It all depends on your requirements
There is a massive number of knives on the market. Kitchen knives, penknives, Japanese knives, hunting knives, survival knives, the list goes on and on. It and it’s impossible to nominate one best knife sharpener, sharpening system or sharpening tool for all of them.
A tool that works brilliantly for one type of knife, or user, may well not work well for another.
And it depends on your skill and how much time you want to put into learning how to sharpen a knife properly. A good stone, or steel, can work wonders in the hands of one person who knows what they’re doing and be a disaster in the hands of another.
Not only does your skill determine what tool you should buy, but your budget does too. There are some fantastic knife sharpening systems on the market, and if you’d like to pay $500 or more you can get a tool that will get your knife scary sharp. But not many people are willing to spend that much money on a tool like that, and even high-priced high-quality tools require a certain level of practice and skill.
So we’ve prepared to guide for you of some of the most commonly used and effective tools in use today. Each of these has a customer rating in Amazon, the largest online marketplace in the world today, and the place with the largest number of users, and people willing to provide product ratings. Enjoy our guide to common knife sharpeners, compared by rating.
|Chef's Choice 110 Professional Diamond Hone Sharpener. The pick of the Chef's Choice Electric range||4.0||Rated by some as the supreme electric knife sharpener in the world. But it's Amazon rating doesn't do it justice. A bargain and a great electric sharpener. Patented 3 stage knife sharpening process|
|Work Sharp WSKTS Knife and Tool. Versatile and Easy to Use||4.7||An electric tool that you can use for a range of knives – work and garden tools. Inexpensive and versatile. Comes with 3 belts. Highly rated|
|Chef's Choice 220 Hybrid Diamond Hone Knife Sharpener White and Brushed Stainless Steel||4.4||Highly rated electric 2 stage. Electric for sharpening and manual for precise honing. Great value for a highly rated electric sharpener that won't break the bank|
|Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker||4.7||Very highly rated easy to use hand sharpening on a commercial sharpener. Recommended|
|Smith's JIFF-S 10-Second Knife and Scissors Sharpener||4.6||Very highly rated and extremely cheap hand sharpener. Scissors as well as knives|
|Accusharp 012C Combo Pack Knife Sharpener. Great Value. Knives and Scissors||4.5||Brilliant value for an easy to use combo. Knives and scissors and serrated knives. Famous name brand|
|Fiskars 7861 Axe and Knife Sharpener small handheld||4.0||Good for dual use with Axes – not the best sharpener around but versatile. Fixed angle of sharpening but a little broad for knives.|
|Smith's SK2 2-Stone Sharpening Kit. For those who like a stone||4.2||Hand sharpening with a stone for those with the skill and finesse to hold the angle right. Good stone set for the price|
|Wusthof Precision Edge 2 Stage Knife Sharpener||4.0||2 Stage knives only. Carbide grind and ceramic finish. Not as highly rated.|
|Smith's PP1 Pocket Pal Multifunction tool. Handheld and for Serrated Knives Too||4.3||Tiny handheld. ideal for camping – walking – hunting. Great value. Will sharpen small serrated knives. Fixed sharpening angle avoids hand errors.|
|J.A. Henckels 9-Inch Poly Sharpening Steel||4.6||Highly rated steel for those with the hand skills to use a steel. Great price.|
|Chef's Choice 120 Diamond Hone 3-Stage Professional Knife Sharpening Black||4.5||Great tool from a household name. Electric and easy to use. Highly rated. Includes for serrated knives. Reliable with 3 year warranty.|
|AccuSharp 001 Knife Sharpener||4.6||Brilliant value for this price – heavily discounted and works great. 5 – 10 years of use between blade changes|
|Presto 08800 EverSharp Electric Knife Sharpener||4.4||2 Stage sharpening. Non serrated knives|
A knife, or at least a good quality knife, is a superb piece of craftsmanship. As well as that it’s not cheap, certainly if you’ve bought a good one.
And keeping your knife cutting well is extremely important. Many people, however, assume that sharpening a knife is a simple matter.
However keeping your knives correctly is not necessarily all that easy, even if you’ve got the most efficient knife sharpener in the world. That’s why there’s professional services. Employ a professional and you’ll get a knife that’ll cut through a tomato just by looking at it.
Despite that it’s perfectly possible for the average person to maintain their knives to a high degree of sharpness without mortgaging the house to buy knife sharpening equipment that costs the earth (and some of it does) and undertaking a professional course to learn how to do it.
So which is the best knife sharpener? How do you decide?
There are some very good knife sharpeners available on the market, and whilst it may take some serious practice to get a professional edge on your knife most people will learn how to use a simple knife sharpener over time. The best knife sharpener is the one that works best for that individual, be it a cheap or expensive one.
