It’s time to keep the steel as sharp as you are. You’re after the best knife sharpener for your kitchen to keep that cutlery razor sharp, for your pocket knives to keep them camping-ready, and maintain the edge on those tools. With these top twelve knife sharpeners, accompanied by our in-depth guide on every single aspect that you need to know about your new sharpener, your guests are going to think you’ve got a hidden culinary degree under your belt.
It’s not just about being a show-stopper though; investing in high-quality knives isn’t a choice you make on a whim. Depending on the edge, finish and bevel, there’s extra care and more precision that’s required. As a rule of thumb, if you can find it in overpopulated department stores, there’s a good chance it’s not going to quite make the cut. I couldn’t do this without at least one pun, you know? Let’s jump into it.
The Best Knife Sharpener
Spyderco leads the charge with one of the very best knife lineups in the world, but with being the greatest, you also become the most premium. Triangle Sharpmaker Knife Sharpener isn’t overly pricey, but in comparison to the others that we’ve reviewed, it’s on the higher end. You get two sharpening stone rods and two honing rods, allowing you to trim your knives down to an 18 degree angle (traditional Japanese knives), though it is going to take a bit of skill. Unlike automatic systems with channels to run your knife through, you have to practice with this and get used to it before bringing your expensive blades into the picture. You’ll get an all-inclusive DVD that explains how to use the system, and secured rubber feet that prevent any and all countertop skid. For more kitchen appliances check our guide to the best waffle makers.
Sharpens fish hooks, dart tips, knives, axe heads and more
Stones can be used without oil or water
Includes a DVD on how to use the system appropriately
- Weight 1 pound
System stays perfectly in place during use
Multiple edge sharpeners and honing rods for precision sharpness
Takes practice to get the right angle
It doesn’t get any better than Chef’sChoice 15 Trizor EdgeSelect Knife Sharpener, no matter what you’re sharpening (excluding ceramic knives). There’s three separate channels to sharpen your blades, each of which has its own specific use that you need to read the instructions to fully grasp. It allows you to sharpen your blades on very steel angles, which is perfect for Japanese blades. The only downside is that the side rails grip onto the knife so well, that they tend to leave scratches on the side of the blades. This isn’t a major issue, but if you have an expensive set of knives it can be disheartening.
Designed to sharpen three different edge angles
Lightweight and easy to store
Durable rubber foot grips keep this rock solid steady
- Weight4.2 pounds
Average of one minute to bring your knives from dull to razor sharp
Automatic adjustments make this foolproof to use without damaging your knives
Not designed to be used with ceramic knives
Side rails can leave scratches on your knives
How often are you really sharpening your knives? Not often enough to have an enormous appliance eating up your counter space. SunrisePro Original Knife Sharpener is the ultimate knife sharpener, if you’re cooking for friends and family. This isn’t something you want to use on professional-grade knives, but it will get the trick done for your standard butcher’s block set and scissors. The main attribute here is that it takes three swipes, and your knives are nice and sharp. It stores away very easily thanks to the compact size, but if you’re trying to sharpen your serrated steak knives, you’ll need to look elsewhere. SunrisePro offers a love-it-or-leave-it type of guarantee: send it back for a full refund if you don’t like it, no questions asked. You may also like to check our guide to the best indoor grills.
Suction base prevents slippage during use
Love it, or return it for a full refund, no questions asked
Compact storage won’t eat up cabinet space
- Weight2.24 ounces
Rapid precision gives you a razor sharp edge
Three swipes it all it takes to sharpen your knives
Swipe-style sharpener can’t help serrated knives
Not to be used on expensive knives
We have to appreciate the punny brand name, but what we appreciate even more is the extremely low cost of this knife sharpener while still holding its own against high-end brands. Kitchellence Kitchen Knife Sharpener comes with an ergonomic grip handle, and three channels to sharpen your blades in. You do get rubber grips on the bottom of it to help with traction, but they’re lackluster at best, so you’ll have to rely on your own ability to keep it steady. You will get a cut-resistant glove with the purchase so you can stay safe during sharpening, just be sure not to overdo it: it’s a good sharpener, but for smaller knives, it strips away a little too much of the blade material.
