EdgeCraft is a company whose name is probably foreign to you. To me, the company is well known for several outstanding products and for their passion for excellence in all they do.

Join me for this focus on EdgeCraft, makers of the best and simplest to use knife and scissors sharpeners, manufacturers of premium kitchen cutlery, tea brewers, gourmet food slicers, electric bagel slicers and more.

The family of a former DuPont scientist, engineer and manager of many diverse businesses owns the privately held company. Founder Daniel D. Friel, Sr. has done research in disciplines including physics, chemistry, optics, electronics and even gravity!  It’s quite an American success story. This guy really cares about the company and the products they make.

My exposure to the company started many years ago with their Chef’sChoice brand of electric knife sharpeners, so this is where I’ll begin the story. I knew that a sharp knife is a safe knife. Exerting downward pressure as you attempt to cut meats, hard raw veggies and even tomatoes is dangerous. I’ll tell you how to get and keep your knives razor sharp and fun, yes fun, and easy to use. Slice and cut with precision, as thick or thin as you wish.

If you do most of the work and not your knives, you’re inviting an injury, possibly a serious injury. As you saw and hack, back and forth with that dull knife, it’s easy to slip. And what about those squished instead of sliced tomatoes?  This is not the way it is supposed to be.

I love knives, sharp knives. I have a thing for knives. I’m a customer, and EdgeCraft has educated and helped me to achieve razor sharp edges on my cutlery and pocket and sport knives without effort. Now, you can take advantage of and benefit from an EdgeCraft edge, and their many other fine products. Here’s the full story.

Why, I was just a lad . . .

It was as a Cub Scout, then a Boy Scout and Explorer Scout that I honed (a little knife humor) this interest and pursuit of a razor edge. It was during that period that I learned a healthy respect for such precision in cutlery. The first lesson learned was that a sharp knife is a safe knife, as safe as knives can be, anyway. Dull knives can slip off the target and maybe into your finger. A dull knife rips and tears at the meat or whatever you’re cutting because it requires substantial effort to do the cutting. A dull knife will squish a tomato, while a properly sharpened knife will allow the user to neatly slice wafer thin even the ripest, softest tomato. A sharp knife permits meats and vegetables to be trimmed and cut neatly and with precision, and chopped or minced easily and quickly. A sharp knife does the work, not the person doing holding it. If you have to saw and exert pressure on the object of your cutting, your knife is dull, but most people haven’t experienced a properly sharpened knife-edge, nor are they aware how easily it can be achieved. An injury from a sharp knife is usually a clean cut that can be much more easily mended than the jagged, ripping wound received from a dull blade you only thought was sharp. Get the picture?

After learning to respect a sharp edge on knives, wood cutting tools and the like, I was taught how to do the job myself. I earned my Merit Badge! It was a hand-done operation that required concentration and special tools. (This was long before EdgeCraft made all of this so effortless.)

Right here, right now, let me be clear on one point: NEVER, EVER use one of those built-in electric rotating stone sharpeners found on some electric can openers. Your knife or tool will likely be ruined in an instant from the overheating it will be subjected to. Don’t do it even once.

Here’s another observation in the “I’ll bet you didn’t know that” department. You know those long steel rods we see professional chefs using?  Those “steels” we see them whip, whip, whipping the knives up one side and down the other side are NOT sharpening the knives. They are helping to maintain an already sharp edge, usually on special carving knives with blades made of softer steel than those we use at home. They are not going to maintain a sharp edge the way knives described here will. These professionals also, generally, know how to use this tool. Most of us do not. Believe it or not, even with the visibly fast motion, these professionals are capable of maintaining the angle needed to preserve the edge in a healthy, useful manner. If you have one of these steels, or the newer ceramic rods, chances are you didn’t know that and may erroneously be relying on it to sharpen dull knives. In a couple of words, forget it, because it is unnecessary and you may inadvertently destroy a good edge. Leave the steel for the professionals and don’t try to show off with it to your family. The Chef’sChoice sharpeners described here will do the job better, easier, faster and with the precision needed to maintain an edge longer than any other method. And, you can’t possibly screw up. What a bonus.

Observers who delve inside Mr. Gadget’s old-fashioned bag of cutlery tricks from long ago will find items made nearly obsolete. There’s sharpening oil, at least three stones from coarse to fine, a few files, a piece of specialized clay-like material for finishing fine edges, and a series of German leather strops. These strops perform similarly to what was used by old-fashioned barbers. They would pick up their long leather belt-like straps hanging at the side of the old fashioned barber chairs and draw their straight razor edge first one direction and then the other, up and down that leather honing it to a fine, shaving edge.

