Sunrise Pro Knife Sharpener
Wusthof PEtec Knife Sharpener
Chef’s Choice 2 Knife Sharpener
Sharp knives make the culinary world go round but finding the best knife sharpener isn’t as simple as walking into the store (do people still walk into stores?) and grabbing the first sharpener that presents itself. There are different types of electric sharpeners, some that are straightforward and some whose sharpening process involves as many as 3 or 4 stages. If you’re looking to keep things simple by using a sharpening stone well, there are 3 different types of them as well – oil, water and diamond – and they each have their pros and cons. So it can be confusing.
Fortunately our product review experts have put their noses to the grindstone (so to speak) for you and come up with a comprehensive list of the 14 best knife sharpeners on the market today. They’ve cast a wide net that includes everything from the most elaborate mechanical devices to the simplest sharpening sticks and stones so you’re bound to find one that fits your needs, temperament and budget. Keep in mind that any opinions expressed here are those of our experts.
The Best Knife Sharpener
The Sunrise Pro Sharpener is not the most glamorous or expensive sharpener on our list but it does one thing extremely well: it sharpens just about any kind of knife to whatever level of precision you’re after. It’s easy to use and mounts securely on your countertop or table to help eliminate slip-related accidents.
The Sunrise Pro doesn’t have the pedigree of some other knife sharpeners on our list but it performs as advertised and that’s all that matters. For a relative song you get to restore all the knives, steak knives, cleavers in your kitchen to near pristine condition. It’s easy to use and the nice strong suction cup on the bottom means you can put the band aids away.
- Weight0.32 oz
It’s small, cheap and effective
It’s small, cheap and effective
Doesn’t discriminate between types of knives. Use it on your Asian knives, your steak knives, your cleaver or whatever
100% money back+ satisfaction guarantee
Can be a bit aggressive so you may want to start with a soft touch
You can pay less for knife sharpener and you can pay more. But no matter what you pay you’re not going to get a better final result than you’ll get with the Wusthof PETEC Electric Sharpener. The PETEC takes you on a 3 stage journey of knife sharpening discovery that results in your knives being restored to factory (or better) edge quality.
Everyone will appreciate the job the Wusthof PETEC Electric Sharpener does on their knives and just as important, everyone will be able to achieve those same results because the PETEC takes control of the sharpening process for you. It sharpens, hones and strops your blade delivering professional grade sharpening results time after time.
- Weight4.6 lb
3 stage process that results in razor sharp knives every time
Combination of diamond abrasives and high quality stropping results in a clean, precise edge
Compact and lightweight with rubber feet that grip the countertop or table
Dependable German engineering
Costs more than some other electric sharpeners on our best electric sharpeners list will be with you for years
Sharpens to a dangerous level of precision so be careful
Sharpening stones have been around since the dawn of civilization for a very good reason: they work. Yes, they’re more labor intensive than most electric sharpeners but they also allow you an unprecedented level of control. Once you get used to something like the Fallkniven DC3 Diamond/Ceramic Whetstone Sharpener you may never take out your electric sharpener again.
The Fallkniven DC3 Diamond/Ceramic Whetstone Sharpener will make a believer out of anyone willing to invest a bit of time in the process. A big advantage of this stone is that it can be taken anywhere, used anywhere, without any form of lubrication and will produce an amazing sharp edge on whatever needs sharpening. Timeless Old World tech that still dazzles.
- Weight1.6 oz
Ideal for kitchens or for taking into the field on your hunting sojourn
Twin sharpening surfaces: one a 25 micron diamond surface and the other a fine ceramic
Can be used without any lubrication
Extremely low maintenance
Surface may seem too coarse upon first use so be patient
The Chef’s Choice 476 2-Stage Sharpener transforms your weary kitchen, hunting and pocket knives into razor sharp cutting instruments with dependable ease. The sharpener is simple in concept, solid in its fabrication and reliable in the way it goes about its business. The design is also free of right-hand bias which is good news for the lefty chefs out there.
The kind of tech we love: compact, reliable, durable, attractive and cheap. Purists may feel that other sharpeners will produce a more perfect result but for 99% of the human race this sharpener will be everything the doctor ordered. Your blades stay sharp for a good long time thanks to the 2-stage sharpening process and if you’re a left handed chef you’ll love the fact that it works just as effectively for you as for anyone else.
