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A good knife is a sharp knife, but you don’t need to have them professionally sharpened. The worst feeling is to have all the vegetables cleaned, ready to be chopped for some delicious homemade soup stock, and finding your knife is not up to the job.
Many knife sets come with a honing steel. This is not a tool for sharpening. When you sharpen a knife, it shaves some of the metal to restore the blade’s edge, and can even reshape a blade from a Western-style 20-degree edge to a sleeker Asian-style 15-degree. While you should hone your knives often, sharpening should be done a few times per year. A honing steel does not shave metal off your knife, rather it realigns the blade’s edge to render it sharp for each use. If you maintain a steady routine of honing, and sharpen your knives occasionally, you will never be left on Thanksgiving trying to slice through a tough butternut squash with a dull blade. That's why really love our top pick, the Chef’sChoice EdgeSelect Electric Knife Sharpener, which has a slot for sharpening, honing, and polishing.
Regular honing and sharpening also keep you safe since a dull knife can be dangerous. The blunter your blade, the more pressure you must put on to make the cut, increasing your chances of injuring yourself in the process. If you want to check your blades for sharpness, there is a quick at-home test that does not involve running your finger along the knife’s edge. Hold a piece of paper with your thumb and forefinger. With your other hand, use your knife to cut into the side at an angle. Sharp blades make a clean cut through the paper. If your paper remains intact, it is time to get out the sharpener.
From a set of versatile sharpening stones to a diamond abrasive electric station, here are the best knife sharpeners.
Best Overall: Chef’sChoice 15 Trizor XV EdgeSelect Professional Electric Knife Sharpener
When you are looking for a tool to reshape, sharpen, and polish your knives, the Chef’s Choice Trizor XV is up to the challenge. It has a slot for honing, a slot for sharpening, and a slot for polishing. The three stages incorporate two 100-percent diamond abrasives for coarse or fine sharpening, and a flexible abrasive system for stropping—the final stage of sharpening where microscopic-level inconsistencies of the edge are removed to ensure a razor-like edge. Stage three can also sharpen your serrated knives with conforming grooves to grab the serrated edges.
If it only had these functions, it would be a great addition to your kitchen, but it also can convert Western-style, 20-degree angles to slim, Asian-style 15-degree angles. Western-style edges are heavier, and built for tougher chopping, while Asian-style edges are known for handling precision tasks like mincing parsley and slicing tomatoes with ease.
Charlie McKenna, the founder and chef of Lillie's Q in Chicago and Destin, Florida, recommends the Chef’sChoice 15 Trizor XV electric knife sharpener. "It hones, sharpens, and polishes. It can really revive even the dullest knives, ones you think are totally dead," says McKenna. "This model also stands out because it essentially can convert European knives into sharper Japanese blades which are more effective for precision cutting (think peeling, preparing fish, and cutting expertly uniform vegetables)."
The Trizor XV is easy-to-use with its slot guides to ensure your knife is at the right angle and not slipping around. It has a simple on/off switch, and sharpens knives from end-to-end in minutes.
Best Budget: KitchenIQ 50009 Edge Grip 2-Stage Knife Sharpener
It is hard to believe something this diminutive in stature and price could be effective, but it is. The KitchenIQ Edge Grip features two sharpening options: coarse and fine. The coarse mode has carbide blades for when you’re after that sharp edge, especially useful when you have a dull knife that needs rehabbing. The fine option has ceramic rods that hone edges between full sharpening.
The KitchenIQ works on both serrated and straight-edge knives, a bonus for a manual sharpener. It has a non-slip base for stability and an edge grip, which allows you to sharpen on the edge of a table or countertop, preventing scratches to your surfaces. It also comes in a variety of fun colors to brighten up your kitchen. It is a compact, affordable choice that gets your knives sharp.
Best Electric: Chef’sChoice 130 Professional Electric Knife Sharpening Station
If you are not interested in converting your 20-degree knives, this is a better choice than the Trizor XV. It is a workhorse for Western-style knives. Its electric three-stage system starts with a 100-percent diamond sharpener, then a super-hardened steel sharpener, and lastly, flexible stropping disks. There are built-in guides for ease of use, and ensuring consistently sharp edges.
The versatile Chef’s Choice 130 can be used on both straight edge and serrated knives. It is not just reserved for kitchen knives either—you can sharpen your household, sports, and pocket knives as well. Its stabilizing rubber feet grip the counter and keep the unit secure. It quickly brings your knives back to factory-quality, razor-sharp performance.
Related: The Best Knife Sets
Best Manual: Priority Chef Knife Sharpener for Straight and Serrated Knives
If you have a cozy kitchen, the Priority Chef Knife Sharpener will not take up much real estate. It has a non-slip base that keeps it secure during sharpening, and also protects countertops from scratches that could happen while in use. There are two sharpening slots. One has a coarse diamond coating for sharpening, and the other has a ceramic wheel for honing and improving any microscopic imperfections.
Manual sharpeners tend to be easier to use, and this Priority Chef is no exception. There are no settings to learn or mechanized processes to understand. You just grip the handle and swipe your blade through. The sharpener works on serrated blades as well, but the manufacturer cautions to only use the honing slot for them.
This budget-friendly, space-saving option also makes a great choice on road trips, and at vacation rentals to ensure you have a sharp blade for that chopped salad.
Best Sharpening Stone: Lansky Deluxe 5-Stone Sharpening System
As a knife enthusiast, this whetstone set speaks to me. It has five different, color-coded to their grit level sharpening stones, and they have little finger grips to secure your hold. It gives you ultimate control over angles and allows you to sharpen with precision.
