Even the best knife in the world is useless when it’s dull. A quality knife sharpener will help you keep your knives sharp and can actually increase the longevity of your knives.
Whether you’re using knives for hunting, throwing practice, or just in the kitchen, a quality knife sharpener is an essential item to add to your arsenal.
Ever since humans began using knives we had the need to keep these knives sharp. Some of the first sharp-edged tools can be dated back more than 2.5 million years (1). Early knives were fashioned primarily of stone and they were often made for a specific purpose and then discarded immediately after satisfying that purpose.
Today, we fashion knives from a variety of metals and these metals can be routinely sharpened to enhance performance.
We’ve compiled our very own list of the Top Ten Knife Sharpeners to help you find one that’s right for you.
1. Bavarian Edge Kitchen Knife Sharpener by Bulbhead
This sharpener is made to work with all blades, unlike some that are specific to a certain type. It’s the perfect in-home sharpener for anyone looking for a do-it-all tool to sharpen, hone, and polish old and new knives alike.
The Bavarian Edge Kitchen Knife Sharpener features two independent spring-action arms crafted of tungsten carbide. These arms contour to the edges of any knife for a better sharpen and can be used on standard, serrated, and beveled blades.
2. Lansky Deluxe 5-Stone Sharpening System
This is an amazing multi-purpose sharpening system for anyone that needs to service kitchen, outdoor, hobby, or garden knives. The system’s 5 color-coded stones allow for a variety of hones on all types of knives, including extra-coarse, coarse, medium, fine alumina oxide, and extra-fine ceramic.
The Lansky Deluxe 5-Stone Sharpening System features 17, 20, 25, and 30-degree angle options and each color-coded stone comes with finger-grooved safety holders and specially formulated honing oil. This system also offers a precision-engineered knife clamp and custom-molded carrying case.
3. PriorityChef Whetstone Sharpening Stone
This sharpening stone is perfect for anyone who’s tired of taking knives into the hardware store to be sharpened. With a durable design and non-slip base, this stone allows experienced sharpeners to achieve a professional edge from the comfort of your home.
This PriorityChef Whetstone Sharpening Stone features a coarse, 240-grit stone on one side and a smooth, 100-grit stone on the other. It also offers a non-slip bottom to guarantee safety and works with almost any straight edge cutting tool, including hunting knives, scissors, shears, and more.
4. Smith’s Kit – PP1 Pocket Pal & CCKS 2-Step Knife Sharpener
Smith’s Kit offers two great sharpening tools for the on-the-go hunter or adventurer. Light and yet highly effective, the Pocket Pal will go anywhere for a quick hone when you need it and the CCKS can stay at home for regular tune-ups.
The Pocket Pal features a tapered diamond rod for sharpening serrations and gut hooks as well as carbide blades to quickly set an edge and a ceramic finishing slot. The CCKS 2-Step sharpener offers crossed carbide blades for quick edge setting and crossed ceramic rods for a razor sharp finish.
5. Brod and Taylor Professional Knife Sharpener
Made in Austria, this knife sharpener is best for both smooth and serrated knives. It’s great for anyone who wants a sharpener that can quickly hone a razor sharp edge and work on a variety of knife types.
The Brod and Taylor Professional Knife Sharpener features a durable design with nearly two full pounds of solid stainless steel. The tungsten-carbide sharpeners are made to last more than 5 years and sit on spring-action bars that can adjust to the angle of the knife blade. This sharpener can adjust from 12 degrees for a super-sharp fillet knife to 20 degrees for a more rugged chopping blade.
6. Green Elephant Knife Sharpening Rod
This sharpening rod is great for connoisseurs of German or Japanese-made knives, but it’s also a perfect fit for an excellent hunting knife sharpening steel. Weighing less than 11 ounces, it’s a lightweight rod that can also go anywhere.
The Green Elephant Knife Sharpening Rod features a white ceramic design with an SGS-tested (2) hardness of 9 Mohs (3). Designed to last for years, this sharpening steel boasts a unique vibration absorbent design that protects it from shattering when dropped.
7. Chef’sChoice 15 XV Trizor Professional Electric Knife Sharpener
Here’s a great option for anyone looking for an electric sharpener that will quickly and effectively sharpen American, European, and Asian-made knives, including those with straight and serrated edges.
The Chef’sChoice 15 XV Trizor Professional Electric Knife Sharpener features flexible spring guides for accurate control of the sharpening angle, as well as a 3-Stage EdgeSelect system that allows you to dial in the perfect edge for each cutting task. If you’re in a hurry, this electric sharpener only requires one minute for a first time sharpening and approximately 10 seconds for resharpening.
8. Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener
Work Sharp provides another great option for anyone that needs to sharpen many different types of knives and doesn’t want to buy a different sharpener for each. This knife and tool sharpener works for hunting, kitchen, filet, outdoor, tactical, and pocket knives.
The Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener features three abrasive belts that deliver coarse, medium, and fine blade finishes. This sharpener also boasts three precision sharpening guides at 40, 50, and 65 degrees, respectively. Versatility is key with this sharpener, as it also allows you to sharpen scissors, axes, hatchets, and more.
9. Wusthof Precision Edge 4 Stage Handheld Sharpener
Anyone looking for a sharpener that works with both standard and Asian-style knives should consider this as an excellent option. A rubberized base offers sure grip for effortless sharpening and honing.
