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  1. #1
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    Aug 2008
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    Default Fasttrack Knife Sharpener impressions and details

    I wanted to share some impressions about the Fast Track knife sharpener system from M-Power, that I have seen on special at Timbecon and decided to give it a go. It comes with one little 220 grit diamond plate, and I also purchased the 600 and 1000 diamond plates with it:

    FastTrack Plates.jpg

    The principle of operation is simple: the knife is guided along a vertical flat surface being held flush against it by 2 recessed magnets. The knife edge grinds against the replaceable diamond plate, here is another view with the plate inserted in place:
    FastTrack angle.jpg

    On the back of the jig is a strap that you are supposed to finish the sharpening with:
    FastTrack_strap.jpg

    I was not overly impressed with the level of sharpness that I got from the system right away, so decided to look what is going on under the microscope. Here are some close ups of the three grits that I got and the resulting knife edges after sharpening with corresponding grit
    sharpening-test.jpg

    (The 220 grit photo is made with 10x magnification, all other photos are with 20x magnification) The sizes of the abrasive particles are 100-130 micrometers for 220 grit stone, 50-60 micrometers for 600 grit and 20-30 micrometers for 1000 grit diamond plate.

    These sizes do not translate directly to the quality of the grind. Obviously, the particle size defines the maximum size of the scratch it leaves, however if you press very lightly, the scratches will be much thinner. This is what I observe here. In particular, with this jig you have to press very lightly (or the blade will jam), the scratches that I see are much smaller than the corresponding grit size. As I progressed to finer grits, the burr got cleaned up, and overall the edge is not looking too bad.

    Here is what I get after the strap:
    knife_strap.jpg

    I do not see any marks from the strap, so there are no abrasive components there. As the motion is across the edge, then the marks would be very pronounced if there were any. However the strap has completely cleared the edge from the burr, without improving the edge itself. I was thinking maybe to add autosol to the strap, so that the strap will also improve the edge?

    Pros and cons of this setup from my perspective:

    Pros:
    • Compact - can be stored on the kitchen and always ready to use
    • Once the edge angle is established, the re-sharpening is very quick
    • Well made jig, solid plastic


    Cons:
    • Probably will not be suitable for knives with narrow blades, as there is not sufficient supporting surface close to the abrasive plate. For the same reason, it is hard to sharpen near the knife point.
    • As the knife is rubbing against the supporting surface, there will always be some particles that will leave scratches on your knife blade surface. So I wouldn't use this on nicer knifes.
    • Cannot really sharpen fast when you need to first define the angle on a new knife with rough abrasive. When you press and push harder, the knife jams and looses the contact with the guide surface.
    • The sharpness of the knife is worse than what I get with other methods.


    If I compare against the CBN sharpening on slow grinder that I reviewed in another thread, and hand sharpening, here are the comparisons:
    • Both CBN and hand sharpening in my case give noticeably sharper knives.
    • The FastTrack is probably as fast as CBN wheel (once the edge is established), and both these methods are much faster than hand-sharpening.
    • Because of the size, the fast track can be stored in a kitchen drawer, so this gives the main advantage over the slow grinder


    So my conclusion is that if you are happy to compromise the sharpness a little, then the fasttrack knife sharpener clearly has its place in a kitchen. For sharper knifes/applications look somewhere else.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Canberra
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    Default

    Who would have though that this topic will not interest the woodworking community Maybe need to ask moderators to move the thread to product reviews.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Dungog
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    Default

    Good article with great pics. I guess the perceived lack of replies is due to wood workers not using knives as much as plane blades etc. thank you for info.
    Well done

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    McBride BC Canada
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    Default

    Autosol has a great reputation but as the edge is steel, it can't be sharpened to a zero edge like ceramic/flint/diamond.
    I'd be more curious to feel the performance in the stock material of choice, wood or tomatoes.

    I do all freehand sharpening of a wide variety of knives for wood carving.
    My concern is with the abrasive scratches parallel to the edge.
    I imagine that the risk of folding a marked edge is moreso that if the abrasive had gone 90* to the edge.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Canberra
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    Default

    Yes, the scratches parallel to the edge certainly reduce cutting efficiency, at least for food - must be similar for wood too. Will look what happens to the edge after some use. Looking at the efficiency of the autosol that I shown here Sharpening knives with CBN wheel and strop wheel on slow grinder I am tempted to polish the edge with it even after the FastTrack.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    McBride BC Canada
    Posts
    3,339

    Default

    Common honing compounds such as Chromium Oxide (0.5 micron nominal particle size) and Aluminum Oxide (0.25) are really common here.
    I use the Lee Valley mix of CrOx/AlOx with good results. The scratched surface is just visible at 15X with a magnifier.
    Oxides of iron and copper get some play but very little.

    Never looked for Autosol, no idea of particle sizes. If I ever notice any, I'll buy it just for the experiment.

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