Do you have a drawer full of dull knives? Are your knives that were once sharp enough to glide through a ripe tomato now so dull that they simply tear the skin? Our knife sharpener reviews and comparison guide is here to help.
Dull knives are not only a pain to work with, they’re also dangerous as the blade tends to bounce and change directions as you cut. This guide will help you find the best knife sharpener to get your blades back into shape.
For those that want to skip to the best…
Click Here for Our Review of the Top Rated Electric Model
For those that want to see knife sharpening systems, click Here for Knife Sharpening Systems guide.
Our Top 10 Picks
|Smith's Adjustable Edge Pro||$$$$||2||4.9 out of 5|
|Chef's Choice Angle Select||$$$$||3||4.3 out of 5|
|Chef'sChoice Trizor EdgeSelect||$$$$||3||4.7 out of 5|
|Chef's Choice Professional||$$$$||3||4.5 out of 5|
|Norton Three Stone Sharpening System||$$||Three Stones||4.9 out of 5|
|Spyderco Triangle Sharpmaker||$$||Three Stones||4.3 out of 5|
|Edge Pro Apex 1 Knife Sharpener Kit||$$$||Three Stones||5 out of 5|
|Smith's Adjustable Manual Knife Sharpener||$||2||4.4 out of 5|
Electric Knife Sharpeners Are Fast and Easy
Trying to complete a task in the kitchen without the proper tools can be incredibly frustrating. And cutting with a dull knife is just that, slow and tedious.
For those of you that want the best way to quickly and easily sharpen your knives then check out our top rated knife sharpener reviews below.Click Here to See Our Top Rated Sharpener on Amazon.com
When it comes to sharpeners there are three basic styles. Electric models are by far the most popular. They’re quick and easy to use. They don’t take up a ton of space. In fact most models can easily be stored in a drawer.
Manual models are the second most popular style. They are less expensive than electric, but they also take longer. For those that are budget conscious they can be a great value. Manual models also take up a minimum of space.
Sharpening stones are the third type. While professional knife sharpeners swear by stones, they are difficult to use without a great deal of practice. There are some knife sharpening systems out there that are changing this. But generally speaking these are for the pros.
So what should you use? Some people swear by their electrical sharpeners and others wouldn’t touch their prized knives with anything but a traditional stone. It’s really a matter of personal preference. How much time and effort do you want to put into sharpening your knives.
If you’re like me you want the fastest and easiest method. After all cooking is what I enjoy, not fiddling with some sharpening gadget.
The Best Way to Sharpen A Knife
While sharpening pro’s will always say that stones are the superior method, most consumers (myself included) just wants a method that is fast and reliable. After doing a bit of research I did find a few sharpening stone based systems that are actually pretty intuitive to use. As a result I’ve included them in the list of top 10 products.
That being said I’d still recommend the electric models in this list since they are going to offer the most speed. After all, if we were patient about maintaining our blades we wouldn’t have a drawer full of dull knives right?
For the most part all of the products in the list operate in a very similar manner.
OK, so here is a bit more information on each of the best electric knife sharpeners from our comparison.
Our Top Choice: Smith’s Edge Pro Electric Sharpener
The Smith Adjustable took the number one spot for a number of reasons. They’ve been making high quality honing and sharpening devices for a long time. Over 100 years actually. To see our full review click here.
The most important feature of this particular unit is the ability to select the angle at which you wish to sharpen your blade. Why is this important?
Different knives have different angles. A paring blade will have a steeper (sharper) angle than a chef’s knife. To maintain this blade properly it should be sharpened to the factory angle.
The Edge Pro has a knob that allows you to easily adjust for the type of knife you’re sharpening. The knob is labeled showing everything from hunting to kitchen knives. Just select angle for the type of knife you’re sharpening and away you go. Doesn’t get any easier. It even has a special hidden serrated blade sharpener in the side of the unit.
The Edge Pro is one of the more expensive products in this category. But the speed and flexibility it offers for quickly getting any blade back into shape is unmatched by any of the other electric models in our comparison.
Coming in at 4.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com, this sharpener has earned my top spot and most of the reviews agree. It’s fast, easy to use, and easy to store.
