Gerber DF8 Knife Sharpener
By Gary Zinn
I admit that I tend to get slack about keeping knives as sharp as I should. However, I’ve found a handy and effective gizmo that can help me mask this character flaw.
The DF8 sharpener, from Gerber Legendary Blades, features a set of eight curved, diamond coated spring steel fingers. You sharpen a blade by placing it in the v-shaped area between the fingers and then, with downward pressure, drawing it across them. Basically it’s that simple, but I will fill in the details.
The image above shows the DF8 deployed for use. The base (partly visible in the back right) is used to hold the unit down with the off hand. Note also the side of the unit that forms a vertical hand guard (top center of image) and the two “wing clips” at the ends of the unit that function as blade edge guards. These four parts of the case also work together in closing the sharpener. This is done by rotating the base until it closes with the other half of the case and then snapping the wing clips inward to secure the two halves together. The closed unit is a bit smaller than a wallet, compact and handy.
The instruction card for the sharpener states: “The DF8 is only designed for non-serrated, beveled-edge blades (not scissors, forged bread knives or chisel-edge sashimi knives).” My first test of the DF8 was on a couple of my personal working knives that were beginning to lose their best edge. They weren’t really dull, just not quite as sharp as they could be. About a dozen strokes on each blade, with moderate pressure, brought the edges back nicely. So far, so good.
My wife has arthritic hands, so she notices when any of our kitchen knives are beginning to dull before I do. She saw me trying out the new sharpener and said, “Hey, our steak knives could use some work.” I started on them and found that they were a bit duller than I had realized. I gave the first knife several strokes across the DF8 and wasn’t getting anywhere. Then I heeded the instruction, “Pull the knife down and back through the fingers with pressure.” (Emphasis added.) I quickly found that more pressure worked better with the duller edge.
I ended up doing thirty strokes with firm pressure and then finishing off with six lighter strokes to “polish” the edge. Once I had the first steak knife right, I was able to sharpen the other five in the set in less than ten minutes. I was on a roll, so I went through our food prep knives and gave them the treatment, too. I found that the same pattern I had used with the steak knives worked well. Bottom line: the DF8 works well on slightly to moderately dull knives, but don’t be timid about applying pressure. At a street price of about thirty dollars, I’m satisfied.
For many years, my technique for serious knife sharpening has been to use a set of bench stones (course, medium and fine) with honing oil and then finish the edge on a set of crock sticks. I certainly won’t abandon this method, but the Gerber DF8 is a quick, easy and effective tool for restoring edges before they get dull enough to require that much work.
Copyright 2013, 2015 by Gary Zinn and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.