Whetstone, or sharpening stone, comes from the word “whet” which means to sharpen. They provide a superior result sharpening and retaining a razor-like edge, but they also come with a learning curve. This set is not immune. Sharpening on whetstone requires practice, but once you nail the technique, it can be addictive. You will be sharpening everything from butcher knives to hunting knives, and this set can handle that obsession.
The set also comes with some added safety with its guide rods and knife clamp, unlike traditional whetstones where you freehold the stone and the knife. The only caveat, other than the learning curve, is the smallest guide is 17-degrees, so if you have Asian-style knives you will have to sharpen without the guide rods, but this takes a steady hand.
Related: The Best Japanese Knives
Best Versatile Sharpener: Work Sharp Culinary E5 Kitchen Knife Sharpener with Ceramic Honing Rod
Crafting knives often involves some time with a belt for shaping, smoothing, and polishing the blade. The Work Sharp utilizes flexible sharpening belts to create factory-sharp edges. Belts are less harsh than diamond-studded abrasives, but still very efficient, and easier on your knives in the long run.
The Work Sharp comes with nine belts in three different grit levels that run on three settings: shape, sharpen, and hone. The sharpener automatically turns itself off at the end of the chosen setting, preserving your blades from being oversharpened. There is an integrated vacuum that sucks the debris during the process to keep the mess at bay. It also boasts the ability to sharpen any knife from luxury steels to basic cutlery, from serrated to straight-edged.
It is easy to use with just one power setting, a timer for controlled operation and can be used electrically or manually (the middle slot is for the manual option). It has guides for different angles, but not one to accommodate a 15-degree knife, like a santoku. For angles that slim, you must sharpen without a guide, which takes practice.
The Work Sharp comes with a ceramic honing rod to straighten knives between sharpening, an important tool for your kitchen collection. A belt system can be a bit of a learning curve, but the end result is worth the time.
Related: The Best Carving Knives
Best Sharpening Steel: Wusthof 10-Inch Sharpening Steel with Loop
This steel does not technically sharpen your knives—it straightens the edge of the blade that gets bent during use. The bending is not visible, but you can tell when your knife seems dull that it needs some honing. Steels are also an inexpensive, easy way to keep your knives in shape between sharpenings.
The Wüsthof comes with a loop for hanging and an ergonomically designed, slip-resistant handle that is comfortable to grip. I own this steel and love it. It is magnetic, so it collects all the metal fiber dust that comes off the knife while honing, and it conveniently hangs beside my knife rack. I would never consider a sharpening setup complete without a honing steel. Sharpeners are important a few times per year to prolong the life of your knives; steels are necessary almost daily to keep your appendages safe from the hazards of dull blades.
Related: The Best Santoku Knives
If you are looking to equip your kitchen with a tool that can not only sharpen and polish your knives but also convert them from 20-degree blades to 15-degree blades, we recommend the Chef'sChoice Trizor XV (view at Amazon). If you want to try a manual sharpener that offers compact storage, control, and versatility choose the Lansky Deluxe (view at Amazon).
What to Look for in a Knife Sharpener
Electric vs. Manual vs. Whetstones
When choosing a knife sharpener for your kitchen, the first question you’ll be met with is what type of knife sharpener is best? The three main types include electric, manual, and whetstone.
Electric and manual knife sharpeners are self-explanatory. Electric models take a lot of the work out of sharpening your knife since they are powered tools. However, they take up more room and are generally more pricey. Manual knife sharpeners require a bit more elbow grease, but they’re a more budget-friendly and space-saving option.
A whetstone is a sharpening stone. You use it to manually sharpen your knives by drawing the blade along the block. Knife enthusiasts like this method because it gives you the most control and allows you to sharpen your blade from all angles. While this isn’t a beginner-friendly method, it’s a great option for someone who takes their role as home chef seriously.
Charlie McKenna recommends electric sharpeners because they’re generally easier to use and safer. "Non-electric models may seem simpler but require more sharpening, which can actually damage your knives," he says. "An electric model should require no more than three sharpenings per year so you can store them away for most of the year. Always read the knife manufacturer’s website for recommendations on sharpening your particular knives."
Single-Stage vs Multi-Stage Sharpeners
When it comes to knife sharpeners, stages refer to the slots where you place the blade of your knife to sharpen. Most knife sharpeners include between one and four stages. When choosing a knife sharpener, McKenna says more is better. "Having multiple stages leads to a longer lifespan for your knives, which is especially important if you use them a lot," he says.
Can you use a knife sharpener for scissors?
You can sharpen a pair of scissors with a special sharpener for scissors. While scissors aren’t compatible with most knife sharpeners, you can use a ceramic honing rod designed for knives to sharpen your scissors as well.
How do you sharpen a serrated knife?
The best way to sharpen a serrated knife is with a honing rod made of ceramic or stainless steel. Run the serrated edges along the flat side of the rod to sharpen them.
Should you wash your knives after sharpening?
Always rinse and sanitize your knives after sharpening them. Sharpening knives results in some of the metal being removed from the edge of the blade. To avoid this metal coming into contact with your food, wash your knife after sharpening it.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Carrie Honaker is a food writer who has wielded many knives over the years. As a restaurateur and avid home cook, she knows the importance of caring for your knives to maintain steady, sharp edges. She loves her Wüsthof Honing Steel to keep those edges straight and functional cook after cook. Her work has appeared in many publications including Bon Appetit, Allrecipes, and Wine Enthusiast.
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