Chef’s Choice 120 vs 130

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This is the Chef’s Choice M130, a premium model. But how different is the M120??

Updated October 31st, 2018 – If you’re reading this, you’re most likely in the market for an electric knife sharpener and you narrowed it down to the Chef’s Choice 120 vs 130.

When it comes to electric knife sharpeners, Chef’s Choice is my personal favorite. The thing is that Chef’s Choice has many models and it can be downright confusing!

Although the company has only been in the business since 1985, they are one of the most reputable makers of knife sharpeners. I have been consistently impressed by the sturdy feel of their products and the quality edge I am able to get with them on even my dullest knives. (Learn how to test whether your knife is sharp enough.)

Of the many different sharpeners the company makes, a couple really popular models are the 120 and 130. Both are great sharpeners that will work for a variety of different knives, ranging from a serrated bread knife to a meat cleaver.

Both models have similar functionality and regardless of which one you choose, you are sure to get a quality edge. Let’s take a look at some of the differences between the two models (I read all about them on the Chef’s Choice Site, and the manuals, too).

Here is a quick one-line summary if you are in a hurry. The 120 is normally cheaper depending on where you look. If the color matters to you, that seems to be the main difference between the two!

See the M120 at Amazon
See the M130 at Amazon

Differences

See the Chef’s Choice 130 Professional Knife-Sharpening Station at Amazon

The Chef’s Choice 120 model has a pre-sharpening stage, which is used for very dull knives. In theory, this should mean that the 120 should sharpen dull blades a little faster than the 130, but comparing them side by side, I’d say the difference is minimal.

The 130 has a steeling stage, which means that it creates tiny serrations on the edge of the blade, allowing it to have a little more grab than a non-steeled edge. This edge helps when cutting tough fibrous plants or meat. The 120 uses a flexible strop for the sharpening stage, whereas the 130 uses combined honing.

Colors

While both come in a variety of colors, the choices differ between the 2 models.

The 120 is available in white, black, platinum, brushed metal, chrome, and red.

The 130 comes in white, black, platinum, brushed metal, and green.

Now that we’ve seen the differences between these sharpeners, let’s take a look at what both sharpeners do well.

Similarities

See the Chef’s Choice 120 Diamond Hone 3-Stage Professional Knife Sharpener at Amazon

Both of these sharpeners are three stage electric knife sharpeners. (Here are more electric models if you are interested…) These models are set to sharpen at a 20-degree angle, the standard angle for western cutlery. Since Japanese knives are sharpened to a steeper 15-degree angle, it’s best to use a different sharpener for your Japanese knives. If this seems confusing, check out my definitive guide to knife sharpening angles here.

The 120 and 130 each weigh four and a half pounds, which gives them a very sturdy feel without being cumbersome.

Both are a modest 10 inches in length and 4.5 inches in width and height. Additionally, these sharpeners are fast! If you’re creating an edge on an extremely dull knife, the process takes approximately one minute.

If you’re doing regular maintenance, however, you can return a precision edge to your blades in a mere 10 seconds.

An added bonus is you don’t need and sharpening oils or liquids to sharpen your knives!

For safety, these sharpeners have rubber feet to prevent slippage and hold the sharpener in place on the counter. They also include a magnetic pad, which helps secure an debris and shavings from the sharpening process.

The three different stages of abrasives progress from coarse to fine grit abrasives to return even extremely dull knives to a level of sharpness that exceeds its original factory edge.

The first stage is a diamond abrasive, designed to add bite to a very dull edge and prepare it for further sharpening.

The second stage is finer grit diamond abrasive. 

The second stage in the 120 is finer grit diamond abrasive, in the 130 the second stage is super-hardened sharpening steel. If your knife is not extremely dull, you can start sharpening at this stage. The angle changes slightly to provide a durable beveled edge.

If your knife is not extremely dull, you can start sharpening at this stage. The angle changes slightly to provide a durable beveled edge.

The final stage uses the finest grit abrasive using a patented material to create a surgically sharpened edge. Chef’s Choice stands behind both products with a 3-year warranty.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need any type of lubricant with these Sharpeners?

Luckily both of these sharpeners can be used without any type of lubricant.

When sharpening a knife it is often recommended that you use some form of lubricant, typically oil or water, to protect the stone. With electric sharpeners, this can cause electrical hazards and is discouraged.

With these sharpeners, that is unnecessary due to the engineering.

Can the angle be adjusted to sharpen other types of knives?

The 20-degree angle of these sharpeners works well for most American knives. Unfortunately, the angle of the guides on these sharpeners can’t be adjusted.

As mentioned above, if you have a knife that needs to be sharpened at a different angle, you will need to get a sharpener that fits the angle of that blade. A sharpener with the correct angle will do a better job sharpening and preserving the integrity of your knives.

Some users have reported that they have used these sharpeners for blades with a 15-degree angle, but it is not recommended and could result in damage to the blade.

For best results, only use these as intended, for 20-degree blades.

Do these work on serrated and non-serrated knives?

Both the 120 and the 130 work on serrated and non-serrated knives, the third stage is recommended for a sharper edge on serrated blades.

All three stages can be used to sharpen non-serrated blades, depending on how dull they are and how sharp you want them.

The final setting on each is the only setting you should use to sharpen serrated blades. The other settings may damage the teeth of the blade, doing more harm than good.

The final stage uses flexible disks in stage three to align with each tooth of the blade and sharpen them to a fine point, as well as realign the teeth and improve the performance of your kitchen knives to better-than-new.

Can these be used on kitchen shears or scissors?

Neither of these sharpeners should be used with scissors or kitchen shears.

The blades on scissors are different from knife blades and should not be sharpened in a knife sharpener like the 120 or 130. Some sharpeners may come with a setting or a guide for scissors, but these two do not.

You can get a sharpener specifically for your shears/scissors, or a cheaper and easier way to sharpen scissors is to use them to cut sandpaper. Fold the sandpaper, abrasive side up, and cut it into thin strips. Use a similar method to sharpening knives, moving from a coarse to a finer grain for sharpest results.

Can I use these to sharpen ceramic knives?

These sharpeners should not be used on ceramic.

Ceramic is much harder than steel so it is a little more difficult to sharpen. It also comes with its own set of problems aside from dulling, such as chipping or cracking.

You will need to get a different sharpener for ceramic blades.

Luckily, Chef’s Choice makes a sharpener that can sharpen both steel and ceramic blades, the Chef’s Choice 700. This sharpener also has three stages for sharpening your knives, one of which helps repair chips and cracks in ceramic blades. It can also be used on serrated knives, like the 120 and the 130.

Conclusion

The Chef’s Choice 120 and 130 are both excellent knife sharpeners. Both models are amply prepared to put a quality edge on a variety of different cutlery.

The differences between the two models are, truthfully, pretty minute.

Some users may prefer the honing disks of the 130 over the ceramic stropping disks of the 120. While they do have a different feel, it’s entirely a personal preference.

If I had to pick one, I’d go with the 130 simply because I cook with a lot of fresh vegetables and I prefer a steeled edge.

If you’re trying to decide between the two, you may also wish to take a look at the different color options. If your kitchen has a green colors scheme, for example, you’ll probably want to go with 130.

Both of these knife sharpeners are well-made units that will last for years and put a quality edge on a variety of blades.