- BrandChef’s Choice
- Weight1.44 oz
A no-nonsense sharpener that can handle just about any blade you present it
Dual ceramic and tungsten carbide sharpening elements for a razor sharp result
Easy to use for righties or lefties
Non slip feet keep it on the countertop or table and minimize potential for accidents
Attractive price point
Be mindful that your thumb may get close to the blade during the sharpening process
What can we say about the design of the Warthog V-Sharp Classic II? Perhaps the designer spends too much time at the health club. Aesthetic considerations aside however there’s no doubt this unusual looking piece of culinary kit will provide you with the razor sharp knives you need to slice and dice your way to happiness.
Believe it or not the company have put a bit of effort into refining the look of their product to make it more aesthetically appealing. Whether or not they’ve succeeded we’ll let you decide. Once you get accustomed to the Classic II however the results are undeniable and the whole thing will make perfect sense. Use it on your kitchen knives, hunting knives, utility knives and more and enjoy the same high quality finish every time.
- Weight7 oz
All popular sharpening angles
325 grit diamond surface rods for optimal sharpening capability
Durable steel frame construction
Sticky rubber base keeps the sharpener planted where you put it
1 year warranty on materials and craftsmanship
One of the more intimidating products on our best knife sharpener guide but give it a chance
Our second entry from Chef’s Choice is the 463 Pronto Santoku. This manual sharpener is super-simple to use and delivers fast, high quality results every time. While this is a “2-stage” system there’s nothing complicated about it. One slot is for sharpening and the other for honing. Both stages utilize diamond abrasive surfaces so your blades will retain its edge for a good long time.
For this type of hand held manual sharpener the 463 does an extraordinary job thanks mostly to the diamond abrasive wheels. You get an edge that’s both razor sharp and burr-free, as if you spent an hour working the edge on an oil stone. If people make a mistake with the 463 it’s that they assume more pressure is needed than actually is. Keep in mind though that it really shines on serrated and straight edged, double bevel Asian-style knives.
- BrandChef’s Choice
- Weight9.6 oz
A true no-nonsense human powered sharpener that gets the job done
The ergonomic design keeps your hand out of harm’s way and allows you to hold the sharpener firm
Ideal for Asian-style knives with serrated santoku edges
Truly ambidextrous. Doesn’t ignore the left handed chef
It can take some practice to find the ideal pressure that should be applied on this sharpener, but that’s small potatoes really
The Mooker 3-Stage Sharpener is perhaps the best looking sharpener on our list but it’s more than that. It’s an ultra-reliable manual sharpener that puts your blade through 3 stages that cause them to emerge burr-free and razor sharp. From diamond to tungsten to ceramic the Mooker’s wheels grind, refine and clean your blade to perfection.
A beautiful looking tool the Mooker 3-Stage Manual Sharpener takes in your dull knives and returns them with a professional quality edge to them. The 3-stage process is all the company claim it to be and the build quality is such that you can bank on having this sharpener at your disposal for years to come. All for the price of a movie ticket.
- Weight12.8 oz
Graceful, non-slip design is the perfect accent to any modern kitchen. You won’t want to put it away
The 3 stage process is incredibly easy and just as effective
Ideal for both home and professional use
Full lifetime warranty on materials and build and 100% money back guarantee if you’re not completely satisfied with the results
It might not be a great fit design-wise in your Victorian kitchen
The 3rd Chef’s Choice model on this list is their electric powered 15XV sharpener. It’s here because of the routinely excellent edge is produces. It strongly resembles the Wusthof PETEC Electric Sharpener and not just in appearance, but in performance. And there’s nothing wrong with emulating the best.
It’s only the 2nd electric powered sharpener on our list but you can’t lose if you make the Chef’s Choice Trizor 15XV your sharpener of choice for double and single bevel Asian knives. This 3-stage sharpener provides something others don’t in that it converts any blade to a hyper-sharp 15 degree blade. The graduated manner by which it reaches that preferred angle also ensures the blade stays sharper, longer. And isn’t that the name of the game?
- BrandChef’s Choice
- Model15 XV
Perfect for all types of contemporary Asian knives including single and double bevel
The 3-stage system lets you choose the perfect edge for every knife
100% diamond abrasives sharpen both straight and serrated edge blades
There’s a learning curve involved when it comes to figuring out how to finesse this sharpener. But stick with it. It’s worth it
The Lansky 4-rod Turn Box is a bit of a departure from the other kinds of sharpener on this list but a system that’s nonetheless easy to use and will generate seriously sharp blades. It’s also easy to store when not in use. The system itself is surprisingly stable and consists of 4 five-inch ceramic sharpening rods set at 20 and 25 degrees.
