Best Knife Sharpeners Reviewed and Tested
Using dull knives is a pain even if the current task doesn’t require a lot of motion. More force is needed for a good cut, and safety concerns rise since there is a higher chance of human error with that additional force. Some consumers buy brand new sets of knives each year so they don’t have to deal with the pain of sharpening the old ones. Sharpening knives is easier than it has ever been thanks to an uptick in the technology used. Buyers with minimal experience can now maintain their knife set without damaging them or lowering the value. And the best thing about it is that there are mechanical and non-mechanical sharpening tools to get the job done.
Throughout the industry, there will be a lot of products that appeal to different types of customers. The interest in the many different types of knife sharpeners means that there is no one big brand that stands out. When going by type, Priority Chef is known for the traditional knife sharpeners while Chef’s Choice would fall into the modern category. They both have their strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately all products prioritize sharpening. Professional chefs will lean towards using traditional sharpening tools since they prolong the life of top-tier knives in the kitchen. For consumers, any type will get the job done.
Maintenance and Cleaning Tips
Cleaning will be different based on type, but the one that needs the most attention will be mechanical knife sharpeners. They are appliances just like any other in the kitchen and need to be maintained so that they function at 100% capacity. Individual instructions will usually point to removing a single panel and emptying whatever is collected. It’s similar to a toaster, although different models may require removing a screw. Less effort is always appreciated, so experienced users may find traditional knife sharpeners the better deal. They don’t require as much upkeep when you compare them to mechanical knife sharpeners and are considered foolproof when it comes to cleaning.
Our Top 3 Picks
- Chef's Choice
10 Best Knife Sharpeners
A: Brand recognition with knife sharpeners is important for buyers that have an expensive knife set. An easy way for a company to lose its customer base is to destroy the same knives they are supposed to sharpen. It’s rare a sharpener will do harm to a knife set if it is being used according to the directions. That’s why brands should be judged not only on their customer support but their ability to provide clear and concise directions. Without clear directions, a customer will have to hunt for operating instructions on their own and hope they get it right.
Q: How Hard Is It To Clean A Knife Sharpener?
A: The only type of knife sharpener that requires a bit of effort to clean are the mechanical ones. They come with their own individual care instructions that should be followed closely. Improper cleaning of a knife sharpener can damage the product permanently. Based on the skill level of a normal consumer, cleaning a knife sharpener takes less than a few minutes. The only time a user will be overwhelmed with maintenance is if they neglected it for a couple of months. Products collect a lot of knife materials while cleaning and are prone to clog up when they aren’t cleared out.
Q: Are Electronic Knife Sharpeners Better?
A: For the average consumer, yes. The knife sharpeners that professionals use require a bit of work compared to the electronic models. The automated mechanics of an electronic knife sharpener is best suited for consumers that want to get the job done without access to a lot of advanced features. Normal households will also get the benefit of safety features built around the idea that the product will be in a family home. Small things like rubberized grips, suction cups, and auto-off features make electronic sharpeners a must for any kid-friendly home. And just like traditional sharpeners, they are small enough to be stored in a small drawer when not in use.
Q: What Are The Cons Of Each Type?
A: Traditional knife sharpeners require more skill from the user. This includes angling the knife correctly and knowing when it is sharp enough. Instructions are a lot less informative on their use as they expect the consumer to have a working knowledge of knife sharpeners in general. Arthritis is concern when using traditional knife sharpeners, and may prove too difficult to use for some users. Lastly, safety is up to the user rather than the product itself. Major brands will provide as much protection as they can, but since sharpening is manual, the force applied will be up to the consumer.
Mechanical knife sharpeners fall under the umbrella of any sharpening product that uses electricity. If the product isn’t battery operated, it needs to be close to an outlet. Battery operated knife sharpeners of high quality are rare and don’t have as much power as their ac counterparts. For mechanical sharpeners as a whole, consumers that use expensive knife sets will usually avoid them. They shorten the life of even the best knife quicker due to the sharpening being so precise. So the life of knife sets is significantly longer when using a traditional knife sharpener and being able to maximize the sharpness.
Q: Is A High Priced Sharpener Worth It?
A: Most of the products in the industry are low priced, so when customers see high priced products they think it is directly related to quality. Not all high priced knife sharpeners will grant top-tier quality. In some cases, high priced knife sharpeners have a lot of features to cover up for its mediocre knife sharpening capabilities. If the product you’re purchasing can’t sharpen your knives effectively, then it’s not worth the extra money. Be wary of products that guarantee a perfect sharpening, something that isn’t possible with automated methods. Currently, the only way to do that is with the services of a professional or through the use of traditional sharpeners- and both are reliant on the skill of the user.
Q: Can You Sharpen More Than Knives?
Buyers that have a certain type of tool they want to sharpen should check the product’s compatibility. Some can even sharpen serrated knives, one of the hardest types to get right. Anything that needs an edge can be sharpened including scissors, pizza cutters, and certain blades. The listed features won’t always have these tools in their support list, so a little extra research might be required. When you aren’t sharpening a knife, different angles need to be used that work with the tool being sharpened. There is a small learning curve involved in the process, but nothing too out of the ordinary from the regular instructions.
Q: How Long Does It Take To Sharpen?
