Smith's 50264 vs Mueller 4-Stage Manual Sharpener Side-by-Side Comparison

Anh Ngo
Anh Ngo
Reviewer
Nguyen Ntk
Nguyen Ntk
Visual Specialist
Reviewed
Our recommendations are made independently through research and testing following our review procedure. We may receive commissions from purchases made via our links at no additional costs to you.
Tested Using Methodology v1.1
Updated Nov 28, 2022
Tested Using Methodology v1.1
Updated Nov 28, 2022
Smiths Adjustable Manual Knife Sharpener Review
Mueller 4-Stage Manual Knife Sharpener Review
Knife Sharpener type
manual
manual
Power
0W
0W

Our Verdict

6.8
Overall Score
  • Performance (50%)
    6.0/10
  • Design (15%)
    7.8/10
  • Ease of Use (35%)
    7.5/10
7.6
Overall Score
  • Performance (50%)
    6.7/10
  • Design (15%)
    9.1/10
  • Ease of Use (35%)
    8.3/10

The Mueller isn’t a perfect manual sharpener, but it certainly has an edge over the Smith’s 50264.

Both devices are fast and effective, with the Mueller leading the speed test by about 10 seconds. The Mueller was also more forgiving of the knife’s edge, though admittedly only because the Smith’s was the most detrimental of all the pull-through devices we’ve tested to date, scoring low in both material retention and edge smoothness.

The Smith’s is more versatile in terms of edge angle. However, this is also where its Achilles’ heel lies: It sacrifices sturdiness for adjustability. The sharpener also sports a very narrow base, which further limits its ability to stay firm and balanced during sharpening.

The Mueller does suffer from a working section that’s placed a bit too far above its base, but its base size was enough to ensure decent stability. Overall, it’s the safer and easier sharpener to work with.

Performance

6.0
Performance Scores
  • Sharpening Time to Cut a Lemon (35%)
    8.0/10
  • Maximum Sharpness Achieved (20%)
    8.0/10
  • Edge Smoothness (20%)
    4.5/10
  • Material Retention (25%)
    3.0/10
6.7
Performance Scores
  • Sharpening Time to Cut a Lemon (35%)
    8.8/10
  • Maximum Sharpness Achieved (20%)
    8.0/10
  • Edge Smoothness (20%)
    4.0/10
  • Material Retention (25%)
    5.0/10
8.0

Sharpening Time to Cut a Lemon

8.8
  • Sharpening Time: 1 minute 25 seconds
  • Cutting Feel: Light and smooth

The Smith’s Pull-Thru completed the lemon-cutting test in 85 seconds, thus easily securing its place among the fastest sharpeners. It performed consistently well in this test through our repeated attempts over the months, sometimes overriding its own record to reach the 70 seconds mark.

If immediate sharpness is all you ever need, this one won’t disappoint.

  • Sharpening Time: 1 minute 15 seconds
  • Cutting Feel: Swift and smooth

The Mueller isn’t the speediest of sharpeners, but it works fast enough. We put it through the lemon test twice, and it took 60 and 90 seconds respectively to complete the task. This is quite a reasonable time range, considering how dull we made the knife before testing.

Skipping the diamond rods won’t affect the result. We only used them to rid the knife edge of metal particles and make sure it was as smooth as it could be, but if you’re in a hurry, the ceramic rods alone would suffice.

8.0

Maximum Sharpness Achieved

8.0
  • Sharpening Time: 6 minutes
  • Sharpness Level: 8 (Chicken breast with skin, one swipe)

We had smooth, almost effortless slices with tomatoes, and the thick flesh and slippery skin on a raw chicken breast didn’t pose much of an obstacle for the knife, either. This is the same keenness level as when the knife was brand new, so we’d say the sharpener did an excellent job of reviving a knife from dead dullness.

We were able to slice through the thick and stringy fibers of a piece of beef tendon with two swipes, but it was rather forceful, so we decided to grant it an 8 in sharpness at the end.

