After testing more than a dozen sharpeners on a wide range of kitchen (and other) knives we’ve come to the conclusion that the Apex System from Edge Pro Inc is the best knife sharpener for the home chef. It offers the flexibility to sharpen an enormous variety of knives and bevel angles and it’s manual operation is simple and won’t damage the temper of your blades.
Our Overall #1 Pick
The Edge Pro offers one of the most important features a knife sharpener can have, the ability to adjust the angle based on the knife you’re sharpening. The speed and accuracy of this unit is second to none. You can literally restore a factory edge or better to your knives in minutes.
Dull knives are incredibly frustrating to use, but they can also be dangerous as the blade tends to bounce and change directions as you cut.
I’ve spent countless hours testing and researching to find the best knife sharpener for my kitchen. My conclusion? You should look for two things in a knife sharpener.
- It can work with a wide variety of knives and blade angles
- It won’t destroy the temper of the steel by heating the metal during sharpening
Both of these are critical to not only sharpening a dull knife, but to extending the life of blade for years to come.
Table of Contents
- Overall Winner: Apex 1 Knife Sharpener Kit
- Overall Winner for Best Electric Knife Sharpener
- Best Pocket Knife Sharpener Review
- Best Hunting Knife Sharpeners
- Best Serrated Knife Sharpeners
- Professional Knife Sharpening Services
- Best Ceramic Knife Sharpeners
- Sharpening Stones
- What’s the Best Way to Sharpen A Knife?
- Important Features to Look For
- A Bit About Kitchen Knives
Our Top 3 Picks
Overall Winner: Apex 1 Knife Sharpener Kit
The Apex 1 claimed the top spot in our comparison. In terms of portability the Apex can’t be beat. It’s easy to set up on just about any flat surface. It also comes with a case making it easy to pack up and store.
Why A Manual Sharpener You Ask?
While most consumers will be looking for an electric sharpener because they are supposed to be fast, they can also destroy your knives. All electric models use grinding wheels. Because of the speed at which they spin, they generate a significant amount of heat. This heat transfers to the blade and can affect the hardness of the steel. It can literally RUIN your knives.
Most electric models also only allow you to sharpen at one angle. This is also a huge disadvantage. The blade angle and hardness are two core design components of any knife and shouldn’t be changed.
Because the Apex system is manual it does not generate heat. And it is infinitely adjustable in terms of sharpening angle. This means it can be used on practically any knife at any angle.
- Extremely flexible design allows exact matching of bevel angle
- Manual Operation ensures no damage to steel temper.
- Sharpen knives of almost any length and up to 3 1/2″ in width.
- Great safety features and great price.
- Works on Western, Japanese and serrated knives
- blade doesn’t lock into place (design specific)
- doesn’t work well on filet knives
The manufacturing quality is top notch. The sharpening stones glide smoothly along the length of the blade ensuring a consistent bevel. It’s capability to sharpen knives both large and small is also a big plus. And the safety features such as the built-in stops and guards ensure that you won’t hurt yourself in the process.
While the accessories aren’t all that different from the other models, they do make it a very flexible and capable kit.
The Apex was designed to help Ben Dale cope with a tough business problem. He had too many customers, and not enough time to service them all. This system was designed to achieve the same results he was capable of producing with traditional sharpening stones, but in a much shorter period of time.
The Apex 1 Package includes the following:
- Apex Model Edge Pro Sharpening System
- 220 Grit Medium Fine water stone
- 400 Grit Fine water stone
- Micro-fiber Towel
- Water Bottle
- Instructional Manual
- Black Cordura Carrying Case
The Apex system is specifically designed to be easy to set up and break down. The base has suction cups on the bottom, allowing a stable platform from which to work. All you need is a smooth surface such as a kitchen counter. The suction cups can be removed if you’re going to attach the unit to a work bench.
The other two units in our comparison use clamps to hold the blade in place. The Apex uses a patented guide instead. This allows you to sharpen longer and taller blades. There aren’t really any length restrictions and blades as tall as 3 1/2″ can be accommodated on this system.