Includes cut-resistant safety glove with purchase
Three precise channels
Ergonomic handle promotes stability
Average five second sharpening time
Inexpensive model that rivals high-end competitors
They expect most of the grip to be from the force of your hand
High tension strips away a lot of blade material
There’s a lot of hype to those “As Seen on TV” products, but BulbHead is one of those few brands that actually stood the test of time, and came out on top. This relatively cheap model isn’t going to be easy to store, but it is going to sharpen any and all knives you put through it with precision. BulbHead offers an incomplex system, and while it’s easy to use, it doesn’t always guarantee the best edge. While you can sharpen a wide variety of knives with BulbHead Bavarian Edge Knife Sharpener, the max 35 degree angle isn’t going to be good for, say, traditional Japanese knives. Thanks to the tungsten carbide springs, it’ll last you for a while, but it’s going to be a bit difficult to store.
Designed to sharpen knives at a 35 degree angle
Simple to clean
Sharpens a wide variety of steel grades
- ModelEdge Kitchen Knife
- Weight1.05 pounds
Sharpens and hones knives all at once
Tungsten carbide springs keep the sharpening stones perfectly in place
Very awkward to find a storage space for
Not a lot of traction on countertops
Linkyo developed a system that’s perfect for the casual cook who’s sick and tired of dull knives. You’ll only be able to sharpen straight-edge blades with a double-sided bevel on Linkyo Electric Knife Sharpener, but you’ll be able to do it fairly well. Flip from the first stage to the second to not only sharpen the blades, but to also hone your materials. Inexpensive systems like this come with their issues, and one that’s been reported is a dodgy power button that takes a few times to click into place. We didn’t run into this with our model, but this issue usually persists after six months. Thankfully for you, Linkyo includes a one-year warranty with your purchase, which covers electrical imperfections such as this. Cheap and powerful knife sharpener, but limited in power.
One-year warranty from the manufacturer
Long cord for use anywhere in the kitchen
Compact size makes it perfect for storage
- ModelKnife Sharpener
- Weight2.6 pounds
First stage acts as a honing rod
Excellent traction on countertops
Only works on straight-edge blades, not compatible with scissors
Dodgy power button has been known to break
Ready to go heavy duty? This system is about as rugged and simple as you can get. Work Sharp’s guided field sharpener is designed to go with you wherever you go. While it’s portable, it’s also heavy and a bit difficult to store, so it’s recommended that you sharpen knives before you head on a camping trip. Axe heads, knives, fish hooks: you can sharpen just about anything on this, thanks to the diamond plate. You get one side for sharpening, a ceramic rod for honing, and a more abrasive side to actually repair chipped knives and return them to their former glory. That being said, only one half of the unit is actually good for sharpening, but with that much surface space to sharpen on, you won’t be wearing the plate down anytime soon.
Sharpens down to a 20 degree angle
Dual sided action can even help fix chipped blades
Works on large scale projects as well as small kitchen knives
- BrandWork Sharp
- Weight 2.56 ounces
Diamond plate provides a faster, more reliable edge
Usable on-the-fly for axe heads, ceramics, fish hooks and more
Only half of the unit is viable for sharpening
Very heavy and bulky; difficult to store
If you’re ever wanted to look super awesome while sharpening knives, you’re in luck. Utopia Kitchen’s dual sharpening and honing rod is ultra-compact, inexpensive, and offers a basic, but effective way to take care of your dulled kitchen knives. This unit isn’t dishwasher safe, but the good news is that it’s simple to clean either way. Between the slip-resistant rubber bottom and the perfectly balanced tip, you’ll get adjusted to using this fairly quickly. Unlike many automatic models, you can achieve an 18 degree angle for traditional Japanese knives with Utopia’s sharpening and honing rod, after a bit of practice on standard kitchen knives, of course.