  • Sharpening Time: 6 minutes
  • Sharpness Level: 8 (Chicken breast with skin, 1 swipe)

After 5 minutes on Slot 2 and 30 seconds on each of the remaining slots, our test knife was able to cut through a raw chicken breast with the skin still attached. It did need a second swipe to sever the tough, slippery fat and skin, but this is the case for most devices.

3.0

Material Retention

5.0
Smith's Pull-Thru Material Retention
Smiths Pull-Thru Material Retention
  • Sharpening Time: 1 minute
  • Target Sharpness:

Compared to other manual sharpeners in the test, this one ranked last in terms of material retention ability. As the photos indicate, it sacrificed a significant amount of material in exchange for sharpness. Over time, it can eat away at the blade, reducing the knife’s overall lifespan. You could practically whittle the knife away to nothing on this device if you want to!

Mueller 4-Stage Material Retention
Mueller 4-Stage Material Retention 1
  • Sharpening Time: 1 minute
  • Target Sharpness:

The Mueller is a disappointment when it comes to preserving edge integrity. We were horrified at the size and amount of swarf the sharpener churned out after every swipe on the tungsten carbide blades. It’s all or nothing with this slot: When it works, it shaves off as much metal as it can. When it doesn’t, your knife simply glides through it, untouched.

The icing on the cake is the obvious unevenness on the two sides of the edge. We can’t quite work out the reason for this, because its sharpening slots look exactly the same as the Longzon, which created a very nice edge in our test. We re-edged the test knife and tried again, and even replaced the test knife in case it was a faulty one, but the end result was the same.

4.5

Edge Smoothness

4.0
Smiths Pull-Thru Edge Smoothness

While it is true that this sharpener was quick and effective, it was at the expense of the edge’s integrity. From tip to heel and everything in between, the edge was anything but smooth once it had exited the slots.

In the process of sharpening, the abrasives took a massive toll on the knife’s edge and rendered it deformed.

Mueller 4-Stage Edge Smoothness

The diamond dust and ceramic rods didn’t seem to do much if anything to smoothen the edge: It came out rough with waves and small chips all across its length. I could see it with my naked eyes and feel the chips and small particles as I ran my fingers along the edge. The discrepancy between the two sides just tops it off.

Design

7.8
design Scores
  • Build Quality (75%)
    8.2/10
  • Grip (25%)
    6.5/10
9.1
design Scores
  • Build Quality (75%)
    9.1/10
  • Grip (25%)
    9.0/10

In the Box

Smith's Pull-Thru In the Box
  • 1x sharpener
  • 1 x instruction manual

Rather than a cardboard box, the Smith’s Pull-Thru came delivered in a plastic blister pack molded after its outline. The package wouldn’t pop open, so we had to cut it with a pair of scissors to retrieve the contents inside.

A user’s guide is included with the package and contains plenty of useful information that you may need to know before using this sharpener. An online version is also available on the official website.

Mueller 4-Stage In the Box
  • The Mueller 4-stage knife sharpener 
  • Instruction manual 
  • Appreciation card & promotional leaflet 

The Muller KS-4ST knife sharpener comes in a nice cardboard box. Included is a detailed user guide with safety notes and instructions on how to sharpen knives of different dullness levels.

Dimensions

Smiths 50264 Manual Dimensions
  • Length:
    10.5" (26.7 cm)
  • Width:
    1.3" (3.3 cm)
  • Height:
    2.9" (7.4 cm)
  • Weight:
    8.8 oz (250 g)

Mueller 4-Stage Dimensions
  • Length:
    9.3" (23.6 cm)
  • Width:
    1.8" (4.6 cm)
  • Height:
    3.1" (7.9 cm)
  • Weight:
    8.6 oz (244 g)

8.2

Build Quality

9.1
Smiths Pull-Thru Build Quality

We could tell that the materials that make the Smith’s Pull-Thru Sharpener are all high-quality, and the finish suggests the manufacturer’s dedication to every small detail. 

However, its angle adjustability is accommodated by a bunch of movable and removable parts. Even though they’re secured with screws, the device feels shoddy as a whole. Its angle nob and the working section threaten to fall out or break at the first drop.