Although the Lansky 4-rod Turn Box Sharpener looks like an incomplete grade school science project it does the job it’s designed to do and does it with remarkable ease and effectiveness. Give your knives a few swipes on a regular basis and you’ll keep them remarkably sharp and ready to go. Use it in the kitchen or take it camping with you.
- Weight5.6 oz
Talk about low maintenance
Sharpening rods fit firmly into the base to ensure a clean swipe
One set is medium grit to sharpen while the other is fine grit to hone
1 year warranty on materials and workmanship
“Attractive” isn’t a word that comes to mind with this sharpener
DMT has a long history of creating industry leading knife sharpeners and associated products that are known for their quality and reliability. The DMT CS2 12-inch Ceramic Stick is another fine example of their ability to create simple, affordable and dependable products that are easy to use and get the job done with minimum fanfare.
A great sharpener for all your kitchen knives the CS2 also makes a smart addition to the gear when you’re going away on a family camping trip. It will also do a bang-up job on your hunting, pocket, boning knife and more. As mentioned it does require just a bit of getting used to in order to achieve optimal results but nothing too involved. A simple, effective, no-frills sharpener.
- Weight9 oz
Large comfortable handle makes it easy to hold the stick firmly
With just a bit of practice you’ll achieve professional grade sharpness
No oil or other liquid of any kind needed
Lightweight with an effective safety flange to protect your hand
Not going to win any style awards but it does the job it’s designed to do
The final Chef’s Choice sharpener on our list is the 316 Diamond Sharpener. Like the 15XV the 316 is at its best when used to sharpen Asian-style knives and it does so with unflinching effectiveness and speed. This is a compact, 2-stage electric sharpener that produces the 15 degree edge so favored in Asian cutlery. Ideal for the preparation of sashimi or sushi.
The Chef’s Choice 316 sharpener will restore your dull knives to professional sharpness. It’s a great, reliable, well-built kitchen appliance that requires no special knowledge or setup. The precision guides of the 2-stage system make sure the blade is firmly held at the correct angle so that optimal sharpening is realized with minimal fuss. Great for your Asian-style knives or those you’d like to endow with an Asian-type edge for some precision cutting.
- BrandChef’s Choice
- Weight6 oz
2-stage system uses 100% diamond abrasives to achieve the optimal result
15 degreeangle of attack produces a blade that’s perfect for precision work
High build quality down to the rubber feet that stay fast
1-year warranty on materials and craftsmanship
Not the fastest sharpener on the market
The Whetstone 2-Sided Sharpening Stone is made from professional grade corundum and will sharpen everything from a razor blade to a cleaver and even a machete, should you happen to have a machete lying about that needs sharpening. This is the simplest type of sharpener it’s true but the company have obviously put a great deal of thought into the product.
The company is to be commended for including links to instructional videos in the package. Those videos lay out clearly how to get the most from your Whetstone sharpener stone. Once you get up to speed you’ll likely enjoy the process and at the same time achieve professional quality results time and again. Sure, it’s not fancy and doesn’t have a sleek, chrome plated design but it works.
- Weight2.29 lb
The stone comes with a link to online instructional videos that make mastering the stone a breeze
Uses water instead of oil for better results and easier cleanup
The non-slip base is nice and thick and holds the stone fast while working
1 year limited warranty against defects in material or workmanship
More labor intensive than a mechanical or electrical sharpener
Why spend hundreds of dollars on a knife sharpening machine when you can get your knives razor sharp for the price of a cheap necktie? It won’t take more than a few practice sessions to learn how to get your knives professionally sharp with the Lansky 8” Ceramic Sharp Stick. This device is simplicity incarnate and yet it does the job of electric sharpeners costing many times more.
There are no lengthy explanations needed to describe the Lansky 8” Ceramic Sharp Stick sharpener. It’s an old-fashioned device comprised of a hardwood handle and ceramic sharpening rod. That’s it. Sure it’s not going to create an absolutely picture perfect edge down to the last micron but it will keep your knives really sharp and do so for next to nothing.
- Weight3.2 oz
Nothing fancy here, just age old proven technology crafted to last
The simplest way to keep all your knives razor sharp
Just put it back in the drawer when you’re done with it
1 year warranty on materials and craftsmanship
Not going to dazzle the friends but it will get your knives good and sharp for short money
No flange to protect your hand so be careful by golly!
