Should I Have a Pro Sharpen My Knives?

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How should you take care of your knives? Can you adequately sharpen them at home or should you leave it to the pros? What's the difference between honing and sharpening? Here's our advice!

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Photography Credit: Andy Christensen

READER QUESTION: Are there any good knife sharpeners for home use, or should I take my knives to a professional for sharpening?

Great question! To start, let’s quickly recap on knife care terminology.

  • Sharpening a knife shaves off a bit of metal to bring back the knife’s sharp edge. If you’re a frequent home cook and use your knives at least once a day, you should sharpen your knives 2 to 3 times a year.
  • Honing a knife with a honing steel realigns the edge and helps keep the knife sharp. It doesn’t remove metal like sharpening. If you’re cooking a lot, you should hone your knives 2 to 3 times a week.

Professional knife sharpeners charge on average about $1 an inch, or $8 to sharpen an 8-inch chef’s knife. This is a great option if you have want to offload the responsibility and ensure your knives get a tip-top treatment. Depending on how many knives you use regularly, though, it can get costly if you’re having them sharpened a few times a year, especially since you’ll still want to purchase a honing steel to use at home. (I like this one, but this is a more budget-friendly pick.)

If you want to take charge of your knives and do your own sharpening, there are good knife sharpeners for home use. They’re not cheap, but could still be cheaper than professional sharpening when you consider the cost of sharpening knives a few times a year over many years.

I have and use this electric knife sharpener from ChefsChoice. I got it as a gift years ago, and it has been a solid performer — it’s fast, easy to use, durable, and most importantly, really works to get my standard 20-degree edge knives super sharp again.

If I were buying an electric knife sharpener now, though, I’d go for the updated 15 Trizor XV model, which comes in at $10 more than the model I have. It’s universally praised for being an electric sharpener that can do all the things: sharpen, hone, and polish both Western-style knives with 20-degree edges (serrated, too!) and Japanese knives, with their thin, razor-sharp 12 to -15-degree edges. Even better: it can turn a knife with a 20-degree edge into one with a super sharp 15-degree edge.

Hope that’s helpful!

-Cambria, Product and Lifestyle Director, avid knife-user, and pro electric knife sharpener

NOW PUT THAT KNIFE TO USE!

P.S. Have a question you’d like answered? Email us at [email protected]

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Cambria Bold

Cambria Bold is the Product and Lifestyle Director for Simply Recipes. She has almost a decade's worth of online editorial experience and know-how, first as the Managing Editor for Apartment Therapy's green living site Re-Nest (RIP) and later as the Design and Lifestyle Editor for The Kitchn. She lives in the Twin Cities with her husband and their two little girls. And, yes, this is her real name.

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4 Comments

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  1. michael A. Langevin

    I have owned a Chefs choice for years and love. So simple to use and perfect edge.
    Recently my son called and said finally bought one and claimed “It changed my life”.
    He has a flair for the dramatic but I know my knives have never been dull after getting it. I take it with me occasionally when I visit my daughter (actually my grandson) she just happens to be there and sharpen their knives.

  2. Nivek

    What about single bevel blades, such as traditional Japanese knives?

  3. Loco

    Stropping on leather with a 3000-5000 grit compound works well for maintaining your edge.

  4. robin

    For me the best option was a Lansky sharpening kit. The jigs make it easy to keep a constant sharpening angle as I move between grits. In a few minutes I can put a better edge on a knife than any of the professionals around here! And it doesn’t remove as much material as the electric sharpeners do.

Ask the TeamShould I Have a Pro Sharpen My Knives?