I became quite proficient at the art of sharpening. All our family knives suddenly were sharpened to a fare-thee-well. My family became accustomed to having sharp knives all the time. They didn’t care what I had to do to get them sharp, but they expected me to maintain their edges. You should have seen all the bald test spots on my arms, evidence of the knives’ sharpness. I regularly spent hours at my new craft. (What was I thinking? The current popular phrase, “Get a life!” did not yet exist.) Prior to that time, no one in my family really cared. Our knives were dull just like most of our neighbors’ knives (and some of our neighbors).

Then, I remember, one day, I heard an unfamiliar jingling bell outside. It sounded as if it was moving slowly down the street, as one might expect from a neighborhood ice cream vendor whose truck makes its way slowly down the streets attracting hopeful kids with their change. I had to check it out! I saw a small, old-looking three-wheeled gas-powered vehicle moving slowly toward me, with a row of hanging bells strategically rung by the driver. The three-wheeler had a closed cab in the front and what appeared to be a large box-like structure behind the driver. The entire contraption looked homemade. As it approached, I read the sign, “Knives & Scissors Expertly Sharpened While You Wait.”  Huh?  I had never heard of such a thing.

I waited for the old man driving the rickety vehicle to arrive in front of my house. He was affable, with an unidentifiable foreign accent. I greeted him warmly, but I really wanted to check out this old man and his bizarre shop-on-wheels. I wanted to see if he knew what he was doing. Hey, what did I know; smart young kid that I was? We chatted and compared expert notes, so to speak. This guy had tools I’d never seen. He had a foot-operated wheel with a rotating leather belt. He had a small, powered wheel made of a fine stone material bathed in oil. It sure looked interesting to this budding, young Mr. Gadget!  There were lots of other interesting-looking gadgets and paraphernalia. I decided this old man looked like the genuine article – a cutlery expert!  I was impressed. I decided to entrust him, first with only one knife.

I wasn’t disappointed. He did a great job, and it cost only $2, as I recall. I asked him to wait while I went in the house to fetch an assortment of knives he could sharpen while I waited. I was no dummy. If he could sharpen our knives, I wouldn’t have to. What had I gotten myself into!  I went from learning to sharpen, to loving to sharpen. Then, I learned it took an awfully long time to sharpen. I finally learned to find a way for someone else to sharpen our knives. That old guy didn’t come around again for about a year.

Through the years that followed, I still sharpened our knives, but without the fanaticism of my youth. It was therapeutic. I maintained my edge (a little more knife humor). Once I married and free time became more precious, I found retail cutlery establishments that did a proper job, but their service was relatively costly, as much as $6 each, and the work was not done while I waited. I had to make two trips to get the job done, and there was always a hefty bill. And I didn’t take the knives in as regularly as I should have. I still needed to touch them up often. A few years ago, a Southern California supermarket chain offered to sharpen household kitchen knives for free. My experience was mixed. You get what you pay for.

So, I was back at the beginning. Our Gerber steak knives were sharp because I sharpened them. Our assortment of fine Henckels cutlery was sharp because I sharpened each and every knife. Even the poor quality all-purpose knife favored by Mrs. Gadget was sharp because I sharpened it, though it did not retain its sharpness through much use. And so it was, until . . .

The better way…

It all came full circle for me about 10 years ago when my young son was a Cub Scout, and I was a Cub leader. You guessed it. I had the honor of teaching those young Cubs about knife safety and knife sharpening.

At about that same time, I don’t remember the specifics now, I was introduced to a product I had never seen before, the Chef’sChoice Professional Model 110 knife sharpener. It changed forever the way I sharpen knives. At a cost of about $90, it sharpened perfectly, effortlessly, and without ever damaging a blade. The secret is in the grit of the diamond-impregnated sharpening pads coupled with simple, idiot-proof guides through which the knives are drawn, letting the diamond hone do the work. This method is totally safe for the blade and absolutely will not harm the metal.

The three-stage Model 110 is designed to sharpen all but serrated and concave edged knives and can sharpen the entire edge of the blade on most knives. Each stage has a precisely angled guide into which the blade is placed. Mild magnets hold the knife against the angled guide.

Stage one, a diamond abrasive wheel, is for grinding the primary edge at the narrowest angle and is not regularly needed if the knives receive periodic maintenance. Use it to get started on exceptionally dull or damaged edges. Stage two, at a slightly steeper angle, is the basic clean up to maintain and further hone the EdgeCraft edge. Stage three is the most steeply angled magnetic guide and is used to put the final touch on an EdgeCraft-sharpened knife, producing what EdgeCraft calls a Trizor edge. Both stages two and three contain reciprocating, vibrating pads with the super-hard diamond abrasive material. The three-step process may take about five minutes the first time, then just a minute or so thereafter. Of greater import than the time needed is the effort and skill required, or lack thereof.

