How to choose best pocket knife sharpener
If you have kitchen knives in your house and use them for anything, you probably want them to be sharp. A dull blade is useless, to say at least. It can be really dangerous as well. It can cause more cuts than a sharp one because it slips when you can anything with it and you have to apply more force to get the job done. A good pocket knife sharpener will make sure that your blades are always in their best shape, especially when you’re not at home and you need a sharp knife. The last thing you want if you’re outside is not to have a way to get your knife sharp when you really need it.
Benefits of Using a Knife Sharpener
Any knife will get dull over time. As a home cook or a professional chef, you want to make sure to have a good sharpener. Knife sharpeners have many benefits, I think the most important are:
- It’s cheaper than a professional sharpening service. Of course, you can always go to a professional, and every time they will charge you for their services. It’s reasonable to invest in a good sharpener considering the lifespan of it. In the long run, a sharpener will be much cheaper than having your knives done every 6 months.
- You always have a sharp knife. Asking a professional to do your knives require time and effort. When you have a tool on hand, you can do the job when you want and how you want it. The sharp knife will always be in your kitchen.
- You can’t be a chef if you don’t sharpen the knives. Aside from preparing tasty meals, a professional should know everything about his/her knives. Little thing can mean a lot in the kitchen, because you know how good or bad a knife can slice foods. Besides, it can make the whole food preparation process more fulfilling.
- Reduce the risk of an injury. When you sharpen the knives, you learn the handle, blade and edge conditions. You begin to understand how everything functions together. You will operate better with your knife and reduce the risk of possible injuries.
- Make cooking faster and safer. A sharp knife changes the way you make and present food. You can slice everything quickly and efficiently. The dull knife leads to spoilage and makes you to apply more force.
Knives will function as intended if you keep them sharp. Therefore, every cook should have a sharpener. Caution and proper maintenance are important, too, or you can compromise knife’s functionality. Not to mention that all knife sharpeners are different and some perform better than the other.
Pocket Knife Sharpeners Key Features
You don’t want to get the cheapest sharpener because it would damage the knife. Here are a several thing to consider before you buy anything:
- Hard surface. Good sharpeners are treated with a hard material such as diamond. The abrasiveness is measured in grits. The higher the number, the finer the surface will be. As the result, the blade will be sharper.
- Adjustable angles. If you have a sharpener that is bigger than a smartphone, you want it to have angles that adjust because you can get the best results and make the process more efficient. You may not need this feature in the first place, but I recommend it because you can’t sharpen all knives at the same angles, and you will accidentally change the geometry of the knife. In other words, it won’t work as it did in the past. For example, a bushcraft knife need a small angle of 20 degrees or less in every side to cut through tough foods. If you sharpen it on 5 degree angle, it will become thinner and won’t be able to handle challenging tasks.
- Sharpening stages. Many sharpeners have only one stage and that’s fine, but I recommend consider getting a multi-stage tool. Usually there are two of them: a sharpening stage and a polishing stage.
- Safety. Good sharpeners try to protect your fingers and create a barrier between your hands and the knife blade.
Before you start shopping for a sharpener, you should set a budget and it will help you find the best one for your needs. I can’t recommend a cheap tool because they barely do the job correctly and could damage the blade, making it to thin and flexible. There is no need to buy an expensive sharpener, either, because it will probably have features most of us don’t need. A good pocket sharpener is versatile and can be used with different knives. The final thing you should consider before shopping for a tool is the material.
How to choose the best material
There is something about pocket sharpeners you should know: they are usually feature two different materials. There are 3 most popular ones that manufacturers use the most often, and you can always find a combination of them at least 2 of them:
- Carbide. This is one of the best materials that can be used for a pocket knife sharpener. This material is much stronger than steel and it lasts a lifetime. It never breaks or bends, and damaging the carbide on purpose can be a challenging task. I think that if you want to get quick results with even your oldest and dullest blade, you should check for carbide in your sharpener.
- Ceramic. You’ve probably seen ceramic kitchen appliances already because this material is very versatile. It is also a good knife sharpener because it’s very durable and almost impossible to break without applying an incredible force. Of course, it’s better to be gentle and follow instructions anyway. The smooth surface of this material is very forgiving and you can make mistakes while sharpening knives. The blade will always be very sharp and nicely polished.
- Diamond. If you want aggressive sharpening, diamond is your best choice. It can make razor-sharp blade edges in minutes. However, if you don’t follow the technique, you can easily take off metal coating of your blades and they will become weaker. For sake of your knives, always make sure you know how to use diamond sharpeners.
Smith’s PP1 Pocket Pal Knife Sharpener
In the past, this company was a small Arkansas company focused on selling stones. Nowadays, it’s one of the leading brands on the market offering knife sharpening tools and accessories. The company is still growing, aiming to be the first dealer of quality sharpening gadgets.