Allowing for a range of anywhere from 10 to 24 degrees, the Apex offers a great amount of flexibility. If you have a hunting knife or survival knife that requires a higher blade angle, you’re out of luck with this unit.
One of the most important differences between this unit and the KME is that once the rod assembly is attached to the base, it’s not removable. To change stones you simply loosen the nut holding it in place and insert the next stone. This helps move things along more quickly.
There are several safety features of the Apex that are important to note. The best way to see all of these features is to watch the video I’ve linked to below.
There are quite a few accessories for this particular knife sharpening kit. They are all available separately, or included in the higher end kits. There’s an Apex 2, 3, and even 4. Basically the only thing that changes is the number of stones, accessories, and an instructional DVD.
Here’s a great video demonstrating the usage of the Apex system.
The following is a more in depth look at the three highest rated electric sharpeners on the market. If you want to skip all this and jump straight to the one I recommend (and bought).
2. KME Sharpeners EKFD Sharpening System
- simple and flexible design
- clamp flips to avoid re-clamping balde
- works with just about any 4″ stone
- clamp isn’t great with odd blade geometries
- base could be more stable
The EKFD uses just about any 4″ sharpening stone. You simply attach the stone to the rod using the supplied clamps. The blade angle is adjustable to anywhere within 17 and 30 degrees. You simply raise or lower the the slot on the frame of the unit and then lock it.
To protect the blade while it is clamped into the unit KME uses a neoprene finish. Both large and small knives can be sharpened by choosing one of the two lines on the clamp. Smaller blades should be placed not the first line, and larger on the second. Clamping the blade in place is as simple as tightening the supplied thumb nut.
The diamond stone series includes a coarse, fine, and extra fine stones.
Once you have the blade locked in place, select the stone you want to start with and place it into the slot on the carrier. The thumb-nut on the end tightens on the stone, holding it in place.
The next step is to slide the rod into the ball joint that is built into the angle selector. The ball joint is a relatively new feature and allows the stone to travel smoothly along the entire length of the blade.
Since you have to sharpen both sides of most knives, KME has included an easy way to flip the knife over without removing it from the clamp. This is a great time-saving innovation that saves you from the aggravation of having to re-seat the blade in the middle of sharpening.
Be sure to get the base plate that is available for an extra $24.95. The pistol grip is fine in a pinch, but it’s nice to have your hands free when sharpening.
For serrated knives you can also purchase the tapered rod. It’s made diamond so it should last as long as the rest of the kit.
For re-curved blades you can also purchase the 3 level grit diamond honing rod. And of course there are stropping stones that can be purchased as well.
Check out the video below to see the unit in action.
While I highly recommend you go with a manual sharpening system over an electric model, I know some people just want the job done fast. So here are a few of the electric models that are better than most. There is still a high probability there will be some impact on the temper of the blade when using these. Consider yourself warned!
#3. Overall Winner for Best Electric Knife Sharpener
Our overall winner for best knife sharpener is the Edge Pro Electric from Smith’s. While they aren’t as well-known as some of the other brands in this comparison, there are several reasons why this product is superior to the rest of the field. Here are the highlights:
- Speed – this unit is as fast as any other in the comparison
- Flexibility – can sharpen a wide variety of angles
- Consistency – the design of the grinding wheels keeps consistent contact with the blade.
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 than that. It even has a special hidden serrated blade sharpener in the side of the unit.
Even with all of this functionality the Edge Pro is one of the most competitively priced products in this category. The speed and flexibility it offers for quickly getting any blade back into shape makes it the best knife sharpener in our comparison.
#4 – 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.
# 5. Chef’sChoice 15 Trizor XV EdgeSelect
The third place model in our best knife sharpener 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. Full review here.
