With time and use, even the finest knives will eventually become dull. One option is to throw them away and get new ones, but a more economical strategy may be to invest in a good knife sharpener and enjoy your trusty blades for decades.
To find the best knife sharpeners, we spent more than a thousand dollars buying dozens of devices and used piles of lemons, ripe tomatoes, chicken breasts, and beef tendons as test subjects. And now, with all that experience under our belt, we can tell you exactly which ones perform best.
- Updated Aug 20, 2022:
Product ratings are updated following new test results for manual knife sharpeners.
How We Test Knife Sharpeners
We designed a unique series of tests for each category of sharpeners. Each device is rated for Performance, Ease of Use, and Design. However, the exact composition of the tests differ to reflect the nature of each type.
With manual sharpeners, for example, sharpening time — or how long it takes to make a dull knife sharp again — is a major deciding factor. Most electric sharpeners, on the other hand, do their work quickly, so the rating depends more heavily on safety features and ease of use.
Our testing methods improve as we test more devices, too.
We started out sharpening as instructed by the user manual. After a few months, we tweaked the process so we could achieve sharpness more quickly while maintaining knife edge integrity. This, of course, means we ended up adjusting the tests, repeating them for all of the devices, and putting out a new version of the testing methodology.
All those discoveries and tips are mentioned and explained both in the test methodology and reviews so you know what you can expect out of your sharpener.
How We Picked the Best Knife Sharpeners
Our Best Sharpener to Buy pick is the one with the highest rating across all product types. Following that, the devices that got the highest ratings in each category are chosen to represent their respective categories.
As new products hit the market, our testing efforts expand. As such, our best picks change as we discover better products or better ways to measure their effectiveness.
Why Our Ratings Are Reliable
We purchased all of the sharpeners in this review out of our own pocket. Our ratings and reviews are based purely on testing; we don’t get kickbacks from any brands or marketers.
Relevant Tests, Verifiable Results
Some products—the Smith’s and Chef’s Choice EdgeSelect sharpeners being easy examples—seem like great ideas on paper and even in person until we actually sharpen a knife with them and find out their flaws.
That’s why, instead of subjective ratings based only on inspection, we designed hands-on tests that mimic real sharpening scenarios to give you an idea of how the sharpeners perform in a home kitchen.
Every time we update a testing methodology, it’s applied to all the devices under that category. We keep our sharpeners for years and can confidently report on their quality and effectiveness over time.
The tests are conducted and the products rated by at least two reviewers with different levels of previous exposure to knife sharpeners. The ratings are agreed upon by both. The whole testing process is recorded in videos or photos and posted for the reader to check and verify. It’s one way we tried to minimize personal bias.
Reviews of the Best Knife Sharpeners in 2022
After testing a bunch of knife sharpeners, we compiled a list of the best performers in each category.
Here are our picks for the Best Knife Sharpeners in 2022.
1. Cubikook CS-T01 Knife Sharpener - Best to Buy in 2022
Things We Like
- Solid, durable construction
- Low center of gravity
- Great stability
Things We Don’t Like
- Flaky brand label
- Small abrasive rods
The Cubikook CS-T01’s working section features Coarse, Medium, and Fine slots, all working at a 20-degree angle (on both sides of the blade). It struck a fine balance between sharpness and edge integrity. The device received some of the highest ratings in our edge smoothness and material retention tests, and was also among the top tier in both speed and effectiveness.
The sharpener took only one and a half minutes to restore factory sharpness on a useless dull knife. In normal conditions, it will prep your knife for any challenging cutting task in less than 30 seconds.
With wide sharpening slots placed in a natural progressive order, the sharpener is intuitive to use. Its working section is tightly fastened to a wide, flat, and solid base, further stabilized with two strips of silicone underneath. This design lowers the center of gravity and effectively eliminates the risk of flipping during sharpening.
Its weak points include a brand label that starts to peel off after a few months. We’ve used two Cubikook sharpeners and both have this same problem. This doesn’t affect the device’s functionality, but if it annoys you, a little glue is all you need to fix it. Also, make sure you’re gentle on the white ceramic rods — they tend to become loose more quickly than the other abrasives.