The Wusthof Precision Edge 4 Stage Handheld sharpener features hard carbide steel blades for the coarse sharpening stage and fine ceramic rods for honing. Wusthof also purposefully weighted the design of this sharpener to be safe and secure for even the most inexperienced user.
10. Victorinox Pocket Knife Sharpener
Designed by the makers of the Original Swiss Army Knife (4), this manual sharpener is great for anyone that needs to take their sharpener everywhere they go. Made specifically to sharpen pocket knives, this sharpener is perfect for backpacking, hiking, fishing, and much more.
The Victorinox Pocket Knife Sharpener Clam Pack features a compact and sturdy German design. The sharpener weighs less than two ounces and boasts a ceramic v-groove and oval rod. Small enough to slip in your pocket, it’s one of the best sharpeners on the market if you’re always on the move.
Finding the right knife sharpener depends on your unique needs. Unless you’re experienced with sharpening steel, for example, they can be hard to use safely and effectively, even if you’ve watched Gordon Ramsay’s tutorial a few times over (5).
To guide you towards a sharpener that’ll work for you, our buyer’s guide will focus on these major characteristics: abrasiveness, versatility, mobility, safety features, and price range.
All methods of knife sharpening are ultimately judged on performance. In general, diamond is considered the hardest and fastest sharpening material followed by tungsten carbide and polished ceramic. “Grit” is the term of measurement for a sharpener’s abrasiveness and higher grit means a finer abrasive.
Depending on your experience sharpening knives, you may or may not value an accurate, adjustable angle guide. Many sharpeners with angle guides make it much easier to keep the blade at the correct angle while sharpening. When examining the angle guides offered by a specific sharpener, keep in mind that 15 and 20 degrees are the most common blade angles for kitchen cutlery.
All blades wear differently depending on how much they’re used and what they’re used for. This is why it’s essential to have a sharpener that offers multiple sharpening stages. Coarse abrasives will be used to reshape edges on very dull or damaged knives while finer abrasives work well for touch-ups and polishing.
If you’re primarily sharpening hunting, fishing, or pocket knives, a large cumbersome sharpening system can be difficult to transport. For these purposes, a smaller, lighter, and more compact sharpening system should be used. If you’ll primarily be sharpening kitchen knives, on the other hand, a stationary system is likely suitable.
To put it bluntly: the point of a knife sharpener is to sharpen your knives, not your fingers. You want to make sure you’ll feel comfortable and safe using the sharpening system you eventually decide to buy.
Most manual sharpeners have a built-in safety feature that puts a physical barrier between your fingers and the knife blade. Electric sharpeners tend to be very safe because they utilize slots or rails to guide the knife into the sharpening disks or belt to reduce the possibility of the blade slipping into your hand.
Frequently Asked Questions
In ancient Java, the Kris knife, which was crafted from the stone of a meteorite, was believed to possess magical powers, including the ability to ward off bad luck and protect whoever was wielding the knife (6).
While the right knife sharpener may not give your knife set magical powers, it will help them keep their effectiveness and last longer. Let’s examine some of the most Frequently Asked Questions about knife sharpeners and knife sharpening.
Do knife sharpeners wear out?
The short answer is yes. Sharpeners made from ceramic or diamond steels have a tendency to pick up metal particles as they sharpen. As such, they should frequently be scrubbed with an abrasive cleaner to reduce the likelihood of losing their “teeth.”
How can you tell if your knives need to be sharpened?
Generally, a blade that needs to be sharpened will feel dull to the touch. Blades that can’t cut paper, smash tomatoes, slip off onions, and don’t pass the arm hair test (7) should all be sharpened.
What is the best grit for sharpening knives?
This depends on the stage of sharpening. Generally, lower grits mean a coarser stone. Coarser stones remove a lot of material quickly and are great for repairing chips or setting a new bevel angle on a blade. Higher grits mean a finer stone. Finer stones are best used to polish a blade to a mirror-like finish and hone the cutting edge to razor sharp.
What is the burr of a knife?
Also called a ‘wire edge’, a burr is created when metal is sharpened. The burr will form on the edge of the knife where the planes of the bevels intersect. In the case of one-side knives or chisels, the burr forms where the plane of one face meets the bevel.
Can you use a file to sharpen a knife?
Yes, and this can lead to a very sharp edge, but this technique requires experience. Generally, the use of a small, fine, flat file will help to avoid removing larger amounts of material.
What type of honing oil should you use?
Many sharpening stones should only be used with honing oil. Mineral oil is ideal because it is light and will not harden or turn rancid. Lighter oils are better as heavier oils will actually decrease the stone’s effectiveness. Mineral oil is also safe to work with and doesn’t release and unpleasant odors or harmful fumes.
What is the importance of having a specific angle on a knife blade?
Fine angled blades tend to be more effective in slicing and delicate knife work, but they will become dull more quickly. Wider angled blades tend to hold up better for rough chopping and other, more intense uses.
Can a knife sharpener damage my knives?
All sharpeners are safe for the specific types of knives they’ve been designed to sharpen. However, you should be careful to read and understand directions thoroughly before sharpening. Improper use of a sharpener, such as applying too much pressure, could result in damage to the blade of your knife.
Knife sharpening technology allows us to increase the lifespan of our favorite knives and ensure their effectiveness during that lifespan. Unlike early humans who discarded their sharp-edged tools after one or two uses, we can now make our knives last for years. We hope this article has helped you narrow down your options to find the right knife sharpener for you!