UK BBQ Mag Winter 2017/2018 - Page 97

awkward to start with, like being asked to pat your stomach and rub your head, but it became second nature in a matter of minutes. A minute or two with the roughest grit got the bevel I was looking for, so I rotated the knife by flipping the clamping mechanism and performed the same on the opposite side. Once that was done I repeated the steps with the other 3 grits of stone I have, getting ever finer. By the last stone and possibly 10 minutes into the process, I could feel the edge was incredibly sharp and it was about time to finish it off by using a leather strop (a piece of untreated rawhide) and this delivered a mirrored polish on the blade edge and made it razor sharp. Stupidly, a couple of beers in and I plucked up the courage to have a shave with it…and the results speak for themselves in this tweet here, how I didn't cut my ear I don't know.


Needless to say I was over the moon with the results and over the following days and weeks I proceeded to sharpen everything and anything I could get my hands on. I started with my own sets of knives, from the nice and expensive ones, even down to those crappy knives everyone seems to accumulate at the back of a draw somewhere. Then I moved onto the immediate family, taking advantage of the adjustable angle to sharpen a couple of cleavers at a 30° for my Mother-In-Law before asking other family and friends bring their knives over for me to sharpen. I think the only time I refused to sharpen any was when my wife's grandma brought around about 30 knives expecting them all done in one evening!


As I got more and more used to the K01 I played around with the angles and decided that I preferred a slightly shallower angle of 17.5° on most of my kitchen knives. It did take a little while longer on the first couple of stones as I was removing more material, but after that initial sharpening, they only require very quick touch-ups.


I knew I was going to love this product, but what I didn't expect was that it'd make me change my mind on what order I spent my money on when establishing my knives. I initially bought some excellent but cheap Victorinox knives with fibrox handles. The fibrox helped keep the cost down, was dishwasher friendly and was fairly comfortable being held over long periods of time. These knives are the workhorse of my BBQ kit, I own a boning knife, santoku, large chefs knife and a long scalloped slicer in this range and I purchased them all for about £100. At that price I won't mind too much if they get dropped or left outside overnight accidentally. I then went onto buy a couple of more of ever increasingly expensive knives made from Damascus steel which cost more than that per knife.  What I realise now, is that I would say to my past self, buy the Victorinox knives first, however, then spend the money on a kit such as the TSProf. Understandably they might need sharpening/honing more frequently as technically the steel is a bit softer, but its far better to have lesser quality knives maintained at the peak of their sharpness then it is more expensive ones that haven't been properly maintained. The difference in having properly sharpened knives of any quality is remarkable.


So why the TSProf over normal whetstones and electric sharpeners?

I tried freehand with whetstones, I looked up countless YouTube tutorials, but the simple matter of fact is that it’s a skill which takes a lot of time and practice to get right. The TSProf K01 is essentially a jig that allows you to produce repetitive and accurate strokes across a whetstone, that anyone can use and simply setup, yet it only takes a minute or so more to setup than it would be to use a whetstone. I find it's this consistency and reliability of the angle which helps make this system so effective. Electric sharpeners are undoubtedly the quickest, but don't offer the versatility of multiple stones for a finer finish and don't offer many angles.


The price is certainly not to be laughed at, depending on the setup and accessories you choose, it can set you back a couple of hundreds of pounds, but having had hands on experience I would say its money very well spent.


It would be difficult not to mention the excellent video review of this kit from an American homesteader - Wranglerstar available here, which features the rather addictive rotating mechanism found on the K02 and K03 models.


As a round-up, it's an extremely well-made piece of kit, that although is expensive and might initially put people off, the improvements it will make to all of your knives will be more than worth it - and you can always offer to sharpen knives for friends and colleagues for a small fee to help recover some of that cost, they'll end up with a knife sharper than most professional grade services offer.


Twitter: @duncan_meyers