Despite its drawbacks, the Cubikook CS-T01 is an all-round quality handheld sharpening device. We highly recommend it for home cooks who are looking for an effective sharpener that’s also safe, quick, and doesn’t require too much effort to use.
2. Priority Chef 2-Stage Knife Sharpener - Best Knife Sharpener - Runner-up
Things We Like
- Quick sharpening
- Simple design
- Intuitive working section
- Affordable price
Things We Don’t Like
- Slippery grip
- Flimsy base pad
Instead of sharpening rods, the Priority Chef features diamond-coated and ceramic abrasive wheels. These can sharpen very quickly without shaving off much metal. The device took only 1 minute 15 seconds to bring a knife from completely blunt to being highly serviceable in our test (15 seconds faster than the Cubikook).
There are not many other manual devices that outperformed it in terms of speed. The rare ones that did either removed way more material from the blade or failed to create such a smooth edge.
The learning curve is almost flat with this sharpener. Its working section only has a Coarse slot and a Fine slot, which progress naturally from left to right if you’re right-handed. Similar to the Cubikook, the Priority Chef has a full base and low center of gravity, which allows it to maintain its balance without fail.
The base, however, would benefit from a better build. It’s a thin, lightweight plate of metal atop a spongy rubber pad that doesn’t look like it’ll hold up very well. The stainless steel tube grip, likewise, is functional, but could be slippery and uncomfortable when your hands are wet.
With only one angle option (17 degrees), the Priority Chef is not going to sharpen your filet knife or single-bevel knives. But it will reliably improve most other kitchen knives. And at its affordable price, the device will pay for itself in no time.
3. Chef’s Choice XV Professional - Best Electric Sharpener
- Quick sharpening
- Easy setup
- Effortless to use
- Works on straight and serrated knives
- Heavy (4.7 pounds)
- High price tag
If stones and belt systems seem too complicated but manual sharpeners won’t cut it for you, the Chef’s Choice Trizor XV is your best bet. It effectively sharpens, renews, and polishes your kitchen blades without requiring too much time or effort. Of course, its performance is unapologetically reflected in a high price tag.
The Trizor XV sharpens at a 15 degree angle, allowing your knives to make clean, precise cuts. We tested it against the similar Presto 08800, which works at 20 degrees, and the Trizor XV produced a much smoother and keener edge.
The reduced angle is not its only advantage. The exclusive stropping disks were effective at removing little chips and microscopic grooves from the blades. We can’t quite call the results ‘razor sharp,’ but our test knives emerged keen enough to slice smoothly through a thick string of raw beef tendon—the toughest food on our Sharpness Scale.
Since each slot grinds only one side of the edge, the Trizor XV works well on single-bevel blades. However, because you can’t adjust the grind angle, it doesn’t accommodate as many types of knives as the WorkSharp Ken Onion. On the other hand, it’s a lot more straightforward to use. Setup is as simple as flipping a switch.
The Trizor XV is loud, which is typical of electric sharpeners. The coarsest stages are the loudest, and they topped out at 87 dB—about the same as a hairdryer—in our test.
We’re inclined to reserve it for scheduled sharpening, but if you have a spacious countertop with an electrical socket nearby, it’s also perfect for quick, spontaneous honing between cooking sessions.
4. Work Sharp Ken Onion – Best Knife Sharpening System
There’s a number of well-rounded knife sharpening systems out there, so this was harder to decide on. Even though it requires more effort to use and is costlier than some, we settled on the Work Sharp Ken Onion because no other can beat it in terms of both effectiveness and versatility.
- Fast, efficient. Delivers great sharpness.
- Extra angles, extra grit levels, two speed options
- Long continuous operation time (1 hour)
- Covers kitchen knives and other tools
- Takes time to get used to
- Produces metal dust
The Work Sharp Ken Onion is equally adept at fixing severely damaged knives and polishing fine edges to a mirror-like finish. We used it to reset the edges of all the test knives after the testing of manual sharpeners. While such heavy-duty tasks required more time, sharpening a dull kitchen knife to highly serviceable levels took mere minutes.
