The market today has many different types of knives on offer. Choosing the right one for your needs not be that difficult. What may be more challenging is constantly keeping your knife sharp. The fact is that a sharp knife is not only safer than a dull one but more efficient. It’s less likely to slip off what you are chopping and instead accidentally slice your finger. We would not typically be bothered with knife sharpeners if our knives stayed sharp throughout from the moment we bought them. However, by virtue of what they do, knives do require sharpening frequently.
A sharp knife is a chef’s best mate. Using a blunt knife means you will have to put more pressure on what you are slicing, as a result of which, your soft vegetables or fruits lose their shape or get squashed. It also greatly increases your personal risk of physical injury. Besides the kitchen knives, we have several other types such as survival and hunting knives that are best served when you have one of the best sharpening system sets.
The History of Knife Sharpening
Western style knife-sharpening can be traced directly back to the “Moletas” from Northern Italy. They originated from the Val Rendena valley in Italy`s Dolomite Alps. These knife-grinders traveled from one village to the next offering their knife sharpening services. The first one is thought to have landed in America in 1886 and within 3 decades, he had been joined by hundreds more.
The Moletas had by 1910 become successful enough to acquire their own horse-drawn carts and by the year 1930 they were using trucks to carry their sharpening supplies. Today, according to lansky, although Moletas are still in existence, people have now mastered how to sharpen their knives on their own. Additionally, technology has now reached new levels with modern methods and tools for knife sharpening being widely available today.
For thousands of years, humans have been sharpening blades using stones. The sharpening stone is a rectangular stone block that is ideally about one inch thick and made from different materials such as ceramic, diamond or even natural stones. A sharpening stone is good for dull knives as it removes a lot of blade material, but that tends to age your knife pretty fast.
It is a method that demands some good practice to do it perfectly. This tool was to be found in the majority of homes because it is handy when it comes to sharpening knives, razors, scissors, and other tools. But such days are now a thing of the past.
Manual Knife Sharpeners or Pull-Thru Sharpeners
These are available in different shapes that you can use vertically or horizontally without requiring much physical effort on your part. This tool works best for kitchen knives although you can still use it to sharpen pocket knives. You simply pull the knife through the sharpener to get the knife burrs straightened so as to give a consistent, sharp edge.
Electric Knife Sharpeners
Probably the best knife sharpener in the market today is the electric powered one. Mostly, this is available in the shape of a box that you place at a corner on your kitchen counter. The best knife sharpener typically has one to three slots through which a motorized wheel grinds and spins the edge of your knife to bring a sharp edge.
These types of sharpeners are effective when you want the kitchen knife sharpened fast. However, according to most electric knife sharpener reviews, they could be less effective for tactical knives which demand more control during the sharpening process.
Handheld knife sharpeners, similar to electric sharpeners, simplify the process of sharpening. They are, however, generally limited as they have fewer slots to sharpen with. A key benefit of these types of handheld sharpeners is their easy portability. Their manual operating method and small size make them ideal for cooking professionals who travel frequently, such as those engaged in outside catering services.
Depending on the design of the handheld sharpener, you can either draw your knife through the slots while holding the device on a flat surface or draw it along the length of the blade while holding the knife spine-down on the countertop or table. Both types are excellent for easily sharpening a dull knife back to cutting form.
This is a narrow, long rod made out of ceramic or steel, mostly used in honing a blade. It doesn’t actually shave off too much material. Therefore, it may not be the best tool for sharpening a dull knife. In addition, it needs one to be very careful with the sharpening angle because if due care is not taken, instead of a sharpened knife, you may end up with a deformed blade. These are however the best pocket knife sharpener products for survival and pocket knives.
Dealing with FAQs, notes that sharpening steel is really a bit of a misnomer. The primary job of sharpening steel is honing the knife edge/blade. The four most widely available cuts are diamond, regular, ceramic, and combination.
Knife Sharpener Buying Guide
If you’re investing in a good knife, it makes sense to also invest in a good sharpener. Any knife that is used regularly will eventually become dull and a few moments spent from time to time restoring the blade will indefinitely extend the life of your knife.
The knife sharpening process involves removing a small amount of the material that makes the blade. The less material that gets removed from your knife during the sharpening process, the longer it will last. Take care not to be fooled by all manner of sharpeners that you see being aggressively hawked on Sunday supplements and in discount magazines. Instead, seek expert guidance and ensure that your investment made in a knife doesn’t go to waste.
So what is the best knife sharpener currently available in the market?
A Complete Buying Guide - Best Knife Sharpener – The Best 5 Reviewed
The Trizor XV helps in prolonging the life of your quality knives as it combines the durability and strength of the Trizor edge with the ultra-sharp, flawless 15ºXV technology. The main advantage of this feature is that you can customize the edge to achieve optimal performance based on the knife material being worked on.
- It is perfect for converting the traditional 20-degree factory made edges of home knives into Trizor XV high-performance edges.
- The flexible spring guides ensure that you get consistent pressure required for accurate sharpening across the entire blade length.