Weight balanced for a sturdy hold
Slip-resistant rubber bottom
Easy to clean
- BrandUtopia Kitchen
- Weight9.9 ounces
Proper end tip doesn’t scratch up surfaces while sharpening
Sharpens and hones your knives
D-ring on hilt gets in the way of a proper grip
Not dishwasher safe
Kitchen performance is big to you, which is why PriorityChef puts the sharpness of your knives above all else. This diamond coated wheel-based system gives you two channels to run your knife through, each giving your blade a clean finish and a sharper edge. The only issue with this is that you need to hold the knife at a perfect 90 degree angle during use, and you’re facing the resistance from the diamond plated wheel. It sharpens extremely well, if you can hold it properly. This results in a much longer sharpening time than you’d be facing with other models, but PriorityChef Knife Sharpener has numerous endearing qualities as well. The cushioned base doesn’t slip on the countertop, you get an instructional video on proper use, and you can go between six to nine months between sharpening thanks to the diamond coated wheel.
Two-stage system sharpens knives quickly
Cushioned base stays where it’s supposed to
Includes instructional video with full details on how to use both stages
- BrandPriority Chef
- Weight8.8 ounces
Diamond coated wheel provides a better edge
Brings dull knives back from the dead (even works on chipped knives)
Difficult to keep the blade straight during sharpening
Takes a while to sharpen knives properly
You’ll see a lot of reviews on Amazon referring back to Smith’s stone system when they’re reviewing other knife sharpeners. In one regard, Smith’s has revolutionized how we use sharpening stones, because you get six different surfaces through two separate triangular stones, so you’re never left with a dull edge (or lack of storage space). This lightweight system doesn’t stick to the countertop as well as we’d like, but it gets the job done at just about any angle that you want. Just be warned that the honing solution that they include is basically useless: if you’re also honoring your blades, you’ll need a separate rod. Since Smith’s system is inexpensive, especially for the amount of surface space you get, a separate honing rod won’t break the bank.
Includes two three-sided stones
Included angling guide to get the perfect edge on all your knives
Excellent surface space to cost ratio
- Weight1.25 pounds
Multiple ways to sharpen
Lightweight and portable makes storage a breeze
Molded plastic base is fairly slippery
Included honing solution is essentially useless
If this system were a touch bit bigger, it might have landed higher on the list. KitchenIQ’s system works a treat, but it’s also very lightweight, and not ideal for professionals. You position KitchenIQ 50009 Edge Grip on the edge of the countertop to give it traction, but as a result, you’re relying on yourself to keep it steady while your other hand runs the knife through it, which can be a bit dodgy. One channel is used for sharpening, while the coarse side is designed to revitalize old kitchen knives that have gone dull or been chipped. The real benefit to this (and why a lot of users have this alongside other knife sharpeners) is because it works wonders on serrated blades.
Includes one side for sharpening, the other for repairing damaged knives
Rubber base is designed to be used on an angle, like the edge of a countertop
Works on multiple blade materials
Wildly inexpensive knife sharpener
Actually sharpens serrated blades without causing further damage
You’re really only getting one channel since the other is designed for repairs
System is too lightweight to have any traction
Last but not least, Utopia brings us back into another sharpener, but this time we’re working with a whet stone. You start off with a silica base that maintains your grip on the countertop, and a dual-sided stone with a 600/1,000 grit rating. The stone only needs to soak for five minutes prior to use, but that fast water retention does come back to bite you during cleaning. You’ll have a hell of a time removing steel shavings from the 600 grit side. Utopia Kitchen Double-Sided Whetstone does give you the unique advantage that most whet stones don’t: you can sharpen down to a 10 degree angle, which is beyond what you need for traditional Japanese knives. It’s a good stone to sharpen your medium quality blades, but it’s not going to last as long as an automatic system.
600 and 1,000 grit sides
Stone only takes five minutes to soak
Doesn’t require sharpening oil to maintain
- BrandUtopia Kitchen
- Weight8.8 ounces
Sturdy silica bottom grips the countertop without intervention
Able to sharpen blades down to a 10 degree angle
Edges run down fairly quickly
Difficult to clean
Knife Sharpener Buying Guide and FAQ
It’s high time you keep those high carbon stainless steel knives sharp as a tack, so let’s help you figure out which one of these knife sharpeners is going to be the best fit for you. We’ll take a look at features to be on the lookout for, how we chose our selection, and answer your burning questions in the process, leaving no stone unturned.
