Smith's 50264 vs. Zwilling 4-Stage 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
Zwilling 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
6.2
Overall Score
  • Performance (50%)
    4.7/10
  • Design (15%)
    7.5/10
  • Ease of Use (35%)
    7.8/10

The Smith's 50264 3-stage and the Zwilling 4-stage sharpeners have a lot in common. Both sharpen in more than one edge angle, and both have a thin, narrow body. But their sharpening performances are far from similar.

The Smith's 50264 gets the job done quickly—it’s one of the fastest we’ve tested to date. On the other hand, it eats away the knife blade and due to the flexibility of the working section, creates a rough, wavy edge. 

The Zwilling designates separate slots for each grind angle, and enjoys more stability as a result. It removes less knife material and produces a much straighter and smoother edge. However, it couldn’t sharpen to the same level that the Smith’s could. It’s also among the slowest to produce results. 

Between the two, the Smith’s is the more effective,but there are other devices that offer a more well-rounded sharpening experience—check our rating table to find one that works for you.

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
4.7
Performance Scores
  • Sharpening Time to Cut a Lemon (35%)
    1.0/10
  • Maximum Sharpness Achieved (20%)
    7.0/10
  • Edge Smoothness (20%)
    7.3/10
  • Material Retention (25%)
    6.0/10
8.0

Sharpening Time to Cut a Lemon

1.0
  • 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: 3 minutes
  • Cutting Feel: Slightly forced

The Zwilling is, sadly, one of the slower sharpeners even among its category. It took 180 seconds to sharpen a sandpaper-destroyed knife to the lemon-cutting level, and even then, the cutting motion didn’t feel completely effortless. Three minutes may feel like nothing if you’re used to working with a whetstone, but for a convenient device like this one, one would expect a much shorter time.

8.0

Maximum Sharpness Achieved

7.0
  • 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, 2 swipes)

While it failed quite miserably in the speed test, the Zwilling sharpener got decent results when given more time. The test knife passed the tomato test with flying colors and could cut through the muscle and runny skin on a fresh piece of chicken breast with two light and easy swipes. 

We tried it on beef tendon too, which it took two heavy strokes to sever. The device was marked as failed for this level, but we think its efforts would be sufficient for most food prep needs.

3.0

Material Retention

6.0
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!

ZWILLING Material Retention
ZWILLING Material Retention 1
  • Sharpening Time: 1 minute
  • Target Sharpness:

For the sharpness level it could achieve, the Zwilling shaves off way too much steel from the knife. We couldn’t help but shudder at the long curls of swarf coming out of the Coarse slot.

Most other devices employ ceramic rods for honing the knife, so even though this function comes in the form of blades on this sharpener, we really didn’t expect the ceramic to be so harsh on the knife edge.

4.5

Edge Smoothness

7.3
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.

ZWILLING Edge Smoothness

Although the Zwilling peels a lot off the knife, we have to give it credit for the pretty edge it left. There are long and deep grooves along the edge—we could tell from the swarf alone—but overall, the edge is straight and consistent, and without visible chips or teeth. 

However, with its ceramic blades chipped after only a few uses, we’re at best skeptical about the device’s ability to maintain delivery of this edge quality.

Design

7.8
design Scores
  • Build Quality (75%)
    8.2/10
  • Grip (25%)
    6.5/10
7.5
design Scores
  • Build Quality (75%)
    7.8/10
  • Grip (25%)
    6.5/10

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.

ZWILLING In the Box
  • The Zwilling 4-stage sharpener
  • Instruction leaflet

The Zwilling 4-stage sharpener comes protected by a plastic blister pack, with a simple instruction manual. The device is solid and heavier than most others.

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)

ZWILLING Dimensions
  • Length:
    9.3" (23.6 cm)
  • Width:
    1.7" (4.3 cm)
  • Height:
    3.1" (7.9 cm)
  • Weight:
    11.2 oz (318 g)

8.2

Build Quality

7.8
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.

ZWILLING Build Quality

While its design leaves a lot of room for improvement, the Zwilling is overall a robust, well-built sharpener. Its body feels rigid and solid, the frame and paddings are made of high-quality materials, and every part fits together nicely, leaving no gaps. 