The AccuSharp Sharpener is proof positive that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. While it looks like something used to attach buttons to shirts it’s actually one of the most cost effective, and we mean effective, means around for restoring a professional edge to your dull knives. It’s compact, screwed together rather than glued and its diamond coated tungsten carbide wheels create an edge that will last.
This is a great sharpener for budget conscious cooks. You can use it with equal facility whether you’re right or left handed, it has a convenient finger guard to cut down on accidents and most important, it only takes a few swipes on a regular basis to keep your knives in tip-top condition. It’s not glamorous. It won’t add anything substantive to your kitchen decor. But it will ensure your knives are always ready for whatever dish you have in mind.
- Weight3.2 oz
Handles everything from your Swiss Army knife to your cleaver and axe
Ambidextrous design keeps left-handed chefs in mind
The hand grip on this sharpener is designed to eliminate accidents while sharpening knives
Less than $10
Yes, it has a plasticky feel but for less than a sawbuck it does the job
Knife Sharpeners Buyers Guide
Those in search of the best knife sharpeners often have a slew of questions. These are some of the most common.
Q: How Do You Use An Electric Knife Sharpener?
A: Every electric knife sharpener works essentially the same way although some will be 2-stage and others 3-stage. Each stage has its own slot and each slot has two opposing grooves into which you place the knife.
- Turn the sharpener on.
- Place the blade into the right hand groove of the first slot (the one closest to the center of the machine) and pull it toward you at about 2 inches per second. Don’t apply too much downward pressure. The sharpener will do the work.
- Remove it and repeat the process on the left hand groove of the first slot.
- Repeat a few times until the sharpness is to your liking.
- Move over to the next slot and repeat the above – start with the right hand groove then use the left hand groove and repeat a few times.
- Rinse the blade off and dry it thoroughly.
Q: How to know when your knives are sharp enough?
A: Experienced professionals know exactly how sharp they want their knives to be and have an instinctive feel for when they’re just right and when they’re even a tiny bit off. Most folks, however, need to have some sort of objective test they can use to determine if in fact their best knife has been properly sharpened. There are a few simple ones you can use:
- Ye olde tomato test - After you have sharpened using one of the above sharpeners grab a firm tomato and try to slice it. If the blade is properly sharpened it will slice through the skin with virtually no effort and without pushing the skin inward first. If the skin is able to fight back against the blade then your knives are not properly sharpened yet.
- The paper test - Remove your knife from the sharpener. Grab a piece of notebook paper and hold it vertically in your hand so that one edge is facing straight up. Now take the knife and push it down against this edge. If the blade cuts through without hesitation it’s sharp. If the paper simply crumples beneath the blade instead of cutting the blade needs a bit more work.
- The thumbnail test (not recommended for novices) - With this test you take your newly sharpened blade and run it oh-so-delicately over your thumbnail. If you feel it digging in even a tiny bit, it’s likely sharp enough. If on the other hand it just slips and slides across the surface of your nail it’s not sharp yet. Again, this test is only recommended for people with lots of experience handling knives and even then they’d probably be better off just grabbing a tomato or a piece of paper.
Q: How can you sharpen knives?
A: You can sharpen your knives by hand using a stone or you can use a manual powered 1-stage, 2-stage or 3-stage sharpener or you can use a multi-stage electric powered sharpener. The choice is yours. Many people prefer not just the affordability but the precise control they have with an oil or water stone. While others opt for the more predictable results they get from an electric powered sharpener. It’s really a matter of taste.
Q: Is a manual knife sharpener better than an automatic?
A: “Better” is a difficult word to quantify in this case simply because the quality of edge created by a high-end automatic sharpener will be virtually indistinguishable from that produced by a manual sharpener in the hands of someone who knows how to use it. Only the most sharp-eyed professional may be able to tell the difference.
Q: How do you use a manual knife sharpener?
A: There are a couple of different types of manual sharpeners: the table mounted multi-stage, the stick, and the stone.
Table mounted device – Typically the manual powered table mounted sharpener looks virtually identical to the electric powered sharpener with a slot for each stage. Where they differ is that each slot in the manual powered sharpener has only one groove and you pull the blade through this groove toward you to sharpen the blade. Once the blade is sufficiently sharp you place it in the honing groove to refine the edge and pull it toward you again several times. If there is a third, cleaning, stage you repeat the process for that stage as well.