- Very suitable for sharpening both your serrated and straight edge blades.
The 3 stage sharpener works well with both Japanese and Western knives, making it one of the most capable products. During the process of sharpening it creates a “Trizor” or triple beveled edge, highly valued by chefs. This is a great tool to keep in your kitchen and no doubt the best knife sharpener today.
The Chef’s Choice 120 is a durable and solid electric knife sharpener that will quickly sharpen all your blunt kitchen knives. My best feature that completely distinguishes this product from others is its unique ‘polishing slot‘. Yes, besides the two slots for sharpening, the Chef’s Choice Diamond Hone 120 has a separate slot specifically for polishing.
Unique beneficial features include:
- Trizor-Plus edge provides greater durability and sharpness
- Three-stage sharpening procedure ensures you get precision results
- Works well for sporting knives, gourmet chef's knives, serrated knives, and butcher knives,
- The edges will stay sharp longer, even when subjected to the most challenging tasks
- 100% diamond abrasive that never detempers
- Comes with a 3-year household warranty.
You can customize the highly polished, flawless fine edge to suit your cutting task. The sharpener’s high precision elastomeric angle guides removes all forms of guesswork from the task, while a handy magnetic pad gathers residue for easy maintenance and clean-up.
Though slightly less expensive, the Chef’s Choice Diamond Hone 120 is very good and very highly rated by knife sharpener reviews. I have had this sharpener for 9 years and it still works perfectly almost getting my knives too sharp!
If you’ve ever had to sharpen through a nick or chip in the blade edge or rebevel a knife, you certainly appreciate how mind numbing and time-consuming this can be. If you have been searching the market for something to speed up this task, then your solution lies with the Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener, Ken Onion Edition.
According to electric knife sharpener reviews, this is a very popular product with over 1000 high reviews on Amazon.
- Sharpen every type of knife using flexible, wide abrasive belts, variable speed, and adjustable precision sharpening guide
- Scissor Sharpening Guide restores your scissors to like-new condition easily
- Easily and quickly sharpens your blades to give you more time for working
- Adjustable Sharpening Guide gives, precise, fast, and repeatable sharpening results as no calibration time or set up is required.
The Heavy Duty Variable Speed Motor provides you more power with enhanced cooling and the option of high speed grinding to slow speed honing. You benefit from the Multi-Position Sharpening Module that supports various positions for a broad array of tools or grinding tasks.
Work Sharp-engineered to give you the best of power knife sharpening, making the Tool Sharpener Ken Onion Edition one of the best knife sharpener units today.
Chef’s Choice 320 Diamond Hone is a remarkable multi-stage sharpener. You get a sharp edged knife in a single go. During the two-stage process of sharpening, the precision elastomeric spring guides holds your blade at the most suitable angle. With this sharpener in the house, none of your knives can stay blunt or dull.
- Has a convenient and simple ON / OFF switch
- Comes with unique patented stropping plus polishing stage
- 2-stage sharpening for longer-lasting edges
- Durable structure and stabilizing feet
- 100% diamond honing ensure it will never detemper
- Product comes with a limited 3-years warranty.
This sharpener is rated by electric knife sharpener reviews as easy-to-use and safe. Simply plug-in and turn on the sharpener, then start the blade pull-thru process. The elastomeric inbuilt spring guides the blades at the most suitable angle to give you hair-splitting sharpness.
The Presto EverSharp offers a safe and quick method for sharpening most of your knives. Besides being one of the best kitchen knife sharpener products, it is also excellent for your sporting knives. A 3-step, sharpening process works by using interchangeable blade guides for each of your knife types: a fine wheel, medium, and course wheel.
- Eliminates guesswork from knife sharpening as it automatically guides your knife at the most ideal sharpening angle.
- The 3-Stage Sharpening system gives fast and professional results
- Suitable for kitchen and sport knives
- Interchangeable blade guides ensure you get optimum sharpening angles
- Presto EverSharp Electric Knife Sharpener does not require batteries.
The Presto knife sharpener is a very popular low-cost sharpener, the ideal gift for those who appreciate optimally functioning kitchen utensils and love cooking. The Presto EverSharp Electric Knife Sharpener offers convenient storing as it can be placed inside a drawer or on your countertop.
Knife Sharpening Systems
Besides the traditional knife sharpeners, today there are numerous knife sharpening systems that are making the work of knife sharpening a walk in the park. Using traditional knife sharpeners like sharpening stones, requires that you have some level of expertise in sharpening knives. Using sharpening systems, on the other hand, is easy as they perform the entire job on your behalf. Some of the systems can sharpen knives with grooved edges, something quite tricky using manual sharpening techniques.
The way people at home sharpen their knives has been revolutionized by knife sharpening systems. Professional chefs are now also using these systems in ensuring that their knives are uniformly sharpened. It’s the perfect for housewives who lack both the time and the needed skills to perform the delicate and at times rigorous task of manual knife sharpening, yet must have sharp kitchen tools.
