How to choose the best knife sharpener

Are you looking for a quality knife sharpener that doesn’t break the budget? I have found some good sharpeners that do the job and will last you a lifetime. The list below features option for all sharpening styles out there, including modern electric sharpeners and traditional sharpening stones. Unlike some junky sharpeners that damage the knives instead of sharpening them, these ones will never end up in your trash bin. Sharpeners in this list meet your requirements in quality and value. If you’re new to knives and ways to sharpen them, I’ve prepared a quick guide about knife sharpeners, their types and how to choose the one that meets your needs.

Even though many modern sharpeners require electricity to work, this way of sharpening knives stretches back hundreds of years. Ancient humans used different kinds of sharpening stones all over the world. They knew the importance of keeping the blades sharp and used rocks to do the job.

How to use sharpening stones

These stones can come in different grades. The ones that features 220 grits are good for chip repairing. Harder 1000-1500 grit stones are better for sharpening standard knives and most blades. 4000 grit stones are used to sharpen the edge of the knife. It’s perfect for most people and every day uses. There are also fine graded 8000 grit stones that can deliver an extremely sharp edge. This is necessary for everyone who wants to filet fishes.

Sharpening a knife at home is very easy. All you need to do is to submerge a stone in warm water until it’s saturated. It usually takes around 5 minutes. When the stone is wet, let it sit on a surface for a minute and don’t wipe anything off. Muddy build up will help you sharpen the stone faster and more efficiently.

While you slide the edge over the stone, try to keep a 20 degree angle. Sushi knives are sharpened at 17 degree angle. You might need to experiment with different knives and angles to get the sharpness that you need. Finer grade stone require different angles than others.

Many chefs still use traditional sharpening stoned because they can fully control the sharpening process. Professional chefs strap the blade across the surface to keep the blades very thin. Yet the electric motors opened the world of electric sharpeners.

Electric sharpeners or sharpening stones?

There are many people who support only one technique, though I believe each of them has strong and weak sides. Modern electric sharpeners are very easy to use, even if you can’t apply physical force, which is important for people with limitations such as arthritis. Unlike traditional stones, modern sharpeners doesn’t require any skill or effort. Many people also choose them because they’re fast. They sharp a knife in several minutes. Add their ability to work with serrated blades and you know why it’s the best choice for many people.

However, if you use a set of expensive, fine knives, such as sushi knives, then you would love the ability to control the process that sharpening stones give you. if you need subtle control over the polish and angle on an edge, sharpening your high-quality knives on a stone can’t be beat.

The right choice between electric and traditional sharpeners depend on your skills and needs, there are advantages in both techniques. You should remember that you can’t sharpen a knife in a minute with a sharpening stone, it’s a process that requires time and effort. Some chefs spend an hour to complete the sharpening. An electric sharpener can do the job in a few minutes, but you will never achieve that thin blade edge that you can get with a stone.

How to use electric sharpeners

Even today, professional chefs don’t want to use modern sharpeners. However, they have found a place in many kitchen, and people love the simplicity that they offer. Essentially, many models feature a small motor powered by electricity. Sharpening surfaces automatically turn around and come in contact with a blade. There is a special slot in a knife, so you can’t place it wrong. You should keep an eye on the sharpening, but you don’t need to do anything yourself. 2 minutes and your knives are sharp.

Some professional chefs recommend mastering a traditional method for sharpening knives. They have already learned to sharp bladed quickly and accurately with a wet stone and they know that the knives are sharper after that. Nonetheless, in our kitchens knives can dull really quickly, and electric sharpeners can save a lot of our time. They don’t need any manipulation of the blades, which is perfect for beginners. Electric sharpeners are essential assistants in many kitchens, especially in large institutional environments. Amateur cooks should always choose electric knife sharpeners due to their safety and convenience of use.

Features to look for in a knife sharpener

When you choose the right knife sharpener for your needs, there are some features and issues to consider:

Size of the sharpener

The size is one of the most important features of your sharpener. The size will determine the space available for your knives, so you should know your knife types. Larger models usually have more features, while a compact sharpener can save a lot of storage and counter space. Many units are of the size of a blender or a toaster.

