12 Best Knife Sharpeners Reviewed in 2020 ( Electric, Manual, Pocket )

Man sharpening a pocket knife using a whetstone

Everyone who owns a knife needs some way of keeping it sharp. As soon as you pick up a knife, you have to expect that whatever you do next will start dulling its edge. Sharpening is just a part of life.

The best knife sharpening system for you depends on how willing you are to invest time into the job and how good an edge you’re willing to work for.

There is no quick-fix if you want shaving-sharp blades at all times. For this sort of result, you have to work with the basic tools – whetstones and honing steels – at least to finish the job.

On the other hand, if you’re happy with serviceably sharp knives with little time and effort, then pre-set and electric knife sharpeners will do just fine.

So, read on to see our recommendations for good knife sharpeners for every budget and degree of time investment.

12 Best Knife Sharpeners of 2020: Outdoor Empire Reviews

The following recommendations outline some of the best knife sharpeners available for a range of uses and skill levels.

Always buy the best you can afford when it comes to sharpeners. This is a precision task and the more money (or time when it comes to manually sharpening) you spend at the outset, the better the result will be.

  1. Best Overall Electric: Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener Ken Onion Edition
  2. Best Electric for the Money: Presto 08810 Professional Electric Knife Sharpener
  3. Best Overall: Chef’sChoice 130 Professional Electric Knife Sharpening Station
  4. Best for the Money: Presto 8800 08800 EverSharp Electric Knife Sharpener
  5. Best Overall Pocket: Fallkniven DC3 Whetstone Diamond Ceramic Knife Sharpener
  6. Best Pocket for the Money: Smith PP1 Pocket Pal Multifunction Sharpener
  7. Best Overall Manual: Norton India Economy Tool and Knife Benchstone
  8. Best Manual for the Money: AccuSharp 001C Knife Sharpener
  9. Best Overall for Hunting Knife: Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener
  10. Best Hunting for the Money: Smith’s 50185 Jiffy-Pro Handheld Sharpener

 

CategoryBest ElectricBest ManualBest for Hunting Knife
ProductWork Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener Ken Onion Edition
Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener Ken Onion Edition

Norton India Economy Tool and Knife Benchstone
Norton India Economy Tool and Knife Benchstone

Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener
Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener

Sharpening AnglesAdjustable 15° - 30°Not specified by manufacturer20° and 25°
Abrasives- 3/4 x 12" Abrasive Belts - P120 Extra-Coarse
- X65 Coarse, X22 Medium
- X4 Fine, 6000 Extra-Fine
Aluminum Oxide- Coarse Diamond
- Fine Diamond
- Leather Strop
- Multi-grit Ceramic Rod
Best for- Knives
- Serrations
- Edge Tools
- Gut Hooks
- Scissors
Kitchen knives- Knife
- Arrowhead
- Fishing hook
- Ax
- Hatchets
Weight3.1 lbs1 lb4.6 oz
Warranty1 yearNot specified by manufacturerLegacy Lifetime
CostCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price

 

1. Best Overall Electric Knife Sharpener: Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener Ken Onion Edition

Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener Ken Onion Edition

For an electric knife sharpener that is adjustable and capable of honing not only your knives but all kinds of cutting tools, the Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition is a great choice.

It’s also relatively affordable compared to the high-end whetstone grinders, which makes it a good choice for the knife user who doesn’t need to fork out for professional gear.

Specifications

  • Adjustable sharpening guide for angles between 15-30⁰
  • Sharpens blades to a convex edge for improved performance
  • Variable speed motor for slow speed honing of high-speed grinding
  • Uses replaceable abrasive grit belts—comes with extra-coarse (P120), medium abrasive (X65), fine abrasive (X4), extra-fine abrasive (6000)
  • Belts ¾” wide, fine grit belt ½” wide for finer sharpening capability on serrated blades and gut hooks
  • Suitable for sharpening a wide range of cutting tools
  • One-year warranty

No matter what type of knife you want to sharpen, the Work Sharp can be adjusted to suit your needs. That’s what sets this tool apart from the standard kitchen knife electric sharpener. It’s also capable of working serrated and odd-shaped blades, which the average sharpener can’t do.