This is as close to a no-brainer as it comes. All the need for technical skill of the type I so agonizingly and painstakingly learned and practiced is now not necessary. It’s all in the amazing machine. Now that you know that anyone can achieve and maintain a razor sharp knife-edge without skill or effort you have no reason for not taking advantage of this product. There is no other like it in the world!  Kitchen knives, pocket knives, steak knives, they all can now be safe and razor sharp. You will effortlessly slice even the most tender foods – smoked salmon or prosciutto ham – with ease and as beautifully as you get it from the deli!

The EdgeCraft Chef’sChoice Model 110 is durable. Mine saw rather heavy usage, including several appearances on TV and radio, for nine years before I needed to send it in for refurbishing. Yours will probably last considerably longer. Hmmm, if you offer to sharpen and maintain friends’ and neighbors’ knives for, say $2 each, I wonder how much money you could make?

Recently, I upgraded to the new Chef’sChoice EdgeSelect 120, the professional three-stage Diamond Hone knife sharpener. This new model will sharpen both straight edge and serrated knives.

I thought it could not be done, but EdgeCraft has done it. The Model 120 is easier to use, faster and even more precise than the Model 110!  Each stage is clearly marked 1,2,and 3.

The magnetic assist to hold the knife in place at each stage is gone. Beautifully designed elastomeric plastic with spring-like properties holds knives securely against precision guides for accurate control of sharpening angles. It even feels better!

Stages one and two have conical rotating disks plated with 100 percent diamond abrasives. The third stage, creating a third micro bevel, is a patented flexible stropping/polishing disk. This third stage finishes the job with conical, flexible rotating disks made of a barber strop-like material and leaves that hair-splitting sharpness that can’t be beat. EdgeCraft technology assures the sharpest edge with minimal metal removal, so your knives will also look better longer. Complete with a three-year warranty, the 120 is well worth the $130 retail price. Considering the fact that this tool will last and last, the cost over the life of the product is little, indeed. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Every home needs either the Model 110 or the new Model 120. What a great gift for yourself and for someone you love!  You’ll wonder how you ever did without one.

I have seen the Model 110 at many specialty and discount stores, but not universally. The Model 120 is more a specialty store item.

The best way to find the EdgeCraft products mentioned here and to learn about their other fine products is to call EdgeCraft at 1-800-342-3255, or do a search on the Web for EdgeCraft, Chef’sChoice, Trizor or specific model names listed within this article. Since not everything they make was found in my Web search, please call and ask for information on the complete line of EdgeCraft products. Note:  Prices indicated here are suggested retail. You will often find them for less. At present, their Website is provided in support of their professional diamond-based cutting systems used by the medical and scientific communities. Let’s hope it changes to include all the company’s consumer products.

EdgeCraft also makes a $40 two-stage manual sharpening device. The Model 450 is great for occasional use, such as in a motor home, where you’ll want to maintain an EdgeCraft edge that began from the Model 110 or 120. The 450 is not for use on serrated knives. For these, use the $30 Model 430.

I also use their $20 Model 412 telescoping diamond rod sharpener. This new product lives in my toolbox and sharpens my pocketknives and cutting tools, such as chisels. There is a handy “V” groove along the length of the 3 3/4” x 1/4” diamond coated rod. This will be useful for fishermen to keep their hooks sharp or for everyone to keep pointed tools in tiptop shape. The handle is either textured solid brass or anodized aluminum and stores the retracted rod fully inside.

Another interesting product along the same lines as the Model 412 is the little $20 Model 410, called the Crystal Crafter. This short, small diameter rod with a plastic handle is useful for quickly and easily smoothing away nicks, jagged edges and other imperfections in fine crystal, bone china, porcelain, ceramics. Glass and other valued hard materials. The Crystal Crafter is a half-round four-inch wand coated with 100 percent diamond abrasives in the proprietary EdgeCraft process that will hold the coating in place for longer life than with conventional processes. So, the next time you get a ding in your Wedgwood, a chip in your Baccarat or a divot in your Lalique, don’t despair, try re-pair with Crystal Crafter!

Chef’sChoice Cutlery

In 1992, EdgeCraft introduced its own line of premium kitchen knives, Chef’sChoice Trizor Professional 10X Cutlery. The company applied their proven dedication and engineering prowess to the task of designing cutlery with a goal of holding an edge up to 10 times longer and with two to three times the sharpness of leading European and domestic brands. A variety of popular sizes of kitchen and steak knives are now available. Fully forged (made from one piece of steel) and hand crafted in the United States from a proprietary formula stainless steel, these are spectacular knives. My own pride and joy is their extra wide 10-inch chef’s knife that retails for $140. Don’t choke at the price. This premium cutlery will last more than a lifetime to be handed down to future generations. It’s that good!  In my own testing, this knife has held an edge considerably longer than my fine Henckels 10-inch chef’s knife. Moreover, the Chef’sChoice knife has a superior balance and precision feel.

