Keeping your kitchen knives sharp is important for safety, and cutting ability, and doesn’t need to be an onerous chore.
Whether you're using an electric knife sharpener or whetstones, you can set a sharpening schedule that will keep your knives working at peak performance.
In this guide you will learn about knife sharpening stages, types of sharpeners and what makes the best knife sharpener for your kitchen knives in our knife sharpener reviews and model comparison chart.
Top 5: Best Kitchen Knife Sharpeners
Brand & Model
Gritt or Stages
Up to 17"
15° - 30°
100 / 200 / 400 / 600
17° - 30°
140 / 300 / 600 / 1500
1000 / 6000
Knife Sharpener Reviews
Wicked Edge Knife Sharpener
With many choices of grit and a guide system for consistent angles, the Wicked Edge Sharpener gives you the tools to sharpen any knife without any experience.
The Wicked Edge system is one of the best knife sharpeners on the market. It takes about eight minutes to take a completely damaged knife and get it to the point where it will casually slice through poorly supported paper.
It’s very user-friendly, with numerous features that show the designers understand the whole sharpening process.
It has precise angle adjustments between 15 and 35 degrees, multiple catches to support both reprofiling and edge repair, and there are a number of extra stones sold that allow you to go up to 1600 grit or even strop using the system.
There are two downsides relative to other systems. First, unlike the Chef’s Choice Trizor XV Edge, you have to do a decent amount of work yourself. The Wicked Edge is MUCH more versatile and leaves your knives far sharper, but you actually have to spend some time and burn some calories to use it.
Second, it uses special whetstones that slide up and down on steel rods. We’re not exactly sure how long the stones with the Wicked Edge last, but 200 grit whetstones tend to have a working life of about 200 knives. After that, you’ll have to buy a set of replacement stones from Wicked Edge.
If you care about the angle of your knives, you want the option to reprofile things occasionally, and you’re enticed by the idea of having multiple whetstones with grits ranging from 200 to 1600, the Wicked Edge sharpening system is an excellent option.
There are multiple packages available with the system, each containing a different array of whetstones. Be sure to choose one that includes the options you’re interested in.
Chef's Choice Trizor XV Edge
The Chef’s Choice XV EdgeSelect is an automatic sharpener that has three separate channels.
It's set up to give you a burr-free 15-degree edge without any hassle.
You turn it on, stick your knife in it up to three times, and then you're done.
While it doesn't have very many options for the user, it's still a great tool for anyone who wants an easy edge on their knives.
The biggest upside to this device is how easy it is to get razor sharp knives. With other rigs, you'll need time, practice, or both in order to get consistent edges on your knives.
This machine takes care of the angle for you and automatically grinds the sharpening surface against the blade so you don't have to do work.
The sharpening bits are made with extra abrasive diamonds to keep grinding time down when it comes to taking lots of material off of your knives.
Unfortunately, the 15-degree angle that this comes in means you'll be taking a LOT of metal off of your knives the first time through.
The second and third stages have smaller bevels and finer grits, so you can rely on those to maintain your edges when they're not badly damaged.
Overall, knives will come out a fair bit sharper than those with 20-degree edges, but they'll also be a bit more fragile.
Does this matter? Probably not. The speed and convenience offered by this device mean that you won't mind having to sharpen your knives slightly more often. You're not going to grind your knives down to nothing, either.
While you'll take off a decent chunk of metal when you grind in the new edge the first time, after that, maintaining the edge doesn't require you to remove much material from the knife.
We think that Chef’s Choice XV EdgeSelect may be the best knife sharpening solution for most households because it’s something that keeps your knives sharp without you having to work or think too much about it.
Warthog Sharpeners V-Sharp Classic 2
The Warthog V-Sharp Classic is a hand sharpening rig with 3 adjustable angles and 325 grit rods.
It's a great tool for putting in an edge on a badly damaged knife, but it should be supplemented with regular maintenance and a device with a finer grit.
The Warthog holds knives in place steadily and has a sharpening rod on each side to enable you to grind a symmetrical edge twice as fast. The adjustable angles are great for working with a variety of knives. The grit stones can be swapped out for finishing steels to help maintain an edge if you so desire.
We wish that there was a bit more information about the nature of the finishing rods included with this device. Normally, you use a steel to help keep an edge aligned after a bit of gentle use.
While you can go straight from a coarse stone (like the included 325 grit rods) to a steel, it's usually a good idea to use a more moderate stone (like a 1000 or 1500 grit) first.
That said, there’s some leniency to grit numbers – one manufacturer’s 300 grit diamond rod might be totally different than another manufacturer’s 300 grit whetstone.
If you have a medium or fine grit sharpening device already and want something that's rougher for dull or lightly damaged knives, the Warthog V-Sharp classic is worth consideration.