The stick – With a stick sharpener hold the sharpener in front of you (facing away from you) with one hand and the handle in the other hand. Hold the base of the knife against the base of the tip at a slight angle and then push the blade along the stick pulling it across the stick at the same time. The tip of the blade should cross the end of the stick. To sharpen the other side of the blade place it under the stick and repeat the process making sure to reverse the angle at which you are holding the knife against the stick.
The stone – With a sharpening stone, the process is essentially the same as with the stick sharpener. The only difference is that you don’t hold the stone, you place it into its own holder (If it comes with one. If it doesn’t you’ll need to improvise) on a flat surface. Push the knife down the stone several times while holding it at a shallow angle and then flip it and pull it toward you several times to get the other side of the blade.
Q: How often should you sharpen knives?
A: That depends almost entirely on how often you use them. If you are a professional chef who uses his or her knives every day then you should hone them every time you use your knives. But honing has its limits and over time your edge is going to become dull no matter what. Therefore your knives will need to be sharpened at least several times a year. Some chefs, in fact, will use a whetstone on an almost daily basis in order to ensure their knives are always razor sharp. Most of us, however, are not professional chefs and may not even touch our kitchen knives for days at a time. In that case, it’s probably a good idea to hone the edge after every couple of uses and have your knives sharpened once a year.
Q: Do knife sharpeners cause damage to knives?
A: For many years there was a heated debate around this topic with manufacturer’s stating flatly the notion their products actually damaged knives was absurd, and many professional chefs claiming not only was it not absurd, it was common for mechanical sharpeners to damage expensive cutlery. So who was right? To a certain extent they both were. The manufacturers were correct in asserting that if you followed the instructions to the letter there was little if any chance your knives would be damaged. However, in reality few people actually followed the instructions to the letter and when they veered from the recommended course the potential was there for damage.
Today, however, there is a whole new generation of mechanical sharpeners that are far more forgiving for those who may not use perfect technique. At the same time many more people have become accustomed to sharpening their knives this way and the average novice of 10 years ago is now the seasoned pro. It is still possible to damage knives with an electric sharpener, but you would have to either be trying to damage the knife or have some type of accident in order to do so.
Q: What is the best way to clean a knife sharpener?
A: Another issue that comes up with electric knife sharpeners is how to clean them. Or if, in fact, they actually need cleaning at all. The answer to the second question is that yes, they do need to be cleaned occasionally. And by occasionally we mean once a year or so if you use them with any frequency. Obviously if you’ve only used the sharpener a few times then there’s no compelling reason to clean it, other than just wanting to keep things tidy (and there’s nothing wrong with that). So, having established that sharpeners do need to be cleaned occasionally you need to know how to do so in a safe and effective manner. It’s not complicated.
There will be a drawer that extends into the mechanism under the abrasives. Any detritus from the sharpening process drops into this drawer. Exactly where the drawer is located will differ from sharpener to sharpener but it shouldn’t be hard to find. Remove the drawer flick any material into the wastebasket and then wipe out the drawer with a damp cloth or tissue. You may want to use work gloves and goggles to protect your hands and eyes from any loose metal shavings. Once the drawer is clean and dry replace it. The exact means by which the sharpening mechanism itself is cleaned will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Consult your owners guide for specific details. Make sure you don’t introduce any grease or other lubricants into the sharpener unless specifically directed to do so by the owner’s manual. Also, the outside of the sharpener should come perfectly clean with just a damp cloth. Avoid using commercial cleaners or abrasives of any kind.
Q: Can I sharpen scissors with a knife sharpener?
A: People often make the mistake of assuming that just because a mechanical knife sharpener will sharpen the edge of a knife that means it will sharpen any type of cutting edge, including scissors. This is a mistake and can wind up being a costly mistake when you have to replace both your scissors and the knife sharpener. There are sharpening devices specifically designed to handle scissors. Or you can bring your scissors to a sharpening pro who will usually have the right equipment on hand to also sharpen scissors. Another thing to keep in mind about trying to use a sharpener to sharpen scissors is that by using the device in this fashion you are likely voiding the warranty. As such if you damage the device trying to sharpen scissors you’ll need to pay to have it repaired or replaced as the warranty won’t cover it. Also, certain types of high end scissors also come with a warranty. And, just as with the sharpener itself, if you try to sharpen them using a mechanical sharpener you can say goodbye to the warranty protection. The bottom line is to always use the appropriate tool for the job at hand. That way you’re assured of the best possible result and any warranty remains in effect.