Pros

  • Adjustable angle guide and motor speed
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Quickly hones blades of all types

Cons

  • The guide can make it difficult to sharpen near the heel of the blade as the handle gets in the way, and the tips of blades may slide off guide as they become narrower
  • Grinding belts wear out comparatively quickly if used a lot, which can be expensive to keep replacing

The Ken Onion edition of the Work Sharp knife sharpener has several improvements over the original Work Sharp tool, which makes it more versatile. From the adjustable guide to the multi-speed motor and the extra grinding belt, this makes a great tool.

Buy it if you want some extra freedom in your sharpening capability, while still retaining useful guides and plenty of power to speed up the job.

 

Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener Ken Onion Edition is also available at: 

Bass Pro

Cabelas

Walmart

 

2. Best Electric Knife Sharpener for the Money: Presto 08810 Professional Electric Knife Sharpener

Presto 08810 Professional Electric Knife Sharpener

If you want to take the guesswork and effort out of sharpening your knives, then a simple electric sharpener is the best option. The Presto Professional Electric Knife Sharpener fits this category and offers just enough versatility for those wanting to put an edge on more than a kitchen knife.

Specifications

  • Three-stage sharpening system
  • Adjustable blade selector to get the right sharpening angle for thick, medium, and thin knives
  • Blade guides ensure the knife is sharpened at an optimal angle
  • Extra-fine grit ceramic wheel hones blades to a razor edge
  • One-year limited warranty

Having the option to adjust for blade thickness allows more versatility than entry-level electric knife sharpeners and allows you to keep all of your knives in good condition, whether for the kitchen, filleting, or a hunting knife.

Pros

  • Adjustable to accommodate multiple blade thicknesses
  • Quiet
  • Doesn’t require pressure so no exertion during use

Cons

  • Can be fiddly to get right so you must read instructions
  • Will take too much off blade if the knife is applied with pressure
  • Guides don’t lock solidly in place so may require care and adjustment

The Presto Professional Electric Knife Sharpener is an affordable, versatile sharpener that doesn’t require much skill to operate. That being said, remember to read the manual and follow instructions in order to get the best results.

Buy it if you want to keep your knives sharp without investing too much time, effort, or money. This is a simple, all-around machine that will give great results when used correctly.

 

 

3. Best Overall Kitchen Knife Sharpener: Chef’sChoice 130 Professional Electric Knife Sharpening Station

Chef’sChoice 130 Professional Electric Knife Sharpening Station

Chef’sChoice by EdgeCraft is a well-regarded sharpener that has been around for quite some time. The 130 Professional Knife Sharpening Station provides the kitchen knife user with a machine that does the entire sharpening job – from sharpening through steeling to stropping the blade.

This results in a finely polished blade that will get work done around the kitchen.

Specifications

  • Three-stage sharpening system – sharpening, steeling, stropping
  • Designed for all 20⁰ class knives
  • Flexible stropping abrasive disk suitable for keeping serrated blades sharp
  • Blade guides ensure the knife is sharpened at an optimal angle
  • Three-year limited manufacturer’s coverage

Having the steeling and stropping options helps preserve the life of your knives, as you can keep them sharp without having to go back to the abrasive sharpening disks until the knife really needs that extra work.

Pros

  • Sharpens, steels, and polishes cutting edges, all in a single machine
  • Designed specifically for use with kitchen-style knives
  • Guides for consistency

Cons

  • Customers have difficulty producing a ‘razor-sharp’ edge
  • It may damage knives if used incorrectly

It’s compact enough to hold a permanent place on the kitchen counter, meaning you’re more likely to use it often to maintain the sharpness of your knives. Rubber feet give it a sturdy footing.

Buy it if you want a handy electric sharpener specifically for kitchen use. It’ll keep your blades in good working order as long as you follow the instructions.

 

 

4. Best Kitchen Knife Sharpener for the Money: Presto 8800 08800 EverSharp Electric Knife Sharpener

Presto 8800 08800 EverSharp Electric Knife Sharpener

As an affordable yet functional electric sharpener, the Presto 8800 08800 EverSharp Electric Knife Sharpener may be all that you ever need. It’ll keep your kitchen knives in working order, and that’s the main thing at the end of the day.