This pocket sharpener comes with a fold out, diamond rod for standard and jagged edges. You will also get carbide knife-edges for sharpening dull knives. Most importantly, a ceramic stone comes with the set to give your blades an extremely sharp edge. The sharpener is made of carbide to fix spoiled and grey knives. A ceramic stone offers a polished edge for sharp knives which can also be used on standard and serrated blades. The carbide sharpener and ceramic stones are replaceable and reversible. The sharpener is only 1 inch wide and 3.5 inches long. You should remember to always clean the sharpener with a wet cloth and then let it dry. Never use it with water and soap.
Smith’s Pocket Pal X2 Sharpener
This is a more popular version of the company’s bestseller PP1 Pal. The company added a compass on the line and a fireside rod along with a LED light. All this new feature made the sharpener a bit larger but also more effective and versatile. If you don’t have a previous version yet, this is definitely worth your attention.
This sharpener comes ready to use. The compass is very accurate, even though it could be of a better quality. It looks like an inexpensive zipper-pull type. The main directions are in green and 10- degree increments complete the cycle. I’ve found some customers complaining that the mass-produced compass breaks easily. However, if you buy the sharpener to sharpen knives and not for the compass, you will not be disappointed. I couldn’t find any negative reviews about the sharpener itself.
The LED light is as bright as any light you can find on a little keychain. It’s better than nothing of course, and you can find many uses to this light. Just remember that the range is less than a yard and it can’t serve as the main light. A keychain light can illuminate a keyhole where you can insert the key. This is a weak addition to a great sharpener, and it has little use in general.
If you want your sharpener to produce consistent results, be affordable and flexible, this is one of the best options on the market. The design is very simple yet the materials are very strong and durable. This manual knife sharpener has replacement blades and works with many different blade types, including your basic kitchen knives to blades of gardening tools.
The materials are two times stronger than steel, and they battle erosion with ease. The blades don’t rust and they can late anywhere from 5 to 10 years of regular use. Of course, you should follow manufacturer’s instructions and maintain it properly. Besides the blades, this tool comes with a large handle that features a finger guard for increased safety. The final important characteristic is a little bonus that is rarely seen in low and mid-priced devices. The style and design of this sharpeners helps it be much safer compared to other tools and protects your hands during the movements of the blades.
The most important parts of the sharpener are its reversible and replaceable blades, which significantly enhances the lifespan of the tool. Even though you get two blades in the package and they’re made to last, the company gives you extra cutting surfaces. It’s especially helpful for people who want to use the tool every day and want to be sure that they have a new blade in case the old one gets damaged.
Unlike many electric or ceramic sharpeners, you can safely place this tool in a dishwasher. When you’re done with the sharpening, just toss the tool in a dishwasher and you’re done. This is a crucial feature of any sharpener because it’s not only saves you a lot of time and effort, but also protects your hands from sharp metal shards.
Another important feature of this tool is the fact that the blades can be replaced. They are attached on the device, so you don’t need to buy a new tool when the blades loses its ability to sharpen knives. Placing a new parts is easy: just take it out with the screwdriver and then tighten them back. Some people said that you can increase the lifespan of the tool by reversing the blades. This trick can save you a lot of time, if you need help and want to make use of the sharpener, but don’t have extra blades on hand and the original ones get damaged. The only weak point of the sharpener is that it can make the blades sharp, but it can’t deliver that razor-sharp feeling. It’s just not strong enough. If you have fancy knives, you may consider buying a different sharpener.
SOG Ceramic Sharpener and Fire Starter
This sharpener with an added fire starter features a plastic handle with a diamond plate, ceramic rod and a small ferro rod. The last one creates sparks but customers say it wears down really quickly. The ceramic rod and a diamond plate do the job well and are perfect for quick touch ups. You can also use the ceramic rod for serrated knives.
The minor complaint that I’ve found is that the glue that holds the pieces could be stronger. If you drop the sharpener on a hard floor, it can break. The plate and the rod will fall out and you will have to glue them back. Re-adhering is easy and I don’t think they will fall apart if you don’t hit the tool on the floor. It requires almost no space and it slips onto a keychain. You can even cut it shorter or have a new hole drilled. This is a very basic tool that doesn’t have any unusual features but can quickly fix your knives.
Lansky PS-MED01 BladeMedic – If You’re Looking For Sturdiness
This model is a great example of what you can get with a small sharpening knife. At a first glance it seems like there is nothing extra and it’s just like the Smith’s models I’ve mentioned before, but these tools are quite different. The tool comes in a metal housing and you get 4 different stones. 2 of them are V-shaped slots, one diamond rod and one ceramic sharpener for serrated knives. The slots are made of ceramic and carbide.