An improvement from the original Work Sharp, which only offered two angle choices, the Ken Onion sharpens to any angle between 15° and 30° at 1° increments. Japanese blades, German blades, single bevel, double bevel — it will cover your whole knife collection, save for perhaps some specialty knives with actual razor-level grind angles. In fact, you can even sharpen those if you have a steady hand and the skills to work without the guides.
Even the sharpening speed is adjustable.
Of course, such versatility comes at a cost: The learning curve is steeper on this device than most. It requires more hand stability and self-confidence than the Chef’s Choice Trizor XV does. Setup can be a bit of a hassle, though it does get easier with time. We could use it on autopilot after the first four or five sessions.
We haven’t experienced blade scratches while sharpening with the Ken Onion like some other users have reported. However, we found that keeping the edge even is more an art than a science. For some reason, it’s very easy to end up with a bevel that’s broader on one side than the other. This might be preventable if you pay close attention and keep the knife straight and parallel to the guide at all times.
Even with that, we can’t truly complain about the Work Sharp Ken Onion. The belts, delicate as they look, still work just fine ten months and more than 20 knives later.
As many users have admitted, this machine will make you obsessed with sharpness and you’ll find yourself looking for more opportunities to use the tool. We surely have.
5. Lansky Deluxe 5-Stone Kit – Best Manual Sharpening System
- Does both sharpening and honing
- Works for various knife types and edge angles
- Fun to work with
We picked the Lansky kit as the best manual knife sharpening system even though it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. It takes time, but if you enjoy the process of giving your blades a smooth edge, you may grow to like this versatile tool.
The kit comes in a neat box with, among other things, five stones of different grits and colors that make it look like a playkit.
With guide rods and a knife clamp, it allows you to sharpen your knives to various angles with satisfying precision. The bottle of honing oil conveniently covers more than a few sharpening sessions.
The kit can handle a wide variety of kitchen knives: chef’s, butcher’s, fillet, and even knives for hunting and outdoor uses. It works on one side of the blade at a time, and is thus compatible with single-bevel knives. Its coarsest stones are strong enough to fix minor burrs and chips, while the finer ones can give a shiny finish to your knife’s edge.
In fact, you even create an entirely new edge with this set of stones, although that might take too much time to be practical.
Setup is a lot simpler than we expected. However, the rods’ modest length is best suited for medium-sized blades. We also had difficulty securing the test knife on the device’s small clamp. That shortcoming presents a possible hazard, especially considering the fact that the knife edge faces you during sharpening. A quick fix is to cover the clamp with some duct tape.
With the smallest angle being 17 degrees, the guide rods won’t be so useful on Asian knives, which usually come with 13- to 15-degree edges. Of course, you can sharpen them without the angle guides, but that takes steady hands and some practice.
Here are some other sharpeners that gained a decent rating in our tests.
- Manual Sharpener: Kitchellence 3-stage Sharpener
This one is not excellent but is reliable enough. The sharpener is above average in speed and sharpness level, and enjoys a robust construction. You can expect to get consistent and well-rounded results with it.
- Manual Sharpener With Scissor Slot: Wamery 4-Stage Sharpener
This is a fast and efficient sharpener, although its shoddy build means good performance isn’t always guaranteed.
- Budget Electric Sharpener: Presto 08800
While it doesn’t have supportive features like the Chef’s Choice Trizor XV, this electric sharpener is also a fraction of the price, and it can still bring your knife back to life within minutes.
Things to Keep in Mind When Buying a Knife Sharpener
1. What Grit is the Abrasive?
Whetstones, sandpaper, and abrasive belts are usually categorized by their “grit”.
Grit is abrasive particles or granules of sand, diamond, or other stones. The grit number indicates how coarse or fine the abrasive is. The more grit an abrasive has (the higher the number), the finer it is and the less material it can take off a knife blade.
