deal with the issue of equipment that is suitable for use both in the household for sharpening enthusiasts and for use in professional activities to earn money.

There is definitely a connection between professional activity and profession. This social phenomenon manifests itself through the real activity of people who know the relevant operating methods and can achieve some objective goals facing them as specialists in the sharpening business. However, this also means that a sharpening enthusiast may have a sufficient level of experience and may be highly skilled, but not make money from sharpening knives. Yet both can use professional sharpening equipment.

1. What is a professional sharpening system?

When you mention a professional sharpening system, you cannot help but think of a professional and very technologically advanced piece of equipment where the manufacturer used engineering and high-quality materials. Such a device is also supposed to have a minimum level of inaccuracy and allow precise adjustments.

This is the definition pursued by the manufacturers of certain professional sharpening systems.

2. What is the purpose of the professional sharpening system?

Regardless of some factors and technological features, truly professional sharpening systems aim first of all at a multi-purpose use to achieve the best and highest quality sharpening of knives with properly shaped secondary bevels and a good and sharp cutting edge, both in the domestic and professional environments.

3. Types of professional sharpening systems

All sharpening systems, including professional systems, are divided into two main groups according to the type of power:

  • mechanical
  • electrical

Besides, there are professional sharpening devices, which are equipped with a cooling system. For this reason, they are also divided into two groups according to the cooling type

  • with cooling
  • without cooling

Mechanical sharpeners can be divided into three groups by size, which can also have their own additional features:

  • Compact sharpening systems
  • Medium-sized sharpening systems
  • Full-size sharpening systems

In turn, all electrical devices can be divided into the following groups:

  • Electric desktop knife sharpeners
  • Electric water-cooled knife sharpeners
  • Horizontal water-cooled sharpeners
  • Sharpening machines with horizontal rotary table for sharpening clipper blades and scissors
  • Belt-sanding machines, grinders

All types of devices are found in complex use most often by master sharpeners depending on the need and the tasks set for the speed of execution of the order, according to the principle - "Time is money". With some devices, it is possible to provide an acceptable level of quality, in an acceptable time. Thus the work can be done quickly — the customer will be satisfied, and you will have more time to perform further orders or services.

The main difference is the level of quality along with the significant difference in processing speed, which can be demanded by the client or which a home user can set for himself among all other parameters.

There is a whole range of special equipment that master sharpeners use in their professional activities to perform sharpening services.

4. Technical specifications that define the cost of mechanical sharpening systems

In their general mass, users who are familiar with sharpening systems have encountered some characteristics of various devices that set them apart from others and give them some kind of technological advantage. Among all of them, mechanical sharpening systems differ the most. It is not the fact that the devices are very different, but that they have a very large list of characteristics compared to the others. 

Thus, all mechanical professional sharpening systems can be broken down into the following groups:

According to the size of the sharpening system

  • compact sharpening systems
  • Medium-sized sharpening systems
  • Full-size sharpening systems

According to the design features

  • guide rod with an abrasive holder
  • rack and pinion lift
  • Turning mechanism with a stable flip

According to the use of parts

  • interchangeability of parts

According to the use of consumables

  • interchangeability of consumables according to size
  • cost and prices justification

According to the size of tools, possible to sharpen

  • spine thickness
  • blade length

According to the range of the sharpening angles

  • limits on range of the sharpening angles

4.1. The size of the professional mechanical sharpening system

Compact devices are designed primarily for use with an emphasis on small physical size. It is convenient to use such devices on small working surfaces and as a portable sharpening system. In addition to its relatively low weight, this type of sharpener has one important advantage - the ability to work most successfully with small blades and knife blades with a thin spine. A very prominent example in this class of devices is the TSProf Blitz PRO, which by its parameters can be called almost unique because none of the manufacturers has a direct serial analog.

The medium-sized sharpening systems as well as the previous group have compact dimensions, although depending on the manufacturer they may differ slightly within the same category.  The main idea of medium-sized sharpeners is reasonable home use. The TSProf Kadet PRO can be rightfully called an outstanding example of this category.

The top model sharpeners of the leading manufacturers, or as they can be called full-size sharpeners such as the TSProf K03 PRO, are designed for the widest and most versatile use to cover the maximum range of tasks. Most of the time, people who choose such sharpeners are dedicated sharpening enthusiasts and professionals who use these devices in their professional activities to make income.

4.2. Design features

In the case of mechanical sharpening systems, the peculiarities of the design should include the presence of a guide with an abrasive holder, a rack and pinion lift, and a turning mechanism.

These three details make any mechanism a complex device, not only in terms of production but also in terms of getting to know it and using it properly.

All manufacturers of mechanical sharpening systems at the professional level have engineering solutions that are quite similar and differ just a little. 

The abrasive holder guide is one of the most important parts because it determines the length of the stroke and the ability to install and use a certain size of abrasive, and therefore the length of the knife blade that can be sharpened.

A rack and pinion lift or its similar analogs in the form of a thickness compensator may be present. They allow quick angle control during the finishing stages of the profiling of the cutting edge or complex step sharpening of the knife. They allow the desired angle to be set much faster after a change of abrasive.

The turning mechanism to which the frame with clamps is attached is a unit that greatly facilitates the work due to the possibility to change the sides of the knife blade without pulling the knife out of the clamps and changing the angle. In other words, there is no need to re-adjust the system to the same angle as with the magnetic table after the flip of the knife. Best case scenario, after flipping and checking, the angle finder should not show deviations, but this is exceptional.

