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Saturday is the Fourth of July, one of the most food-centric days of the year. Many people will spend the day chopping vegetables and slicing meat to prepare a holiday spread for friends and family.

It’s hard to do these tasks with dull knives, though. Most butcher blocks come equipped with what is referred to as a sharpening steel, a ridged tool that improves knives’ edges. However, these tools actually tend to straighten and realign edges rather than making the blade sharp again. It might improve the knife’s cutting power temporarily, but not for long.

Ergo Chef has designed a sharpening steel that does just that, thanks to an oval-shaped stainless steel mesh rod infused with diamond particles. Instead of simply straightening the edge, the Pro Series Diamond Sharpener shaves off a tiny micron of steel to make it truly sharp again. As any middle school science student knows, diamonds are one of the hardest substances known to man. Using them, even in microscopic form, to sharpen knives seems like a no-brainer, right?

To be honest, I thought this sharpener was just OK. It certainly improved the edges of the knives I tested, which were very dull to begin with. However, the knives still didn’t perform as well as I had hoped. When cutting an apple, I struggled slightly to get the freshly sharpened blade to pierce the thin skin before it could slice through. That could just be a testament to how dull the knives really were, though. Maybe they need a few more passes over the steel to be in top shape.

Also, just because diamonds are hard doesn’t mean this sharpener is indestructible. Mine had a few nicks in it while still in the package, probably from shipping. After testing a few blades, it already started to show signs of wear.

Despite some reservations, there are a couple things I did like about this. I think the oval shape is brilliant. It gives you two semi-flat sides to run the blades down, instead of the round shape of a traditional steel. It also has flat sides on the handle so it won’t roll around the counter or drawer. The end has a rubber tip to ensure it won’t slip when you hold it upright while sharpening.

I do think the Pro Series sharpener from Ergo Chef is better than the standard model that comes with the butcher block. Just be prepared to spend some time getting the edge the way you want it. You can find it on Amazon or ergochef.com for around $30, in 10-inch or 12-inch styles.

Brooke Wilson can be reachedat brooke.wilson@newspressnow.com.Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPWilson.