Humans have been using tools to help us overcome our limitations since the beginning of our species. While many of the tools we use today are complex contraptions that our ancestors would find impossible to decipher or otherwise useless (like fidget spinners), one of the first tools of civilization remains relatively unchanged to this day: the knife.
Knives haven’t seen much change since their beginnings as sharpened pieces of rock because there’s no need to fix what isn’t broken. Knives are incredibly diverse tools that can be used for a wide variety of purposes. The only problem with these wonderful tools is their tendency to become dull.
A knife is only as good as its cutting edge is sharp. A dull knife is frustrating to use and its inconsistent cutting performance can be dangerous for the user due to the need to use excessive force when trying to cut with a dull blade. Contrary to what many assume, a dull knife is actually more dangerous than a sharp one because it can become unpredictable and unwieldy.
While knives have remained relatively unchanged over the past several centuries, knife sharpeners are a different story. As essential tools for maintaining the edges on all kinds of blades, knife sharpeners come in a variety of styles and purposes.
- Features to Consider in Good Knife Sharpeners
- The 10 Best Knife Sharpeners 2020
- 1. Best Overall Knife Sharpener: Chef’sChoice Pronto Pro
- 2. Best Premium Knife Sharpener: Spyderco Sharpmaker
- 3. Best Budget Knife Sharpener: KitchenIQ Edge Grip
- 4. Best Electric Knife Sharpener: Chef’sChoice Trizor XV Electric Knife Sharpener
- 5. Best Tool Sharpener: Work Sharp Belt Grinder
- 6. Best Travel Knife Sharpener: Smith’s Pocket Pal
- 7. AccuSharp Knife Sharpener
- 8. Presto Professional EverSharp
- 9. Lansky Sharp Stick
- 10. Utopia Kitchen Honing Steel
- Guide to Buying the Best Knife Sharpener
- Final Thoughts
Features to Consider in Good Knife Sharpeners
There are a number of factors worth considering when deciding on the right knife sharpener for you. Here is a brief rundown on the most important factors to keep in mind.
When making any purchase, one of the most important factors to consider is the cost. With knife sharpeners, the cost factor is a little bit more involved than many other products. This is due to the fact that you must consider not only the cost of the knife sharpener but also the cost of your knives—buying a top-of-the-line sharpener for a dollar-store knife would be overkill no matter how well it works.
We’ll go into more detail later in the extensive buyer’s guide section, but the general rule of thumb is that cheaper knife sharpeners are best for people who use inexpensive knives. Cheaper knives won’t last as long as their fancier counterparts, so standard sharpening tools should do the trick.
Those who are looking to take better care of their high-quality knives and improve their longevity would be best served by buying premium knife sharpeners that do their job without causing unnecessary damage to the knives themselves.
Knife sharpening can be a hobby in and of itself. There are many different kinds of knife sharpeners (covered in detail later) and the different methods for sharpening knives can require more or less time and effort. More complex methods can lead to better results, but they aren’t totally necessary if you’re looking for a simpler solution. Generally, the order of difficulty looks like this:
- Easy: electric/pull-through sharpener
- Medium: honing/sharpening steel
- Hard: whetstone
- Very Hard: grinder
Some knife sharpeners can be used to sharpen things besides knives. If you work with various bladed tools that require honed edges such as axes, hatchets, chisels, and scissors, you may want to buy a knife sharpener that can service multiple types of edges.
With these factors in mind, here is our list of the best knife sharpeners.
The 10 Best Knife Sharpeners 2020
Why we like it: The Chef’sChoice Pronto Pro knife sharpener uses superb materials combined with intelligent design to provide an excellent knife sharpening service for all types of knives.
The Chef’sChoice Pronto Pro knife sharpener uses a 3-stage system to provide sharpening capabilities for Euro-American knives, Asian knives, and serrated knives. All three sharpening stages are equipped with diamond abrasives to provide excellently sharpened knives with ease.
This pull-through knife sharpener has a large, sturdy grip attached to the side to provide excellent leverage and stability while it’s in use. The Asian sharpening stage uses a 15-degree angle ideal for sushi knives and other Asian-style blades, while the Euro-American stage is situated at a 20-degree angle.
Who is the Chef’sChoice Pronto Pro best for?
This knife sharpener is great for home chefs with multiple styles of knives that they want to keep a keen edge on. Thanks to its use of diamond abrasives, the Chef’sChoice Pronto Pro 3-Stage knife sharpener is capable of providing a fine edge to blades without requiring excessive force or friction.
This is an excellent knife sharpener for users who want something that provides a nice middle ground of simplicity of use without negatively impacting the longevity of their knives. While pull-through sharpeners aren’t ideal for more expensive knife sets, the Chef’sChoice Pronto Pro provides excellent sharpening with a lower risk of damaging knives when compared to other manual sharpeners.
With a total Amazon review score of about 4.5 out of 5 stars and over 1,000 reviews, the Chef’sChoice Pronto Pro knife sharpener is a great product that has impressed most buyers. Reviewers are especially impressed with this knife sharpener’s ability to restore old knives back to their original glory.
- Diamond abrasives provide an excellent sharpening service without causing excessive damage to the knife’s blade.
- The Chef’sChoice Pronto Pro is capable of sharpening most styles of knives.
- Its intelligent, sturdy construction makes knife sharpening a breeze.
- More expensive than most manual knife sharpeners.
Why we like it: Great for people who want to put a little more time and care into maintaining their knives, the Spyderco Sharpmaker is the goto recommendation for knife aficionados.
Practical Design and Utility
This is the first knife sharpener on our list that isn’t a standard pull-through sharpener. As such, the Spyderco Sharpmaker requires a little bit more time and skill to use properly. Having said that, this knife sharpening set allows you to maintain a razor-sharp edge on your knives without negatively impacting the longevity of your blades.
This kit has everything a novice sharpener needs to start dipping their toes into the world of hand-sharpening. Included in the kit are an instruction book and instructional DVD with tips on how to keep your knives and bladed tools in tip-top shape for years to come.
Also included are two pairs of high-alumina ceramic stones: one pair is medium grit for coarse sharpening, and the second pair is fine grit for finishing off the edge. Additional rods are available for purchase and use with this kit. The ceramic rods are smartly designed in a triangular shape to provide a flat surface that is easier to maintain the proper angle on compared to round rods.
Who is the Spyderco Sharpmaker knife sharpener best for?
Sharpening rod systems like the Spyderco Sharpmaker require a bit more care, time, and effort when compared to standard pull-through sharpeners. However, they also provide you with more control over the final edge of the blade while causing less damage to the knife.
This means Spyderco Sharpmaker is best for people who want to ensure their knives last as long as possible and are willing to put in a bit more time to maintain them. An added benefit of sharpening systems like this one is that they can be used to sharpen all kinds of tools other than knives such as awls, fishing hooks, chisels, and scissors.
After roughly 3,000 Amazon reviews, the Spyderco Sharpmaker has earned itself a total rating score of close to a full 5 out of 5 stars. This is a testament to the kit’s ability to maintain sharp edges. Many reviewers talk about taking time to learn the process and eventually growing to enjoy the act of manually sharpening their blades.
- The Spyderco Sharpmaker is made of high-quality components that deliver excellent sharpening capabilities.
- The included instructional book and DVD make this kit a great gift for novice knife collectors and serious chefs alike.
- The entire sharpening set is cleverly designed to safely store the rods in the compact base when not in use.
- This kit is on the expensive side of knife sharpeners.
- Using this type of sharpening system requires some extra effort and patience.
- Ceramic rods are brittle and prone to breaking if dropped.
Why we like it: Incredibly affordable and simple to use, the KitchenIQ Edge Grip is one of Amazon’s best-selling knife sharpeners for many reasons.
KitchenIQ clearly had their thinking cap on when they were designing the Edge Grip knife sharpener. This knife sharpener was created to be efficient and easy to use while keeping its overall size compact for easy storage.
The combination of a non-slip base and contoured lines for easy gripping makes this knife sharpener easy and safe to use for sharpening knives of all sizes. The KitchenIQ Edge Grip’s base has a 90-degree angle cutout to allow for it to be used on the edge of a counter to ensure even large chef’s knives or cleavers don’t scrape against tabletops during sharpening.
Who is the KitchenIQ Edge Grip best for?
Thanks to its thoughtful design, simplicity, and affordability, the KitchenIQ Edge Grip knife sharpener is ideal for beginners and home cooks that are looking for a quick and easy method for keeping their blades sharp. The downsides of this product are unlikely to impact most users but they are worth mentioning.
Who shouldn’t buy the KitchenIQ Edge Grip?
The Edge Grip knife sharpener is not ideal for users who have more expensive knives or for those who use Asian-style knives. The coarse-grinding slot is likely to take off too much material for users with expensive knife sets.
Furthermore, the set angle of the sharpening notches isn’t suitable for the blade angle of Asian knives. The KitchenIQ Edge Grip is also not suitable for sharpening scissors or other bladed tools. Hobbyists, DIYers, and serious knife users would be better served by other products on our list.
What do the reviewers say?
With over 15,000 Amazon reviews and a total average score of around 4.5 out of 5 stars, the KitchenIQ Edge Grip knife sharpener is the most-reviewed product on our list. Most reviewers are very impressed by this knife sharpener’s ability to produce a sharp cutting edge with ease. They also rave about the value offered by this inexpensive product.
- Very affordable.
- Simple to use.
- Compact for easy storage.
- Capable of sharpening serrated edges.
- Fixed angle only suitable for Western-style knives.
- Pull-through sharpeners tend to remove more metal than necessary and reduce the longevity of knives.
Why we like it: One of the best and most well-liked electric knife sharpeners on the market, the Chef’sChoice Trizor 15 will put a devastatingly sharp edge on even your cheapest knives.
The Chef’sChoice Trizor XV will provide razor-sharp edges every time. In addition to offering extremely sharp edges, this electric sharpener is also capable of converting all knives into 15-degree angled blades. This process will strip metal from the edge of your blade and alter the final angle of the cutting edge for optimal cutting performance.
Who is the Chef’sChoice Trizor XV best for?
This knife sharpener is ideal for serious home chefs who want to put a wicked edge on their kitchen knives. It’s important to understand that the Chef’sChoice Trizor XV will convert the angle of your blade to a 15-degree edge.
This makes it a great choice for putting a razor-sharp edge on old or less expensive Western knives. However, it is not ideal for use on expensive knife sets that are intentionally crafted at a different angle. This knife sharpener can turn your cheap knives into beasts of performance and thereby save you money when compared to the expense of buying higher-quality and pricier knives.
The Chef’sChoice Trizor XV has amassed over 2500 Amazon reviews with a total rating score of close to 4.5 out of 5 stars, proving its merit as a top-tier electric knife sharpener. Reviewers are particularly impressed by how sharp finished blades become with the use of this knife sharpener.
- Puts an extremely sharp edge on your knives.
- Can convert knives to 15-degree angle blades.
- Simple to use, the Chef’sChoice Trizor XV will give you a great cutting edge with little downtime.
- Comes with a 3-year limited warranty.
- This is the most expensive sharpener on our list.
- Not intended for use on serrated knives—it will ruin them if you run them through the wrong slot.
Why we like it: For serious users, the Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener is a versatile and effective tool for repairing and renewing all kinds of cutting tools and knives.
Made for the Workshop
The Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener is exactly what its name suggests it is: a sharpener for knives and tools of all types. This knife sharpener is the only belt grinder on our list and earned its spot by its ability to provide an excellent sharpening service for just about anything you can think of.
The downside of the Work Sharp Belt Grinder is the fact that it’s a belt grinder. Belt grinders are inherently dangerous tools due to the high speeds at which they spin and the amount of heat that can be generated from the resulting friction. They also add a high risk of damaging delicate blades, making them less ideal for kitchen knives and other precision blades.
If you know your way around a belt grinder, this is an excellent tool to add to your shop to help repair and maintain cutting edges. However, this tool is not for the faint of heart and requires a fair amount of expertise to master its safe operation.
Who is the Work Sharp Belt Grinder best for?
Based on the reasons mentioned above, we can only recommend the Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener to serious DIYers that are confident working with knives and power tools. If you know how to handle yourself in a workshop, this belt grinder is an excellent tool that can put a razor-sharp edge on just about anything in a small amount of time.
Over 5,000 Amazon reviewers have given the Work Sharp Knife Sharpener a total rating score exceeding 4.5 out of 5 stars, proving that this tool is worth its price. Reviewers are especially impressed with the speed at which the Work Sharp Belt Grinder can sharpen blades.
- It can sharpen pretty much everything.
- Makes quick work of edge repairs and resets.
- Very versatile and priced fairly.
- This product is not ideal for casual users or delicate blades.
- Belts will need to be replaced occasionally due to wear.
Why we like it: A pocket knife sharpener that fits in your pocket, Smith’s Pocket Pal is an excellent buy for knife sharpening needs on the go.
Created with the purpose of providing a great sharpening while on the go, Smith’s Pocket Pal knife sharpener is an ideal tool for camping, hunting, and fishing trips.
This compact knife sharpener packs a punch with its three-stage sharpening system that includes a carbide rough sharpening notch, a ceramic fine sharpening and polishing notch, and a diamond-coated honing rod that folds neatly away into the body for extreme pocketability. It even has a lanyard hole for enhanced convenience and versatility.
Who is the Smith’s Pocket Pal Knife Sharpener best for?
Ideal for people who love the great outdoors, this knife sharpener is incredibly handy for sharpening pocket knives or camp knives when on the go. Its tiny form factor allows it to fit effortlessly inside even the smallest of pockets, but this doesn’t stop it from providing an excellent sharpening performance.
Smith’s Pocket Pal Knife Sharpener is intended for use on small knives like whittling knives, paring knives, and pocket knives. As such, it’s not great for sharpening chef’s knives or larger bladed tools.
Smith’s Pocket Pal Knife Sharpener boasts a total Amazon review score of just about 4.5 out of 5 stars with roughly 9,000 ratings. Reviewers are most enthused by its affordable price point and ability to get the job done with relative ease.
- Compact and inexpensive, the Smith’s Pocket Pal knife sharpener is perfect for camping trips.
- Thanks to its 3-stage design, this knife sharpener provides admirable sharpening performance.
- The diamond-coated rod is especially nice for quick touch-up jobs.
- This makes for a great gift or stocking stuffer for the outdoorsy types.
- Too small for use on chef’s knives or larger blades.
- Won’t provide the sharpest cutting edge compared to other sharpeners on our list.
Why we like it: The AccuSharp Knife Sharpener is effective and especially simple to use for those who are new to knife sharpening at home.
Easiest Knife Sharpener
The AccuSharp Knife Sharpener was designed with usability as its primary goal. Different from other manual knife sharpeners, the AccuSharp is a hand-held sharpener that you drag over the top of the knife blade.
This knife sharpener fits neatly into your hand while the finger guard protects your fingers from the edge of the knife as you drag the AccuSharp along the length of the stationary blade. Its small size and light weight make it easy to store or carry with you for sharpening on the go like during camping, hunting, or fishing trips.
Who is the AccuSharp Knife Sharpener best for?
Thanks to its simple design and affordable price, the AccuSharp Knife Sharpener is a great choice for knife sharpening novices and outdoorsy people alike. While it may not provide the finest edge or the ability to sharpen multiple types of blades, this knife sharpener is a great inclusion in your outdoor tool bag or your kitchen drawer.
With a total Amazon review score approaching a full 5 out of 5 stars across about 6,000 reviews, the AccuSharp knife sharpener has proven itself as a handy tool to keep around the house or to pack away for camping trips.
- Inexpensive and portable.
- Makes a great gift for camping, hunting, and fishing fans.
- Incredibly easy to use.
- It only has a single fixed angle for sharpening Western blades.
- Not ideal for serrated blades.
Why we like it: The Presto Professional EverSharp Knife Sharpener offers excellent sharpening performance and great customization options for improving the edge of various types of knives.
Thanks to its inclusion of adjustable blade selectors, the Presto Professional EverSharp electric knife sharpener is capable of sharpening just about any kind of knife you throw at it. It has three options for blade thickness: thick for hunting knives, medium for chef’s and kitchen knives, and thin for fillet and paring knives. This electric knife sharpener can even be used for sharpening Santoku knives.
Who is the Presto Professional EverSharp electric knife sharpener best for?