Number of the blade slots

Sharpeners with many blade slots allow you to sharpen several knives at the same time or have different sharpening steps. The first step is usually blade grading on an abrasive surface. The other steps include smoothing and polishing to perfection.

Even though sharpeners with one slot are functional and effective, many slots are perfect for people with many different knife types. They provide different angles and can sharpen different blades. Since certain knives should be sharpened at a certain angle, you should consider a multi-slot tool.

Exterior design

Modern sharpeners come in all designs and shapes. The shape can be really important. For example, a handle on one side is an ergonomic way to rotate the sharpener during the process. Some models have a non-slip base. This is important for safety.

Sharpener color

Sharpeners come in all possible colors with the most popular being silver, black, white and beige. This is because the sharpeners are supposed to be functional and not fashionable. However, if you’re ready to make your research, you can find more aesthetically pleasing models.

Intended use (home or commercial)

You usually don’t need a commercial sharpener in your kitchen, especially if you don’t intend to use it often. A commercial sharpener is often of better quality and has more features, but it’s also more expensive. A household model may not be so versatile but will be less expensive.

Warranty

Most manufacturers offer warranties to their products. Warranty is required to ensure that you can return a defect product and not pay for a repair. Household models usually have three-year warranty, but more expensive models come with lifetime warranty.

Manufacturer

As with other products, the market is competitive and there are dozens of brand that make knife sharpeners. The most popular ones are Presto, Chef’s Choice and Wusthof. These brand feature different sharpener models that come in all sizes, prices and shapes. However, there are smaller brands that offer good sharpeners.

Price

There is almost no upper limit for the sharpener price. A regular household sharpener can cost anywhere between $20 for the simplest model and to $200 for a fancy tool. Cheaper models are appropriate for households and people who don’t use a sharpener often, while pricier options are for professional or extensive use. The price depends on your needs and features you want to have in a sharpener.

Although the first electric knife sharpeners were pricy, cost have significantly fallen as the invention became very popular. Those early machines are considered retro nowadays, and the price is justified by their unique style than their features and efficiency. Manufacturers produce a wide range of sharpeners that vary in sizes, colors, price and intended use.

Available sharpeners on the marketplace enable multiple feature and design choices. If you’re on a budget, you can get a compact sharpener that will do the job and sharpen the most basic knives. Other models will sharpen at different angles and work with all types of knives.

What to know before you go

Before you buy a sharpener, think about the knives you already have. The easiest to sharpen are straight-edged bladed, but only some models can work with serrated blades. However, these knives become dull much slower than basic knives, so you may not need this feature if you don’t use a serrated knife often. Moreover, some sharpeners can’t work with scissors, knives and Japanese sushi knives. They have a narrow edge that require a special care. If you need to sharpen different blades, you should get a more expensive model with many features.

Are you ready to spend time on sharpening? Electric models are much faster than traditional stones. They are much easier to use, while manual sharpeners require a skill and need time to master. For example, some people say that a stone delivers the best results, but using them requires a lot of patience and a steady hand.

Do you have a lot of space in the kitchen? Traditional sharpeners are very small and they can fit any kitchen. Electric sharpeners, on the contrary, take up much more space on a kitchen counter. They are as long as a toaster or even bigger and longer.

Your budget plays a vital role in selecting a sharpener. For example, traditional sharpeners are usually very cheap and tend to last much longer. Electric sharpeners can break and usually cost more.

Do you mind the noise in the kitchen? Electric motors can be really noisy. However, when you use the stone, you will hear the scraping sound of the stone against the blade. Many people say that the scraping sound is more annoying. And again, you will spend much more time sharpening a knife with a stone.

Are you left- or right- handed? Many sharpeners can be used with both hands, and with an electric sharpener your working hand doesn’t matter. Belt sharpeners, however, are for right-handers only.