KME Precision Knife Sharpener Diamond
While the KME knife sharpening system is slightly less user-friendly than the Wicked Edge, it offers several advantages.
Rather than having an entirely different assembly for each grit, the rod simply has a clamp on the end that accommodates any stone that’s appropriately sized.
This means you can order stones from any supplier, although it’s probably easiest to just buy them from KME.
Like the Wicked Edge, this system offers consistent, adjustable angles from about 17 to 35 degrees. The knife clamp has a couple of guide lines that help you get consistent placement on your knives. The system works very well with knives of all sizes.
Unlike the Wicked Edge, you can pick it up and carry it around the house while you use it. The system is very light and only requires one hand to use. The angle adjustment doesn’t have hard stops, like the Wicked Edge, and the clamp is slightly less convenient to use.
You’re limited to sharpening one side of your knife at a time, which means you can expect double the sharpening time of the Wicked Edge. The knife clamp easily flips over, however, meaning that you won’t have to re-clamp your knife whenever you need to switch sides.
If you’re looking for a lighter system or you’re enticed by the lower cost of stones, the KME knife sharpening system is a nice alternative to the Wicked Edge. It’s not quite as fast or user-friendly, but you’ll get equally sharp knives with very little effort or expertise.
Shun Classic 3-Piece Whetstone Sharpening System
While this is dubbed a “sharpening system,” the Shun whetstone package differs from our other picks substantially.
The angled stand is for display purposes only.
While it’s a handy reference to what 16 degrees looks like, you’re left to your own devices when it comes to maintaining an angle against the included whetstones while sharpening your knives.
As far as the contents go, this system is quite nice. It has a sharpening steel, a 1000 grit stone for fine sharpening, and a 6000 grit stone for polishing.
You’re not going to take knives from super dull to extra sharp with these tools, but you will have no problems perfecting the edge on your moderately sharp knives.
It’ll take time and practice to use these stones correctly. Many people enjoy learning how to sharpen with traditional whetstones.
You won’t be able to stick your knives in a slot and pull them out perfectly sharp, but you’ll have a relaxing activity that you can use as an excuse to pull yourself away from the world every once in a while. You’ll also have really sharp knives.
If you want to spend some quality time with your knives, the Shun whetstone sharpening system has everything you need to polish and maintain a very sharp edge.
It does not, however, contain the coarse stones necessary to start work on a dull or damaged edge. If you want a complete hand-sharpening system, be sure to pick up a few coarser stones as well.
Why Buy A Knife Sharpener?
Whether you're an avid cook, a hunter or just someone who wants to cook safely and efficiently, keeping your knives sharp and ready to use is a great investment of your time.
- For those who dress their own meat, a quality knife with a sharp edge can make a difficult task much easier and result in a better butchering job.
- Cooks who enjoy seeing to every minute detail will appreciate how a freshly sharpened knife handles.
- Finally, busy cooks taking care of growing families can work efficiently and get accurate cuts no more what they're slicing. SEE ALSO: Best Electric Knives
How Well Do They Work?
Sharpeners can only work as well as they're used.
Do you have Japanese style blades? You'll need to sharpen on a different angle.
Is your favorite knife the world a serrated or scalloped blade? To sharpen that, you'll need to learn to use a manual sharpener.
It's important to note that while an electric sharpener may appear quicker and can take some of the guesswork out of the process, these sharpeners can deliver a lot of heat to the blade, and heat can change the quality of metal.
Consider using a manual sharpener to study the process so you can purchase the best sharpener for your needs.
See Also: How To Sharpen Knives
Types Of Knife Sharpeners & Features
You can use an electric knife sharpener for many smooth blades. However, for scalloped or serrated blades, you'll need a manual sharpener. Pull-through sharpeners grind away at the dull blade until a new, narrower metal edge is revealed.
Whether you use an electric sharpener or a manual, you'll need to remove the burrs from the metal edge prior to using the knife
Depending on how fine you hone your blade, you can go from
- 1) Dull to sharp. This basic sharpening step uses a ceramic surface, or diamond, and grinding action to remove a dulled edge. This will bring it back to a sharp, easy to use state. This is known as 1 stage sharpening.
- 2) Sharp to very sharp, such as when the blade is rubbed over a wet stone for an even bevel and smooth-edged blade. This is 2 stage sharpening, and takes some time to learn.
- 3) Very sharp to razor sharp. Razor sharpness is achieved with a strop. The strop removes all burrs, hones the edge of your blade and gives it a shine. For most home cooks, this strop and polish step is probably unnecessary. The use of 3 stage sharpening is generally reserved for barbers.