This is an ideal knife sharpener for people with many different kinds and styles of knives thanks to its ability to adjust to different knife thicknesses. It will create a fantastic cutting edge on your sport knives, kitchen knives, and fillet knives. The blade guides make it easy to use, and the detailed directions will have you flawlessly sharpening knives with minimal time and effort expended.
The Presto Professional EverSharp electric knife sharpener has received over 2,000 Amazon reviews with a total rating score of nearly 4.5 out of 5 stars. Reviewers make a special note of the importance of following the provided directions, as very little if any force is necessary when using this knife sharpener.
- Easy to use while offering capabilities for sharpening multiple types of knives.
- The Presto Professional EverSharp comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
- This electric knife sharpener is considerably less expensive than the other electric option on our list.
- The blade guides make sure the knife remains at the optimal angle throughout the sharpening process.
- More expensive than manual pull-through knife sharpeners.
- It can cause damage to your blades if you don’t follow the directions properly.
Why we like it: The Lansky Sharp Stick is a great tool for performing regular knife maintenance. Easily stored in any kitchen drawer, this 8” ceramic sharpening rod is an easy recommendation for anyone.
Simple, but Effective
Sharpening rods like the Lansky Sharp Stick are simple tools that can be used to sharpen any number of tools and knives. The Lansky Sharp Stick is constructed of a fine to medium grit ceramic rod that is attached to a round handle. This simple yet versatile tool is capable of putting a sharp edge on just about any knife or tool you can think of including scissors, steak knives, paint scrapers, and butcher knives.
Who is the Lansky Sharp Stick best for?
The short answer: everyone. Every house should have a sharpening steel on hand thanks to its versatility and effectiveness. The Lansky Sharp Stick can be used on a regular basis without negatively impacting the longevity of your blades.
Maintaining a sharp edge with a ceramic sharpening rod is fairly quick and easy. The most important thing to keep in mind when using a ceramic rod is to keep your knife angled at the correct angle for its blade (typically between 15 and 20 degrees).
One of the main benefits of using a sharpening rod rather than a pull-through sharpener is that it’s much more difficult to cause lasting damage to your knife with regular use. On the downside, they do take longer and require a little bit of skill to use properly.
After roughly 500 reviews, the Lansky Sharp Stick knife sharpener has earned itself an Amazon rating score of about 4.5 out of 5 stars. Some reviews mention that the grit is closer to a fine grit than a medium grit, making this product better for maintaining an edge than establishing one. Reviewers are overall very satisfied with the value provided by this item thanks to its combination of affordability and quality.
- Excellent product at an affordable price.
- Easily stows away in a drawer.
- It can be used on a regular basis without damaging your tools or knives.
- Can be used in both the kitchen and the workshop.
- You will need other sharpening tools if you have very dull blades.
- The rounded handle can result in this rolling off of counters or tables, which may result in a shattered ceramic rod.
Why we like it: Utopia Kitchen’s Honing Steel knife sharpener is another easy recommendation for a tool that every house or workshop should have on hand thanks to its simple design and efficient honing capabilities.
A Classic Kitchen Tool
Honing steels are one of the most commonly used tools in professional kitchens. Chefs use these to maintain the sharpness of their knives on a regular basis. The Utopia Kitchen Honing Steel is a well-constructed, sturdy piece of equipment that will help you keep your knives in excellent condition for a long time to come.
Unlike the Lansky Sharp Stick, this honing steel doesn’t technically sharpen your knife. Instead, it straightens out bends and waves that occur during regular knife tasks. Oftentimes, your knife doesn’t need to actually be sharpened. It just needs to be properly honed to bring all the microscopic teeth along the edge back in line with the rest of the blade.
Using a honing rod like this Utopia Kitchen Honing Steel will keep your knives in working order without removing material from them. This makes them an excellent tool for keeping your knives sharp without reducing their lifespan.
Who is the Utopia Kitchen Honing Steel best for?
Much like a ceramic sharpening rod, honing steels are great tools for anyone who uses knives or bladed instruments on a regular basis. The Utopia Kitchen Honing Steel is a tool that every workshop or kitchen should have on hand for maintaining knives and bladed tools.
These are great to use in conjunction with other knife sharpeners. Regular honing can increase the longevity of your blades by reducing how often other methods of sharpening are needed.