Do you own an expensive set of knives? Some cheap electric sharpeners over-grid the bladed and make them bend and become flexible. Chipping and warping can also be an issue with some sharpeners. If you have expensive knives that you really want to protect, make sure you get a quality sharpener that doesn’t generate heat.

Spyderco Sharpmaker

This sharpener has made it to this list due to its precision and effectiveness. The convenience of a pull-through is a nice bonus. This Sharpmaker features several components: long grinding stones and a plastic base. Every grit has a pair and some are positioned opposite to each other. All you need to do is to scrape the blade down the length of the stone, and wait for a couple of minutes. You don’t need to lubricate or wet the stone like some traditional sharpeners.

This tool is suitable for different types of knives as well as Japanese sushi knife, scissors and fish hooks. The base has several spots where you should drill it into one place, as it can become wobbly during sharpening. The base is light and not very sturdy. You won’t get a complete control over the process as you would with traditional stones, but your knives will be very sharp, and you will spend no time on it. The rods mount at a 40 degree angle, you can’t change or adjust it. 40 degree is enough for the majority of blades but not for all knife types, so be aware. This system is set up for you and you don’t need any knowledge or skills to use it. If you want more control, this model might not be for you.

The strong side of the sharpener is the ease of use, you don’t need any oil or water, and the knives are very sharp. The weak side is the plastic base that can get wobbly without screws. You don’t have much control over the process.

Lansky

The Lansky is a popular brand that makes affordable sharpeners for households. You place the blade into a slot and use bars with grit stones to sharpen the edge at any angle you want. There is an adjustable arm at one side that you should push through the holes to change and set an angle. Unlike many other sharpeners, Lansky should be held in hands, it can’t be mounted to a surface. Some people like it because the sharpener is very small and compact, you can easily travel with it. But it can jeopardize your safety, especially if you have physical limitations and can’t apply much force.

There is a mount available for this model which I recommend getting if you choose this model. There are 4 different angles available, as well as 5 different stones. You can change the way the knife will be sharpened. If your blade needs a ceramic honing rod, a few comes with the set. If the blade is short and has a narrow tip, it can be difficult to sharpen because the rods get into the clamps. It can be a bit strange to use a sharpener in your hand, but otherwise it’s a great option that always delivers great results. You don’t need any skill or knowledge to use it, just a bit of patience at the beginning to get the technique right.

The best features of this sharpener are different angles and grits available. However, it comes without a mount and can be hard to use for some people.

EdgePro Apex

If Sharpmakes isn’t for you because you need more control, but you still want an easy-to-use sharpener, this one can be a great option for you. This sharpener is placed on a table at an angle, and the arm with the stone is attached. The knife goes onto the base, then the arm is working in a sawing motion to sharpen the edge. There are 3 different angles and you can adjust the arm to get the results you want. EdgePro Apex is very easy to use and it’s a little bit more versatile than Sharpmakes. It’s a bit pricier, too, so it really depends on your needs. These two models are very similar and both deliver great results.

The blades are situated in a way that if you accidentally slip during the process, you can cut yourself. Therefore, you should be slow while you’re learning, and wear gloves. The only weak point of the system is that it’s quite pricey. If you want to get something a bit cheaper, you can get Apex 1, which is the simplest model of the brand. If you want to get the whole package, you should consider their Apex 4. The model on the list is a great sharpener and it works really well. Just make sure to follow the instructions.

The strong sides of the sharpener are the ease of use and the ability to get really sharp edges. The weaknesses are the price and the blades facing towards your hands during the process.

Presto 08800 Eversharp Knife Sharpener

This is one of the most popular sharpeners on the market, many online retailers make it number one on their lists. This product is so popular because of its build: it just guides the blades instead of you and creates a perfect angle. The knife will be as sharp as if it was sharpened by a professional. Even chefs buy this model for their households. I’ve found chefs recommended that the cut lasts for long and you don’t need to use it often. Once you have all your knives sharpened, it will be collecting dust just because you won’t need it more often than once every 6-8 months.

