- Performance (50%)4.3/10
- Design (15%)9.3/10
- Ease of Use (35%)8.4/10
- Performance (50%)6.0/10
- Design (15%)7.8/10
- Ease of Use (35%)7.5/10
Both the Chef's Choice 4643 and the Smith's 50264 sharpener are decent devices, so the choice boils down to your priority: If sharpness is more important, the Smith’s wins by a landslide. If you want something more stable and reliable, the Chef’s Choice is the one to go for.
The Smith’s sharpens much faster and more effectively — it doesn’t take more than a few swipes before your knife becomes highly serviceable. It also offers more choices of grind angle, and thus, covers more types of knives. The problem with it is instability both in the sharpening slots and the device as a whole, which results in damages on the edge and potential mishaps.
The Chef’s Choice doesn’t necessarily create a better edge, but it surely is more reliable in terms of safety. Its wide base, low working section, and substantial grip make it extremely stable and easy to work with. Sharpness isn’t one of its strongest points, but it’s still above average in that respect.
- Sharpening Time to Cut a Lemon (35%)1.0/10
- Maximum Sharpness Achieved (20%)6.0/10
- Edge Smoothness (20%)5.2/10
- Material Retention (25%)7.0/10
- Sharpening Time to Cut a Lemon (35%)8.0/10
- Maximum Sharpness Achieved (20%)8.0/10
- Edge Smoothness (20%)4.5/10
- Material Retention (25%)3.0/10
Sharpening Time to Cut a Lemon
- Sharpening Time: 4 minutes
- Cutting Feel: Slightly heavy
The Chef’s Choice took its sweet time to sharpen and was consistently among the slower ones in all our test attempts. It took a whopping 4 minutes to bring the test knife from uselessly blunt to adequately usable on a lemon. Even then, the knife needed a little more force than usual to execute the cut. You’d get better results within the same time using a whetstone.
We wouldn’t count on this one as a convenient sharpener to prep our knife before a cooking session.
- Sharpening Time: 1 minute 25 seconds
- Cutting Feel: Light and smooth
The Smith’s Pull-Thru completed the lemon-cutting test in 85 seconds, thus easily securing its place among the fastest sharpeners. It performed consistently well in this test through our repeated attempts over the months, sometimes overriding its own record to reach the 70 seconds mark.
If immediate sharpness is all you ever need, this one won’t disappoint.
Maximum Sharpness Achieved
- Sharpening Time: 6 minutes
- Sharpness Level: 7 (Ripe tomatoes, 1 swipe)
The blade had no trouble slicing its way through a ripe tomato in one swift motion. The chicken breast posed much more difficulty: Its slippery skin made it impossible for the test knife to slice clean-off in one go. Two rather heavy attempts were needed to sever the pieces, so we decided to keep the Sharpness Level at 7 instead of 8-.
This sharpness level should allow your knives to complete most food prep tasks with mild effort, but we usually expect more from a device with such a high price tag. We can’t count the number of sharpeners that cost one half or even one third of its price that can offer a better performance.
- Sharpening Time: 6 minutes
- Sharpness Level: 8 (Chicken breast with skin, one swipe)
We had smooth, almost effortless slices with tomatoes, and the thick flesh and slippery skin on a raw chicken breast didn’t pose much of an obstacle for the knife, either. This is the same keenness level as when the knife was brand new, so we’d say the sharpener did an excellent job of reviving a knife from dead dullness.
We were able to slice through the thick and stringy fibers of a piece of beef tendon with two swipes, but it was rather forceful, so we decided to grant it an 8 in sharpness at the end.
Chef’s Choice advertises ‘two distinct facets set at different angles that form a longer lasting, arch-shaped edge’. The sharpener indeed created what looks like a double edge on our test knife.
Unfortunately, while the secondary edge emerged sharp and convincing, the abrasives’ effects on the primary edge were so subtle they were unrecognizable even under a magnifying lens. The discs on the Honing slot were either too fine to make a difference or were placed at an angle that did not allow contact with the knife edge.
That explains the lack of sharpness on the test knife—the secondary edge helps, but it can only do so much.
While it is true that this sharpener was quick and effective, it was at the expense of the edge’s integrity. From tip to heel and everything in between, the edge was anything but smooth once it had exited the slots.
In the process of sharpening, the abrasives took a massive toll on the knife’s edge and rendered it deformed.
- Sharpening Time: 1 minute
- Target Sharpness:
The Chef’s Choice 4643 took off more steel from the test knife than its sharpness suggested, but the amount wasn’t significant. As typical of wheel-type sharpeners, the residue was fine dust rather than coarse shavings, suggesting highly controlled grinding.