# 2. The Chef’s Choice Angle Select.
Chef’s Choice is a well known brand in the industry. They’ve been making quality products for decades. The Angle Select is one of the most flexible products in their lineup. While it doesn’t offer all of the options of the Edge Pro, it does give you the capability to change the angle of sharpening from 15 degrees to 20.
It is capable sharpening both Western and Japanese blades since it only sharpens one side of the blade at a time. Just be sure to read the instructions before sharpening a Japanese blade.
The operation of the Angle Select is very simple with sturdy guides that keep the blade in the correct position for proper sharpening.
Before more recently buying the Edge Pro, I owned this unit . As a test I sharpened one of my favorite knives with it. It’s a Gerber. And while they are no longer around, they had a reputation for using extremely hard steel in their blades. The Chef’s Choice was able to restore a factory finish to this blade with no problem. In fact I still use this unit to sharpen this particular knife as it seems to handle the hard blade better than the Edge Pro.
# 3. Chef’sChoice 15 Trizor XV EdgeSelect
The third place model in our comparison is also from Chef’s Choice. The Trizor XV takes a different tack from most of the sharpeners we’ve covered. It is capable of sharpening both European (Western) knives and Japanese blades. It’s important to know that the angle on this model is set to 15 degrees. This is sharper than most Western blades come from the factory.
As a result, the first time you use this sharpener you will be removing a good bit of material from the blade. The instructions clearly state this, but be forewarned. (Since I know everyone reads the instructions, right?)
This has the effect of making your blades sharper than their original factory condition. It can also affect the durability of the blade though. Knives with harder steels can handle this better than those made with softer. It’s worth doing your homework on your knives before purchasing this model.
This sharpener has three stages. The first grinds the blade down to accept the 15 degree angle. This is where you’ll see most of the blade material removed. Then the second stage develops the beveled edge. Finally the the third stage uses what is known as a stropping disc to smooth the bevel to a keen edge. You can also use this final stage to sharpen your serrated blades.
Most reviewers liked the performance of this unit putting it at 4.7 of 5 stars. Even some professional chef’s sing the praises of this unit. Just keep in mind that it is grinding down your blade to a different angle.
Still not sure about which model to choose? Let’s take a look at a few things that should help make your decision easier.
Things to Keep In Mind
A professional knife sharpener is going to tell you that the only thing that should ever touch your blades is a sharpening stone. Once you’ve mastered the art of using stones you will remove very little from the blade as it is sharpened. This helps preserve and extend the life of the blade.
However, as I mentioned before, it requires a great deal of practice to be able to use stones effectively. That leaves you with hiring a professional to do it for you. And that can get pretty expensive.
An electric model is going to be the best solution for the majority of consumers. The best electric knife sharpeners are easy to use and sharpen quickly. They have guides that take all the guesswork out of making sure you sharpen the blade to the proper angle.
On the downside they are expensive. And manual models work well too. Just not as quickly. So which model should you get? Answering the following questions will help you decide.
1. What sorts of knives will you be sharpening? Kitchen? Western or Japanese? Hunting knives? Pocket knives?
2. Where will do a lot of your sharpening? In the kitchen? In the shop? In the field?
3. How much time are you willing to: A. Dedicate to finding out how to properly use a sharpener and B. Sharpening each of your knives?
I’m guessing that for most of your (myself included) the answer to the first question is going to be kitchen knives. And of course you’ll probably be sharpening them in the kitchen. Which means you need a sharpener that stows away in a drawer or cabinet.
I’m also guessing that you don’t want to spend a ton of time learning how to properly use the sharpener. Like me you want something that is fast, easy, and effective.
For me the answer was simple. I want to spend my time cooking, not sharpening my knives. And therefore an electric model makes the most sense.
The models listed above offer a great deal of flexibility and they will work on a wide variety of blades.
If the price of these models is scaring you away, then check out some of the manual sharpeners in our reviews section. Just expect to spend more time on the process.