Q: Why is a sharp knife safer than a dull one?
A: We’re all told that a sharp knife is safer than a dull knife yet most everyone knows that merely touching a sharp knife can often result in a painful cut while we can wrap our hand around a dull blade with little worry. So why would anyone in their right mind claim that a sharp one is safer than a dull one? To a certain extent it’s a matter of semantics for sure, because there is no denying you have to be extremely careful around really sharp knives. But at the same time there is a very good reason to consider a dull knife to be more of a safety hazard than a sharp knife.
When you apply a sharp knife to the surface of a tomato, cucumber, carrot or other food item it should - if you are holding it firmly and applying minimal pressure - sink into the particular item without effort. As such all you really need to work on is your technique and making sure you keep your fingers out of the way. With a dull knife however things aren’t quite so simple. When you apply a dull blade to, say, a tomato it’s not going to slice into the skin. Instead the skin will be able to push back meaning you’ll need to apply ever more pressure to get the knife to penetrate. Increasing the pressure on the knife increases the likelihood of the knife slipping off the offending food item to one side or another. And if it slips to the side where your hand is attempting to hold the vegetable steady you could be in store for a very nasty cut. Because even a dull knife will cause injury if there’s enough force behind it.
Q: What’s better, 15 or 22 degrees?
A: The 15-degree angle is preferred by sushi chefs and others that specialize in Asian cuisine because it allows for the greater precision they need. 15-degree blades are usually thinner than 20 or 22-degree blades. 20 and 22-degree blades are the standard Western blades used more for cutting large pieces of meat etc.
Q: What’s the best tool to sharpen a knife?
A: Most chefs have their own personal favorite and that’s what it comes down to for just about everybody; personal choice. If you’re the kind who likes to get personally involved in the process you might want to opt for a stone or stick knife sharpener. These will allow you a certain amount of satisfaction knowing it was your expertise that produced the razor sharp edge. Others, however, are quite content to let the machine do the work and that’s fine too.
Q: Where to buy a sharpener?
A: You can buy an affordable sharpener at most “big box” stores. Some high end lifestyle stores also sell upmarket knife sharpeners. By far though most every sharpener today is sold over the Internet through sites like Amazon.
Q: How much is an average knife sharpener?
A: Like cars, knife sharpeners run the gamut from basic to luxury and like cars the price can vary from extremely affordable to more than some people might want to spend. You can get a high quality sharpener that will put your knives through a 2 or 3-stage process which will result in an incredibly sharp edge for less than $20. Or you can buy a mechanical sharpener that will produce a virtually flawless edge for $200+.
Q: Do sharpeners wear out?
A: When it comes to the best knife sharpeners used in a domestic setting the abrasives used to sharpen the blade should last for quite a few years. When they do eventually wear out many of the best manufacturers will refurbish them for you, typically for a nominal fee. Again, however, unless you are using the sharpener on a daily basis (and there is virtually no reason the average person would do this), the sharpener should last for many years before ever needing service.
Honing steels are another story altogether. Honing steels are those instruments that look light a saber (light or otherwise) which you use to gussy up the edge of the blade periodically before using it. These do wear out every few years or less, depending on how often you use them. If you are unsure whether your honing steel is worn out run your finger around it. If it feels smooth all the way around then it’s time for a replacement. Not to worry though, they’re really affordable. One thing you may want to keep in mind about honing steels is that they typically won’t do much to hone the edge of some super hard knives, such as Japanese Global brand knives.
Things To Look For When Buying A Knife Sharpener
The humble sharpener tends to elicit more divergent opinions than just about any other type of kitchen tech. Everyone, it turns out, has their own take on which type of sharpener works best and why and most serious chefs aren’t shy about voicing their opinion. As you can imagine then there are a number of things most chefs – both professional and amateur – look for in a sharpener in order to ensure they get the one that’s right for them. These considerations include:
Cutting angle – With a manual stick or sharpening stone you set the angle yourself so this does not factor into the equation when choosing that type of sharpener. When shopping for an electric sharpener however it does. You’ll want to decide if you want your knives to have the 15 degree “Asian” style angle so that you can make precise cuts or the Western standard 20 degrees or 22-degree sharpening angle. Most people will opt for the 20 or 22-degree angle simply because their cuisine doesn’t call for a lot of finesse from their knives and those knives are probably of a heavier Western variety anyway.