Manual Sharpening Stones - Whetstones
When grinding a stone against a knife, you'll need to use a lubricant of some sort. Many grinding stones can be lubricated with water. This offers added coolness and reduces the risk of blade damage by excess heat.
Sharpening stones come in a variety of styles and need a variety of lubricants. A ceramic stone allows you to sharpen the knife by drawing or pushing it on the beveled edge in a slow, smooth fashion.
Water stones offer a flat surface against which you draw your knife to grind away the rough edge and provide a fresh, sharp bevel. Water stones are easy to care for and quickly release metal shavings. Once they're rinsed, you can leave your sharpening stone to air dry for the next use.
There are stones that should be used with a sharpening stone oil. However, it's important to note that an oil stone can get sticky if you use the wrong product.
For the best quality oil sharpening, many hunters recommend plain mineral oil as a lubricant. Keep the stone brushed after every use so it doesn't get clogged with metal shavings, and enjoy a freshly sharpened blade.
It's important to note that no knife experts recommend using a dry diamond stone. While some thick blades, such as those found on hatchets or possible cleavers, can tolerate a dry stone sharpening, eventually you'll damage the metal of your knife blade.
Sharpening rods can be used dry and are easy to find in many kitchen supply stores. These rods are made of diamond abrasives, so they should be used with care lest you damage your knives.
As possible, work slowly so you don't cause damage. An oval or ceramic sharpening rod will give you plenty of surface area against your blade as you draw it from hilt to tip.
Again, let the surface abrasive on the rod do the work, rather than applying pressure on the blade with the sharpening rod.
Electric sharpeners generally function by grinding along both sides of the blade to remove metal and leave a narrower, sharper edge. Because knife blades are beveled, the direction you sharpen is critically important.
Drawing the blade back through the sharpener against the bevel will result in the removal of blade material on the wrong side, damaging the knife and doing little to add to the sharpness.
Most electric sharpeners are built as pull through sharpener units. They are stored flat and when you need to use them, you simply plug in the sharpener and draw the blade through the groove or slot on the top of the sharpener.
Whether you plan to purchase a manual knife sharpening system or an electric sharpener, consider buying the sharpener from the manufacturer brand of your knives. This will make certain that your sharpener is the proper hardness for your blades.
Choose Knife Sharpener Brands Based On Your Knife Manufacturer
Steel is hardened and rated with a measurement known as the Rockwell scale. Wusthof knives are constructed of 58 degree Rockwell steel, and their sharpeners are designed to act on a metal of that hardness.
Running a harder knife through a Wusthof sharpener will yield little result, but a softer metal blade will likely be damaged in a Wusthof sharpener.
Lansky knives are built to travel. These extremely well-built knives are very popular among hunters and other fans of the outdoors. Lansky knife sharpening brands are also well suited to travel.
They're easy to pack, generally don't need electricity, and can quickly put a razor edge on a hunting knife. When sharpening steel at the campsite, portability is key.
EdgeCraft knife sharpeners include portable units for sportsman and countertop units for home chefs. EdgeCraft offers a wide variety of electric and manual knife sharpeners with settings that allow you to determine the sharpening stages you hope to achieve.
Protect Your Knives From Damage
Hand-washing your knives will help protect them from getting knocked against other metal objects in the dishwasher. Dry them thoroughly before storing them in a quality knife block. Get a good cutting board with some give and never cut on a glass, ceramic or porcelain surface.
Edge Vs. Force
There are plenty of knives on the market that claim them never need sharpening. Is it that important to keep your knives sharp?
If you've ever suffered a severe cut, you know they're generally caused by one of two things.
Either you're just not paying attention, or you're forcing a cut by putting your weight on the handle. It only takes one rolling carrot to leave you with a nasty gash if you're leaning on the blade and expecting force to do your cutting.
Can you cut yourself with a newly sharpened knife? Absolutely.
But it's weight on the blade that causes the deepest lacerations because you can't get your digits out of the way of your own weight. Sharpen your knives and focus. Cooking will be a lot more fun!
How To Tell If A Knife Is Sharp? The easiest way to tell if your newly sharpened blade is ready to go to work is to cut down the length of a piece of newspaper.
A dull spot on the blade will tear the paper as you slowly cut down; a smoothly sharpened blade will result in one long, clean cut.
What is the best knife sharpener? It’s one that you’ll use often and offers the least amount of hassle. For the average home cook, we think the Chef's Choice Trizor XV Edge fits that bill by offering a variety sharpening options and simple operation.
Investing in a set of quality knives and the suggested knife sharpening kit is a great way to make cooking more fun. Keep the blades sharp with the method recommended by the manufacturer, or invest in a sharpener that can handle your knife steel hardness.
Did you enjoy this guide? Let us know in the comments with your favorite knife sharpener or sharpening method.