How We Choose Our Selection of Knife Sharpeners
Brand - Brands play a decent role here, at least when it comes to higher-end models with diamond edges, and actually patching through to reliable, helpful customer service specialists. Going with a trusted brand is also going to ensure your product through money-back guarantees and extended warranties, all while doing their best to deliver a product that won’t even require you to evoke that warranty.
Reviews - User reviews help point us in a direction to create a shortlist of products to purchase and test. There are hundreds of different knife sharpeners out there, but when you go through thousands of reviews to pick out the good from the bad, you learn a thing or two. User reviews essentially create a preliminary stage for us.
Effectiveness - What good is a knife sharpener that isn’t effective? For this, we looked at the edge material, and tested them against different blades, each made of various materials and featuring a multitude of edge bevel shapes. You want it to be effective without taking too much time.
Control - For electric knife sharpeners, it means not skidding across the countertop when you try to sharpen your blades. For handheld units, it means having the right angle and control capabilities (usually depending on materials) to keep it in place, and get an effective sharp edge to your knife. Learning how to control your unit can take a few attempts, but the unit itself must be controllable to be a viable purchase.
Versatility - Sharpening kitchen knives? Perhaps the scissors? If you want to use it for your axe head, the camping knife, or your EDC pocket knife, then you need a unit with more capabilities. We took the versatility of different bevels, sizes and edge precision into account, so you can get a knife sharpener that handles more than just one task.
Features To Look For In Knife Sharpeners
Type - There are four main types of knife sharpeners, which we’ll get into in a minute. Before you inspect those and make your decision based on the type, understand that these different types are aimed for different lifestyles. An electric unit is for someone who just wants to keep their knives sharp for when they prepare food, while a honing rod is aimed towards the would-be professional chef who wants full control and dominance over their blade type.
Quality - Sounds like such an objective trait, right? When you know what you’re looking for, as we’ll explain in this guide, you’ll be able to spot the difference between quality versus knock off products. It comes down to the materials used, the motor power on electric models, the longevity of the sharpening stone, and a myriad of other factors. We’ve already cut out the guesswork by singling out these stellar knife sharpeners, but knowing what to look for will also tell you what you should pay attention to as your sharpener ages and undergoes use.
Bevel Angle - If you’ve sunk some money into a good knife set, then you likely have the information about your bevel. There are different points on your knives, some of which round slightly before creating a triangular edge to your blade. This is called the bevel.
Number of Stages - You’ve noticed those sharpeners with three separate channels. They each have their own place in sharpening your knives, just like stones with different grit ratings. The number of stages is usually associated with the quality of the blade edge you’re going to get at the end of use.
Versatility - This refers to whether or not is can work on scissors, ceramic knives, and other tools that require sharpening. If you really need, you can even use a knife sharpener to get a finer edge on your wire cutters. Versatility is nice, but if you’re like most of us and strictly stick to stainless steel knives, you don’t need all the extra fixings on your knife sharpener.
Sharpening Time (Average) - This is subjective, because it all depends on what style of sharpener you go with. If you opt for an automatic sharpener, the first time you sharpen your knives only takes about a minute on average, and re-sharpening takes ten seconds. That’s less than two minutes of your time per year. Manual knife sharpening can take five to ten minutes depending on your experience.
Types Of Knife Sharpeners
Electric Knife Sharpener - An electric knife sharpener takes all the work out of it for you, and require you to spend a maximum of two minutes per year on each individual knife. The first time you use a knife on an electric sharpener, it can take up to a minute. After that, so long as you use those knives exclusively on that electric unit, it takes ten to fifteen seconds to get a sharp edge.
Sharpening Stone - A sharpening stone is used in traditional Japanese knife sharpening. The quickest reference point is a whetstone, which were used hundreds of years ago by blacksmiths to sharpen metal. You use a sharpening stone manually, and you can choose between numerous different ratings, or grits. Similar to sandpaper, different grits provide difference edge finishes. There’s no such thing as the best knife sharpening stone, because you can switch between multiple grit ratings for specific edges.
