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In the early 1970s, frustrated with what he saw on the market for knife sharpeners, Tru Hone founder Fred Gangelhoff thought there had to be a better way. He was an industrial arts teacher at an a St. Petersburg, Florida, junior high school who sold Chicago Cutlery knives during the summers to help make ends meet. Gangelhoff experienced firsthand what bad machines and a lack of sharpening training wrought on his customers’ knives. (Much of the Chicago Cutlery was sold to hardware stores, whose customers struggled with sharpening edges.) Added to that was the fact that commercial clients such as poultry producers viewed dull knives as a significant overhead cost and a source of production downtime. Gangelhoff saw an opening in the market for a simple yet well-constructed device that met the demands of professionals such as butchers, chefs, meat-processing facilities and knife vendors. He put his industrial arts training to work, and with the help of a few retired machinists, the first Tru Hone machine was born.

Unlike many conventional knife sharpening devices, the Tru Hone machine sharpens both edges at once via two pairs of overlapping, 3-inch, aluminum oxide honing wheels on parallel shafts. The wheels rotate upward into the knife blade, creating a consistent and precise bevel. Honing wheels for the machine can be purchased in a variety of grit sizes to fit the needs of the user. The wheels operate within a range of 0 to 1,500 rpm on a 0.5-horsepower, 6-amp motor designed to be powered by a standard 120-volt outlet. Tru Hone uses a simple three-step process that (1) creates a bevel on both sides of the blade, (2) sets and perfects the edge and (3) hones the final edge to a razor sharpness. Through each step, the spacing of the wheels relative to the knife’s bevel and the honing wheels’ speed are adjusted to execute the step properly. Directions are printed on the face of the stainless steel casing, and the steps are color-coded on the controls, so training is minimal. If the user skips a step, he or she has but to start over. On most current models, the speed automatically adjusts down when the wheels are adjusted more closely together for steps two and three. It takes less than a minute to sharpen one knife through all three steps.

Tru Hone’s Test
Fred’s son, James Gangelhoff, is the head of sales at Tru Hone and was kind enough to send me a unit to test. As he encouraged, I watched each of the instructional videos available on Tru Hone’s website, but the color-coded directions on the unit would have been adequate. I own 15 knives of varying shapes, sizes and steel types, and I was able to sharpen all of them in about 20 minutes. The Tru Hone put an incredible edge on each in minimal time—I was impressed. But what I cannot truly test in a short amount of time at home is the durability of the Tru Hone edge under rigorous, daily use, and if the speed of sharpening translates into both a sharp and reasonably long-lasting edge. To address this, I took the Tru Hone to Frody Volgger, a European-trained chef and gourmet butcher…

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