#6. Wicked Edge Precision Knife Sharpener
The last product in our best knife sharpening system comparison is the Wicked Edge Precision sharpener. Founded by Clay Allison and Devin Kennemore back in 2007, the company was started to provide a quality product for outdoor enthusiasts.
- sharpens both sides of the blade at one time
- simple and fast operation
- works on a wide variety of knives
- easy to lock in blade angle
- won’t work on filet knives
- requires noting how each knife is mounted to ensure consistency across sharpenings
- most expensive of the group
The biggest difference between this unit and the other two is that the Wicked Edge uses two rods rather than one. This enables the user to sharpen both sides of the blade at the same time, speeding up the entire process.
The sharpening angle ranges from 15 to 30 degrees. This angle must be set on both sides of the sharpener. The process of setting the angle is easy, but some care must be taken to ensure that both sides are set the same. Otherwise you’re edge will be uneven.
Working both sides of the blade simultaneously does reduce the amount of time need to sharpen a blade. For beginners it’s best to start out slowly. You want to make sure you’re raising a good burr on both sides of the knife blade.
The Wicked Edge knife sharpening kit comes with the blade vice and eight stones. They range in grit from 100 to 600. Two of each is included. The granite base shown in the picture does NOT come with standard kit. This is a bit of a disadvantage since the unit is typically priced $100 higher than it’s competitors in this competition.
Some features, such as the ball joint of the KME, are only included as upgrades on the Wicked Edge.
This is a great video that demonstrates the sharpener in action.
Looking for something else? Here are our top 10 sharpeners from every category.
Which Type Should You Choose?
When it comes to sharpeners there are three basic styles. We will break down category separately in our knife sharpener reviews section. 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.
However, electric models are not without their faults.
First, and most importantly, most electric models use spinning wheels to sharpen the blade. This creates friction which then causes heat. This localized heat can damage the temper of the blade and considerably shorten it’s useful life.
Second, most electric models don’t allow you to adjust the blade angle. This means that all your knives must be sharpened to the same angle. This is not ideal.
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 well-designed 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.
Best Pocket Knife Sharpener Review
Pocket knives can be a bit challenging to work with on an electric sharpener. They often have shorter, folding blades as well as a wide handle. This makes it difficult to sharpen along the entire length of the blade. The best knife sharpener for your kitchen knives won’t necessarily perform well on pocket knives.
Luckily there are some inexpensive options out there when it comes to sharpening your pocket knives. Here’s another post in which we talk about some great options for under $25.
The other upside besides the price is the size of these models. They’re perfect for throwing in a pack or keeping in your vehicle. They’re not necessarily designed to repair damaged blades, but they do a great job restoring a dull knife back to a razor’s edge.
The Blade Medic from Smith’s in particular is a great little unit. It’s easy to use and can fit just about anywhere. I actually have a couple of these little guys stashed around the house and in the car.
Another option for pocket knives is any of the knife sharpening systems we’ve reviewed. They allow you to work on just about any size blade with ease.
Best Hunting Knife Sharpeners
When it comes to hunting knives I almost always recommend going with a stone based system. Most hunters love their knives as much as their dog or their kids and are terrified of scratching or marring the blade in any way. An electric model is much more likely to cause harm than good. Most models don’t allow you to adjust the sharpening angle, and hunting knives come with a wide array of bevel angles. So if you’re looking for the best hunting knife sharpener I would recommend one of the following.
Products like the Apex, KME, and Wicked Edge are designed to ensure the sides of the blade are protected during sharpening. They also allow you to match the EXACT angle of the blade. This helps improve the durability and longevity of the knife. Besides all that, you’ll never get your knife as sharp with an electric model as you can with a sharpening kit or system. They allow for precise control and pressure throughout the entire process.
Best Serrated Knife Sharpeners
Sharpening serrated knives can be fairly challenging. Thankfully most serrated blades are pretty tough and so they don’t require frequent upkeep. Most electric models will only chew up a serrated blade. The Edge Pro from Smith does have a slide out attachment for sharpening serrated blades. It works fairly well. But the best way to get a good edge back on a serrated blade is to use a rounded honing rod.