Honing Rod - A professional knife sharpener and a honing rod are technically two different things. A honing rod is designed to straighten metal (more on this later), whereas a sharpening stone or electric sharpener strips away metal. Honing rods realign the edge of your blade, and can be done more frequently than sharpening to preserve your knife edge.
How To Sharpen A Knife Properly
It all depends on what method you’re using. There’s manual, such as stones and honing rods, and automatic, such as electric units. With electric units, they’re all made differently, and you should stick to the instructions provided in your package. We say this because the majority of negative online reviews for many knife sharpeners say that the sharpeners didn’t work, but since each manufacturer designs them differently, you need to pay attention to the instructions to ensure a quality edge on your blade.
When it comes to honing rods and stones, know that they are different and provide different results. To use a honing rod, you need to hold it vertically with the bottom on your cutting board. Keep it completely straight at a 90-degree angle. Next, take your knife, and at a 15-degree angle, drag it from the bottom of the honing rod upward, ensuring that you’re not using too much pressure (we don’t want a slip-up). Repeat until satisfied with the end result.
Stones come in different grits, much like sandpaper. You’ll want an 800 grit stone to start with and strip away some of the remaining material on the dull edge. Then, you’ll want to move up to a higher grit to get a sharper edge, such as a 1,000 or a 2,000 grit stone. Anything higher than this should only be used on traditional Japanese knives.
How To Keep Knives Sharper For Longer
It starts with the top rated knife sharpener to create a sharper edge, but the way to maintain that edge is all about use and storage. If you’re using a stainless steel kitchen knife, which is very common, you shouldn’t be using steel cutting boards. We’re not really sure why this became a trend, but it’s going to help dull your knives about two times faster. Stick to wooden cutting boards, or even plastic ones if you plan to replace them frequently.
Next, you want to make sure you’re storing them properly. It makes us cringe to see people sharpen knives, then just throw them into some bulky drawer where their ladles and stirring spoons are. If you’re not storing them in a proper butcher’s block, then you should be using plastic sheaths on your knives before placing them in the same storage container.
Honing vs. Sharpening: The Differences
You see this on a lot of pocket knife sharpener models: honing is basically reshaping metal instead of stripping elements of it away. Honing works for your knives that same way a leather strap works for straight razors, by aligning the edge to undo dents or chips in the metal.
Sharpening actually removes a small portion of the edge material, which provides an entirely fresh, brand new edge on it that cuts like it’s right out of the package. You can sharpen knives for years without them deteriorating or needing to be replaced, and you can hone your blades before or after sharpening them for the best effect.
Knife Sharper FAQ
Q: What is a knife sharpener?
A: A knife sharpener (automatic or manual) is designed to strip away minute quantities of the blade’s edge or finish, providing a sharper angled bevel to essentially revamp your knife and sharpen it. Modern knife sharpeners are electric units with multiple channels to run your kitchen knives through, though wet stones and other various methods of knife sharpening are still in use today. You don’t need to get a new set of knives (unless you bought bottom barrel quality), you just need to sharpen them as best as possible.
Q: Which type of knife sharpener should I get?
A: The “best knife sharpener” can be a subjective term, because there are different methods that people enjoy using. For us, a top rated knife sharpener is one that does most of the work for you, such as our top pick. Three channels for finishing different bevels and blade sizes, simple operation that doesn’t require much time or effort: that’s what you should be going for.
However, if you want a more hands-on touch, if you really enjoy using your knives and treat them as an extension of yourself, you might be better off with a wet stone. These come in multiple grit ratings to provide a finer edge, but you do need a bit more skill to ensure you’re getting a proper sharpness across the entire blade.
Q: How often should I sharpen my kitchen knives?
A: Regardless of how you achieve your angle and sharpness, even if you have the best home knife sharpener, you shouldn’t have to sharpen your knives more than two times per year. Whether it’s for nightly use, or you’re somewhat of an entertainer and find yourself using them often, achieving the proper angle should result in a nice finish that won’t dull for a while.
Q: How do I Know if my knives are sharp enough?
A: Most blade sharpening tools on the market are going to have a similar range of angles, which we’ll talk about in a minute. You need to look at your angle first and foremost, and that can be a bit difficult to do without proper knowledge. Checking the angle isn’t always enough, especially if you use the quarter trick.