Stay for tea?

The TeaMate Professional Tea Maker Model 690, $100, is a revolutionary development in tea making. It’s a far cry from pouring hot water into a cup and dunking a tea bag. With the current popularity of tea drinking, this product is an ideal way to get the most from the experience.

Think of TeaMate as a cross between a traditional samovar and British tea making methods. The tea is steeped in this new design which is NOT a modified drip or percolator coffee maker. Only freshly boiled water steeps the tea. It’s a multi-stage process.

First, the tea leaves are gently steamed to expand them in preparation for steeping. Expanded leaves offer maximum surface area from which to extract flavor and aroma during steeping, don’t you know.

Like in a samovar (primarily used by Russians to heat water for making tea), a portion of the freshly boiled water steeps the tea leaves (or tea bags) creating a concentrate. Steeping time can be set from two to 15 minutes. This timing allows users to regulate the process according to taste and it minimizes the escape of tannins. (Black tea contains more tannin than coffee or green tea. Tannin is thought to neutralize the effect of caffeine and help correct stomach upset and insomnia and reduce hypertension. Some also think tannin can promote migraines in migraine sufferers. Red wines contain more tannin that white and many juices, such as apple juice, are heavy on tannins. Go figure!)

After steeping, the concentrate flows into the preheated carafe with the remaining freshly boiled water. A warming plate keeps the tea at the optimum serving temperature.

The TeaMate is excellent for making from two to eight cups of all kinds of teas and herbal beverages, and it’s ideal for making iced tea.

There’s a lighted on/off switch to show when the unit is on and a “drip-stop” valve to prevent leaks if the carafe is removed. The carafe has an easy to pour non-drip spout and a cool-touch polymer handle and lid. A permanent filter means no messy disposable filters to replace and all removable parts (steeping chamber, filter, carafe, lid) are washable by hand of in the dishwasher. TeaMate carries a one-year warranty. Mmmm, I can smell that fresh-brewed aroma now!

Only good judgment and concern for the fact that you’ve been so patient prevents me from going on at length about the $100 Model 685 Deluxe Cordless Electric Tea Kettle and the $70 Model 670 Cordless Electric Hot Pot. Look at the photos and ask about the products when you call the company.

The BagelPro

Yes, the electric BagelPro Model 680. This is the newest product from Chef’sChoice. The $50 BagelPro is the ultimate (or even bagel shop) bagel accessory. No more sliced fingers, no more unevenly cut bagels (or buns, croissants, rolls or muffins). Let the kids slice bagels in complete safety.

The business end of the BagelPro is a pair of reciprocating bread-cutter blades held deep within the device, tucked neatly away to prevent accidental injury.

In keeping with everything EdgeCraft does, the BagelPro is a work of engineering art. This countertop appliance most closely resembles a vertically designed bread slicer. Lift the “Pusher,” insert the bagel down between the plastic spring arms to center it, turn the main switch to the on position, then insert the “Pusher” to disengage the safety interlock and slice that sucker. The BagelPro will not, can not operate without the Pusher inserted and the main switch in the on position. It is impossible for any body part to be in the slicer when the Pusher is installed. Safety first!  Out pops the perfectly, evenly sliced bagel into the enclosed receiving container below. Open the receiving container and remove the sliced contents. For additional safety the BagelPro will not operate with an open receiving container. It’s a simple, elegant heavy-duty design that may outlast the owner!

Every part that comes in contact with food can be easily cleaned and the important parts can be removed for cleaning.

Okay, the BagelPro may not be for everyone. It may be an unnecessary extravagance, or maybe you just don’t need one, but it’s nice to know EdgeCraft makes it, just in case. I have a BagelPro and I must admit, it’s great to feel completely at ease and let the kids slice their own bagels, etc., with complete safety and to their complete satisfaction. And I never screw up my cutting, either. Both sides are always equal and never “seasoned with red sauce, if you know what I mean. I wonder how many thousands of bagels it will slice before needing any maintenance or replacement blades. I’m sure this will also be a hot item in bagel shops across the country.

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So, there you have it, a look at some of the unusual and outstanding products from an unusual and outstanding company. Now that you know something about EdgeCraft, don’t be a stranger. Look for their products, whatever it takes, and wherever you need to find them. You will be rewarded as I have been with years and years of satisfaction from products that always exceed your expectations. How’s that for an endorsement!

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