But for most people that would be fairly inconvenient. Therefore we recommend going with a product like the Chef’s Choice manual sharpener. It operates the same basic way as their electric model, but since it’s manual you can control the sharpening process more carefully.
It’s not perfect, but there’s nothing more frustrating than tearing up a perfectly good baguette instead of cutting clean through it.
Professional 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 an electric knife sharpener around the house.
That being said… When a professional truly knows what they’re doing it’s tough to beat the edge they put on a blade. It will be clean, sharp and should last for a good long while. Any sharpener worth their salt will take excellent care not to damage the blade in any way. And of course they can work on just about any knife in the world.
Best Ceramic Knife Sharpeners
Ceramic knives are too hard to be sharpened by stone-based sharpeners. On top of that, it’s very easy to crack or chip them in the process.
There are only a couple models of sharpeners out there designed to work with ceramic blades. The best knife sharpener for ceramic blades is the Precisharp manual sharpener. It will work with both steel and ceramic.
Humans have been using stones to sharpen blades for thousands of years. Back in the day it wouldn’t be uncommon for anyone and everyone to know how to use a stone to sharpen their knife. But those days are long gone.
While there truly is no better way to get the perfect edge back on your knife than with a sharpening stone it is a method that requires a great deal of practice to do correctly. Here’s a great video showing the proper technique.
As you can see it requires a decent amount of skill. And even then it can take a while, especially with blades that are damage. For this reason we typically recommend going with one the products listed above.
What Features Should You Look For?
There are quite a few products on the market labeled ‘systems’, but how are they different from traditional sharpeners? For starters, the three products we’re comparing utilize a rod and stone based method.
Traditional sharpening stones require you to move the blade across the stone at a specific angle along the entire length. These systems are that same method but in reverse. The knife is locked into a clamp that holds it in place at a specific angle. The stones are then dragged across the blade. This allows even a complete beginner to create a consistent bevel along the length of the blade. And since you can adjust the angle to anything you like, they allow you to sharpen a wide variety of knives.
The three products differ slightly in how this is accomplished. But the basic idea is the same. Allow the user to quickly and safely sharpen knives back to their factory edge and beyond.
What Are the Advantages of These Products?
Knife sharpening involves removing a small amount of material from the blade. The less material removed during this process, the longer the knife will last. This is one of the main reasons professionals don’t like electric models. They tend to remove more metal in the interest of speed.
Additionally, electric models only allow for a couple angle settings. This means that if the angle of a sharpener doesn’t line up with the angle of your knives, the first sharpening will remove a significant amount of material. This process is typically called re-profiling. Most of the electric products on the market do this to one degree or another. Because they are designed to work on a wide variety of knives there is a trade off of accuracy for flexibility.
Most knife makers base their blade angles on the strength of the steel used, so this can be bad for the strength and durability of the blade.
The Adjustable Edge Pro from Smith is an electric model that allows for a great deal of flexibility in choosing your angle. But even this unit can’t match the flexibility of these rod and stone sharpening systems.
One of the most important factors in the sharpening process is creating a consistent edge. Consistency equates to durability. And durability means you have to sharpen less frequently, thereby extending the life expectancy of your knives.
Consistency is where sharpening systems separate themselves from the other products on the market.
Infinite Angle Selection
One of the most impressive features of these products is the ability to select an infinite number of angles. This means if you want to sharpen your 15 degree paring knife, you can match it EXACTLY. Or maybe you want to sharpen a hunting knife that has a 30 degree angle. No problem.
If you want to avoid re-profiling your knives and keeping the factory angle, these sharpening systems are probably your best bet.
Wide Variety of Sharpening Stones
Another important feature of these products is the wide variety of stones that are available for each. An electric sharpener will generally have at most 3 stages for repairing, sharpening, and polishing the blade edge. These products have significantly more flexibility in terms of grit levels, and stropping capabilities.
