Sharpening Knives Using A Bread Slicer?

[Joekutz] wrote in to tell us about his very interesting creation — a knife whetting machine, built from an automated bread slicer. Confused? So were we when we read the subject line!

Tired of sharpening knives by hand, [Joe] wanted to speed up the process. He recently saw our post on making a tool sharpening turntable out of a bread maker and figured, why not make one out of a bread slicer? We have no idea how you guys came up with these — finally some real hacks!

First he took apart the bread slicer and salvaged the motor, gears, and some of the electronics. He created an enclosure for it out of some laminate wood he had laying about and created a bearing axle for the disc from an old VCR. To control the speed he’s using a plain old light switch dimmer; not the most efficient but does the trick!

It uses sanding discs you can buy from any hardware store, and as you can see in the following video — it works pretty good according to the paper cutting test!

19 thoughts on “Sharpening Knives Using A Bread Slicer?

  1. i know it seems a bit antihack but honestly for best result you should just buy knives from a company like Cutco that has free lifetime sharpening/repair. you just fill out a form on the net, send them back and in a couple weeks you have very sharp (diamond edge) knives again!

    1. I carry two knives for that exact purpose: a swiss army knife, and a small boxcutter. with replaceable blades.

      I can never get the swiss army knife back to its original level of sharpness, but for the boxcutter I just swap the blade end-for-end after a couple of weeks, then throw it out and install another a few weeks later.

      Works a peach, and I don’t have to spend time sharpening.

    2. Cutco is a absolutely horrible company. While the knives may or may not be decent ( they aren’t the worst, but far from the best) their business practices (exploiting young adults, deceiving people about the “quality” level, and vastly overcharging) are deplorable. Look up Vector Marketing and see for yourself. I was hired by them when I was young and didn’t know any better, and walked out after one day of training when I realized what it was like.

        1. Well, to be fair, his first claim to fame is the fact that he’s a good chef. One doesn’t win Michelin stars simply by swearing at the kitchen staff or every restaurant would have gotten one. (c:

      1. Yup, use the honing stick just like Alton taught me. And when it comes time to sharpen my knives, I send them out to some place with a leather belt. I might make one and a jig for the angles I like, but I haven’t yet. A rotating thing like this, though, seems to sharpen the grip area more than the tip, and might lead to uneven wear.

        As for knives, I bought a set I found on sale at S-Mart. Nothing super brand name, but full tang (because the whole grip and blade are one piece of metal, I can tell it’s not faked) and a grip I could stand holding. I’ve been shopping for family member’s weddings, and the number of people who want Henkle…I can’t stand holding those, they feel all wrong for my hands. Have a few ceramic knives (DO NOT HONE THOSE) and a few Victorinox. Save the ceramic slicing a block of waxed cheese without fail, they all work about as well as the other and are good because I don’t get sore while chopping/slicing/dicing/etc.

    1. In a pinch, I will flip a coffee mug over and use the exposed ceramic bottom lip to touch up a blade. It works surprisingly well and can improve situations that are too far gone for a steel.
      The best time to do this is while you are trying to pass the time waiting for someone in a cafe or restaurant. People will not disturb you.

  2. I would be too lazy for sending in knifes and waiting for them, even when it is for free ;). My machine is perfect for my needs although I realize that a large, round (and ideally wet) whetting stone would produce a better result, because high quality knifes have (unlike described in my video) no straight triangle flanks but a tiny bit shaped inwards ones, so that a round stone fits better into the shape. Kitchen whetting tools annoy me most of the time because they leave tiny bumps in the blade, something my machine does not do.

  3. I have thrown out a few ruined paper shredders, mostly their plastic combs fail leading to packed rollers and dysfunction.
    Now I see that their motors are a good speed for this app. Ugly when pulled out of their housing, they should do nicely.
    I don’t need reversal for woodworking tools, chisels and planes. Now to watch some of the YouTube videos for ideas for jigs.
    Video head-drum great source of bearing set. Gotta couple still around dead. Not clear on how to couple the motor to the bottom of the drum. Maybe a short piece of plastic hose, no fine alignment needed.

    1. Motors from shredders should work fine. The coupling to the disc doesn’t need to be precise but pretty stable. What I used was primitive: My VCR head axle came with a piece of metal tube with a bolt across in it. All I had to do was sawing a gap into the motor axle (making it look like a flathead screw) and mount everything correctly aligned. Good luck with building :)

  4. I have been trying to do my own sharpening for 50 years .Its not easy . The tendancy is to roll the edge round as you sharpen . My best results come from stone then the canvas side of a leather strop and then the leather strop itself . I can then and only then shave the hairs on my arm

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