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.
Those in search of a knife sharpener often have a slew of questions. These are some of the most common.
How do you use an electric knife sharpener? – 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 knife off and dry it thoroughly.
Where to buy a knife sharpener? – 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.
How much is an average knife sharpener? – 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+.
How can you sharpen a knife? – 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.
Is a manual knife sharpener better than an automatic? – “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.
How do you use a manual knife sharpener? – 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 knife 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 knife 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 the knife 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.
What’s better, 15 or 22 degrees? – The 15 degreeangle 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.
What’s the best tool to sharpen a knife? – 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.
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 degree or 22 degree sharpening angle. Most people will opt for the 20 or 22 degreeangle simply because their cuisine doesn’t call for a lot of finesse from their knives and those knives are probably of a the 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 (see our “Best Bang for your Buck” selections above) 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 knife using a classic stick or stone sharpener first, before deciding if moving up to a mechanical sharpener is the right thing for you.
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 blades 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.