- Performance (50%)4.7/10
- Design (15%)7.5/10
- Ease of Use (35%)7.8/10
- Performance (50%)8.7/10
- Design (15%)7.8/10
- Ease of Use (35%)8.2/10
The Zwilling 4-stage sharpener has a stronger build and double the number of sharpening slots that the PriorityChef has. However, when put through the test, the latter proved to be superior in all the important parameters.
The Zwilling sharpener features sharpening blades, which unfortunately peeled off a lot of knife material while taking more time than most sharpeners to produce results. The blades themselves were brittle and started to chip after only a few sharpening sessions.
With the exception of a cheap-looking base that reflects its affordable price, the PriorityChef is actually a well-designed item. More importantly, it performed well in all of our tests. This sharpener performed quickly and produced an edge that was not only sharp but also smooth while removing only a negligible amount of knife steel. It was therefore a very easy choice for us over the Zwilling.
- Sharpening Time to Cut a Lemon (35%)1.0/10
- Maximum Sharpness Achieved (20%)7.0/10
- Edge Smoothness (20%)7.3/10
- Material Retention (25%)6.0/10
- Sharpening Time to Cut a Lemon (35%)8.8/10
- Maximum Sharpness Achieved (20%)8.0/10
- Edge Smoothness (20%)7.5/10
- Material Retention (25%)10/10
Sharpening Time to Cut a Lemon
- Sharpening Time: 3 minutes
- Cutting Feel: Slightly forced
The Zwilling is, sadly, one of the slower sharpeners even among its category. It took 180 seconds to sharpen a sandpaper-destroyed knife to the lemon-cutting level, and even then, the cutting motion didn’t feel completely effortless. Three minutes may feel like nothing if you’re used to working with a whetstone, but for a convenient device like this one, one would expect a much shorter time.
- Sharpening Time: 1 minute 15 seconds
- Cutting Feel: Swift and smooth
Our blunt test knife emerged sharp and keen after 75 seconds of sharpening with the Priority Chef. In fact, it was sharp enough to slice through a lemon in one go after just 60 seconds on the Coarse stage; the extra 15 seconds served only to refine the edge and, consequently, the cut.
Your mileage may vary depending on the conditions of your knives and the hardness of their steel. However, in most cases, you won’t need more than 30 seconds to rejuvenate a dull knife to a serviceable level.
Maximum Sharpness Achieved
- Sharpening Time: 6 minutes
- Sharpness Level: 8 - (Chicken breast with skin, 2 swipes)
While it failed quite miserably in the speed test, the Zwilling sharpener got decent results when given more time. The test knife passed the tomato test with flying colors and could cut through the muscle and runny skin on a fresh piece of chicken breast with two light and easy swipes.
We tried it on beef tendon too, which it took two heavy strokes to sever. The device was marked as failed for this level, but we think its efforts would be sufficient for most food prep needs.
- Sharpening Time: 6 minutes
- Sharpness Level: 8 (chicken breast with skin, 1 swipe)
Even after 6 minutes, our test knife needed two, sometimes three rather heavy swipes to cut through beef tendon. It had no trouble with chicken breast with runny skin and fat, though. Ripe tomatoes, similarly, were a piece of cake.
Since our Control knife was at sharpness Level 8 when brand new, we could say the Priority Chef sharpener can bring it back to factory sharpness after 6 minutes. Of course, you may see different results with knives that are made of particularly hard steel.
Although the Zwilling peels a lot off the knife, we have to give it credit for the pretty edge it left. There are long and deep grooves along the edge—we could tell from the swarf alone—but overall, the edge is straight and consistent, and without visible chips or teeth.
However, with its ceramic blades chipped after only a few uses, we’re at best skeptical about the device’s ability to maintain delivery of this edge quality.
Unlike the V-shaped abrasive blades found on most other pull-through devices, the Priority Chef’s abrasive discs create short, nearly vertical grooves along the edge — and the ceramic fine stage didn’t do much to refine them. We also detected chips and burrs — albeit very small ones — where the edge is narrowest. That suggested that the sharpening discs do not directly contact that part.