Specifications

  • Two-stage sharpening system – precision grinding for correct angle then fine-honing to polish
  • Sapphirite grinding wheels
  • Precision blade guides ensure the knife is sharpened at an optimal angle
  • Three suction cups secure to table
  • Receptacles underneath unit to catch metal filings for disposal
  • One-year limited warranty

The unit is relatively small and has suction cups on the underside for a secure connection to the table/countertop. It’s quick to set up and simple to use.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Simple to use
  • Good for standard use particularly with kitchen knives

Cons

  • Can take a lot of material off a knife blade
  • Doesn’t reach to the heel of the blade so less effective for short knives

For the price, the Presto 8800 08800 EverSharp Electric Knife Sharpener is a good tool to have around the kitchen. It’s not as adjustable as other models, but that shouldn’t matter for kitchen knives, which are all fairly standardized.

Buy it if you want an affordable electric sharpener that takes the fuss out of maintaining your knives.

 

 

5. Best Overall Pocket Knife Sharpener: Fallkniven DC3 Whetstone Diamond Ceramic Knife Sharpener

Fallkniven DC3 Whetstone Diamond Ceramic Knife Sharpener

For small knives, or for a sharpener that you’ll always have on hand, you can’t overlook a pocket whetstone. These have always been the go-to for this sort of work, and they’ll work just as well on larger knives – though the process will be a little slower than with a larger stone.

The Fallkniven DC3 is a nice pocket whetstone in that it has a coarser diamond-coated side as well as a fine polishing ceramic surface, so there’s no real need to carry any additional sharpening apparatus when you’re in the woods.

Specifications

  • 7 x 25 x 75 mm
  • Diamond/ceramic whetstone
  • Comes with leather slip pouch

Use the diamond surface to quickly work the edge into a respectable angle, before polishing off the blade to a fine sharpness with the ceramic side. Once you’ve got it looking good, a final strop with the leather pouch that stores the stone will have you ready for anything.

Pros

  • Diamond surface for sharpening
  • Ceramic surface for fine honing edge
  • Leather pouch for protection which can also be used as a strop

Cons

  • Requires some level of skill to use
  • Fragile

Whetstones are the best tools for a lot of sharpening applications. A pocket-sized one is good for your smaller knives, and you can carry it with you so you can always keep things sharp. The Fallkniven is a capable stone.

Buy it if you want the best sharpening option for standard knives and need the utility to carry it with you.

 

 

6. Best Pocket Knife Sharpener for the Money: Smith PP1 Pocket Pal Multifunction Sharpener

Smith PP1 Pocket Pal Multifunction Sharpener

The Smith PP1 Pocket Pal Multifunction Sharpener is a good little knife sharpener that’s affordable and so portable that you’ll never need to leave home without it.

On top of the pre-set sharpening angles that keep your blades consistent, it also has a tapered diamond-coated rod that will sharpen serrated blades, gut hooks, and other odd-shaped cutting edges – as well as standard ones.

Specifications

  • Pre-set sharpening angles
  • Coarse carbide stones for setting edge; fine ceramic stones for polishing to fine sharpness
  • Reversible and replaceable carbide and ceramic stones
  • Tapered round diamond-coated rod for sharpening serrated and odd-shaped edges
  • 3 ½” long by 1” wide

This pocket sharpener is really affordable, and you can’t really go wrong for the price. Given its multiple features, you should be able to get most blades into working order.

Pros

  • Capability to sharpen and hone blades
  • Diamond rod for sharpening serrated and other blade types
  • Convenient size to carry at all times
  • Low cost

Cons

  • Won’t produce a razor edge
  • No adjustment for different blade angles

You can’t expect ultimate performance from any pre-set sharpener – they just don’t have that capability. That being said, the Smith PP1 Pocket Pal Multifunction Sharpener is a handy tool for quick touch-ups while out and about. Keep it with your pocket knife and it should never get too dull for use.

Get one if you want a portable multi-function sharpener that will look after standard and serrated blades.

 

Smith PP1 Pocket Pal Multifunction Sharpener is also available at:

Bass Pro

Cabelas

Walmart

 

7. Best Overall Manual Knife Sharpener: Norton India Economy Tool and Knife Benchstone

Norton India Economy Tool and Knife Benchstone

Norton produces quality abrasives for a wide range of industries. Their sharpening stones are used by butchers and chefs and are both reliable and cost-effective.