Functionality – If you have experience with the stick or sharpening stone you likely don’t want or need anything else. If, however, you are in search of an electric-powered sharpener you’ll want to consider how many “stages” you need in your sharpener. In a typical 3-stage sharpener the first stage is the coarsest and does most of the heavy lifting required to turn the edge from dull to sharp. The second stage will have finer grain sharpening wheels. These are used to hone the edge, that is, to smooth out the burrs left by the coarse first stage. A third stage will refine the edge even further and remove any debris left over from the sharpening process.
Ease of use – Most people in search of a mechanical sharpener want one because they don’t want to be bothered with trying to achieve a perfect edge themselves using a stick or sharpening stone. They want predictable, first class results every time. In that case it’s important that the electric powered device is easy to use, achieves results quickly and with little effort and is designed with user safety in mind. Keep in mind too that it’s easy to apply too much pressure when using a mechanical sharpener and when that happens you’re likely to see unsatisfactory results. In addition there are subtle differences between mechanical devices designed for Asian-style knives and those designed for Western-style knives. This has to do with the sharpening angle discussed above. Don’t get an Asian sharpener if you don’t need precise control over your cuts.
Aesthetics – While it’s true that most people keep their sharpener, (even their expensive mechanical sharpeners) in the drawer until it’s time to use them you’ll still want to be aware of whether your sharpener fits into the overall aesthetic of your kitchen when you do take it out to use. While sharpener designs are fairly limited to be sure you typically have some control over the color and finish of the device as well as design factors like whether the device is boxy or rounded in appearance. With a stone sharpener or a stick however you pretty much get what you get.
Cost – While you can get a perfectly serviceable sharpening stick or stone sharpener for short money and some very high-quality tabletop manual 2 and 3-stage sharpeners for less than $50, high-quality mechanical systems will often run you $200 or even more. While that’s not so much money it’s likely to impact the quality of your life it is a lot to pay to keep a decent edge on your knives. While how much you ultimately pay for a sharpener is entirely up to you, you may want to consider your commitment to cooking and how often you are actually liable to use the device. If this is your first sharpener you might also want to consider learning how to sharpen a blade using a classic stick or stone sharpener first, before deciding if moving up to a mechanical sharpener is the right thing for you.
Honing vs. Sharpening: What is the difference?
If no metal is being removed from the edge of the blade, it’s considered honing. Whereas if metal is being removed from the blade edge this is considered sharpening. Certainly, even honing will result in some microscopic amounts of metal being removed from the blade edge but not enough to be visible to the human eye, so the above definition is basically a solid one.
Honing is kind of like dusting the furniture while sharpening is more like reupholstering the furniture. Honing is purely a maintenance activity that should be regularly practiced to make sure the blade is clean and sharp as can be every time you use it. It’s easily done using a honing rod, a leather strop or a sharpening stone; as most stones have a side for sharpening and a side for honing. Honing is akin to trimming your hair to remove the split ends. It’s not a full on haircut. What it does is realign the tiny sharp protrusions along the edge of the blade that can be bent over with use, so that they stand more or less straight.
Sharpening on the other hand is reupholstering the furniture or telling the hair stylist to give you a new look. Material is going to be removed from the edge of the blade. There’s no way around it. How much is removed will be a function of just how dull the knife has become or whether you’re sharpening to compensate for a chip in the edge or because the tip has broken off. If your knife is not damaged and you have it sharpened twice a year very little material will be removed each time, yet it may still be enough for you to notice just by looking carefully with the naked eye.
Keeping your knives sharp will help them provide you with many years of dependable service while helping you prepare your food in the safest, most efficient and effective manner possible.
The sharpener has come a long way in the past couple of thousand years and yet it hasn’t. That is, while there have been incredible advances in the development of mechanical knife sharpeners the classic and very ancient sharpening stone is still with us and very much in use as you read this. The best knife sharpener for you will be one that meets the needs of your cuisine and your temperament but which, first and foremost, reliably produces the sharp knives (look after your knife!) you need with the least hassle.
We hope you found these knife sharpener reviews helpful and that the information helps you make an informed decision when choosing a professional or home knife sharpener for your kitchen. Make sure you check back regularly for more product reviews and guides from gearhungry.com.