Since the manufacturer decided to use metal instead of plastic, this sharpener is the most durable on this list. If you choose this one, you can stay assured that it won’t break. If you’re often outside and need a versatile sharpener that can handle different tasks, this is one of the best knife sharpeners you can find on the market.
It’s not only one of the most effective, it’s also one of the lightest with only 4 ounces of weight. For the materials that make this sharpener, this is almost nothing. You might not want to keep it in your pocket all the time, but this is a perfect option for traveling.
Fallkniven Knives CC4
This sharpener features a ceramic stone that can make your blades as sharp as you want them. It’s a rare tool that features only one material – ceramic – that makes it so durable and effective. You don’t need to lubricate the stone before using it, and there is no need to scrub it with soap after using it. A leather pouch comes with the sharpeners to keep the tool protected. It’s also a convenient place to store your sharpener.
The weight is only 51 grams and the size is 3.2 cm to 1 cm. If you have dull knives, this little stone will fix the problem. After restoring the sharpness to its original stage, use a ceramic stone to polish the blade and get an even sharper edge. The knife will look like new again. You can also use a ceramic side for honing the knives. No need to add water or oil. All you need to do is to lay the blade flat in the stone and make several confident moves in round motions. The sharpening process usually takes from 5 15 minutes.
This sharpener is made of a good Arkansas stone and features a triangle handle with grips for quick rotation. You will also get manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations about easy ways to achieve the best results. The base is made of plastic but it’s sturdy enough to stay in place during sharpening. The whole sharpener is really easy to clean. You will also get a sharpening guide and a honing solution with the blade, then you can buy them separately.
Speaking of the price range, you can get this pocket sharpener for a decent price. A water stone costs around $40 for a bigger option that isn’t very travel-friendly and $30 for 3 smaller stones plus a stand. If you like to use a larger stone, you can get a bigger one and it will do everything you need. But if you’ve never used bigger stones, you can have a tough time adapting to how big the $40 is. If you’re a beginner or someone unfamiliar with professional sharpening, I think it’s better to get 3 smaller stones. It’s a great idea if you travel a lot or if you have many small, pocket knives that need to be sharpened. All stones are of the same high quality, the size is the only difference.
If you have never used manual sharpening stones, it can take some practice before you can make perfectly sharp edges. There is a blade guide in the set that can help you choose the right angle. You can also go through the instructions to find which angle is suitable for what blade type. Many knives have high bevel angle and you can sharpen them without any guide. However, I think that a bit of research is always a good idea, because you can accidentally make a blade edge very thin.
DMT F70F Diamond Mini Knife Sharpener
This is a tiny key ring sharpener that has surprisingly cool features. When I saw it, I thought it’s more like a toy that can sharpen the knife just a little bit and that’s it. However, a manufacturer says that you can travel with it and sharpen every knife to perfection. The size makes this tool really convenient when you need to hone your blades during traveling.
This mini whetstone quickly and effortlessly sharpens blades. You don’t need water or oil to make it work. You can treat the surface with wet cloth and then sharpen the knives as you would sharpen them with a big stone in a work-shop. Except you don’t need to search for a work-shop and can do this on the go.
This stone has a convenient and simple design and just hangs from the keychain which you can keep in your rucksack or kit bag. It comes with a folding handle that protects the stone. And the weight is only 1 gram, so saying that it’s lightweight is a huge understatement. You can’t feel it in your pocket.
Wusthof Black 2-Stage Pocket Knife Sharpener
If you’re looking for a reliable knife sharpener that looks like a keychain but does the job like a professional tool, this model is one of the best. It features two important qualities every knife sharpener should have: a very small size and very low weight. The weight is only 1.6 pounds, so it’s the second lightest on the list. When you search for a pocket sharpener, portability is really important.
Of course, a knife sharpener should be safe to use. This one has textured grips and rubber pads on both sides. I think that a manufacturer though about our safety, because the blade is far from your fingers and hands.
Of course, there are some things that I don’t find particularly appealing here. For example, you can’t use it with serrated blades, so keep that in mind before you buy this tool. The last thing that I should say is that even though the sharpener makes the knives sharp, the effect doesn’t stay for long. You will find yourself sharpening the knife again and again if you it regularly.
I think that the most important thing when shopping for a compact knife sharpener is to find the one that will suit your needs. Most times you don’t need to use the coarse grit stone unless your knives are really dull. If you maintain your knives properly, you won’t be using it at all. I usually start with a medium grit stone that removes extra metal in the blade. The fine stone is perfect for little touch ups, just in case your knife needs to be a little bit more sharp. If a sharpener has only one stone, it’s usually the last one and it’s only for small fixes rather than for serious assistance.