Basically they allow you to put a professionally polished edge on your blades every time without having to send your knives off or taking them somewhere.
The kits we cover in this comparison each have a pre-set number of stones that come with it, but the manufacturers sell additional stones in varying grits as well.
Simplicity of Operation
Mankind has been using stones to sharpen their blades for hundreds of thousand of years. But sharpening and honing a blade to a razor’s edge is a skill that takes a good amount of practice. Keeping the blade at the same angle as it travels along the surface of the stone is imperative to creating a consistent edge. In fact you can even damage the blade if this motion is performed improperly.
The beauty of these systems is that they combine the simplicity of a guided sharpener with the results of a sharpening stone. Once the angle is selected and the blade is locked in place, you simply slide the stones along the length of the blade. Beginners can get the same results as professionals but without spending hours and hours learning the techniques.
There are other systems on the market such as the Lansky we reviewed here. But this unit doesn’t offer the stability and accuracy as the products in this comparison.
What’s 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 want 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 as the best knife sharpeners for most people as 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.
For Most Electric Knife Sharpeners Are Best
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.
- What sorts of knives will you be sharpening? Kitchen? Western or Japanese? Hunting knives? Pocket knives?
- Where will do a lot of your sharpening? In the kitchen? In the shop? In the field?
- 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.
Important Features to Look For
Getting the best kitchen knife sharpener for your needs is a matter of determining what features you want and how much you’re willing to spend. There are a few important features that should be considered above the rest. Some apply to both manual and electric models. Here they are.
The Best Knife Sharpeners Allow Angle Selection
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 that is the primary reason we selected it as the best knife sharpener overall. It can sharpen anything from a chef’s knife to a paring knife.
Number of 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 man-made 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 man-made 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 man-made 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 the best home 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.
What’s so great about knife sharpening systems? Here’s the short of it. You get the precision and polish of using sharpening stones without having to spend hours and hours learning how to properly use them. In this article we’re going to highlight the three best models on the market.
There are those out there that want to use a more traditional sharpening method on their knives. This might include knife sharpening professionals, custom knife collectors, or just someone that’s looking for that perfectly polished edge. And that’s exactly what these three sharpening systems are designed to provide.
A Bit About Kitchen Knives
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.
Western knives are the most common, but Japanese knives are growing in popularity every year. Not understanding the difference between the two can lead to serious damage to your blades when you go to sharpen them.
The Japanese have excelled at making knives for thousands of years. They typically come in two different formats.
- Single-bevel blades are sharpened only on one side. 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.
- Double-bevel blades are sharpened on both sides. These are similar to Western-style knives, but they are often sharpened to 16 degrees as is the case with many Shun knives.
If you own Japanese knives, this is the single most important factor in choosing the right electric knife sharpener. Depending on which type you own you might need a sharpener that is capable of sharpening only one side at a time.
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)
Most of the sharpener reviews on this site are geared toward Western-style knives. But there are some capable of sharpening both.
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.
When considering various sharpeners take into consideration their flexibility. 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 for our knife sharpener reviews is through testing and customer comments on various forums and online communities. It’s how I was able to find the electric knife sharpener I currently use.
I encourage you to dig through reviews of the products you’re considering before making your purchase. The best knife sharpening tool for one person might not be ideal 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 in your search for the best knife sharpener. Please feel free to post any questions you might have about my knife sharpening reviews in the comments section. I’ll try to get back to you as quickly as I can.
Table of Contents
- Overall Winner: Apex 1 Knife Sharpener Kit
- #3. Overall Winner for Best Electric Knife Sharpener
- Best Pocket Knife Sharpener Review
- Best Hunting Knife Sharpeners
- Best Serrated Knife Sharpeners
- Professional Knife Sharpening Services
- Best Ceramic Knife Sharpeners
- Sharpening Stones
- What’s the Best Way to Sharpen A Knife?
- Important Features to Look For
- A Bit About Kitchen Knives