The Norton India Economy Tool and Knife Benchstone is a large stone suitable for all knives and a wide variety of edge tools. With a bit of practice (and finishing off with a sharpening steel), this stone will give the best results for any type of knife.

Specifications

  • 8” x 2” x 1”
  • Aluminium oxide abrasive
  • Combination coarse and fine grit stone

The combination stone makes sharpening an easier job as it allows quick removal of material and cleaning up of damage while using the coarse grit side, before polishing the blade to a finer edge using the fine grit surface.

Pros

  • Length is compatible with longer blades
  • Professional grade benchstone
  • Combination of coarse and fine grit to repair damaged edges before polishing to a finer edge
  • Can be used with either water or oil as a lubricant

Cons

  • Takes some skill to use correctly
  • Best operation achieved on a suitable benchtop
  • Once oil is used, water will no longer be effective

Whetstones take time and effort to sharpen a blade, but they give better results than most electric sharpeners and pre-set tools. The Norton India Economy Tool and Knife Benchstone is a very capable whetstone that is easy to work with.

Buy it if you want the best results for your knives and are happy to spend a bit more time and effort getting it right.

 

 

8. Best Manual Knife Sharpener for the Money: AccuSharp 001C Knife Sharpener

AccuSharp 001C Knife Sharpener

For quick, no-hassle sharpening without needing electricity, the AccuSharp 001C Knife Sharpener does the job well. It’s a simple, no-frills design that’s rugged and long-lasting. It’ll quickly put an edge on the dullest of blades and get the knife back into working order.

Specifications

  • Diamond-honed tungsten carbide sharpening blades
  • Pre-set edge
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Full-length finger guard
  • Made in USA
  • Replacement blades available

This tool is drawn along the length of the blade, rather than most pre-set tools where the blade is drawn through the tool. For this reason, it’s important to ensure a sturdy grip on both the knife and the sharpener. A full-length finger guard is fitted to the unit, which makes sharpening much safer.

Pros

  • Quick and simple to use
  • Long-life sharpening blades
  • Finger guard for safety
  • Fits a variety of blades including serrated

Cons

  • No adjustment on pre-set angle
  • Takes a lot of material off and can wear out expensive knives

The AccuSharp 001C Knife Sharpener is a great tool for quickly putting an edge back on a blade. Due to the lack of adjustment, this is only suitable for producing one angle for the edge, but if that’s all you require, then you’ll need nothing more.

Buy it if you want a simple, reliable knife sharpener that’ll quickly get your knife working again.

 

 

9. Best Overall Hunting Knife Sharpener: Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener

Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener

The Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener is the Swiss Army Knife of sharpening stones. It’s full of functions with two grades of diamond plates for initial fixing work, multi-grade ceramic rods for fine honing of blades and even fishing hooks, and a leather strop to bring the blade to its final polished edge.

It’s compact and sturdy enough to carry in the woods, making it great for the hunter.

Specifications

  • Self-contained outdoor kit tool
  • Two diamond plates (220 and 600 grit) (4” x 1”)
  • Two ceramic rods – -three-position (coarse, fine, fish hook) and small diameter fine grit
  • Leather strop with micro-abrasive finish
  • Sharpens knife blades, tools, serrated blades, fishing hooks
  • Integrated broadhead wrench for bowhunters
  • Made in USA

In addition to the other features, this tool really thought about hunter’s needs and included a broadhead wrench to remove/re-install your broadheads for ease of sharpening.

Pros

  • Versatile range of applications
  • Good for fixing damaged blades and maintaining sharp ones
  • Includes broadhead wrench

Cons

  • Small grip area can be difficult to hold securely
  • Does not come with protective case
  • Guides only set the angle, do not maintain through stroke

The Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener has you covered for almost any sharpening job you might need to perform while in the field. It really is an innovative product and is quality made.

Buy it if you want a single tool that capably performs a variety of sharpening tasks that are well-suited to the outdoorsman.

 

Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener is also available at:

Cabelas

Walmart

 

10. Best Hunting Knife Sharpener for the Money: Smith’s 50185 Jiffy-Pro Handheld Sharpener

Smith’s 50185 Jiffy-Pro Handheld Sharpener

For an inexpensive sharpener that’ll get the job done while out hunting, the Smith’s 50185 Jiffy-Pro Handheld Sharpener is a good choice. Not only is it small and lightweight, it’s useful for game shears and scissors as well as knives. It’ll quickly put an edge on most blades to keep you in operation.

