A knife is probably the most important tool in your kitchen. Keeping it performing at its best can sometimes be difficult if you don’t know how to sharpen and maintain the blade edge over time. Keeping a knife sharp is essential for keeping it safe to use.
In the following I will be showing why a knife should be kept sharp, at what angle it should be sharpened and why as well as what tools available to help you find the best knife sharpener for your kitchen. For Sharpening Scissors click here. For videos of the products on this site click here.
Why a knife should be kept sharp?
A sharp knife is a safe knife. We have all heard someone say at one point: “I don’t like my knife to be too sharp, if it’s too sharp I’ll cut myself”. The next time you hear someone say something similar to this stop them and explain to them the following.
When a knife becomes dull it becomes more dangerous to use. The reason for this is that if the blade is not well maintained, you will have more difficulty cutting with it. The dull blade will cause you to use more pressure or force when using the knife and increasing the risk of losing control of it and causing injury.
A dull knife blade is also more likely to get caught on the foods that you are cutting which can also lead to injury. If you keep the knife well maintained, the sharper the blade will be, the better it will perform and it will be less likely of causing injury.
The following criteria will be considered for what are the best knife sharpeners:
Time for first sharpening and resharpening
Knife type that can be sharpened
First sharpen / resharpen
|3||15◦ or 20◦||1min / 10sec||Household, Serrated, Pocket, Sporting, Heavily worked||3 Years||$$$||5 Stars|
|2||20◦||1min / 10sec||Household, Pocket, Sporting||1 Year||$$||4 Stars|
|2||15◦||1min / 10-15sec||Household, Pocket, Sporting||1 Year||$$||4 Stars|
|3||15◦ or 20◦||1min / 10sec||Household, Serrated, Pocket, Sporting, Heavily worked, Asian||3 Years||$$$||4.5 Stars|
|3||20◦||1min / 10sec||Household, Serrated, Pocket, Sporting, Heavily worked||3 Years||$$$||4.5 Stars|
|2||n/a||1min / 10sec||Household, Serrated (one sided only), Pocket, Sporting||2 Years||$||4.5 Stars|
|3||n/a||1min/10sec||Household, Serrated, Scissors||3 Years||$||4 Stars|
|2||20◦||1min/10sec||Household||3 Years||$||4.5 Stars|
|1||15◦||1min/10-15sec||Household, Mower blades, Axes, Sickles, Scissors||Lifetime||$$||4.5 Stars|
|1||20◦||Manual||Household, Serrated, Scissors||n/a||$||4.5 Stars|
|3||20◦||1min/10-15sec||Household, Pocket, Hunting, Fishing||2 Years||$$$||5 Stars|
|1||16◦||1 min||Household, Pocket, Sporting||1 Year||$$||3 1/2 Stars|
At what edge angle should a knife be sharpened 20◦ or 15◦?
There are generally two edge angles to consider when sharpening a knife, 20◦ or 15◦. The 20◦ edge is more for North American and some European knives.
The reason for the 20◦ edge is based on the type of foods you are cutting. Since North American diets are composed of a variety of meats the 20◦ edge helps to slice through the food better but requires more pressure and a slicing motion.
The 15◦ edge angle is seen more commonly on the Asian style knives and more recently some European knives. The blades are thinner and are best suited at cutting through less fibrous foods such as seafood.
There are other angles that blades will be sharpened to such as 11◦, 16◦ and even 35◦ angles. We won’t be discussing the need of all these angles on this site but I did want you to know that they exist. That being said the more common angles and the one most sharpening tools use is the 15◦ or 20◦ angles.
Things to consider before buying
When deciding what method to use to sharpen knives there are a few things to consider. The first thing you want to take into account is the safety of using the sharpener. You should consider using a method and device that keeps your hands out of harm’s way.
For this reason I personally don’t like using sharpeners that put my hands directly above the blade because I find the risk of injury due to a false movement to be too great.
The second thing to consider when choosing which sharpener is right for you is by considering what kind of knives you will be sharpening.
Do you have a lot of serrated blade or straight blades? American/European with 20◦ angles or Asian knives with 15◦ angles or both? If you don’t have any knives with 15◦ angles then there is no need to get a more expensive sharpener that is compatible with that type of blade.
Another thing to consider when deciding which is the best knife sharpener for your needs is how many slots or stages does it have. It’s best to avoid the ones with only one stage. More on stages bellow.
Stone, rods and sharpening files
Traditionally people used sharpening stones to keep their blades in good shape. I have used sharpening stones in the past with very mixed results.
Most of them, at least the ones I have use, require a lubricant when being used such as water or an oil. The ones that use water are not that bad because when you are finished with them there just wet but the ones that require oil can get very messy very quickly.
The other drawback to using these kinds of tools, which is also shared with sharpening rods and files, is that it requires a lot of practice and skill to actually sharpen the knife properly. This is a skill that most of us including myself do not have or do not have the time to develop.
The best knife sharpener type of manual
The Best knife sharpener of Manual are better than using a stone simply because they will have a built in guide that helps the user keep the correct angle while sharpening. This gives manual sharpeners an advantage over traditional methods. But they are not all created equally.
The quality of the sharpening really depends on the sharpener. The kind of abrasives the device is using (diamond abrasives are the most recommended)and how good it is at guiding the knife through the sharpening process are extremely important.
Another thing to look for in a manual sharpener is how many stages it has. Stages are explained further bellow.
The best knife sharpener type of Electric
The greatest advantages that an electric knife sharpener have over other techniques are the following. Using an electric sharpener saves you time by having a motor to do the sharpening for you instead of your arm doing all the work.This means that instead of taking several minutes to sharpen your knife as with a manual sharpener, it can take only seconds to get a superior sharpening done. They are also safer to use because they require less skill from the user.
Slots and stages of the best knife sharpener
How many slots does a sharpener really need? I have found that the answer to this is two or more. The reason for this is that in order to properly sharpen a blade the rough edges or burrs should be removed first which allows the creation of the edge shape.
The second stage and with some models even a third stage will then help shape and polish the edge to its finished sharpness.
Sharpeners that only use one stage should be avoided because they are not either removing enough of the blade at the edge creation step or they are not finishing the edge properly.
What this means is the knife will most probably become dull quicker and require re sharpening sooner than with a two and three stage system.
The Best knife sharpener Editor’s Choice
The one sharpener I would recommend the most is the 1520 by Chef’s choice. The main reason for this is due to it’s ability to sharpen both blade angles available on the market today.
The other reason it makes editor’s choice is because it can also sharpen serrated blades. It can bring back to life heavily used knives that otherwise would have been headed for the trash bin.
To top it off it comes with a three year warranty and has great reviews from it’s users. The choice should seem obvious.