People seem to love this sharpener as well because it can sharpen all non-serrated knives quickly, in less than a minute. It has a reasonable price tag for a product that has so many features and quality materials, and once you sharpens the knives, you can forget about this for much longer than with other devices. If you have old knives in the kitchen that you want to put in a trash bin, this tool can give them a second life. The reviews are so great that I had a hard time finding anything negative about the product. Many people say it’s the best knife sharpener and once you get this, you will never need another one.

The only weak point of this sharpener that customer seem to have is that the motor shuts off if you apply to much force. However, this mechanism is necessary to protect the knife from being damaged. Thanks to this feature, your knife will be really sharp and you don’t have to worry about it being ground down too much. Some people also complain about the vibrations of the tool, but that’s an issue with all electric sharpeners. I would say it’s up to your preferences.

Smith’s Tri-Hone System

This is a manual sharpener that truly deserves a place on this list. It features a unique design with all stones mounted to a triangle base. When you want to change the stone, you quickly flip it to the other side and that’s it. The grits are 220, 400 and 1200 and you can’t any lower or higher than that. I think it would be nice to get something around 800 mark, but these 3 are the most basic options that fir the majority of knives. This stone is one of the smallest on the list, with the stones being 6 inches long. This sharpener is best used with small knives such as hunting knives, whereas bigger steak or bread knives should be treated with the King Stone.

 

Keep in mind that you need a special oil or at least water to get the best results from the stone. I wouldn’t recommend using water because it can make the knives dull quicker. It also takes time to learn the right technique, unlike the electric sharpeners listed above. The unit and the stones are very compact, so I think it’s a great choice for everyone on a budget. This sharpener is an affordable choice for households.

The weak sides are the cheap price, size and the results. However, it works best with small knives and has no 800 grit.

Priority Chef

This is a small and easy to use sharpener that is perfect for the majority of households and amateurs. The tool operation is incredibly easy, you only need to place in on the surface and run a blade through it. The sharpener features a large, ergonomic handle that protects your fingers and keep your hand away from the knife. The base and the stone sides are covered with a non-slip coating. The base is made of stainless steel and black plastic that is aesthetically pleasing, and it doesn’t bend or vibrate on the counter. You can use it for small and large knives, it doesn’t damage the blades and keep them sharp longer.

One of the stones features a diamond coating, and a rough grit so you can get the nicks out of the edge. The other stole is treated with a ceramic coating and has a fine grip. It makes your blades sharp and shiny. I personally like that you can sharpen serrated knives with this stone, which is rare to find within this price range. You don’t have a complete control over the angle, and this may wear some knives faster. Still, the sharpener does the job well and makes the blades sharp again.

The pros of the sharpener are the ease of use, the durability of the material, an affordable price and an opportunity to use with different knives. However, you don’t have much control over the angle.

Presto Electric System

This system is one of the most popular on the market. It’s different from the others in a way that is powered by electricity. Even those chefs who usually use manual stones say that this electric system is in the same class. And you don’t have to spend a lot of time learning the tricky sharpening techniques. If you’re ready to pay more for the convenience of use and for amazing results, this is a great option. This electric sharpener will sit on a counter and get your old knives back to the original state in less than 5 minutes.

There are several features to learn before choosing this sharpener. I personally love that you don’t need to apply pressure to get the job done. The motor is really quiet and it gets the stones humming. If you apply pressure, you will slow down the process and mess up with the blades, so don’t do that. You should pull the edge through and never stop it. The knife should go through the slot during the process. There are rough stones, so you can accidentally burr on a blade. You can remove it with another stone or just leave as is, it’s up to your preferences. Still, you don’t get much control over the angle of the edge, and it requires time and patience to sharpen the blades. But if you need a tool that will return your dull knives to life again, this sharpener is one of the best options for a good price.

The sharpener is surprisingly quiet and makes the knife really sharp. However, you need patience and have no control over the angle.

Wicked Edge Superfine Ceramic

This is an exceptional sharpener that features 1200 and 1600 grit ceramic stones. As you may know, ceramic is one of the best material for knives sharpening because it gives a razor-sharp feel to even the dullest blades. This is a product that is worth a sharpening collection of a professional. Only a diamond stone would be better, but you could imagine the price of that stone.