Specifications

  • Two-stage sharpener – carbide and ceramic surfaces (coarse and fine)
  • Floating carbide rod can be adjusted to precise angle of blade
  • Large slot in handle for sharpening game shears and scissors
  • Ergonomic rubber handle
  • Blaze orange plastic
  • Integrated finger guard

This sharpener is an improvement on some of the draw-through models as it has both a coarse and a fine grit option. With this, you can quickly correct a dull or damaged edge, or simply give your blade a quick and gentle touch-up to keep it performing at its best.

Pros

  • Quickly puts an edge on dull tools
  • Suitable for a variety of blade/tool types
  • Highly visible colour so it won’t get lost if placed on the ground

Cons

  • Can take practice to use correctly
  • Works best for blades with the same pre-set blade angle

With the capability to sharpen your game shears and the scissors you use around the house as well as your hunting knife, this affordable tool is very useful. Considering it’ll easily fit in your pocket, it’s great for the hunter who wants to travel light.

Buy it if you want an affordable sharpener with a bit of versatility that’s easy to use.

 

Smith’s 50185 Jiffy-Pro Handheld Sharpener is also available at:

Walmart

 

11. Best Knife Sharpening Kit: Edge Pro Apex 4 Knife Sharpening Kit

Edge Pro Apex 4 Knife Sharpening Kit

To get the optimal sharpening system, you have to take the guesswork out of the equation. To do this, you’ll need a sharpener that locks the blade and the sharpening tool in place so that it operates the same way, every single time.

The Edge Pro Apex 4 Knife Sharpening Kit is the tool for this. It runs on a fixed runner that takes the sharpening surface across the secured blade exactly. This will ensure the perfect angle on every stroke, taking human error largely out of the process.

Specifications

  • Professional sharpening system
  • Works on knives (including serrated blades) up to 3 ½” wide
  • Five waterstones (120, 220, 400, 600, 1000 grit)
  • Two grit polish tapes (2000 and 3000 grit)
  • 8” 1200 grit ceramic hone
  • Cordura carry case
  • Suction cups on base
  • Full instructions and DVD included

The Apex 4 includes a wide selection of abrasives to work blades in all kinds of states and constructed from different grades of steel. It covers every base.

Pros

  • Securely claps blade in place and runs on locked guide to ensure exact angles every time
  • Adjustable for different blades
  • Many grades of abrasive to work from coarse through to superfine
  • Eliminates guesswork
  • Much better on knives than electric and other pre-set sharpeners

Cons

  • Expensive option if only for occasional use
  • Takes time to set up
  • Takes practice and patience to get the best operation

The Edge Pro Apex 4 Knife Sharpening Kit is the sharpening system to keep all of your knives in the best possible condition and working order. It costs more than other products, but it’s made in the USA from quality components. As long as the instructions are followed, it won’t disappoint.

Buy it if you want a simple yet highly precise sharpening kit for a wide range of knives.

 

 

12. Best Knife Sharpener in the World: Lansky 4-Rod Turn Box LCD5D

Lansky 4-Rod Turn Box LCD5D

There is no “best” knife sharpener in the world because there are far too many different designs and intended uses. That being said, for a portable easy-to-use sharpener designed for those who already look after their knives, the Lansky 4-Rod Turn Box is a very good contender.

Specifications

  • Two-stage system with two medium grit (600) and two fine (1000) grit rods
  • Hardwood base/container
  • Rods stored inside base for convenience and protection
  • Small and lightweight
  • Two pre-set sharpening angles (20 and 25⁰)
  • One-year warranty for materials and workmanship

The Lansky helps users gauge the pre-set angle at which to sharpen their blades. Being a vertical setup, this is easier to follow by eye than the standard horizontal sharpening stone.

It still gives the user free rein if they have blades that require sharpening at a different angle, so this is more versatile than the standard pre-set style.

