When getting ourselves geared up for the kitchen works, very few of us put a knife sharpener at the top of the priority list. It’s usually after a while, when our new knives have started losing their edges and leaving rags and tears on their cuts, that we realize the need for a good sharpening device.
While we’re at it, picking the best kitchen knife sharpener can be a bit tricky.
For one thing, there are way too many types out there, promising to bring vastly different levels of sharpness for your knives. On the other hand, the one giving the best results may not necessarily be the right one for you; it also depends a lot on how much money, time, and effort you want to spend on maintaining your blades.
But first things first, let’s take a look at the different kinds of sharpening devices and decide which type meets your demands (and capacity).
The Most Popular Types of Knife Sharpeners
These are the best types of sharpening gadgets for kitchen knives.
1. Pull-through sharpeners
Pull through sharpeners come in two types: electric and manual devices.
The electric machine typically has a motor that, when on operation, spins the sharpening wheels to reform the blade as you pull your knife through it. It usually consists of a coarse sharpening slot with diamond, stone, or metal abrasives, and one to three fine honing and polishing slots with diamond or ceramic abrasives.
Electric sharpeners are fast, and very easy to use. They are ideal gadgets for cooks who need sharp knives but don’t want to spend too much time on removing metal chips and straightening their blades.
A manual pull-through sharpener looks similar to the electric machine, except that it has no motor. You sharpen your knives by placing them into the slots and pulling through with force. These manual sharpeners obviously cost less money, and inevitably more time and labor than the electric counterparts. However, they can still bring very satisfying results.
2. Sharpening Kit
A sharpening kit offers ultimate customization: it typically has several options of coarseness levels for sharpening, and also guides so you can sharpen your knives to the exact desired angles.
Sharpening kits or systems can be manual or electric. They tend to require more time and effort than other simple sharpeners, and you always have to pass a learning curve before you can properly sharpen your knives without causing damages on the blades. A good sharpening kit is totally worth it though: once you’ve mastered the technique, your blades can have even keener and sharper edges than when they’re fresh out of the factory.
3. Waterstone / Oil Stone
Up until a generation ago, a set of sharpening stones was still a must-have item for any cook who wanted to be considered seriously. The act of dragging a blade against a stone was seen almost as a sacred ritual performed only by the master of a household.
Even with the emergence of super effective electric machines nowadays, whetstones and oil stones still enjoy a special favor from knife-enthusiasts for their excellent ability to repair and completely transform dull blades, and also for the sense of accomplishment one feels when the time and effort spent are reflected on the mirror-like blade.
4. Honing Rod
The honing rod, also called the sharpening rod, is probably the simplest tool in the world of sharpeners. To improve the sharpness of your blades, you run them along the rod at a specific angle (How to do it).
Contrary to popular belief, these rods can not only give your dull blade a good polish, but with proper materials (diamond for example), they can actually repair mildly damaged blades.
The Best Knife Sharpeners of 2018
We’ve composed this list of the most well loved kitchen knife sharpeners chosen by home cooks and professional chefs in America in 2018.
|Product||Our Pick As||Works on||Sharpening Time|
|Best Sharpener to Buy in 2018||Kitchen knives||1 minute|
|Work Sharp||Best Knife Sharpening System||Knives, scissors, outdoor tools||2 minutes|
|Sharp Bebble||Best Sharpening Stone||Knives, scissors, outdoor tools||15 minutes|
|Smith’s PP1||Best Pocket Knife Sharpener||Outdoor knives, scissors, small tools||3 minutes|
|Lansky Deluxe||Best Manual Knife Sharpener||Knives, scissors, small tools||5 minutes|
|Utopia Kitchen||Best Honing Steel||Kitchen knives||2 minutes|
|Grocery Art||Best Electric Knife Sharpener||Knives, scissors, screwdrivers||1 minute|
Want to know more? Scroll down or click on the product for a detailed review!
1. Chef’sChoice XV Professional Knife Sharpener – Best To Buy in 2018
It was easy for us to pick the best knife sharpener to buy in 2018: the whole team were unanimous in our favour of the Chef’s Choice Trizor XV. After all, you can’t find a sharpener that is so easy to use, and yet so effective and powerful.
The Trizor XV is designed to bring back the factory sharpness to your knives. It features 3 stages of blade reformation, with 2 diamond abrasives for coarse and fine sharpening, and a flexible abrasive system for a final polish. It’s actually one of the very rare sharpeners out there to offer barber strop style polishing.
The little gadget is also one of the few that are powerful enough to turn your 20 degree edges into 15 degree, hence the name XV. According to Chef’s Choice (and common physical understanding, for that matter), the smaller angle, which is usually found on Japanese knives, allows the knife to cut more easily and perform better than the. traditional 20 degree edged knife from Europe and the U.S.