The knife sharpener can’t sharpen serrated knives, though. Everything else is fine, including all sizes and shapes. The stone isn’t limited to a certain group of customers. Hunters, hobbyist and amateurs can all use this tool. Just keep in mind that it takes practice to master the technique. This sharpener is quite pricey but it’s worth the money. It comes as a set of two ceramic stones and you can choose how sharp you want your knives to be.

When you sharpen with a 1200 grit stone, you can get bumpy blades at the beginning, but it will be remedied thought use. For example, a manufacturer says that if you want to get rid of bumpy parts. You should lap the stone with one of a smaller stones to smooth it out. You can’t get the stones separately though, so if one gets lost, you have to replace the whole set.

Even though this product has several cons, I have to admit that it’s one of the best household knife sharpeners for people who can spend a bit more on a quality tool. It performs knife sharpening easier and faster than manual stones, making it a perfect choice for enthusiasts, experts and hobbyists. It’s not for the commercial use. The effectiveness is ideal for home and outdoor use.

AnySharp Pro Knife Sharpener

If you need an effective sharpener on a budget, this model is definitely worth your attention. You can easily revive your old, dull knives and they will serve you for much longer. Of course, the sharpener has some limitations but overall it’s a good choice. It can work with all types of knives including serrated ones. The results are achieved thanks to the special sharpening technology and tungsten carbide used for the stones. This material has the ability to extend the lifespan of your blades.

This sharpener features the patented PowerGrip technology that features a suction cup and increases safety. All you need to do is to fix the sharpener on a flat surface and it’s ready to use. This protects your hands from serious cuts. You can even fix the sharpener on the wall or on the door and use it like that. I can’t recommend doing it though, because a sturdy surface is always better.

This is a perfect tool for everyone who values practical gadget and aesthetically pleasing design. Even though it’s affordable, it doesn’t look cheap and it’s very effective. It can sharpen the blades of your vegetable knives, meat knives, knives with different blades and even saws. It does the job with a surprising precision. This is a rare example of getting a quality product for a really cheap price.

This small tool doesn’t need a lot of storage place and it can find a spot in every kitchen. If you want, you can even attach it to the wall and safe all storage space. The only weak point of the sharpener is the fact that the knives come dangerously close to your fingers when they come through the stoned. Moreover, you should know that if you mess up with the technique, it can compromise the quality of the blades. Make sure to start slowly when you use it for the first time.

Given everything this little thing can do, I’m not surprise many lists have it on the first place and name it the best sharpener.

Pros:

  1. Features an interesting design. It’s so compact that you can place it everywhere, and it will patiently wait for you to use it.
  2. This sharpener is surprisingly versatile. You can sharpen all knives at home, as well as serrated knives and saws. It also works with hardened knives.
  3. The precision is on point. This sharpener works with precision of professional models. The blades will sharpened to perfection and will stay sharp for years.
  4. It’s very safe and easy to use. The construction of the sharpener protects your hands. It has a solid blades that doesn’t slip on the surface. Even an amateur can get great results from the first try.

Fiskars Xsharp Axt

Arguably, this is one of the best sharpeners Fiskars has to offer. It can work with most knife types and has axis for both hands. Although the manufacturer states this sharpener works best with the axes, you can easily use it for table knives, kitchen knives, serrated blades and hunter knives. The technology behind this sharpener is very easy, but it features a solid system that will never damage the blades. Xsharp Axt will always keep your knives at their highest sharpness.

All you need to do is to hold the sharpener firmly and slide the blades into the special slot. Then bring the blade back to you and repeat the motion until you’re satisfied. You can place the toll in a drawer or in a tool kit. The sharpener is small and lightweight, it doesn’t need much storage space. The price is quite affordable and thus you can get it for yourself, and even for people who never used a sharpener. You can give it as a gift considering that it doesn’t require any skills to operate.