Everyone has their own preferences. People willing to put in a little effort to learning the basics of knife sharpening may well be happy to use a stone, and over time will develop the expertise required to use it properly.
Other people will find that a stone will never sharpen their knife to the degree they would like because these sharpening tools require more expertise. The most efficient knife sharpener in the world will not necessarily produce a good result in the hands of someone without the expertise to use it properly.
A big part of hand sharpening a knife, for example using a stone, is keeping the knife at the correct angle. The bevel, in other words the angle ground to create the edge of the knife, will have a specific angle at which it needs to be sharpened. Hand sharpening requires this angle to be maintained by eye or by experience, and many people find this very difficult.
A range of sharpening tools will offer guides as a part of the tool which are designed to help the user maintain the angle of the bevel. Some of these tools are relatively inexpensive but are a better choice to someone who does not wish to go through the process of learning how to hand sharpen a knife.
Knife sharpening is sometimes just about honing
And often the knife user, after finding that their knife is becoming dull, decides to sharpen the knife when honing is all that is necessary.
Every knife will, after a certain amount of use, begin to dull. The cutting edge of a knife is extremely fine, and over time will start to fold over. This is microscopic and cannot be seen with the naked eye, but is the beginning of your knife beginning to become dull.
Honing, commonly done with a simple steel, is the art of restoring the edge before it has become necessary to completely resharpen the knife.
Watch a butcher in action
Have you ever watched a butcher work? A good butcher will always have a honing steel to hand. Every few minutes, if he’s working hard, he’ll pick up that honing steel and give his knife a few strokes on the steel.
That’s honing, he is restoring the edge before it bluntens too much, and avoiding the necessity to hone, or sharpen, much more later on.
A good chef will do the same thing.
Many people mistake a steel for a sharpening implement, when it is there merely for honing.
Make no mistake however, honing is very important, and if you hone your knife regularly you will extend the life of the edge considerably.
Sharpening is also all about the angle of the bevel
One of the most important aspects of sharpening is getting the angle of the bevel right. Every blade is sharpened at a particular angle, and different knives are sharpened at different angles.
When we speak of the “angle” we mean the angle between the two sides of the edge of the knife, or more technically, the angle between the centreline of the edge and one side of the edge, or what is called the bevel.
So if the angle of both sides together is, say, forty degrees, then the sharpening angle would be twenty degrees.
This isn’t true for all knives. It is certainly true for knives which are bevelled on both sides, but not all are bevelled on both sides. Sometimes, for example some traditional Asian knives, are completely flat on one side of the edge and only bevelled on the other side.
Kitchen knives commonly, however, are bevelled on both sides and you can tell simply by taking a look at your knife.
The general principle is that the lesser the angle the sharper the knife, however the more often it will need honing or sharpening. There is always a compromise made on the edge of any knife between sharpness, in other words a lesser angle, and durability of the edge, with a greater angle.
Some blades are sharpened at under 10 degrees. An edge sharpened at under 10 degrees is not very robust, and for this reason very fine edges like this are only found on blades which are used on very soft materials, for example a razor blades.
Some of the best knives, and the most expensive, for example some high quality Japanese knives, are sharpened at 15 degrees or less, and are wonderful knives to work with. Most kitchen knives however are sharpened at a greater angle, commonly around 20 degrees.
20 degrees is a reasonable compromise between sharpness and durability, though of course you still have to handle the edge extremely carefully. Don’t put your kitchen knife in a drawer full of other kitchen tools as contact with other tools in the draw will blunt the edge.
Why do you need to know the angle of the bevel?
If you’re sharpening your knife by hand you need to know the angle of the bevel because you need to know what angle to hold the knife at. If it’s a knife with a 20 degree bevel then holding it at 30 degrees will be ineffective. Similarly holding it at 15 degrees will also be ineffective.
In fact learning to hold your knife at the correct angle is one of the most difficult aspects of hand sharpening, and one of the reason so many people who attempt doing the job by hand get a less than satisfying result. Hand sharpening requires practice, primarily learning to hold your knife at the right angle.
And that’s why many common commercial tools will have some method of fixing the angle of the knife for you.
So if you’re new to knife sharpening, not prepared to put in the time and effort to learn how to sharpen by hand, and not willing to spend huge amounts of money on a seriously expensive professional knife sharpening system (which will cost upwards of $500) then look at some of the inexpensive but effective knife sharpeners available at Amazon, they may well be the perfect solution to sharpening your knife, and a simple and inexpensive tool may well be the best one for you.
(By the way, don’t believe a knife sharpening system could cost over $500? Click here to see one. Perhaps the worlds best, but not cheap).