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Work Sharp Culinary E2 Electric Sharpener In-depth Review
The Work Sharp Culinary E2 electric sharpener won’t give you a surgically sharp edge, but will keep your knives keen and strong enough for most cutting tasks. The sharpener is lightweight, safe, and easy to use. It has flimsy parts; however, replacements are easily available online. It’s a practical choice if you’re looking for a convenient sharpener that does its job without costing an arm and a leg.
Things We Like
- Simple, compact, efficient design
- Cool motor
- Quick sharpening
- Affordable price
Things We Don’t Like
- Flimsy abrasive discs and belt
- Produces low edge height
- Updated Feb 27, 2023:
We had a great experience with the Work Sharp Ken Onion—our vote for one of the best knife sharpeners—which led to high hopes for the Work Sharp Culinary E2 (CPE2). This one has a simpler but not any less impressive design.
Upon close inspection and especially after performance tests, it was clear that our expectations were unreasonable: the E2 can’t compare. That said, it has its merits as a convenient sharpener and at one third the price of the Ken Onion, it is more than decent at its job.
In our speed test, the E2 was slightly slower than average to produce a keen edge with acceptable texture. It works in 50-second-cycles, which is clearly intended to serve quick single-knife sharpening sessions instead of binge sharpening.
Build-quality-wise, the Work Sharp E2 lacks robustness. On the other hand, the compact and effective design makes it very safe and easy to work with. We think it’s a textbook sample of a ‘convenient electric sharpener’.
The Work Sharp E2 is fast to sharpen but will take longer than average to bring the knife to a high level of sharpness. It produces a straight edge with a modest height. It shaves off quite a lot of steel from the knife; however, the metal residue is much better contained compared to the Ken Onion.
A sharpening cycle lasts only 50 seconds but you can repeat the cycle to sharpen several knives without the machine getting overheated.
The E2 is the only electric sharpener we’ve tested that works in a set sharpening cycle, which lasts about 50 seconds. That’s enough time for 5--6 pairs of swipes, and that’d be enough to restore a typical dull kitchen knife. The machine slows down in the final seconds before turning itself off. Our test knife had been blunted to uselessness with sandpaper, though, so the sharpener took more than 5 minutes to bring it back to sharpness.
In our tests of manual sharpeners, the honing ceramic rods did little to improve sharpness. Naturally, we were skeptical about the ceramic honing wheel on the E2. But it made a remarkable difference. You definitely shouldn’t skip this stage!
That being said, we felt slight resistance when the knife cut through the beef tendon. We did the speed test a couple of times to see if the knife could get keener if we sharpened it for a longer time, which it didn’t. So while your knife will be able to cut most foods (beef tendon, duh!), don’t expect to shave your arm hair with it.
Although the abrasive discs are coarse, we wouldn’t advise using it for severely damaged blades. The abrasives look rather flimsy, for one, and at its speed, it may take around 10 minutes to fix a small edge nick.
The Work Sharp Culinary E2 produced a usable edge that has a low profile and uneven bevels. Such a low edge also means the knife will need frequent sharpening. The shape of the edge wasn’t remotely comparable to that created by its Ken Onion brethren.
The edge wasn’t consistent but was smoother than we expected from such coarse abrasives. We could tell the ceramic wheel did its job to remove shavings and soften the edge texture.
Metal takeoff was more than we expected for such a modest edge height. Still, it was an acceptable level considering that the knife had almost lost its primary edge before sharpening. Most cooks wouldn’t abuse their knives to such dullness. It’s more efficient to give them a couple of swipes every now and then to retouch the edge. That’d also minimize material takeoff during sharpening.
9.0Continuous Operation Time
The Work Sharp E2 lost 1 point in this test due to its short work cycle, which makes it turn off every 50 seconds. The cycle is timed perfectly to sharpen one knife, but when you have a very dull one or want to sharpen several, you’ll have to restart the machine a few times. That being said, it needed no wait time—all you need to do is push the power button and it’ll run again immediately. It didn’t stall or stop unexpectedly through the duration of the test.
The Work Sharp E2 sports a compact and smart design, with a power cord holder right underneath for neat and easy storage. The unit isn’t made of the best plastics, which is understandable given the budget-friendly price tag. However, the delicate pulley band could really benefit from a tougher material.