Abrasives with low grit numbers can remove a lot of material per stroke, and therefore are very useful in repairing heavily damaged knives. Chefs take their knives to them only once or twice a year to rejuvenate the edge. Finer abrasives can be used more often to fine tune the blade.
The grit system is not consistent between different areas, brands and types of material. It is important to follow the instructions from the manufacturer to get the right grit when buying your stones or belts.
Pull-through sharpeners, even the type with diamond or metal dust, don’t typically come with clear grit numbers. On a multi-stage one, the first stage is usually the coarsest and should be applied only occasionally, while the later stages are suitable for frequent use.
2. What Grind and Angle is Your Knife Edge?
In terms of edge angle, most chef’s knives are either Western or Asian style.
Western knives, designed for dealing with animal-based foods and tough vegetables, typically have a large, strong blade with a 20- or 22-degree edge. Asian knives, meanwhile, are intended more for fish and softer vegetables, and have finer angles (13 – 15 degrees). Wider-angle blades are stronger, while finer angles allow for more precision.
Some of the top kitchen knives are hybrids, with edge angles between 15 and 18 degrees.
The knives can also be categorized based on their blade grinds, or in other words, the shape of their blade. These edge styles get the names flat, hollow, taper, convex, and chisel. It is impossible for a single sharpener to fix and polish all of the types. However, the best knife sharpener for you is one that can handle the majority of your knives.
If all your knives belong to a single knife set, it will be easy to find the right sharpener. Determine if yours is an Asian or Western set, as well as the type of blade grind, and buy a sharpener with the same angle.
If you have all the different kinds of knives, from German to Japanese (which is often the case for serious chefs), your search for the best knife sharpener can be a bit more complicated. You will either have to get more than one pull-through sharpener, or learn how to work a semi-manual or fully-manual tool (think waterstones, oilstones, or full sharpening systems).
3. A Word on Serrated Knives
You don’t need to sharpen a serrated knife regularly, but when you do it’s often difficult to find a device that does the job well. The most that a typical pull-through sharpener, stone, or sharpening band can do is remove some burrs from the pointed teeth, which only goes so far. The many teeth on a serrated edge require a tiny device to get in between them.
There are a select few options for properly sharpening serrations, which we will point out as we get to them.
The Most Popular Types of Knife Sharpeners
The four most popular types of sharpening devices for kitchen knives include honing rods, pull-through sharpeners, electric devices with abrasive belts, and whetstones.
In the graph below, we compare them in terms of ease of use, the maximum level of sharpness each device can offer, and their prices.
How Long Should It Take to Sharpen a Knife?
The amount of time it takes to sharpen a knife depends on various factors: your level of skill, the type of sharpening device that you use, the type, size and material of the knife, the knife’s condition, and the desired level of sharpness.
Per our estimation, here’s the time it typically takes to bring a chef’s knife to the maximum level of sharpness that the sharpening device allows:
- Sharpening rods (for honing): 30 seconds
- Pull-through sharpener: 1 – 3 minutes
- Electric pull-through sharpener: 3 – 4 minutes
- Electric sharpener with multiple abrasive belts: 7 – 10 minutes
- Sharpening stones: 15 – 30 minutes
Top Knife Sharpener Brands
1. Work Sharp
Work Sharp Tools is a brand under Darex, LLC. With three decades of experience, Darex makes some of the best electric sharpeners on the market. Its drill sharpener Drill Doctor has won prestigious awards from Sears Catalog, Handyman Club of America, National Hardware Show, and others.
The experience is employed on Work Sharp Tools, which focuses on manual and powered sharpening devices for culinary, outdoor, and woodwork tools. Knife enthusiasts love its powered handheld sharpeners, which come with whole sets of quality abrasive belts.
Shun belongs to the KAI Group, which has been making cutlery in Japan since the early 20th century. They make fine knives, and certainly know what makes a sharp edge.
Despite the high price tags that come with them, Shun duo-grit stones and honing steels are sought after by cooks and chefs who trust in their high quality materials and craftsmanship.