You will indeed feel a sharp difference in how easily your knives cut after being sharpened with the tool. And that’s not only because they have smaller angled edges. The fine sharpening and polishing stages remove all the little chips and create very fine grooves on the blades, allowing them to go smoothly through the toughest materials and leaving minimal tears behind.
All that and the machine is very easy to use. You may want to take a look at the manual first for instructions on how to treat specific kinds of kitchen knives, but it’ll take no time before you get the hang of it.
2. Work Sharp WSKTS-W Knife & Tool Sharpener – Best Knife Sharpening System
I was really torn between this and the Ken Onion when picking out the best knife sharpening system, but victory finally fell to this more basic edition of Work Sharp sharpener. The reason is simple: it still does all the work, though taking a little more effort, and is offered at half the price of the Ken Onion.
If you’re new to the knives and tools world, both are Work Sharp electric sharpeners that tackle kitchen knives, outdoor knives, and a plethora of other tools.
As a basic version, there is only one speed option on this machine. It has guides for different angles, but the guides can’t handle 15 degree Asian blades, so you will have to learn to sharpen your Japanese santoku without any guide.
On the other hand, the package still includes 9 belts in three coarseness levels: coarse for thicker tools or really dull blades, medium for normal kitchen knives, and fine for sharpening serrated blades or honing.
If you’ve only used rods and manual handheld sharpeners all your life, expect a learning curve. While there are guides to help you get the exact angles, it’s still very easy to get your blades scratched, or even worse, come out with a damaged edge, especially when you use the coarse ring. We recommend starting with your cheapest knives until you’ve gotten used to the work.
Even then, use the coarse ring only for thick, very dull, or severely damaged blades. Your delicate kitchen knives shouldn’t be rubbed against it more than twice a year.
Worksharp is a veteran in sharpening tools, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that your knives will be razor-sharp after the process (sharpening and honing). And, like many users have admitted, you will become obsessed with the sharpness and will start looking for and pulling out every kind of blade in and around the house to work on. It does serious sharpening, and is worth both the money and the time spent learning how to work with the little beast.
3. Sharp Pebble Premium Knife Sharpening Stones – Best Sharpening Stone
Looking for the best sharpening stone for your kitchen knives? Chances are you will be pleased with this Sharp Bebble kit.
The Sharp Bebble whetstone sharpener comes completed in a bundle with everything needed for your ultimate sharpening experience: the double stone, a beautiful holder, and an angle guide which also has its own holder.
Let’s start with the most important item: the stone.
For the sake of convenience, it’s a combination of 2 waterstones. The blue part, which has a grit (aka grain density) of 1000, is used for sharpening dull blades. The white side, meanwhile, has a 6000 grit for honing the knives. The perfect grit duo for the knife-sharpening beginner and the expert alike.
Note that since a 1000 grit is quite coarse, you are not supposed to use it very often. Once every four to six months would be sufficient. The time between the sharpening is longer if you hone your knives frequently (once every several uses with the fine stone, or every use with a rod).
The bamboo holder seems solid, durable, and is slip-resistant as long as you don’t push it with too strong a force. It’s completed with a silicon “rack” on the upper side, where you can place your stone on for extra stability. The rack also offers some ventilation, which comes handy when you leave it there without first wiping it dry.
The set is, however, not without flaws. While most customers find the guide rod useful, there are complaints that it leaves marks and scratches on their knives. You may want to try it out on your less expensive blades first, or if you’re familiar with stones, you may as well ignore the guide altogether.
4. Smith’s PP1 Pocket Pal Multifunction Sharpener – Best Pocket Knife Sharpener
Compact, affordable, and yet multifunctional, the Pocket Pal from Smith’s is easily the best pocket knife sharpener you can have for your outdoor activities.
While so compact it can fit easily into your jeans pocket, the sharpener is also a mighty one. It has a rear rod coated with diamond that can be folded neatly into its shell. Since the rod is tapered to a very small point at its tip, it can slid into the narrow space between the teeth on your serrated knife and sharpen them properly.
The Pocket Pal also comes with 2 sharpening slots for quick sharpening: a coarse one made of carbide to quickly give a new edge to a dull straight blade, and a fine one made of ceramic to give a smoother hone. This ceramic slot can work on both straight and serrated knives alike.
Thanks to its 3 sharpening options, the Pal can deal with essentially any type of pocket blade, from the toothy hunting knife to the straight camping pocket knife. Theoretically, it can tackle bulky swords or cleavers just fine, but that’d be too time-consuming to be considered a practical option.
The Pocket Pal is super easy to carry around on your fishing or camping trip obviously. And with a concave grip, it’s foolproof too: you will immediately know how and where to hold it properly. It can be a little too small and feel awkward if you have very big hands, but that’s the price you pay for having something so portable.