Over 1,400 Amazon reviewers agree that the Utopia Kitchen Honing Steel Sharpening Rod is a great buy. With an average rating score of nearly 5 out of 5 stars, this knife honer is the highest rated product on our list. Many reviewers agree that this product provides excellent value and is a must-have for knife users.
- Useful for maintaining any kind of knife or bladed tool.
- Inexpensive and built to last.
- Has a hexagonal handle to prevent it from rolling off the counter.
- It won’t damage your blades.
- It takes some practice to become proficient with it.
Guide to Buying the Best Knife Sharpener
Knife sharpening can be a tedious chore, a fun hobby, or even a lucrative business depending on the person you ask. And depending on how you feel about it, the right kind of knife sharpener for your purposes will be different.
As you can see from our list, knife sharpeners can come in a whole lot of shapes, sizes, and styles. All the different kinds of knife sharpeners have their own benefits and drawbacks. This makes finding the right one for you a case of deciding what makes the most sense for your needs and your commitment to learning the trade.
Types of Knife Sharpeners
Methods for sharpening knives and maintaining cutting edges are surprisingly varied. Each method has its own pros and cons that you must weigh to decide which is best for your purposes. This knife sharpener buyer’s guide covers the most common kinds of knife sharpeners for home users.
The type of knife sharpener that most likely popped into your head when you began your search for one is probably the pull-through sharpener that is separated into two varieties: manual and electric sharpeners.
Manual and Electric Sharpeners
These sharpeners are the most common for home chefs and DIY hobbyists. They are designed with notches set in their top, which you can simply pull your knife through to sharpen and hone the edge of your blade.
Sometimes called V-sharpeners due to their v-shaped notches, these knife sharpeners are great for people that want something simple to use that will get the job done with minimal downtime. However, these pull-through sharpeners can cause nicks and impact the longevity of your blades due to the amount of material that they remove.
Manual or electric knife sharpeners are generally ideal for people who want to quickly and easily sharpen their inexpensive knives.
Steels (also called hones, kitchen steels, sharpening rods, or butcher’s steels) are those metal rods you often see professional chefs on TV swiping their knives on like a crazed madman. A safer but equally effective (if considerably less flashy) method for using them is holding the steel vertically against the top of a work surface while running your knife down along the length of the steel.
Steels typically come in two varieties: honing steels and sharpening steels.
A honing steel is the most common type of steel that professional chefs typically use on a daily basis. The reason for this is that honing steels aren’t technically knife sharpeners but more like knife straighteners. This isn’t a negative thing; in fact, it’s why they can and are used on a very regular basis by people who make a living off of the effectiveness of their knives.
Generally, the reason your knife isn’t cutting well isn’t because the edge is dull, but is instead due to the fact that your edge has become bent, curled, or folded over itself. Honing steels realign the microscopic teeth of your blade to bring them back into the action without removing much if any of the metal from the knife.
A sharpening steel, on the other hand, is designed to reset the edge of the blade by removing metal from the edge of the knife. They are typically either made from ceramic (which has a higher hardness rating than steel) or they have a steel core with a diamond coating.
Both ceramic rods and diamond steels are capable of grinding material away from the knife to reset the edge. Ceramic steels are slightly less abrasive than diamond rods, which allows them to sharpen blades more gently in comparison.
Sharpening stones, bench stones, oil stones, water stones, or whetstones—no matter what you call them, they all serve the same purpose: resetting cutting edges to make them sharper. Whetstones are versatile tools that can effectively and efficiently sharpen knives and all sorts of other tools like axes, chisels, and even screwdrivers.
They’re called whetstones because most of them require liquid (typically water or oil) to activate their abrasive qualities. Using a whetstone properly can take practice to master but with some time and a steady hand, they produce fantastic results without negatively impacting the longevity of your knives by removing too much metal from your blades. Many whetstone users grow to relish the time they spend sharpening their blades thanks to the activity’s calming, meditative effect.
Grinders can make use of spinning wheels of stone or other hard materials, or belts of coarse materials like a belt sander uses. Belt grinders are the most common type of grinder, and they are capable of quickly resetting blade edges. For the most part, these tools are relegated to workshops for serious knife and bladed tool repair purposes.
The reason for this is that grinders tend to be large, expensive, and quite dangerous to use. The quickly spinning surface poses a risk, as does the excessive heat that can be generated from the high levels of friction that occur during use.