3. Sharp Pebble
Sharp Pebble also sells knives and strops, but it’s mostly known as a brand of affordable sharpening stones.
Interestingly, Sharp Pebble doesn’t sell their stones separately. They always come in sets of a double faced stone or two or three separate stones, a guide, a stone holder, and occasionally a strop. Despite the budget-friendly prices, these stones offer performance that edges in on that of high-end products.
Cubikook is a rising brand that’s already setting new standards for kitchen tools and appliances.
Variety is not one of its strengths; however, the few products that it does offer are quickly becoming popular among home cooks thanks to their durability, functionality, and ease of use. Its Chef’ Sharpener CS-T01, a handheld pull-through sharpener that comes in solid ABS construction and with three stages of sharpening and honing, is one of the new must-haves in home kitchens in the US.
5. Chef’s Choice
Launched in 1985, Chef’s Choice is a brand under EdgeCraft Corporation. It specializes in small tools and appliances, including kitchen knives, waffle makers, food slicers, egg cookers, and sharpeners.
Chef’s Choice electric sharpeners are made with 100% diamond abrasives and multi-stage technology, making them fast and highly effective devices. Made in cooperation with Wusthoff, these sharpeners are trusted and used by home cooks and professional chefs worldwide.
Lansky is a brand of outdoor knives and sharpening kits. The brand was established about 40 years ago, when Arthur Lansky Levine developed the controlled angle sharpening system and started Arthur Lansky Levine & Associates.
Lansky is most known for its precision sharpening systems. These systems are compact-sized kits with small abrasive stones and honers, clamps, and angle guides that allow the customer to sharpen their knives at consistent angles.
Spyderco is more famous for its pocket knives and doesn’t offer a wide range of sharpening products, but its Tri-Angle Sharpmaker is very popular among knife enthusiasts.
The system, invented more than 40 years ago, employs a simple and effective design that both novices and experts can use to give their blades a new, razor-like edge.
Knife Sharpeners FAQs
A new knife usually comes reasonably sharp. Before putting it on the shelf, the factory has sharpened it to a specific angle and given it bevels that are suitable for the tasks it’s intended for. When sharpening the knife by yourself, you could potentially change the bevel(s) and alternate the edge angle.
If you have very little experience in knife sharpening, the safest bet is to use a new knife until it becomes dull before sharpening it. That is, unless your knife comes already damaged and there’s no way for you to return it.
A professional chef or knife enthusiast may have particularly specific preferences for the knife edge. However, just because a knife is not customized to your preference doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t cut it for you. You may want to give it a thorough visual inspection and try using the new knife for a few days. That will ensure you have a better feel for the knife and know what, if any, adjustments are needed.
If you feel the difference in the edge angle or bevel and it affects your cutting experience, then it’s not too late to take it to the stones. This sharpening typically involves reprofiling the edge to a particular angle, altering the bevel, or creating/removing secondary edges.
When sharpening on a stone, the push stroke is also referred to as the edge-leading stroke, and the pull stroke, the edge-trailing stroke. Each of these styles has its own pros and cons.
The edge leading stroke compacts the steel and removes more material. It is the more effective style when you want to fix a damaged edge, but it also causes chipping. The trailing stroke creates a keener edge, but because it stretches the steel, it tends to create foil burr.
You can either push or pull, or combine the two strokes when sharpening a knife.
We recommend the edge leading stroke on coarse (low-grit) stones for edge rejuvenation. You can finish the sharpening session on a fine stone with the edge trailing stroke, but stop after about 30-40 laps before the foil burr forms.
After sharpening a knife, you can polish it with very fine sandpaper or stropping leather. This step is optional.
Once the sharpening and honing is complete, it’s crucial to handwash your knife in soapy water and wipe it dry immediately with a soft cloth. Do not leave it wet or dirty, as rust and discolorations can appear really fast in those conditions.
If you have a high-carbon knife, you may also want to coat the knife with vegetable oil to prevent rust.