- Sharpening Time: 1 minute
- Target Sharpness:
Compared to other manual sharpeners in the test, this one ranked last in terms of material retention ability. As the photos indicate, it sacrificed a significant amount of material in exchange for sharpness. Over time, it can eat away at the blade, reducing the knife’s overall lifespan. You could practically whittle the knife away to nothing on this device if you want to!
- Build Quality (75%)9.0/10
- Grip (25%)10/10
- Build Quality (75%)8.2/10
- Grip (25%)6.5/10
In the Box
- Chef’s Choice 4643 AngleSelect Knife Sharpener
- 1 x instruction manual
The Chef’s Choice snugly fits into a plastic blister pack with a user’s guide included (which is also available online). The package can pop open quite easily, so there’s no need to cut it with scissors.
Besides the sharpening techniques, the manual also guides you on how to test the knife’s sharpness, and provides helpful tips to keep your knives in their best condition.
- 1x sharpener
- 1 x instruction manual
Rather than a cardboard box, the Smith’s Pull-Thru came delivered in a plastic blister pack molded after its outline. The package wouldn’t pop open, so we had to cut it with a pair of scissors to retrieve the contents inside.
A user’s guide is included with the package and contains plenty of useful information that you may need to know before using this sharpener. An online version is also available on the official website.
- Length:9.3" (23.6 cm)
- Width:2.0" (5.1 cm)
- Height:2.8" (7.1 cm)
- Weight:6.6 oz (187 g)
- Length:10.5" (26.7 cm)
- Width:1.3" (3.3 cm)
- Height:2.9" (7.4 cm)
- Weight:8.8 oz (250 g)
Its materials do not scream ‘top-notch quality’, but the Chef’s Choice 4643 benefits greatly from an ergonomic design and robust build. The parts are well reinforced and screw-tightened, though it can be disassembled piece by piece. Finish is near perfect and matches its high price tag.
We could tell that the materials that make the Smith’s Pull-Thru Sharpener are all high-quality, and the finish suggests the manufacturer’s dedication to every small detail.
However, its angle adjustability is accommodated by a bunch of movable and removable parts. Even though they’re secured with screws, the device feels shoddy as a whole. Its angle nob and the working section threaten to fall out or break at the first drop.
The handle extends and slightly arches itself toward the end, forming an ergonomic crescent-like shape. It’s just about the perfect size, and the coating material feels soft and grippy between the palm and fingers. Unfortunately, the handle isn’t loop-shaped. Otherwise, you’d be able to hang it on a hook to keep it within an arm’s reach.
The handle is covered with silicone and has grooves, which makes it grippy. However, in proportion, it’s rather small compared to the whole device . It’s connected to the base, which is good, but part of the base underneath it is flimsy and narrow. This means you will need a strong grip to keep this device stable during sharpening, as confirmed by the stability tests.
- Levels of Sharpening:Coarse, Fine
- Abrasive:Diamond-coated disks
- Mechanism:Pull through
- Sharpening Angle:15° & 20°
The Chef’s Choice 4643’s working section features three sharpening slots that are securely fastened into the base and covered in a shiny stainless steel sheet.
Unlike most manual sharpeners with abrasive bars or rods, it’s equipped withdiamond-coated discs. As the blade passes through them, these wheels rotate with each draw, grinding and reshaping the edge.
Slot 1 sharpens Asian knives at a 15-degree angle while Slot 2 sharpens Western knives at 20 degrees.
Interestingly, there’s only one slot for honing (Slot 3) for both types of knives, but the exact grinding angle isn’t mentioned in the manual. We asked the official manufacturer in an email but have so far received no response.
- Levels of Sharpening:Sharpen, Hone/Polish
- Abrasive:Precision-ground carbide, crossed ceramic
- Mechanism:Pull through
- Sharpening Angle:14°, 16°, 18°, 20°, 22°, 24°
The Smith’s Pull-Thru may look like a typical tri-stage sharpener, but it’s actually a dual-stage model with an extra sharpening slot for serrated blades.
The abrasive system features precision-ground carbide and ceramic stones. They’re tough, durable, and can certainly get the job done.
Except for the serrated slot, which remains fixed at 22.5° per side, the Smith’s sharpening slots are adjustableby 2° increments from 14° to 24°, allowing it to accommodate a wide variety of knives. It’s intended as a fix-all solution for busy cooks who have little time and patience to alternate between different tools.
The device is also one of the very few that allow replacement of the abrasives. You can purchase and change them at home with tiny Philips screwdrivers. If you forget to note the knob's angle while dismantling the parts, the equipment is so designed that you won't be able to lock it into place until you locate the right spot.
- Material:Synthetic rubber
- Feet Type:Slip-proof sole (x 4)
With the bottom being a hollow gap instead of a solid whole block, the sharpener is lightweight. However, because the base is wide and the center of gravity low, it maintains its balance very well.