Finding the Best Knife Sharpener for Your Kitchen
Selecting the best knife sharpener for your particular needs is basically a matter determining what features you want and how much you’re willing to pay for them. There are a few important features that should be considered above the rest. Some apply to both manual and electric models. Here they are.
Ability to Select the Sharpening Angle
Knives are designed based on a number of different variables. Of these steel strength and angle are the two most critical. Many Japanese knife makers choose to go with a harder steel and a lower angle (sharper blade). Western blades are typically made from softer steel and have a higher angle (not as sharp).
The sharpness of the knife is determined by the bevel angle, which is measured in degrees. The lower the angle, the sharper the knife. But other factors come into play. An extremely sharp knife with a lower bevel angle won’t be as durable as one that is slightly less sharp and made with softer steel. Harder steel will actually chip since it is more brittle. Great care needs to be taken with hard steel knifes. Dropping one on the floor or tossing it into the sink could actually cause it to break.
A knife made with softer steel and a higher bevel angle won’t be as sharp, but can actually be more durable because it is able to take abuse without cracking or chipping.
Short story long…(sorry, this is important)
The ability to set the sharpening angle to specifically match the angles of your knives can help preserve and extend the life of the blade. Since the manufacturer designed it to operate at it’s factory bevel angle, keeping the knife at angle is the best option.
For whatever reason this feature isn’t the one that gets the most marketing hype, but it is probably one of the most important to consider when buying.
The Edge Pro manual and electric both incorporate this particular feature and are highly regarded.
How Many Stages?
Regardless of the type of product you buy, the basics of knife sharpening are always the same. In the first stage you are grinding down any imperfections or damage to the blade. This creates a consistent surface for applying a clean edge.
Not all sharpeners have a repair stage so keep this in mind if many of your blades are nicked or damaged severely.
In stage two a stone that is less coarse is used to raise a burr. This burr will eventually become the cutting edge. When doing simple maintenance on a blade you can generally skip straight to this stage.
The final step, or stage three, is the stropping stage. This is where you polish out the burr and create a keen edge on the blade of the knife.
Materials Used for Sharpening
When it comes to materials used in the sharpening of a blade there is a considerable variety out there. They include natural stones and composite materials that have been designed specifically for this task.
Natural stones have been used for thousands of years for sharpening tools, weapons, and knives. Some of the best natural stones come from quarries in Arkansas. While there are several different types they are generally known as Arkansas stones.
Composite or manmade stones are made up of a variety of materials and are generally considered to be more long lasting that natural materials. Much of the time this is a matter of personal preference.
Many of the best electric knife sharpeners choose manmade diamond abrasives that are bound to wheels for the most effective sharpening. The coarseness of the abrasive changes as your progress through the various stages of the sharpener. Ceramics, steel, and other naturally occurring and manmade stones are also common materials.
Sharpening professionals generally prefer either natural or manmade stones. And while the type of stone is important, it plays a secondary role to using the proper angle to sharpen the blade.
Electric Models VS Manual
For all intents and purposes knife sharpeners can be split in two types: manual and electric. Most knife sharpening pros swear by using manual sharpening stones. But as I mentioned before, it takes time and practice to become proficient in their use.
Knife Sharpening Systems and Stones
If this is a method in which you have some interest I would encourage you to take a look at my knife sharpening system reviews. These devices lock the blade at the specific sharpening angle, allowing you to quickly (compared to basic sharpening stones) sharpen your blades. Essentially they take the guesswork out of using stones. The best knife sharpening systems typically cost somewhere between $125 and $400. That might sound like a lot, but it’s a relatively inexpensive way to sharpen your knives like a pro would. Just be prepared to spend a bit more time than you would with an electric model.
Knife sharpening systems also tend to take up more space. These are not typically things you are going to store in the kitchen.
Sharpening stones would be last on my list for most consumers. While they have been used for thousands of years for this purpose, it’s more work than most home chef’s are going to want to do. They also tend to be somewhat messy as they require an oil or water lubricant.
If not used properly, they can also cause more harm than good.
Electric Knife Sharpeners
At this point it’s probably pretty clear that I prefer electric sharpeners. I have a lot of knives in my kitchen. And sharpening them with an electric model frees up time for me to do the thing I love: cooking.