That being said, the Priority Chef still created a much finer edge than did its other disc-based cousin, the Chef’s Choice 4643. The Chef’s Choice created a secondary edge, but it left the primary edge completely untouched.
- Sharpening Time: 1 minute
- Target Sharpness:
For the sharpness level it could achieve, the Zwilling shaves off way too much steel from the knife. We couldn’t help but shudder at the long curls of swarf coming out of the Coarse slot.
Most other devices employ ceramic rods for honing the knife, so even though this function comes in the form of blades on this sharpener, we really didn’t expect the ceramic to be so harsh on the knife edge.
- Sharpening Time: 1 minute
- Target Sharpness:
For the speed and level of sharpness it can achieve, we were impressed by how little material the Priority Chef removed from the knife after one minute of sharpening. The only debris was dust and tiny chips rather than long curls of swarf, like some others. The device seems to only shave off what’s really necessary to make the edge sharp.
- Build Quality (75%)7.8/10
- Grip (25%)6.5/10
- Build Quality (75%)7.9/10
- Grip (25%)7.5/10
In the Box
- The Zwilling 4-stage sharpener
- Instruction leaflet
The Zwilling 4-stage sharpener comes protected by a plastic blister pack, with a simple instruction manual. The device is solid and heavier than most others.
- The Priority Chef manual sharpener
- Instruction manual
- Promotional leaflet
The Priority Chef comes in a colorful cardboard box. The package also includes instructions on how to sharpen with the device, plus care and storage tips.
- Length:9.3" (23.6 cm)
- Width:1.7" (4.3 cm)
- Height:3.1" (7.9 cm)
- Weight:11.2 oz (318 g)
- Length:7.9" (20.1 cm)
- Width:2.4" (6.1 cm)
- Height:2.6" (6.6 cm)
- Weight:8.3 oz (234 g)
While its design leaves a lot of room for improvement, the Zwilling is overall a robust, well-built sharpener. Its body feels rigid and solid, the frame and paddings are made of high-quality materials, and every part fits together nicely, leaving no gaps.
Unfortunately, the device’s weakness is its most critical part: the ceramic sharpening blades.
Normally, ceramic is used to make honing rods on pull-through sharpeners, but on the Zwilling, it’s employed in the shape of rectangular sharpening blades with their own delicate edges. The chipping we found on those blades after only a few days of testing proved that this break from the norm was an error of judgment. Obviously, being hard but brittle, the ceramic blades couldn’t withstand a rough steel knife edge.
The Priority Chef has a minimalist design with stainless steel and ABS plastic parts. Although more oriented toward functionality than aesthetics, the components fit together well and sport pleasant finishes. The only complaint we have is with the base pad that’s made of a low-quality material and doesn’t fit snugly into the stainless steel frame.
- Material:ABS, EVA
The Zwilling’s grip looks and feels fancier than most other devices’, but we wish the design were more simple. The thumb holder was awkward to grasp, and both of us testers couldn’t seem to align our fingers with the finger nubs.
We also thought the space between the grip and the base to be excessive — a lower height and center of gravity would immensely improve the device’s stability.
- Material:Stainless steel
Unlike most other devices, the grip of the Priority Chef is basically a pipe that’s attached to the device via a plastic framework. The stainless steel is easy to clean but can be cold to the touch and feel slippery if your hand is wet or greasy. Other than that, we couldn’t find a problem with it. The low center of gravity really helps, so we never had to employ excessive force to keep the device in place.
- Levels of Sharpening:Sharpen, Polish
- Abrasive:Ceramic blades
- Mechanism:Pull through
- Sharpening Angle:15 degrees, 10 degrees
The Zwilling sharpener has a long working section, covering two types of edge angle: standard and Asian. We find the alleged grind angles of 15 and 10 degrees to be surprisingly small—standard knives typically come at 18-22 degrees and Asian knives, 13 - 15 degrees. An edge angle of 10 degrees is probably more appropriate for razors than kitchen knives.
Angles aside, we like how the working section is closer to the base than the rest of the device is. This helps lower the center of gravity even only by a little, and improves the overall balance.