5. Lansky Deluxe 5-Stone Sharpening System – Best Manual Knife Sharpener
This Lansky manual knife sharpener kit is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. If you want to hone your knives quick so you can focus on the cooking, it’s probably not your tool. But if you do find the joy in spending time giving your blades new razor-sharp edges, you will definitely fall in love with it.
The kit comes in a neat box with, among other things, 5 stones of different levels of coarseness and interestingly, different colors, making it look like a playkit.
And it is fun to play with, to the point it may be addictive.
Just take a look at this video.
For all the coolness and artsiness the sharpening process promises to make you look and feel, it’s not even that complicated. With guide rods and a knife clamp, the kit allows you to easily sharpen your knives to various angle options with satisfying precision. It hones basically any type of knives: chef’s, butcher, fillet, and even knives for hunting and outdoor uses. There’s a small bottle of honing oil included, if you’re wondering.
Unfortunately, with the smallest angle being 17 degrees, the guide rods won’t be so useful on your new Japanese knives which usually come with edges 13 to 15 degrees. You can sharpen them without the rods, of course, but a decent level of hand stability will be required if you are to sharpen the delicate Asian blades to a consistent angle.
6. Utopia Kitchen 10 Inch Steel Knife Sharpening Rod – Best Honing Steel
The Utopia wins our vote as the best honing steel to buy in 2018 for 2 reasons: it works, and it comes at a price that can’t be any more reasonable.
If you want to feel like a knight honing their sword before a battle, the rod is the right gadget for you.
It comes in 2 lengths, so depending on the average length of your knives, you can either pick the 10 inches or the 12 inches long option. (Fun fact: if you’re more than 6 feet tall, you’ll most likely feel more comfortable with the 12. It’s heavier and feels more…adequate in your hands).
Made of carbon steel and plated with a thick layer of nickel-chrome, the sharpening steel feels decently weighted when you pick it up. It has a solid plastic handle with a “bolster” that balances out the weight of the metal part, giving you comfort during the honing process.
There’s also a large ring at the end of the handle, allowing you to hang it on a rack or hook it on the wall. A minor but much appreciated feature, because you will need to hone your knives very often, and keeping it somewhere easy to see and reach will be really convenient.
The rod does what it’s designed to do well: it straightens the edge and takes away the little metal chips, thus keeping the blade sharp and smooth. Give your blade a few strokes before every use, and you will never have a problem with tough chicken skin or ripe tomatoes again.
Note that while it’s also called a sharpening steel, the thing doesn’t really create new edges on your knives. You will still have to do the real sharpening on more serious tools every 6 to 12 months, but this rod really helps to keep the edges decently keen during the time in between.
Tip: the rod is best cleaned with cooking oil to avoid rust.
7. Knife Sharpener Electric 3-in-1 Tool – Best Electric Knife Sharpener
It may not be the most expensive nor the most popular electric knife sharpeners out there, but that doesn’t mean the Grocery Art pales in comparison with any of those on the top. In fact, this little sharpener has some features that are superior to even more expensive items up there.
First, the sharpener has a very small footprint, making it suitable to stay on even the smallest countertop without taking too much space.
Simultaneously, it’s also convenient to take it in and out of the cupboard or the drawer, as it’s only 1.32 pounds, or one-fourth the weight of the Chef’s Choice. To make up for the weight, there are suction cups at the base to increase stability of the little machine while you’re running your knife through it.
Small but mighty, this electric sharpener comes with 4 slots for sharpening and honing your kitchen knives, one for shears and scissors (finally!) and even one for screwdrivers. It does its job very well, giving you a sharp blade after just a couple of pulls.
The little motor runs on electricity via a retractable cord underneath. It does get hot quite quickly (maximum time allowed for constant use is 3 minutes). There will be no problem if you sharpen 3 or 4 of your knives in one setting, but do not do bulk sharpening with this.
Are You Picking the Right Sharpeners for Your Knives?
Most people have more than one type of knives in their kitchen, and thus it’s important to get a sharpener that can handle most if not all of the knives.
First, let’s take a look at the two most common types of knives in terms of blade angle.
Western knives, designed for dealing with animal-based foods and sinewy vegetables, typically have a large, strong blade angle at 20 degrees.
Asian knives, meanwhile, made to cut less meat and bones but more fish and softer vegetables, have smaller angles (13 – 15 degrees).
Then, the knives are also categorized based on their blade grinds – or in other words, the way the edge is shaped. There are flat, hollow, taper, convex, and chisel edges, and it is impossible that a simple sharpener can fix and polish all of the types.
If all of your knives belong to a knife set, awesome! Determine if it’s an Asian or a Western set, as well as the type of blade grind, and buy a sharpener with that exact angle. Voila! You’re good to go.
If you have all the different kinds of knives, from German to Japanese (which is often the case for hard-core cooks!), chances are you will either have to get more than one pull-through sharpener, or learn how to work with a semi-manual or fully-manual system (think waterstones, oilstones, Lansky, WorkSharp and the like).