I think you will agree when I say: Knives are one of the most essential cutting tools in the kitchen area.
From slicing fruits and veggies for snack to cutting, dicing and mincing ingredients for dinner, knives will always be at your service. If you have a passion for cooking then you might even have a collection of knives displayed at the corner.
However, like all things, knives are not always at their best. Being at your mercy every day can cause them to become dull and frustratingly useless. The ingredients’ acidic contents can corrode the edge’s steel and continuously gets blunts as it hits the surface of the cutting board. It does not matter if your knives are cheap or expensive, the time will still come where you will need to bring them back to life. And the best way to revive them is through the service of knife sharpeners.
How do knife sharpeners work?
Knife sharpeners have one job to do. Bring a dull blade to its sharpest glory. Even though there are many different types of knife sharpeners out there, all methods will follow the same process type to achieve the end goal.
The metal blade is rubbed against an abrasive surface in which microscopic amounts of metal is removed and creates a sharper and thinner edge. Moreover, some knife sharpeners are able to create an exact angle. And you need to understand that not all knives have the same angle.
For instance: Most Asian style kitchen knives have a 15° angle while its Western counterparts have a 20° angle.
Busting the Myth “Dull knives are safe knives”
If you think that dull knives are safer just because they are, well, not sharp, then you are putting yourself in danger. Dull knives cannot easily cut your fingers, however, they always have “accidental” ways to do it. A dull knife has the tendency to slip on whatever ingredient you are cutting and injure you right away. Keep in mind that a dull knife is still a knife.
Moreover, a dull knife makes your work harder. You will need to exert more force in cutting and using extra force on a dull knife does not guarantee that it will cut through and can cause to slip “accidentally” into your fingers and with much force, thus becoming more dangerous than sharper ones.
Lastly, dull blades need more cuts with lesser precision. So, how is this dangerous? It is just a case of averages over time: more cuts means more chances to actually cut yourself. So, do not disregard your safety and sharpen your knives in order for it to do the job properly.
Sharpening VS. Honing
Despite being interchangeably used quite often, sharpening and honing are actually different. They also differ in terms of actions. Honing is the process of straightening bent or curved edges while sharpening is the process of removing microscopic metallic particles from the edge in order to create a new cutting surface. But, they do have one goal: That is maintaining the edge of a knife.
When a knife’s edge seems to be dull, the first process to use is honing. Typically, Professional chefs hone the knife before use. If honing fails to give a good cutting performance, sharpening will be used.
When to sharpen a knife?
The time when to sharpen a knife depends on 3 factors: hardness of blade, the frequency of usage, and metal type of the blade. The standard rule: high-quality blades need to be sharpened once every 4 months.
If used heavily an inexpensive knife might need sharpening every fortnight. High-quality blades, on the other hand, can be sharpened once a quarter under the same usage.
Types of Knife Sharpener in the Market
When it comes to knife sharpener there are two basic types available on the market:
#1. Electrical Knife Sharpeners
The modern era presents electrical everything. And the process of sharpening knives is not an exception. Electrical knife sharpeners can do the trick in just a nick of time and it is probably is the most effective way to sharpen a knife.
Electrical knife sharpeners have two to three phases that use the force of electric in order to create a resistance for the blade to sharpen against. First, the knife is sharpened with a coarse grit, which is great on knives with very blunt edges. Then onto a finer, smoother grit that finishes the job and ends with a very sharp blade.Electrical knife sharpeners have two to three phases that use the force of electric in order to create a resistance for the blade to sharpen against. First, the knife is sharpened with a coarse grit, which is great on knives with very blunt edges. Then onto a finer, smoother grit that finishes the job and ends with a very sharp blade.
Moreover, most of these knife sharpeners have a guide that lets you know if your knife is properly positioned to the parts that need sharpening.
#2. Manual Knife Sharpeners
As its name implies, manual knife sharpeners need a little sweat. However, high review rates for the best knife sharpeners in the market point to the manual option. Why? Well, because they are effective, very easy to use and a lot cheaper than electric versions. For a regular kitchen, this type of knife sharpener is ideal and can handle a small family who cooks regularly but not excessively.
Manual Knife Sharpeners can be broken down into 3 more categories:
#2.1. Sharpening Stones
We have the old style sharpening stones. These are versions of manual sharpeners, that are rectangular, 1-inch thick solid slab or block or diamond, whetstone, ceramic or other sharpening materials. Before use, sharpening stones need to be dampened with water first. They are available in a variety of sizes and shapes with some that are designed in few shapes for complex sharpening or flat for flat edges.
When opting for sharpening stones, the best one is made of 3 materials: Silicon Carbide, Aluminum oxide, or Novaculite. These sharpening stones are flat, abrasive stones which work by grinding the steel of the blade to it and then honing afterward for the final sharpness. This type of knife sharpener is also great for pocket knife sharpeners because of its small and compact size.
Nowadays, there are various composite and artificial sharpening materials for sharpening stones. Here are some of them:
#2.2. Manual Pull-through Sharpener Systems
Manual pull-through sharpeners work by pulling the blade in order to draw the blade on the grinding wheels or the sharpening sections. Most of these units have different grits in one.
Common units have coarse and fine stages, but there are those with up to 4 stages. However, pull through systems have a fixed angle that only has limited flexibility. This sharpening system is something you can use if you do not have the time to guess the right sharpening angles or master your sharpening skills with a stone.