4.3. Use of parts and accessories

One important factor within one brand which can be an important competitive advantage is the ability to use a range of parts on different models. A typical illustrative example would be the different types of clamps used with different models, as they have universal mounting points. Sometimes even with some brands, certain parts have a unique purpose and can be used on different models.

4.4. Use of various consumables

Depending on the design feature in combination with the overall size of the sharpening unit, different sizes of consumables can be used. For example, some brands' abrasive holders do not allow the installation of non-proprietary consumables. This fact disqualifies such systems from being considered professional sharpening systems. However, there are also cases where a compact professional system does not need this at all because the brand has devices that are aimed at more complex tasks. It is enough to look at the abrasive mounting system on the devices of the TSProf systems and everything becomes clear.

There are rare cases where the cost of abrasives is unreasonably high, and the manufacturer is positioning themselves as a brand for the production of professional sharpening equipment with high prices, but if you take a closer look you will find that the technical performance is somewhat mediocre.

4.5. Sizes of cutting tools and knives

For a true expert, one look is enough to determine which system is professional and which is not. Even a small sharpening system with small blade clamps has its advantages. This is especially true for compact sharpening systems.

This is where the thickness of the spine and the length of the knife blade matter. The sharpeners must make their own decision and much depends on the type of knives they are going to work with. In this case, it is worth paying attention to the dimensions of the turning frame. The smaller the system, the more convenient it is to work with small knife blades at small angles because the dimensions of the clamps are more suitable for this. If the knife blade is long or has a significant spine thickness, a sharpening system is a must-have.

4.6. Possible sharpening angles

The range of sharpening angles depends on both the size of the system and the possibility of mounting a unit that gives sufficient flexibility in adjusting the angles.

Almost all professional systems provide the possibility to work with the most common angle values, but with differences in design do not affect the final result in any way. The range of sharpening angles in its minimum value depends on the height of the rotary mechanism and the distance of the lift from the point of contact of the abrasive with the secondary bevel of the blade edge. Partially, the minimum angle also depends on the thickness of the tip of the clamps. Some manufacturers have versions of clamps with extra thin tips for sharpening fillet knives. The maximum angle depends directly on the maximum possible height of the unit (lift), which adjusts the position of the abrasive guide with the abrasive holder.

5. Sharpeners with horizontal and vertical disks and with water cooling

The electric water-cooled sharpener is a common device among wood carvers, knife makers, sharpening shops, as well as in large kitchens.

  • Versatility and multi-purpose - the device is easily adjustable for sharpening knives and blades of a very wide range of types and all possible sizes. Due to the range of sharpening wheels on various bonding agents, it is also possible to work with steels of different hardness levels.
  • The consistency and precision of the knife sharpening angle adjustment are ensured by the location of the universal support (slide) on the metal part of the body with the possibility of adjusting the height above the tool. This support guide is essential for all types of sharpening work.
  • The low speed of 100 - 200 rpm enables gradual gentle machining during the sharpening process, which makes it possible to control the result of the work.
  • RPM support and adjustment - leading manufacturers' sharpeners are equipped with special electronic RPM support to ensure consistent sharpening quality even under high loads. Some sharpeners are equipped with RPM adjustment.
  • Water cooling - The cooling of this type of machine is provided by the use of special grinding wheels designed for knife sharpening with water mainly for stainless steel.
  • Safety and low noise level - the waste abrasive material goes into the water tray and no dust enters the air, which also prevents sparks. High-quality devices of this kind produce almost no noise.
  • Relative portability due to the low weight of the device.

The rest of the equipment and machines are so special that their description may well go beyond the scope of the title and is intended for a narrow circle of specialists who, one way or another, already have some experience in knife sharpening and do not need advice within the limits of this article. We will mention them only briefly.

Electric water-cooled horizontal abrasive grinders or electric horizontal wet grinders are very specific machines and are mainly found in Japan.

These machines mainly use Japanese water abrasive disks with characteristic properties. The main feature of these machines is that the device operates at low speeds.

Grinding machines with a horizontal faceplate are not normally used for knife sharpening ordinary knives, but in addition to the kitchen, hunting, and folding knives there are specialized knives, which also have a blade edge.

Such equipment is designed primarily for knife sharpening clipper blades edge, knives of meat grinders, wire cutters, surgical tools, coffee grinders, etc.

Belt sanding machines and grinders, among all power-driven devices, stand out from all others due to their maximum efficiency. The wide range of different grinding belt materials extends the range of use, from aggressive metal removal and profiling to sanding and polishing.

You can find more information with additional details about professional knife sharpening equipment in our article entitled "What is a professional knife sharpener".

Conclusions

The prices should be considered not only for a single sharpener or device but for the knife sharpening kit as a whole, including abrasives. After picking all the necessary parts and consumables, often the cost of the bare sharpening device itself will not be so significant. In other words, the question of how much the device itself costs is wrong, because it does not reflect the reality.

A high-quality knife with a properly profiled secondary bevel and a sharp cutting edge will be the result of selecting the right abrasive and knife sharpening skill at a decent level. These are the ingredients of a high-quality knife sharpening. A good high-tech sharpener or an Apex-type mechanical sharpener is only one part of the whole package, but it is not the determining factor.

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