A good bench stone and time to develop sharpening skills. Not as good as a guided system, but definitely the lowest price. For the Luddites.For about $75:
Spyderco SharpMaker - quick and easy, but bevels are not pretty. Handy for the kitchen, and recommended for people who don't want a lot of work, but don't want to spend the money for an electric machine.For around $150
Lansky or GATCO or DMT rod-guided system - not as fast to use as the Sharpmaker, but nice clean bevels. For the craftsman.
Chef'sChoice 320 ($90) - electric machine, sharpens and strops to a shaving edge.For around $500:
This or the following CC model is a perfect, no-skills solution for those willing to spend the money.
Chef'sChoice 120 ($120) - adds a coarser "pre-sharpening" stage, needed for really dull knives and/or thick blades .
Chef'sChoice 130 ($130) - adds a "steel" stage in place of the second diamond grinder.
EdgePro Apex ($165 to $245) - the perfectionist's rod-guided system. See below for Pro model.
Paper Wheels ($70 for the wheels, plus $50 for a bench grinder). Requires a little skill; angle control is manual, but it is the fastest way I have found to sharpen a knife.
EdgePro Pro model ($375 to $650) In addition to knives, accepts attachments for scissor and chisel sharpening.For around $1000:
Chef'sChoice 2100 commercial sharpener. This machine produces a double bevel edge, unlike the triple bevel produced by their home machines. The sharpening unit is removable so it can be cleaned in a dishwasher, and be replaced when it wears out. Life expectancy is about 3000 knives. About $379 for a setup with signs, etc.
Tormek - power wet grinder with fixtures available for everything including scissors and woodworking tools. Angles are well controlled and bevels are clean. Can also be used freehand.For around $2000
$750 will equip you for knives and scissors, but you can spend up to $1000 with all the woodworking fixtures. Buy the stone grader and stone truing tool. It is a travesty that they sell it without them.
The F. Dick sharpening machines, SM-110 and SM-111, are worth considering for someone setting up a sharpening business.
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Updated September 30, 2012