#2.3. Sharpening Steels
Sharpening steels, otherwise known as butcher’s steel is actually intended for honing knife blades. It has the ability to sharpen knives but it is quite less effective than others.
Sharpening steels are inexpensive, very easy to use and easy to store. This is a tool which has one or more several ruts with different levels of abrasive surface or grit within them. To sharpen your blade, you simply rub your blade forwards and backward against it.
Factors to Consider When Looking For the Best Knife Sharpener
When looking for the best knife sharpener to add to your kitchen tools’ arsenal there are certain factors you need to watch out for:
Your number one priority is your safety. So, when looking for the best knife sharpener out there, choose the one that goes with your sharpening skills and lessens your risk of injuries.
If you do not have the skills, choose a knife sharpener that has some types of barriers for your fingers. This can significantly decrease your risk of injuries. Manual sharpeners without guides or barriers are suited for more experienced users.
Lastly, watch out for knife sharpeners with a poor quality base. Knife sharpeners with a strong and stable base guarantee that nothing will slip out of place because of wobbling.
2. Need for Speed
Do you need to sharpen your knives in a few seconds? Or you are not much in a hurry? Different knife sharpeners work at different paces. If you want something that does the job quickly, go for electric or pull through sharpeners.
3. Ease of Use
If you are inexperienced when it comes to sharpening knives, then you can take a look at sharpeners with blade guides. Such sharpeners can help even the newbies to sharpen their knives correctly. Also, you can look for sharpeners with adjustable guides for different types of knives.
Of course, when looking for a new kitchen tool, you need to consider how much you are willing to spend. Manual knife sharpeners are considerably cheaper than its electrical counterparts. But, if you have the money, you can go with higher qualities of electrical sharpeners that can give you best sharpening results.
The Best Knife Sharpener in the Market
Now that you know the things you need to consider when choosing a knife sharpener, here are the top knife sharpener on the market today.
*Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
For quite some time, Chef’s Choice brand has been in the scene of sharpening kitchen knives. Its AngleSelect product is a solid model that offers 2 sharpening angles of 20 and 15 degrees and utilizes diamond abrasives.
This model is a 2-stage device. Its first slot has a 15° angle for sharper knives such as Japanese style knives and paring knives. The second one is suitable for European style knives with a 20° angle. Its last slot is designed to hone either type.
Because it can only sharpen one blade side at a time, it can handle both Japanese and Western style knives. Also, using the AngleSelect is very easy. It has guide slots which are magnetized to keep your blade in the proper place for consistent sharpening.
What We Like
What We Don't Like
This manual Knife Sharpener from Priority Chef comes at a cheap price and has the ability to sharpen both serrated and straight knives. Not only it sharpens a knife for instant sharpness but it does so in a way that it stays sharp for a longer time.
This Priority Chef’s Knife sharpener comes with 2 wheels: one that is coated with coarse diamond to sharpen knives to a double edge finish and the other is for honing knives in order to further improve the tiniest imperfections. It gets the job done and does not take so much space in your kitchen.
What We Like
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Another great knife sharpener from Chef’s Choice is the 4643ProntoPro which has so many different uses. It is fast and impressively works on Japanese, European and American style knives, as well as pocket knives and serrated knives.
This manual knife sharpener has a 3-stage system with criss-cross technology and wheels of 100% diamond abrasive for toughest and most exact edge. Its sharpener has also bevel angle control for 20 and 15-degree edges to ensure that you will have the tightest grip, therefore the best edge.
The two out of three slots are for sharpening: one for 20° angles and the other for 15° angles. Its third slot is for honing and serrated knives, for a finer finish.
What We Like
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Winware’s Sharpening Steel Rod comes at a very cheap price. But do not even question its ability for it does its job perfectly. Honing your blunt knife is where this sharpening steel excels.
This sharpening steel rod is a 12-inch stainless steel rod with plastic handles and a hanging loop. It is impressive for a maintenance tool and can sharpen your knives in an instant. However, this rod is very heavy and large, so sharpening can be a slightly difficult task.
Its handle, however, is very comfortable to grip with a good handguard to reduce the risk of injuries. Moreover, it is very easy to clean and needs only a soft damp cloth to wipe it off.
What We Like
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This Kitchen Knife Sharpener from Bulbhead will make your knives slice effortlessly like its newly bought. It features a 2 spring action arms that work to sharpen even the dullest of blades. What’s more is that this sharpener can work with serrated blades.
Bavarian Edge Kitchen Knife Sharpener is an independent, durable and long lasting sharpener. It can sharpen any type of blade of any brands and size in just a few seconds. Also, there is no need to clean this knife sharpener, provided that the knives sharpen are clean.
What We Like
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Our top pick and the winner for the best knife sharpener is…
Why? Because even though it is a manual knife sharpener, it was the easiest to use of all the other models. Its wheels are also impregnated with diamond abrasive materials which are superior to ceramics in terms of lack of friction and sharpening speed. What’s more is that it is very flexible and can handle various types of knife blades, straight or serrated.
And there you have it! I certainly hope that this guide has shed some light on what kind of knife sharpener you should look into.
Knife sharpeners— they have been used since the Stone Age when a knife was carved out of rocks. These are essential kitchen tools if you want an easy time carrying out tasks that need the sharpness of a knife. You would not want to slice a piece of juicy steak with a knife that has a blade suitable only for butter knives, wouldn’t you?
Do you have any more questions or suggestions? I’d love to hear it! Feel free to comment it down below. Until then, stay sharp!