The different components of the system are stored in plastic holders to ensure they are not damaged or cause harm. In addition, they come with clear guidelines in several languages on how to use them, ensuring maximum safety.
Advantages of Sharpening Systems
The advent of knife sharpening systems has radically changed the entire state of knife sharpening. It is a matchless blend of traditional and modern technology that has greatly contributed to the ease and success of knife sharpening today.
Probably the most notable advantages include the inbuilt safety features, customized settings, multi-stage sharpening system, and the sharpening angle guide. The settings can be tweaked to determine the grit factor according to the knife structure.
With sharpening systems, you are assured of precision, giving your knives a better edge. Some of the systems have replaced the stone with a component containing diamond powder on the surface to facilitate sharpening of ceramic knives. This class of knives cannot be sharpened using a stone as they wear out the stone quite fast, even before they get sharpened at all.
These systems come with inbuilt safety features designed to make sure that you are not accidentally injured as you sharpen your knives. Features of the best sharpening system include safety holders that are finger-grooved ensuring that your hand is not close to the sharpening tools.
Blade Sharpening Angles
Your knife is only good and useful if sharp enough for the task at hand. Knife sharpening angle measurements stand for the angle to which each side of your blade gets sharpened. The smaller the angle between the knife sharpener/stone and the blade, the sharper your knife will be. For kitchen knives, the most common angle is 20-degrees; although, some manufacturers make theirs with a 15-degree angle.
Generally, the greater the blade angle, the more durable and stronger will be your blade, but, remember, you lose sharpness as you increase the angle. For example, according to Knife Sharpeners Buying Guide, sharpening a blade at a 20-degree angle actually, means that it has a 40 degrees total angle.
The best sharpening system comes with several inbuilt settings, the most common being:
- These come with different angle settings, each producing different results. If you want your knife sharpened to a razor edge, then a 17-degree angle should be used. A 20 degrees angle is most suited for meat and fillet cutting knives. Any blade angle lower than 20 degrees is normally reserved for sharpening razors.
- The 18 – 25-degree angles range gives a delicate balance between durability and sharpness that is needed when you are cutting meats, fruits, and cheeses, and vegetables. Boning, carving, and chef knives all generally use angles within the 18-25 range.
- Hunting knives are good at 25 degrees, as well as other knives used outdoor that need a durable cutting edge, not getting dull too quickly. For knives used for heavy duty tasks like cutting carpets, cardboards, and even wires, 30 degrees is best.
- The 30 – 35-degree angles range is commonly utilized on cleavers or other types of chopping blades. These normally require considerable force and such large angles provide your blade with the durability and strength necessary to perform the chopping task consistently.
Types of Hones
- Determined by the grit factor, the type of hones also determines how you will sharpen a knife; higher the grit factor, finer will be the honing.
- Your hone type should be selected depending on the kind of knife being sharpened; the finer type of hone is best for sharpening blades that are delicate.
It is worth noting that even though certain blade angles and bevels may tend to match up naturally in terms of durability and sharpness, it doesn't mean that they necessarily have to be used together. The points to bear in your mind as you establish the blade angle and bevel type is how you are going to utilize the knife so that you may identify the perfect balance between durability and sharpness.
Protecting Against Blade Damage
The blade of your knife primarily gets damaged by buckling – the compressive force that comes from being pressed into any hard object like bone, or ice – and through bending caused by sideways pressure. Due to malleable nature of metal, both of these actions tend to roll the blade edge.
If your knife is used for scrapping, as a pry-bar, or encounters some hard particles hidden within softer materials, or even a hard cutting board, bending may occur damage. For example, according to Ron Hazelton’ HouseCalls Blog plastic carving board dulls knives faster compared to a wooden one.
Damage may also happen due to acid corrosion (such as cutting tomatoes or lemons) or through exposure to dishwasher corrosive chemicals or high temperatures.
You can avoid blade damage by:
- Matching an appropriate blade for the task at hand
- Straight cutting, avoiding side-to-side movement
- Immediately cleaning the blade after use
- If appropriate, oiling with food grade oil.
One of the earliest and greatest discoveries made by mankind is the knife. This tool was first used by our ancestors to hunt down animals for meat. During those early times, knife sharpening was crude; it basically entailed rubbing it against a rough stone. Over the passage of time, the knife sharpening technology has witnessed a tremendous evolution. Today, modern knife sharpeners are necessary tools if you want to make your cutting, chopping, and slicing tasks easy.
Whether you are laying out cutlery for a dinner party or cutting up chunks of beef in the kitchen, you need to ensure that the knives perform their tasks perfectly. The knives must have the requisite edge if they are to do the work. Imagine trying to cut a piece of steak using a knife whose edge is only suitable for slicing butter!
A dull knife can really be frustrating. Whether it's a kitchen knife, your fishing knife, hunting knife, or pocket knife, you want a sharp edge that easily gets the task accomplished fast and without too much physical input on your part. That’s why you must get the best knife sharpener that is perfectly suited for your needs, and any of my 5 choices above would make an ideal choice.
Product images sourced from Amazon.com