Pros

  • Simple and effective to use
  • Compact and good protection for ceramic rods
  • Two grades of abrasive
  • Pre-set rod angles help guide sharpening angle
  • Replacement rods of various grades are available

Cons

  • Takes practice to use correctly
  • Won’t repair badly damaged blades
  • Rods work best with regular cleaning

Because it can easily be stored inside itself, making a compact and lightweight unit, the Lansky is great for carrying around with you or storing in a kitchen drawer. It’s much lighter-weight than standard sharpening stones.

Rods are easily replaced if lost or broken, and different grit grades are available, which could turn the tool into a four-grit sharpening system if desired.

Buy it if you want a handy, multi-function sharpener that’s easier to use than some systems and will easily look after blades that are kept in decent condition.

 

 

Knife Sharpener Types and Suitability

hand sharpening knife with electric sharpener

There are myriad types of knife sharpeners on the market, and each is best suited to particular uses and requirements. The broad types are outlined below.

 

Whetstones

hand sharpening knife on a Whetstone

Whetstones are the oldest form of sharpening tools. In ancient times, these would’ve been as simple as a suitable rock. Some traditional whetstones still use stone as a material for certain applications, but most modern whetstones are formed from a range of abrasive compounds.

Many grades of abrasiveness are available for whetstones, from very coarse (which removes a lot of material quickly but leaves a rough edge) through to very fine (which removes minimal material and gives a fine, polished edge).

Starting with a dull or damaged blade, a coarse whetstone is first used to clean up the edge and get the angle right, before progressively moving through finer grades to bring the edge to a finely polished finish.

Natural stones require water as a lubricant to help wash away removed material. Man-made compounds can be used with either water or honing oil.

Oil slows the sharpening process as the lubricating effect removes less material, but it helps give a smooth finish.

knife sharpened with oiled whetstone

Most stones will work with water, but it’s important to note that once oil is applied, the porous nature of the stone is altered and water will no longer work.

Whetstones are best used when securely held on a bench or table so that the knife can be drawn across their surface. This ensures good consistency and allows the user to guide the knife with both hands.

The blade should be held at the correct angle to the stone and drawn across the length of the surface, edge first. The sweeping stroke should start at the heel of the blade and fade out to the tip by the end of the stroke to ensure an even grind along the length of the blade.

Small pocket stones are handy for carrying in the field. These are usually operated in the hand, so care must be taken. Rather than long sweeps along the stone, circular scrubbing motions are easier to perform on the short surface.

 

Sharpening/Honing Steels

knife and sharpening steel on cutting board

Steels should be the final step in any sharpening process. The main purpose of these is to polish the blade.

However, some sharpening steels, like a diamond steel, do remove material and sharpen the blade to a degree. These can be considered to be a moderately fine grit application.

Honing steels are a steel rod with fine (or no) grooves along their length which help to form the shape of the edge angle.

They should be used on a regular basis to keep the blade in good shape and reduce the need for abrasive sharpening.

The less pressure applied while running the blade along the steel, the finer polish.

 

Pre-Set Sharpeners

knife honed with Jiffy-Pro Handheld Sharpener

Pre-set sharpeners come from pocket-sized tools to bench-mounted machines that precisely hold blades in place while the sharpener runs over them.

The quality of tools, and the resultant quality of the edge achieved, also varies greatly.

For a quick-and-dirty job, the little hand-held pre-set sharpeners are adequate. They use some kind of abrasive surfaces inside a groove that the blade is slid through. The abrasives are positioned at a defined angle to concurrently grind each side of the blade edge as it’s drawn through.

They can be a bit fiddly to use as both the sharpener and the knife need to be held steady. Larger versions that have a flat base can be better held on a solid surface.

It’s important to draw the knife through with no downwards pressure. Forcing the blade through only chews through it and will wear the knife out quickly.

Precision pre-set sharpeners usually provide a way of clamping the blade in place, and the sharpener is drawn over the blade. The best ones have the sharpener attached on a slide so that all movement is precise and easily repeatable. Those that allow for adjustment of sharpening angles are the most versatile.

 

Electric Draw-Through Sharpeners

knife sharpened with Chef'sChoice Station 130

Electric draw-through sharpeners include the standard kitchen sharpening appliances. These work on a similar principle to a standard pre-set sharpener in that the blade is drawn through a groove that houses the abrasive surfaces and aligns it at the correct angle.

Instead of a fixed abrasive surface, however, electric sharpeners have spinning grinding wheels that quickly grind the blade to the desired angle.

