It just arrived for me today, and so far, I'm not impressed.
I watched the instructional DVD, and it was alright. I was hoping they'd show the guy sharpen a chefs knife from blunt-as-a-brick to razor edge, but instead, he sharpens the "camera guy's" 2-inch pocket knife.
You're kidding me, right?
Anyway, I tried sharpening a cheap 12" chefs knife to give this thing a shot. I don't even know how old the knife is, but I looked in the drawer, and it looked like the worst knife of the bunch. I'm very nearsighted, and when I zoom in on it, I can literally see the jagged edge. It's been used and abused for probably a decade+.
After swiping at the assortment of rods, 20X per side on 40 degrees, I tried cutting paper, and the knife failed miserably. This was worst than the demos they show of blunt knives. Usually the "blunt" knives in demos can slice through paper... just not as efficiently. The only way for me to slice paper with this knife, is for me to hold it steady and firm. If the paper is just loose and flimsy, the edge is not sharp enough to cling to the paper. It'll just punch it away.
So I tried repeating the process. Still the same result. I don't notice any improvement when I try to slice through paper.
Repeat the process for the 3rd time. Same result.
I thought, perhaps you need to sharpen it at 30 degrees for it to slice through paper. This time, I swipe 40X on each side. The whole process is very grueling, and my hands are cramping up.
No noticeable improvement.
I finally give in and conclude that this knife is so bruised and battered, that it's beyond the Sharpmaker's capabilities. Maybe an Edge Pro can restore it. Maybe a swordsmith. Who knows... it's a lost cause.
So I move on to a 12" Henkels chefs knife. I've owned it for 2 years, and it's never been sharpened, but the blade is still in decent condition. No warping, no jagged edge... but it's pretty blunt, at this point.
I swipe it 40X on each side of the rods at 40 degrees.
It cuts paper as well as the previous knife... in other words, it can't.
I repeat the process. 20X on this go, exerting more pressure this time.
No noticeable improvement.
So far, I'm pretty disappointed. I'll try it again tomorrow. Maybe my technique will improve, or maybe this thing needs "breaking-in" before it really starts responding. I don't know... but I feel like I've been pretty patient with it, despite a serious lack of progress or incentive to reinforce my efforts.
I just don't understand how something like this warrants 4.5 star reviews on Amazon by hundreds of customers. I read one review that said he or she was looking around the house for things to sharpen, presumably because it was so rewarding and effective. At the rate I'm going, I would not look forward to sharpening anything on the Sharpmaker.
It's dreadful, tedious, futile, unproductive, and my back hurts.