REVIEW – I am one of the many knife owners who has never mastered using traditional sharpening stones to maintain their knives. I have tried many different guided sharpening systems over the years and now have a good powered sharpening system, but still need something that is more portable and easier to set up to repair and touch up knives that don’t need to be put on the powered system. The TSPROF Kadet Expert+ Knife Sharpener Kit looks to be something that even I can use to maintain my EDC, camping, and large kitchen knives.
What is it?
The TSPROF Kadet Expert+ Knife Sharpener Kit is a manual sharpening system that helps users to sharpen / maintain their knives with uniform angles along the length and on both sides of the blade. It supports a variety of sharpening stones and may be adjusted to different angles to support different blade edge profiles.
What’s in the box?
The TSPROF Kadet Expert+ Knife Sharpener Kit arrived in a sturdy box with a well-organized expanded polystyrene insert.
- TSPROF® Kadet Expert sharpening device
- Blitz diamond plates, 5 pcs.
- TSPROF® 4 mm hex screwdriver
- Set printed instructions
The TSPROF Kadet Expert+ Knife Sharpener weighs in a sturdy 1800 grams. The whole kit including all of the plates and the hex driver tips the scales at just under 2100 grams. This makes the sharpener light enough to easily move while remaining solid and stable while sharpening. The Kadet Expert is machined from billet materials rather than just tumbled castings or stamped parts that you find in many other sharpeners.
Design and features
Setting up the sharpener involved several steps
- unfolding the vertical arm and locking it into position (this takes a bit of force the first time)
- installing the adjustable arm that holds the clamps
- installing the clamps
- installing the pivoting head at the top of the vertical arm
- assembling and mounting the rod and holder for the sharpening plates
Once the Kadet Expert is assembled, it is a straightforward process to mount the appropriate sharpening plate. The plates are held in by a compressed spring that may be adjusted to securely hold different types of abrasive plates (diamond, wet stones, etc.).
Blades mounted in a pair of adjustable clamps that may be adjusted using the included hex driver. Both large and smaller blades may be mounted.
Breaking down and reassembling the sharpener in routine use
The Kadet Expert+ may be easily broken down for storage in one to two minutes and reassembled in about the same amount of time. Breaking down the Expert+ is the reverse of the initial assembly.
- Remove the sharpening plate
- Loosen the set screw (knurled knob) that holds in the top pivot
- Remove the top pivot and optionally disassemble the sharpening guide rod
- Loosen the screw that holds the clamp assembly to the curved angle support and remove the clamp assembly
- Loosen the lock screw that secures the curved angle support
- Press the button that releases the curved angle support
- Fold the angle support down
Final disassembly with guide rod disassembled.
Using the sharpener
Once the TSPROF Kadet Expert+ Knife Sharpener is set up, sharpening a blade is a straightforward process.
You start by selecting an angle by loosening the clamp assembly arm thumbscrew from the curved support arm. The clamp assembly may be attached to either side of the arm. The arm is marked with icons and tick marks rather than distinct angle measurements. This makes it easier to identify recommended sharpening angles based on the type of blade you are sharpening, but it does make repeated sharpening / touching up of blades a bit error prone, since you can’t easily reset to a specific angle.
Once the angle is set, the blade is inserted into the clamps and the clamps tightened.
Finally, a sharpening plate / stone is inserted into the plate holder by pulling back the spring loaded plate mount and the releasing the mount once the sharpening plate is in position.
Sharpening is accomplished by moving the sharpening plate over the blade. The guide rod and top bearing maintain a constant angle across the length of the blade. The plate may either be pushed diagonally along the blade (my preference), much like drawing a blade across a traditional sharpening stone, or a small area of the blade worked by moving the sharpening plate perpendicularly to the edge of the blade and then moving to a new area (only recommended for fine / very fine plates).
Once one side is finished, the latch on the side of the clamp assembly is released which allows the clamp arm to flip 180 degrees so the other side of the blade is brought to the top. The latch is secured and the other side of the blade may be sharpened.
As is common with most sharpening systems, you start with coarser grits and work to finer grits. You should only use the grits necessary to provide the level of sharpening needed–don’t start with coarse grit if you just need to move from “sharp” to “shaving sharp.”
There is still a learning curve, but you don’t have to worry about manually maintaining the angle between the blade and the stone that you have to worry about with traditional stones.
Between sharpening passes, while changing sharpening plates, or while changing out knives, the guide arm may be parked by latching the clamp on the guide arm assembly around the pivot. This is a very handy feature.
The biggest problem that I’ve run into with the TSPROF Kadet Expert+ Knife Sharpener Kit is that with the included clamps it is impossible to use the narrow sharpening angles that would be used for razors and paring knives with blades that are short top-to-bottom. The sharpening plates end up rubbing against the clamps instead of sharpening the blade (the photo of the back side of the clamp assembly show marks and metal filings where I “sharpened” off part of the edge of the clamp when trying to clean up a paring knife). There are alternate clamps that are available for this specific purpose, but they are not included in the kit. I would also have preferred a single wider by narrower clamp that makes getting a firm, square hold on the blade.
What I like
- Easy to adjust the sharpening angle
- Easy to install blade for sharpening
- Folds down for storage and transport
- Includes a wide range of sharpening stones
- Includes a clip to “park” the control rod / sharpening plate while adjusting blade.
- Works well for medium to large blades
- Supports wide variety of sharpening blade / tool clamps and stones from the entire TSProf range.
What could be improved
- The Expert+ Kit cannot sharpen narrow blades at sharp angles (low angles) without hitting clamps — requires additional clamps
- No provision for sharpening / maintaining serrated blades (kit only flat sharpening stones)
- Direct reading of sharpening angles on the arm rather than just icons and tick marks
The TSPROF Kadet Expert+ Knife Sharpener Kit is a good manual sharpening system for maintaining a wide variety of knives. It is well suited for medium to larger knives, but not for smaller paring knives or razors because the clamps interfere with the sharpening plate when using narrow sharpening angles.
I feel that the Kadet Expert is a bit overpriced since I am unable to maintain the razor-like edge on my paring knives. The inclusion of an additional clamp to handle these blades would make the sharpener worthy of the price.