Pros:

  1. It’s really easy to use. It’s suitable for both hands and you don’t need to practice the technique before sharpening the blades.
  2. It does wonders to dull axes. This small device can work with big axe blades, so it’s perfect for people who always does it.
  3. The device is compact and lightweight. You can travel and transport the sharpener easily, because it doesn’t require much space.
  4. It can sharpen all types of knives.
  5. It has a feature that protects your fingers during the process.
  6. The main material is reinforced fiberglass which is very durable and has a long lifespan.
  7. The wheels are made in a way to sharpen both sides of the blade.
  8. The company gives the sharpener a lifetime warranty.

Cons:

  1. Ceramic discs last less than many other materials. The components are fragile and can break if you don’t handle it with care.
  2. If you want to sharpen your blades to perfection, you have to invest some time into reading a manual.

Smith’s Adjustable Edge Pro Electric Knife Sharpener

Smith’s sharpeners offers the best quality for an affordable price. You can sharpen both sides of the blade at the same time. The tool features two wheels – a ceramic and a diamond ones – that align the blade automatically. This provides perfect sharpening every time you use it. The whole process takes less than 5 minutes. In addition to beautiful design, it fits in any kitchen. The bottom of the base is treated with a non-slip coating. It sits comfortable on a counter. The base doesn’t slip or vibrate during the process.

Smith’s Diamond Edge Elite Electric Knife Sharpener

If you want to care for a knife but don’t want to spend a fortune, this sharpener delivers quality results for a really good price. The wheels are designed in a way that uniformly sharps the blade with just a couple of passes. There are two slots – the coarse and the fine one – that make sure there is no mess made. There is no chipping, no risk to cut your hands, no scratching or damaging the plate.

There are several guides inside the sharpener that automatically position the knives for consistent results and effortless sharpening. If you desire to have full control over the process, you can use the manual sharpening feature to hone several blades at the same time. This will make the edge of every knife sharper and you can work on both sides at the same time.

Basically, this feature pushed this model onto this list. As with many other sharpeners, the base has rubber feet to stay in place during sharpening. A handle is treated as well to help you keep the tool steady while you’re working on the blades. Ergonomics and aesthetics are important, and this sharpener can find a place in any kitchen.

Chef’s Choice 4643 ProntoPro Manual Knife Sharpener

I think this is one of the greatest knife sharpeners produced by this brands because it’s the most versatile. It can work with all knife types, including Japanese sushi knives, serrated knives and pocked knives. Blades of different sizes are treated with care.

This is a manual tool that has 3-steps process with wheels of diamond abrasive. It provides the most exact edge. You can work at a 20 and 15 degree angle to get the tightest grip. If you’re ready to practice a little bit, you can get the best edge with this sharpener. There are 3 slots, two of which are for sharpener. The last slot is for serrated knives or for a thinner finish. The tool needs very little space and you can keep it in a drawer.

Bob Kramer Zwilling J.A Henckels 6-PC Glass Waterstone Sharpening Stone set

The last model I want to have in this list is Bob Kramer’s set that is designed for experienced cooks and professional chefs. There are 3 whetstones in the set: with 400 grit, 1000 grit and 5000 grit. You will also get a cleaning stone, a glass stone and a synthetic stone. The last one is made in Japan and has superior qualities. All stones are designed specifically for sharpening, polishing and honing blades. You can polish and clean the stones with the cleaning stone, it’s not for the blades. The glass stone should be lubricated first to properly sharpen the knives. I mentioned professional chefs because even though the quality is amazing, you need to learn the technique before you can get superb results.

The stones feature adjustable wing nuts and rubber feet to be stable on the counter or sink basin. You can easily create a sharpening station with no effort at all. The material is designed to last for dozens of years. The set comes with a DVD and I recommend you to study it before you start working with the set. Once you know the technique, you will get perfect knives.

It can be hard to choose between an electric or a manual sharpener and then to get the perfect model. There are too many options to choose from. I hope that this guide has given you information you need to make a decision and choose the right tool for your needs.