The better machines have multiple grooves with abrasives of different coarseness so that a finer polish can be achieved.

 

Bench Grinders

man sharpening blade with a bench grinder

Bench grinders are heavy-duty machines best suited to those who need to frequently sharpen knives and other cutting tools.

They consist of a revolving whetstone that runs at a relatively slow speed. This method can quickly sharpen a blade as compared to the standard whetstone, but doesn’t generate enough friction to destroy the temper of a blade.

A bench grinder specifically designed for sharpening knives should have some sort of guide to aid in maintaining the correct blade angle.

Alternatives to this design are similar machines that are hand-held, like the Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener included in the above recommendations.

 

Buying Advice: What Type of Sharpening System Is Right For You?

knife set held out in the woods

Before buying any sort of knife sharpening system, it’s best to decide how much effort you’re willing to devote to maintaining your knives and what sort of quality of blade you deem important.

If you will settle for nothing less than shaving-sharp knives, and are happy to invest some time and effort towards learning how to use manual sharpeners, then that kind of system will be appropriate.

On the other hand, if you just want a blade that will cut with the minimum of fuss, then perhaps an electric sharpener or some kind of pre-set draw-through tool will suffice.

There’s nothing wrong with using a combination of tools. A pre-set tool can quickly remove damage and set the blade angle before a gentle clean-up with a whetstone and honing steel finishes the job.

Simply put, the quicker the machine works, the rougher the final result will be.

 

Pre-Set Sharpeners

man sharpening knife with Presto Eversharp

In terms of electric and pre-set sharpeners, look for models that fix or rest securely on a solid surface (unless you want one to carry around in the field). Having a solid foundation is the first step towards consistency.

The better models will have precise blade angle settings that can be adjusted and guides that ensure the blade stays positioned consistently.

 

Manual Systems

different kinds of whetstones

As for manual sharpening systems like whetstones, a man-made compound provides a consistent product with plenty of variation at an affordable cost. They don’t last as long as natural stone, but their price makes them disposable tools.

Check whether the stone is designed to be used with oil or water as a lubricant – or will work with either.

Oil stones give a smoother finish but take longer to sharpen a blade, and you need to have oil on hand.

Water stones work faster but wear out faster as well.

Importantly, once a stone has been used with oil, it’ll no longer work with water due to the change in porosity, so using oil is a one-way street.

Like knives, sharpening and honing steels are dependent on the quality of steel and craftsmanship. For this reason, buy only quality butcher and chef brands such as Victorinox, F. Dick, and others. Steels are expensive but you’ll have to work hard to wear one out.

 

Serrated Blades

serrated bread knife blade honed with sharpening rod upclose

If you own serrated blades, or knives with oddly-shaped cutting edges (like gut hooks), it’s a good idea to invest in some sharpening rods. Think of a serrated blade like a chainsaw – you need a chainsaw (rat-tail) file to keep it cutting.

Each tooth of a serrated blade needs to be sharpened, and to do that, you need a rod of the same diameter as the inter-tooth width.

Generally speaking, because a serrated blade cuts like a saw – with each tooth performing a small cut by “ripping” rather than slicing – you’re best off having a slightly rougher edge, so you don’t need to go super-fine in the abrasive grit of the rod.

Gut hooks, on the other hand, are made to slice and have a very limited surface area, so you’ll want to get the finest hone you can to make things easier.

 

Best Sharpener Brands

When it comes to sharpeners, look for quality brands with a good reputation. Knife sharpening is a precision task, and therefore spending money for a quality product will leave you with a better experience at the end of the day.

Work Sharp

Work Sharp logo

The Work Sharp brand is part of the DAREX family, manufacturers of sharpening tools for several uses since 1973. The company is based in Oregon.

They keep their focus on specialized sharpening tools and generally get it right. All of their products are backed with good product warranty and customer support.

The Work Sharp line of products produces sharpening tools for the home/workshop as well as to be carried in the field. All products are versatile and dependable, without having so many gadgets that they miss the point of what they were designed for.

These are tools designed to work, and they can be trusted to keep your knives and other tools in top condition.

 

Edge Pro

Edge Pro logo

Ben Dale made a living out of sharpening knives. Through this total immersion in the craft, he designed his own tools to make the job more consistent and quicker, and the Edge Pro sharpening system was the result.