They are fast, efficient, and practically foolproof. There are expensive models, but there are also some more economical models as well. I would encourage you to look in this category before attempting to find a manual type sharpener.
To give you a better understanding about kitchen knives in general I wanted to touch briefly on the two main types out there. They are usually categorized as either Western which are sharpened on both sides of the blade, and Japanese which are only sharpened on one side.
The Japanese have excelled at making knives for thousands of years. Typically they are only sharpened on one side. This is called a single-bevel blade. As a result the bevel angle is typically smaller which in turn makes it sharper. While most Western-style knives have angles no smaller than 15 degrees, some Japanese knives are sharpened to 5 or 6 degrees.
If you own Japanese knives, this is the single most important factor in choosing the right sharpener. You must get one that can sharpen one side of the blade at a time. Sharpening both sides of the blade will ruin the knife.
The steel used in Japanese knives is also much harder than that used in Western knives. Since the bevel angle is lower, the steel needs to be harder so that the blade can hold up to use.
Harder steel is also more brittle. This is why Eastern-style knives must be handled with such care.
The other big difference in a Japanese and Western knife is the shape of the blade itself. A typical Japanese knife will be flat along the length of the blade. This has the effect of putting more blade in contact with the food while you’re cutting. This also changes the way it should be sharpened. Pulling straight back through the sharpener is important here.
Western Knives (European)
Not to be outdone by the Japanese, Western style knives also have a history that goes way back. In particular knives from Germany are well known for their efficient design and durability. Compared to Eastern style knives there are a few important differences.
The biggest difference is that a European style blade will be sharpened on both sides (called a symmetrical bevel). When you take the angle from both sides and combine it, you get the total angle. Generally speaking they range from 28 high end to 18 on the lower end.
The overall thickness of the blade itself is also very different. European knives are generally made with softer steel so they need the additional metal to lend strength to the blade. This is the main reason they are so strong. A good German chef’s knife will have no problem cutting through bones and then slicing through a tomato. Bones are typically a no no with Japanese single sided blades.
The Western style knife isn’t impervious to damage, but a properly maintained blade should be able to withstand a decent amount of punishment. Regular honing is one way to make sure your knife stays in good shape. You can find some honing steels here.
The final difference is that their blades are curved. This puts more pressure on one particular part of the blade at a time. This is especially important when cutting bones and other hard materials.
When sharpening it means that the blade must be pulled back along this same angle. This ensures that the knife is sharpened along the whole length.
The most important point to take away from this is that you should have a good understanding about what type of knives you own before investing in a sharpener.
Knife Sharpening Services
Sharpening services are great. But they are expensive. Typically you’re going to pay between $8 and $12 per knife every time you get them sharpened. This can really add up if you have a lot of knives. You also have to deal with the inconvenience of not having your knives around while they’re being worked on.
I have used services in the past and they were great. But I didn’t care for having to take them somewhere and then go pick them up. I’m more inclined to do it if I have the sharpener around the house.
Before you can pick the best knife sharpener for your particular needs take into consideration what else you might want to sharpen. Some units are capable of sharpening tools and scissors. Some are capable of sharpening serrated blades, while others are not.
These factors may not be the most important in making your decision, but don’t shortchange yourself with what you buy.
How Do I Rank Products?
My primary method of ranking products is based upon customer reviews. Amazon.com is a great source for information on all sorts of products. It’s how I was able to find the sharpener I currently use.
I encourage you to dig through reviews of the products you’re considering before making your purchase. The best knife sharpener for one person might not be as good for someone else. It’s also a great place to score some valuable information on how the company handles customer service and repairs.
The product attributes are obviously something else to look at. But I’ve covered those pretty thoroughly earlier in the article.
Last but not least is price. Some of the products that rank at the top of our comparison are expensive. But I am a firm believer that you get what you pay for. If you only pay $30 for an electric unit, don’t expect to get the same performance as from a $200 unit.
I hope that this guide has been helpful to you. Please feel free to post any questions you might have in the comments section. I’ll try to get back to you as quickly as I can.