Your knife should be sharp enough to effortlessly cut through a piece of printer paper. Hold a piece of printer paper between your fingers, allowing the bottom section simply hang there in the air. Gently drag your newly sharpened knife along the edge, working your way to the center of the paper. If it glides right through it like new scissors through wrapping paper, then you’re good to go.
Q: What is the correct sharpening angle for a kitchen knife?
A: It all depends on the type of knife bevel and knife and tool sharpener that you have. The average angle that you want for a double bevel kitchen knife is about 20 degrees, though on a single bevel (Japanese knife) you’ll want between 17 and 15. Your automatic knife sharpener will most likely come with multiple channels to run the knife through, some of which are wider angles that help you shape the knife more effectively from a dull point.
Q: Can the sharpener damage my knives?
A: Whether it’s an electric sharpening system or a handheld knife sharpener, there are definitely multiple ways that you can accidentally damage your knives. If you’ve looked at the product list first, then you’ll see that some negative attributes of a few of these models are that they leave scratches and streaks on your knife. If you use a ceramic knife in most modern knife sharpeners, there is a chance of it breaking due to pressure, but that’s up to your own discretion. A knife sharpener can damage your knife, particularly if you just take the sharpener out and start using it without reading the instructions first. Most of the bottom tier customer reviews we’ve read in preparation for creating this guide simply didn’t know how to use the product, and as a result caused damage to their knives.
Q: Can the sharpener be used on ceramic blades?
A: You can, but there’s a few things that you should know: for one, there’s a lot of misconceptions about ceramic knives (which is why we included this information). For one, you’ll find a lot of resources saying that you cannot sharpen ceramic blades, which is completely false. You can sharpen ceramic blades, you just don’t need to sharpen them as often as steel.
When you do need to sharpen them, you can use your knife sharpener: you are not restricted to only using wet stones. Many knife manufacturers may include information that says, “Not to be used with ceramic knives,” but that’s usually in place to avoid liability. Ceramic knives will keep their edge for longer than steel, but under immense pressure are more prone to breaking.
Q: Can I sharpen scissors?
A: Yes, blade sharpening machines also sharpen scissors, but it’s a little tricky. Don’t approach this as if you were sharpening a knife: you’re tool sharpening, which requires a different approach. When you drag the sharp side of the scissors across your specific sharpening machine, you’re grinding down one side of the metal edge more than the other.
Right now, close the scissors as if you were cutting. Watch how the flat sides scrape across one another, creating the cutting edge. It’s similar to our next section on Japanese knives, because we want to sharpen that one side of each scissor blade, instead of creating a bevel as you would with standard American knives.
Q: How should I sharpen Japanese knives?
A: Not all knife sharpening machines are going to work for Japanese knives. You should stick between a 17 and 20 degree angle for those, and note that traditional, high-end Japanese knives are only sharpened on one side. This means that even though we’re using one side of the knife, it’s only sharpened from one angle (flat point) instead of most American knives, which are beveled and have an equal sharpening process on both sides of the blade.
To sharpen a Japanese knife properly, look to the method of strictly using water stones. This allows you to only sharpen from one side (which has been traditionally done in Japan for a number of centuries), so you get that razor’s edge cutting angle. These stones shave down the metal, whereas some sharpeners work to realign metal. You will technically shave off more metal with a Japanese water stone, but you will have to sharpen less, so it balances out.
Q: What is the best way to clean the sharpener?
A: There are a ton of different types of kitchen knife sharpeners out there, but there’s a basic rule you can apply to all of them to keep them clean: don’t use chemicals. Whatever you do, don’t use chemicals. Most knife sharpeners are made out of steel, and if you’re really feeling ritzy, you can get diamond-edged steel to retain your blades for absolute ages, but the fact of the matter is chemicals can kill your sharpening edge.
Use a very small amount of warm water to clean your knife sharpener, and then immediately dry it off with a cloth. If you can, try to avoid using cotton so fibers don’t end up getting stuck in the sharpening blades. The goal is to wet it, gently use the cloth to wipe away and grime, and ensure it’s completely dry before storing it.