This guide is intended for beginners and hobbyists and, as such, we focused on practical and affordable knife sharpening tools which resulted in only one grinder making our list.
Picking the right tool for sharpening your knives is a matter of weighing the options against your preferences, skill level, and budget. This begs the question…
What Type of Knife Sharpener Is Best?
For general purposes, the best knife sharpener for you depends on what you do with your blades and how well you want to take care of them.
What Are the Best Knife Sharpeners for Cooks?
If you are a home chef that uses typical store-bought kitchen knives that can be replaced easily, standard pull-through sharpeners offer a quick and easy solution for fixing the cutting edge on your knives. For those who aren’t terribly concerned about the longevity of their knives, the occasional V-sharpener usage combined with the regular use of a honing steel will keep your edges nice and sharp with minimal downtime and little fuss.
On the other hand, if you use more expensive knives that you want to maintain for longer, pull-through knife sharpeners may be a bit too harsh on your blades. If this is the case for you, you will want to use a honing steel regularly combined with an occasional sharpening steel or whetstone session when the blade has become dull.
What Are the Best Knife Sharpeners for DIYers?
Those who are looking to sharpen not only knives but also tools like chisels and scissors may be best served by using grinders or whetstones. The belt grinder found on our list is a great option for hobbyists and DIYers who need to sharpen a variety of bladed tools. Whetstones are also very versatile and can turn into a fun hobby on their own.
Pull-through sharpeners aren’t ideal for DIYers because they are often restrictive in what angles they offer as well as the size and shapes of tools that can fit in them. For instance, scissors are typically too thick while also having varying edge angles, which makes them nearly impossible to sharpen with standard knife sharpeners.
How To Use a Knife Sharpener
Pull-through knife sharpeners are fairly straightforward to use. You generally place your blade in the correct slot, apply slight (but not too much) downward pressure, and drag the blade towards yourself across the notch. Many hand-held sharpeners have multiple stages, with each one gradually working the blade down to a finer polish or sharpness.
Depending on the type of manual or electric knife sharpener you get, the specific directions may vary. It’s always best to check the manual provided with your purchase to ensure you are using the knife sharpener correctly. These manuals will also typically include information regarding cleaning and maintaining your knife sharpener.
This video gives a basic rundown of how hand-held knife sharpeners work and how to best use them.
How to Use a Honing/Sharpening Rod
Honing steels and sharpening rods are slightly different tools, but they are used in exactly the same way. The easiest and safest method is to place the steel vertically, upside-down on top of a flat surface.
You can then gently press your knife edge against the rod at the correct angle (a 20-degree angle for most blades) as you slide the blade down the length of the steel and towards your body. This motion should guide the blade against the steel from the heel of the blade all the way to the tip.
You repeat this motion on both sides of the blade for about 6 to 10 strokes. This honing process can be done as often as once a day for knives that are used regularly. You can see this technique, and the flashier chef’s technique, in this short video.
How to Use a Whetstone
Whetstones are a bit more complicated and involved than the previously mentioned knife sharpening techniques. Whetstones are most often soaked in water for about 20 minutes prior to use. Some whetstones use oil instead of water.
Once you have a satisfactorily-soaked whetstone, you then place it on a surface that will prevent the whetstone from sliding around during the sharpening process. You then take your knife and press it gently into the whetstone at the correct angle (once again, roughly 20 degrees for most knives) while you drag the blade across the whetstone from the heel to the tip of the knife.
This process is repeated multiple times and across different grain levels of whetstone until the blade has reached the desired sharpness. Here is a brief video showing the process.
Knife sharpeners are essential tools for anyone who owns a knife (which is pretty much everyone). Keeping your knife sharp will reduce the likelihood that you injure yourself during use, while also making the knife better at its job.
Finding the right knife sharpener for you is all about considering how much time, effort, and money you want to put into the process. Some people love breaking out their whetstones or grinders and taking the time to carefully hone the edge of their steel to perfection. Other people simply want to sharpen their knife and move on to other things.
Regardless of which type of person you are, you should be able to find the perfect knife sharpener on our list. If not, our guide should have equipped you with the knowledge you need to find something even better. Happy hunting!