A: There will never be a consistent answer to this question, and no matter who you ask, the answer will be different. How dull is the knife? What type of knife is it? How long has it been since the last time it was sharpened? What sharpening product are you using? The answer to all of these questions will serve in deciding how many strokes is necessary to achieve optimum sharpness. Keeping the number of strokes per side even is the only thing that everyone agrees on. Consumers can always buy cheap used knives to test out techniques with their new sharpener.
Q: Will Using A Sharpener Degrade The Quality Of The Knife?
A: This is unavoidable no matter what type of sharpener you use. Sharpening a knife is essentially grinding the dull parts of it away to make it sharp. Technically each time you sharpen a knife you are degrading its quality. What makes a big difference is whether you are sharpening it too much, a common mistake that can lead to early retirement for your new knife set. A good sharpener will take off only the dull parts while smoothing out the area you need. Bad products that sharpen quickly do so at the cost of quality, leaving you with a knife that won’t last as long as it should.
Q: When Should You Sharpen A Knife?
A: Knives that have lost a considerable amount of sharpness need to be dealt with quickly. Slicing is always a good way to test how well a knife cuts. When a knife struggles to cleanly cut a tomato, then it has definitely lost its edge. Having to add additional force to a cut with your free hand is problematic for motions that require a clean cut. In many cases you’ll end up smashing the top of the object and then sliding it down, creating an uneven cut. Your knife doesn’t have to be the world’s sharpest tool, it just needs to maintain a useful edge.
Q: Are There Knives That Don’t Need Sharpening?
A: The safe answer is no, although NASA has come pretty close with the KNasa Chef Knife. At some point, any tool that depends on sharpness will need a knife sharpener in its lifetime. Unless the fictional Adamantium becomes a real metal alloy, buyers will have to sharpen their tools as needed. The price for purchasing knives that need little upkeep is high, and not a reality for a lot of consumers. Looking at the price to value ratio of a professional knife set vs. a consumer based one shows that it’s more beneficial for customers to use home-based sets paired with a knife sharpener.
Q: How Heavy Is The Power Consumption For Electronic Sharpeners?
A: Low, even for the three-stage models. You won’t have to worry about short-circuiting a wall socket by using one. It’s also not necessary to unplug it to conserve energy, with a lot of the products available having an auto mode or manual off switch. This is useful information for buyers that want to plug in their knife sharpeners to an RV outlet or cabin with less than desirable hookups. Out of all the appliances in a kitchen or garage, an electronic sharpener will probably use the least amount of energy. An alternative option for buyers that want an automatic sharpener would be to browse for battery operated models.
Q: Can You Damage A Knife Using A Sharpener?
A: Absolutely, and more often than not it is user error. Proper documentation will help in avoiding this problem, but there are also some other things that could be at fault. Cheap knives that are near the end of their life are prone to breakage. They are sold cheap and have a short shelf life, so sharpening them on a consistent basis will only speed up the already accelerated lifespan. Knives that are not listed as dishwasher safe and then put in the dishwasher are weakened considerably. They are prone to breakage due to mishandling, even if they’re top tier knives. Product care in both directions will make sure that when you’re sharpening a knife it doesn’t break.
Q: Can You Use Electronic Sharpeners On High-Quality Knives?
A: Yes, but it isn’t recommended. Now the line here is that high-quality knives are on the professional level, as in hundreds of dollars per set. It’s almost mandatory to use a traditional sharpener to take care of tools on this level. Of course, consumers can use whatever product they want, so it isn’t uncommon to see an electronic knife sharpener used with a high priced set of tools. Just be aware that the life of those knives will be shortened faster with its use, losing a lot of the advantages granted when buying top tier sets.
Q: Are Replacement Parts Expensive?
A: Some of the prices for the actual products are so low that it doesn’t make sense to buy replacement parts. This applies to electronic knife sharpeners that are out of warranty. The price of a broken replacement part will cost about the same as the entire unit, making it pointless to even purchase. Certain things like belts (if the sharpener uses it) are worth replacing since they are sold in pairs and come cheap. When the part costs less than half of the product as a whole, it is a good investment to pull the trigger on that deal.
Q: Will Traditional Sharpeners Be Harder To Use?
A: They will be harder but with the tradeoff of better sharpening. Manual knife sharpeners give you full control over how the knife is sharpened. Perfect strokes will also extend the life of the blade longer than an electrical sharpener. The learning curve may put off some users, but it is worth it for buyers that have expensive knife sets. You don’t have to be perfect when using a traditional sharpener, and when done right you’ll sharpen tools a lot less since they’ll maintain an edge longer. As a side note, users with bad wrists or arthritis will find using these products hard.
How To Make The Best Decision
Finding the correct knife sharpener starts with deciding how comfortable you are with a specific type. Traditional knife sharpeners use manual sharpening methods and are easier to clean. They have a high learning curve, lower price and are supported by professional chefs worldwide. Modern knife sharpeners are electronic products that automate the sharpening process. They need to be maintained on a regular basis and are the go-to product when you just want to simplify things. The downside is that they may not take good care of top-tier knives that need fine tune sharpening on a long-term basis. For consumer friendliness, nothing beats a modern knife sharpener.