Mueller 4-Stage Build Quality

The Muller sharpener appears to be made from decent-quality materials. There’s also little to complain about regarding the construction: Its parts align well and even when we dropped the device on the floor they stayed together like a one-piece tool. We don’t like its high center of gravity and prefer a more weighted base, but at the same time, we can’t deny how well it was put together.

6.5

Grip

9.0
Smiths Grip
  • Material:
    Rubber

The handle is covered with silicone and has grooves, which makes it grippy. However, in proportion, it’s rather small compared to the whole device . It’s connected to the base, which is good, but part of the base underneath it is flimsy and narrow. This means you will need a strong grip to keep this device stable during sharpening, as confirmed by the stability tests.

Mueller 4-Stage Grip
  • Material:
    ABS plastic and rubber

The Muller has a grip that’s proportional to its wide working section. It offers lots of space for those with large hands, and there are finger nubs that make it easy to hold on to. We also appreciate the rubber padding on the upper side of the grip: It’s soft and gentle to your palm while also creating useful friction against grease or moisture.

Working Section

Smiths Working Section
Smiths Pull-Thru Working Section
  • Levels of Sharpening:
    Sharpen, Hone/Polish
  • Abrasive:
    Precision-ground carbide, crossed ceramic
  • Mechanism:
    Pull through
  • Sharpening Angle:
    14°, 16°, 18°, 20°, 22°, 24°

The Smith’s Pull-Thru may look like a typical tri-stage sharpener, but it’s actually a dual-stage model with an extra sharpening slot for serrated blades.

The abrasive system features precision-ground carbide and ceramic stones. They’re tough, durable, and can certainly get the job done.

Except for the serrated slot, which remains fixed at 22.5° per side, the Smith’s sharpening slots are adjustableby 2° increments from 14° to 24°, allowing it to accommodate a wide variety of knives. It’s intended as a fix-all solution for busy cooks who have little time and patience to alternate between different tools.

The device is also one of the very few that allow replacement of the abrasives. You can purchase and change them at home with tiny Philips screwdrivers. If you forget to note the knob's angle while dismantling the parts, the equipment is so designed that you won't be able to lock it into place until you locate the right spot.

Mueller 4-Stage Working Section
Mueller 4-Stage Working Section 1
  • Levels of Sharpening:
    Sharpen (slot 1, 2, 3), Hone (slot 4)
  • Abrasive:
    Tungsten carbide blades, diamond rods, ceramic rods
  • Mechanism:
    Pull through
  • Sharpening Angle:
    20 degree

The Muller has a large working section with one slot for scissors and three for kitchen knives. It’s placed on a rather thick base — in fact, the Muller is among the tallest of all the devices we’ve tested. Unfortunately, this is not an advantage in the world of handheld sharpeners: A high working section only makes it more prone to toppling during operation.

Base

Smiths Pull-Thru Base
Smiths Pull-Thru Base 2
  • Material:
    Rubber
  • Feet Type:
    Slip-proof soles

The underneath of this sharpener features two rubber soles on both ends.

Do you notice anything missing in between the sharpener’s underside and the flat surface area? With a high center of gravity and a narrow body supported on two tiny soles, it is not surprising that the whole thing feels wobbly with each draw.

Mueller 4-Stage Base
  • Material:
    ABS plastic
  • Feet Type:
    Anti-slip rubber pads

The Muller has a base running from the heel of its handle to underneath its working section. The base is supported with two flat rubber pads that offer friction and keep it from sliding across the countertop during sharpening.

Ease of Use

7.5
usability Scores
  • Slot Arrangement (10%)
    7.0/10
  • Insertion (20%)
    10/10
  • Pulling Through (10%)
    7.5/10
  • Stability on Clean Surface (40%)
    7.0/10
  • Stability on a Wet and Dirty Surface (20%)
    6.0/10
8.3
usability Scores
  • Slot Arrangement (10%)
    7.0/10
  • Insertion (20%)
    9.0/10
  • Pulling Through (10%)
    7.5/10
  • Stability on a Clean Surface (40%)
    8.5/10
  • Stability on a Wet and Dirty Surface (20%)
    8.0/10
7.0

Slot Arrangement

7.0
Smiths Pull-Thru Slot Arrangement

The slots on this device are arranged based on a combination of grit level and designated knife type. Instead of medium coarseness in the center, the middle slot is reserved for serrated blades. Even though the sharpening order does progress rightward, it feels disrupted and unnatural.