The quartet of rubber feet attached at the base corners do a great job of creating friction and keeping the device in place during sharpening—we feel this is a more economical and effective design than the large pads usually seen in other devices.
- Feet Type:Slip-proof soles
The underneath of this sharpener features two rubber soles on both ends.
Do you notice anything missing in between the sharpener’s underside and the flat surface area? With a high center of gravity and a narrow body supported on two tiny soles, it is not surprising that the whole thing feels wobbly with each draw.
Ease of Use
- Slot Arrangement (20%)7.0/10
- Insertion (20%)8.5/10
- Pulling Through (10%)8.5/10
- Stability on Clean Surface (40%)9.5/10
- Stability on a Wet and Dirty Surface (10%)7.0/10
- Slot Arrangement (10%)7.0/10
- Insertion (20%)10/10
- Pulling Through (10%)7.5/10
- Stability on Clean Surface (40%)7.0/10
- Stability on a Wet and Dirty Surface (20%)6.0/10
The sharpener has labeling for the slots’ functions and designated knife types. Depending on the knife you’re sharpening, the intended order goes as 1-3 (for Asian-style knives) or 2-3 ( for European-style knives).
The slot trios share the identical size, width, and depth, so it’s easy to confuse them. We strongly advise you to look at the labeling carefully before sharpening your knives, especially during the first sessions with the device.
While the Western slot can only blunt an Asian knife, putting your standard knife in the Asian slot can destroy the edge beyond the point of repair. We actually had to throw away a test knife trying that out.
The slots on this device are arranged based on a combination of grit level and designated knife type. Instead of medium coarseness in the center, the middle slot is reserved for serrated blades. Even though the sharpening order does progress rightward, it feels disrupted and unnatural.
With only one correct direction to draw the knife, we followed the arrows adjacent to the slots. These handy little cues indicate where to position the blade and which way to go, preventing cooks from making mistakes. It’s not ideal for lefties, though; so if you happen to be a southpaw, you need to choose another tool.
The Chef’s Choice has rather narrow slot openings, so if you’re in a rush, there’s a chance you’ll misplace the knife and cut the cover instead of inserting it into the slot.
On the bright side, once the knife is at the opening, it’ll be smooth sailing. Because the slots taper downwards and the discs are placed deep below, the knife will slide straight down. Insertion is thus much safer for the knife edge compared to sharpeners with tungsten bars that keep threatening to clash with the edge and cause chipping.
During the course of our experiment, we found no discernible difficulty when placing the knives into the slots.
The inserts are wide open on top to comfortably accommodate the knife, while the slots gradually taper downward. Depending on the type of knife you’re working on, you can further tighten or loosen the abrasive blades.
Because the slots are deep and run all the way across its width (2 inches), it was relatively easy to keep the knife straight during sharpening to reduce the risk of creating uneven edges.
That being said, there’s some room for the knife to jig sideways; when it does, you will feel a change in the friction as you pull the blade through.
As its discs are placed deep down in the slots, the knife kept nicking into the frame, leaving lots of marks and scratches.
The abrasives themselves are hard and well-built; however, because the angle is made adjustable, their frames are not sturdy. As a result, they jostled and squeaked when we tried pressing the knife down during sharpening. This resulted in the excessive loss of metal and a very poor, wavy edge. However, the jostling improved when we reduced the force, so the trick here is to be extra gentle and use just a little more than the knife’s own weight when sharpening.
At times, the knife’s tip scratched into parts of the sharpener, usually the front end facing toward you. This could be annoying but doesn’t really affect the knife edge.
Stability on Clean Surface
This is one of the rare devices that come without a full base and can still offer excellent stability. Despite being lightweight, the sharpener stayed secure and steady on a spotless kitchen countertop, thanks to its well-proportioned structure. Those with weak wrists or shaky hands will really feel a difference with this design.
Even when positioned on a spotless surface, knife sharpeners with such an elevated body are quite unstable due to their high center of gravity. The Smith’s Pull-Thru is no different.
The friction at the bottom was strong enough to prevent the unit from flying off the countertop, but the more serious issue was the back and forth rocking motions. With its small footprint and slim body, the sharpener shook and wriggled with every draw. Sharpening at times felt unsafe and uncomfortable.
Stability on a Wet and Dirty Surface
Moving on to the simulated messy countertop splashed with cooking oil and peppered with salt: The sharpener’s balanced design continued to keep its footing. The base did lose its traction with the contact surface and moved along with the pull, but only occasionally and not to the extent seen on most other sharpeners.
If the dry surface test served as any indicator, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the sharpener didn’t fare so well on the oil-stained and salt-sprinkled surface. It kept inching itself away from where we set it down. The friction at the sharpening slots didn’t help, either.
To be fair, most other devices struggle in this test. But the Smith’s Pull-Thru was among the bottom tier of the bracket.