- Levels of Sharpening:Sharpen, Hone
- Abrasive:Diamond-coated coarse disc, ceramic honing disc
- Mechanism:Pull through
- Sharpening Angle:17 degrees
The Priority Chef sharpener has a simple working section with one diamond-coated disc and one ceramic disc for sharpening and honing your knives, respectively. Each is labeled below the slot on either side — it’s equally simple whether you’re left- or right-handed.
- Feet Type:EVA pad
The Zwilling sharpener has a solid, flat base, with a high-quality anti-slip pad underneath. But this is yet another area where it suffers from bad design.
The base is long and narrow, which is not ideal for its considerable height. The pad only partially covers the base, leaving its border hanging in the air— the pad basically adds height while further reducing the already modest width. As a result, the device is very prone to rocking.
- Material:Stainless steel
- Feet Type:Sponge pad
While we love that it’s low and wide, the base is actually the Priority Chef’s least effective component. It’s a stainless steel plate housing a sponge-like pad that feels cheap and is prone to tearing. The pad adds almost no weight or friction, and we suspect that it will come apart long before anything else.
Ease of Use
- Slot Arrangement (10%)10/10
- Insertion (20%)9.0/10
- Pulling Through (10%)7.5/10
- Stability on a Clean Surface (40%)7.5/10
- Stability on a Wet and Dirty Surface (20%)6.0/10
- Slot Arrangement (20%)10/10
- Insertion (20%)7.0/10
- Pulling Through (10%)8.5/10
- Stability on a Clean Surface (40%)8.0/10
- Stability on a Wet and Dirty Surface (10%)7.0/10
The Zwilling has more sharpening slots than most others, but its layout is straightforward. Half of the working section is for standard blades and the other half Asian, as indicated by the print underneath. The slots progress in the same order for each angle type, with their coarseness level printed on their sides.
A transparent plastic cover can be slid over the area you’re not working on, so it’s rare that you will misplace your knife while sharpening.
The device has only two progressive slots. Their relative coarseness is embossed right underneath on both sides of the working section. That eliminates any guesswork or confusion during sharpening. Both work at the same bevel angle and are not adjustable, so the Priority Chef may not be right for all your knives.
It doesn’t have the widest slot openings, but insertion is still effortless with the Zwilling. Its lowered working section and the rather spacious grip do offer a sense of confidence and safety in this regard.
The Priority Chef has some of the narrowest slot openings among the devices we’ve tested. While this may help keep the blade aligned, it does make inserting the knife a little stressful.
Luckily, with a large grip and a raised plastic frame, you’re unlikely to cut your supporting hand.
The problem with abrasive blades is that sometimes they lose grip of the knife edge, letting it glide through untouched. The fact that its blades are made of ceramic instead of tungsten carbide as a typical sharpener’s would be doesn’t exempt the Zwilling from this issue.
The thick frame around the slots, while offering great support, does obstruct the knife tip at the end as the downward force is still in place. It gets nicked from time to time, though this doesn’t affect the knife edge or sharpness.
Our test knives slid through the Priority Chef with ease every single time: Both sharpening discs offer a firm and steady brace. The knife tip does cut into the U-shape frame from time to time, but because you don’t have to push downwards while pulling through, the contact is mild and should not affect the knife edge.
Stability on a Clean Surface
The Zwilling’s heavy weight (a whopping 11 ounces) and solidness couldn’t cancel out the effect of its massive height to stabilize the device. Nor did its narrow base and an even narrower anti-slip pad allow it to fare well in our test. The sharpener kept losing its balance.
With a low center of gravity and a full padded baseplate, the Priority Chef is well-balanced. Its anti-slip pad doesn’t exactly measure up to the name, but as long as you can maintain a relaxed grip, the device will stay in place. It may sound counterintuitive, but too much force on the grip will only make the sharpener slip more often.
Stability on a Wet and Dirty Surface
The oil- and salt-tainted countertop only amplified all the design problems on the Zwilling. We could only keep it in place with excessive force on the grip, and so we highly recommend ensuring your countertop is dry and clean before using this sharpener.
While the ‘anti-slip’ pad was barely effective on a spotless countertop, it was useless on one with oil and salt on it. That being said, the sharpening session was still manageable thanks to the unit’s generous footprint and modest height. Again, it seems to fare better when your grip is not too tight.