With only one correct direction to draw the knife, we followed the arrows adjacent to the slots. These handy little cues indicate where to position the blade and which way to go, preventing cooks from making mistakes. It’s not ideal for lefties, though; so if you happen to be a southpaw, you need to choose another tool.

Mueller 4-Stage Slot Arrangement

Unlike many other sharpeners where the diamond rods serve as a “prep” stage, on the Mueller, you start sharpening your knife with the tungsten carbide blades (Slot 2), then move on to the diamond rods (Slot 3) and finish on the ceramic rods (Slot 4). Interestingly, in the Amazon product description, slots 2 and 3 are swapped. 

The tungsten carbide blades remove the most material from the knife, so it makes sense that they’re the ‘coarsest’ stage. However, we found that the diamond and ceramic rods may sometimes dullen a keen edge, especially when you use both of them to ‘polish’ it. As a result, we prefer the more common setting of starting with the diamond rods for the straightening effect.

10

Insertion

9.0
Smiths Pull-Thru Insertion

During the course of our experiment, we found no discernible difficulty when placing the knives into the slots.

The inserts are wide open on top to comfortably accommodate the knife, while the slots gradually taper downward. Depending on the type of knife you’re working on, you can further tighten or loosen the abrasive blades.

Mueller 4-Stage Insertion

With a long grip and a wide working section, blade insertion into the sharpening slots was effortless and didn’t require much caution. If you’ve been sharpening with mini-size devices such as the KitchenIQ, where you’re gripping right next to the sharpening slot, you will likely notice the lack of stress when working with the Mueller.

7.5

Pulling Through

7.5
Smiths Pull-Thru Pulling Through

The abrasives themselves are hard and well-built; however, because the angle is made adjustable, their frames are not sturdy. As a result, they jostled and squeaked when we tried pressing the knife down during sharpening. This resulted in the excessive loss of metal and a very poor, wavy edge. However, the jostling improved when we reduced the force, so the trick here is to be extra gentle and use just a little more than the knife’s own weight when sharpening.

At times, the knife’s tip scratched into parts of the sharpener, usually the front end facing toward you. This could be annoying but doesn’t really affect the knife edge.

Mueller 4-Stage Pulling Through

The test knife went through the last two sharpening slots with little problem. However, our experience with the coarse slot seemed to be hit-and-miss:  Sometimes, the tungsten carbide blades were almost slippery with no friction or pressure felt, which means they weren’t doing their job. Other times, they were tight and ended up removing too much material from the knife.

7.0

Stability on Clean Surface

Stability on a Clean Surface
Smith Stability on Clean Surface

Even when positioned on a spotless surface, knife sharpeners with such an elevated body are quite unstable due to their high center of gravity. The Smith’s Pull-Thru is no different.

The friction at the bottom was strong enough to prevent the unit from flying off the countertop, but the more serious issue was the back and forth rocking motions. With its small footprint and slim body, the sharpener shook and wriggled with every draw. Sharpening at times felt unsafe and uncomfortable.

Mueller 4-Stage Stability on a Clean Surface

The Muller keeps its balance well on a dry and clean wooden table or marble countertop. It’s taller than most devices, but thanks to the flat and frictious base, we never had to use excessive force to keep it in place during our multiple tests.

6.0

Stability on a Wet and Dirty Surface

8.0
Smith Stability on Dirty Surface

If the dry surface test served as any indicator, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the sharpener didn’t fare so well on the oil-stained and salt-sprinkled surface. It kept inching itself away from where we set it down. The friction at the sharpening slots didn’t help, either. 

To be fair, most other devices struggle in this test. But the Smith’s Pull-Thru was among the bottom tier of the bracket.

Mueller 4-Stage Stability on a Wet and Dirty Surface

We had to be a little more cautious on a messy slippery countertop, but as long as you don’t work too fast, balance and stability won’t be an issue.