Unfortunately, the device’s weakness is its most critical part: the ceramic sharpening blades. 

Normally, ceramic is used to make honing rods on pull-through sharpeners, but on the Zwilling, it’s employed in the shape of rectangular sharpening blades with their own delicate edges. The chipping we found on those blades after only a few days of testing proved that this break from the norm was an error of judgment. Obviously, being hard but brittle, the ceramic blades couldn’t withstand a rough steel knife edge.

6.5

Grip

6.5
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.

ZWILLING Grip
ZWILLING Grip 1
  • Material:
    ABS, EVA

The Zwilling’s grip looks and feels fancier than most other devices’, but we wish the design were more simple. The thumb holder was awkward to grasp, and both of us testers couldn’t seem to align our fingers with the finger nubs. 

We also thought the space between the grip and the base to be excessive — a lower height and center of gravity would immensely improve the device’s stability.

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.

ZWILLING Working Section
  • Levels of Sharpening:
    Sharpen, Polish
  • Abrasive:
    Ceramic blades
  • Mechanism:
    Pull through
  • Sharpening Angle:
    15 degrees, 10 degrees

The Zwilling sharpener has a long working section, covering two types of edge angle: standard and Asian. We find the alleged grind angles of 15 and 10 degrees to be surprisingly small—standard knives typically come at 18-22 degrees and Asian knives, 13 - 15 degrees. An edge angle of 10 degrees is probably more appropriate for razors than kitchen knives.

Angles aside, we like how the working section is closer to the base than the rest of the device is. This helps lower the center of gravity even only by a little, and improves the overall balance.

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.

ZWILLING Base
ZWILLING Base 1
  • Material:
    Plastic
  • Feet Type:
    EVA pad

The Zwilling sharpener has a solid, flat base, with a high-quality anti-slip pad underneath. But this is yet another area where it suffers from bad design.

The base is long and narrow, which is not ideal for its considerable height. The pad only partially covers the base, leaving its border hanging in the air— the pad basically adds height while further reducing the already modest width. As a result, the device is very prone to rocking.

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
7.8
usability Scores
  • Slot Arrangement (10%)
    10/10
  • Insertion (20%)
    9.0/10
  • Pulling Through (10%)
    7.5/10
  • Stability on a Clean Surface (40%)
    7.5/10
  • Stability on a Wet and Dirty Surface (20%)
    6.0/10
7.0

Slot Arrangement

10
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.

ZWILLING Slot Arrangement

The Zwilling has more sharpening slots than most others, but its layout is straightforward. Half of the working section is for standard blades and the other half Asian, as indicated by the print underneath. The slots progress in the same order for each angle type, with their coarseness level printed on their sides.

A transparent plastic cover can be slid over the area you’re not working on, so it’s rare that you will misplace your knife while sharpening.

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.

ZWILLING Insertion

It doesn’t have the widest slot openings, but insertion is still effortless with the Zwilling. Its lowered working section and the rather spacious grip do offer a sense of confidence and safety in this regard.

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.

ZWILLING Pulling Through

The problem with abrasive blades is that sometimes they lose grip of the knife edge, letting it glide through untouched. The fact that its blades are made of ceramic instead of tungsten carbide as a typical sharpener’s would be doesn’t exempt the Zwilling from this issue. 

The thick frame around the slots, while offering great support, does obstruct the knife tip at the end as the downward force is still in place. It gets nicked from time to time, though this doesn’t affect the knife edge or sharpness.

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.

ZWILLING Stability on a Clean Surface

The Zwilling’s heavy weight (a whopping 11 ounces) and solidness couldn’t cancel out the effect of its massive height to stabilize the device. Nor did its narrow base and an even narrower anti-slip pad allow it to fare well in our test. The sharpener kept losing its balance.

6.0

Stability on a Wet and Dirty Surface

6.0
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.

ZWILLING Stability on a Wet and Dirty Surface

The oil- and salt-tainted countertop only amplified all the design problems on the Zwilling. We could only keep it in place with excessive force on the grip, and so we highly recommend ensuring your countertop is dry and clean before using this sharpener.