Like most others, however, the E2 only sharpens at a 20-degree angle. The machine works great with slimmer knives, but its light weight and tight edge guides are not made for thick blades.
In the Box
- The Work Sharp CPE2 electric sharpener
- Power cord
- Manual instruction leaflet
- Advertisement leaflet
The E2 comes in a cardboard box with some empty compartments that left us wondering if our package lacked any accessories. Our guess was they were for shock absorption or to give the box its unique shape.
Weight & Dimensions
The Work Sharp E2 sports a unique and very interesting design with a neat finish. Its knife guide is removable to make room for scissor sharpening, and the whole upper shell can be lifted up for cleaning and replacement. The sharpener almost looks like a transforming toy. We also appreciated how light and simple the power button feeled as we used it.
Material quality, however, is mediocre. Most parts, including the abrasives, look thin and rather flimsy. The pulley band on our device is still working, but we’ve read many user reviews reporting a breakage, which isn’t a surprise, given how fragile it is.
Designed for quick use, the Work Sharp E2 only accommodates one edge angle at 20 degrees. On knives with a smaller bevel angle, it will leave a compound bevel until the original bevel wears off. We wouldn’t let our Asinan knives meet this sharpener since it would ruin their keen edges.
The Work Sharp E2 had no issues handling the five different kitchen knives we tested it with. It’s one of the best with smaller knives. However, since the angle guide is tight, thicker blades may experience mild resistance.
The E2 is supposed to work on both straight and serrated knives. However, we felt its abrasive discs are too harsh while the ceramic wheel can do little more than straightening a thin blade on a serrated knife.
You can, however, sharpen scissors with this machine, which is a nice extra.
Ease of Use
The Work Sharp E2 facilitates quick sharpening without any guesswork. The sharpening time and speed are set, there are guides to keep the sharpening angle consistent, and the power button is easy to see and reach. All you have to do is press the button and put a knife in.
The machine is safer to use than most. The abrasives stay under the guides so there’s very little risk of accidentally touching them and hurting yourself. Sharpening residue and temperature are well controlled. However, we recommend wearing ear plugs as the noise can be startling.
When the abrasive discs have run their course, replacements are easily available online.
Setup is simple with the E2. With a smaller footprint than most, it doesn’t need a lot of countertop space to work. The machine is lightweight and compact, so it’s convenient to store and retrieve it. Take the power cord from underneath the machine, plug it in, press the power button, and you’re ready to go.
Tip: As with most other electric sharpeners, place the unit to your dominant side at a 60-degree angle against you, as illustrated in the photo above. This helps you keep your elbow in a natural position when pulling the knife out.
The Culinary E2’s angle guides are highly effective; however, it’s easy to cut into the guides when inserting the blade. If your knife is particularly thick, you’ll likely feel some friction when pulling the knife through the slot.
Despite its low weight, the Work Sharp E2 was stable during our sharpening tests. Its low center of gravity and anti-slip pads helped keep it tightly in place without an additional stabilizing hand.
The Work Sharp E2 is one of the safest electric sharpeners to use. It stays cool even after 25 minutes of continuous sharpening. The unit turns off automatically after every 50-second cycle, so forgetful folks don’t have to worry about burning their kitchen by leaving it running.
The sharpener is excellent at residue control. Most of the metal dust shot out during sharpening will meet the tall angle guides, then fall down to the magnetic plates right down below. You just need to open the unit up, which is as easy as removing the knife guide and lifting the shell up, then clean the dust from the magnets.
The noise can be quite loud with the coarse abrasives, so it may be a good idea to use earplugs while sharpening with this one.
While the Ken Onion enjoys only 1 year of limited warranty, Work Sharp backs the E2 up with a 3-year period. This doesn’t cover the abrasives, but you can purchase 2 pairs of them for $12 on Work Sharp’s website. The pulley band—the part many users have reported breaking only after a few uses—is not available online. However, the company will send it to you for free upon request.
About your guide
Anh Ngo is a writer with 9 years experience at different media outlets, covering from public news and events to product testing and analysis. At Healthy Kitchen 101, she works across different departments, communicating closely with its network of writers, editors, and health, tech, and search engine experts to provide a meaningful and pleasant reading experience for visitors.
Lap Vo is head of the Research, Testing, and Review Team (the RTR) at Healthy Kitchen 101. He is responsible for designing and overseeing the testing of kitchen tools and appliances.