Many pre-set sharpening tools are basic and a bit rough on gear – not so with Edge Pro. Relying on the machines to make one’s livelihood is justification enough for this brand to make the list of top products.

These tools are made to be portable – a great asset – and can be used anywhere. They also include comprehensive instructions so that you really can’t go wrong.

They also come with a lifetime warranty for the sharpening systems, excluding those parts that wear out (which is just part of using abrasives).

This is a tool that anyone who is serious about sharpening will appreciate having around. In this instance, the investment will pay off.

 

Chef’sChoice by EdgeCraft

Chef’sChoice by EdgeCraft logo

EdgeCraft’s introduction of the Chef’sChoice electric sharpener in 1985 changed the way knife sharpening was done, and its Chef’sChoice® Diamond Hone® Sharpener Model 100 was the first advanced electric knife sharpener in production.

The brand has branched into many kitchen appliances, but its knife sharpening tools – electric and manual – remain one of its main business lines. Based in Avondale, PA, these handy tools are still in high demand.

From the everyday kitchen to commercial restaurants and other areas of the food industry, Chef’sChoice has cemented its place as a reliable maker of knife sharpening equipment.

If you’re in the market for a reliable pre-set sharpening tool that takes up little space, requires minimal assembly, and quickly does the job of sharpening well, then Chef’sChoice is hard to beat.

 

Norton Saint-Gobain

Norton Saint-Gobain logo

Norton – a brand of Saint-Gobain – has been producing abrasives for everything from home renovation to heavy industry for over 130 years. Their range of products is wide and comprehensive.

In terms of the simple knife sharpener, as well as precision grinding stones for bench grinders, they make a wide selection of sharpening stones that are used the world over by butchers, slaughterhouses, and other industries.

These are entirely utilitarian in the looks department, buy wholly practical and affordable. You can quickly and cheaply kit yourself out with all the sharpening stones you need for your knives and other edge tools.

 

FAQ

Can a knife sharpener be used for scissors?

Certain types of sharpeners can be used on scissors, but a set of scissors is different from a single knife blade. They are technically a set of shears, and the blades cut by the two sharp edges sliding past each other at a very close, precise angle.

Because of this, you only ever sharpen the beveled edge of a set of scissors. Do not sharpen the faces that slide past each other, as you’ll open up the gap and ruin the scissors.

Most pre-set sharpeners will not work for scissors as their angle won’t fit the angle of the scissors. Even if a sharpener states that it can sharpen scissors, check that the angle corresponds to that of the scissor blades before starting.

It’s best to sharpen scissors on a wide, flat abrasive surface. Take your time to get the angle right and lightly work until you’ve polished the blade.

 

How does a knife sharpener work?

Knife sharpeners work by removing material from a blade at a certain angle until that angle fades off the blade edge. When this is fully achieved, the blade edge will be at the finest thickness possible – which is a sharp edge.

Coarse abrasives take material off a blade quickly, so they’re best used to work with blunt and/or damaged blades. Due to the coarseness – the size of the grit – in the abrasive, the final edge won’t be very smooth.

By using increasingly fine abrasive surfaces, the blade edge becomes smoother and smoother until it looks perfectly flat to the naked eye.

The finest abrasive we can use is a taut leather strop, which the blade is lightly drawn across. As you can imagine, this will only remove microscopic metal particles, but this does make the blade that much smoother.

 

What knife sharpeners do chefs use?

Chefs use a variety of tools to sharpen blades. Some use high-quality electric and other pre-set sharpeners. Tools are important for professionals as they have to do a lot of sharpening without spending too much time at it.

Others still use whetstones because of their superior sharpening quality.

All chefs will have honing steels on-hand to keep their knives polished during use and performing to their best ability.

You also want a top knife to go with your sharpener, check out our reviews of:

Tactical knives

Survival knives

Hunting knives

Joe Brennan
Joe hails from Down Under and grew up in the Aussie outback, in a family of professional hunters. His passion is sharing his decades of outdoors experience to inspire others to find their own adventures. He’s fished and hunted around Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada; acted as a wilderness guide; and works as a wildlife ecologist. He regularly contributes to a range of fishing and hunting magazines.

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