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When a knife gets dull, most people just throw it away. However, that dull knife can be brought back to factory performance. All you need is a knife sharpener. The problem is that there is just too many out there. From honing rods to whetstone, the average home chef wont be able to tell the difference. But if you look at how a knife sharpens and how it performs, you will see why choosing a proper knife sharpener is important. This article compiles all the different type of knife sharpener and sort out the Best Kitchen Knife Sharpener available.
Best Kitchen Knife Sharpener List
Below, you will find a list of some of the best Kitchen Knife Sharpener. Since there are many different variation, I have sorted them based on categories. Choose one that best suits your need.
Victorinox 7.8991.20 Honing Steel 14-Inch Round Fine Cut (Best Honing Rod)
Vitorinox is famed for their pocket knives. What most people dont know is that they make a fine range of cutlery as well. Their honing rod is a staple in a butcher shop. It has a long 14 inch steel. This lets you run the full length of the blade in a single stroke. The beautiful wood handle is comfortable and gives you secure grip even if your hand is greasy. At the end, there is a loop for easy storage.
KING Whetstone Starter Set Include 1000/6000 (Best Whetstone for Kitchen Knives)
If you need to touch up your knife then the 1000/6000 grit by king is a great option. The dual sided stone lets you both polish and sharpen the knife. In their set, there is even a angle guide to reduce the chance of failure. Best of all, these product are made in Japan so you can be sure of its quality.
Chef’s Choice Trizor XV Edge Select (Best Electric Kitchen Knife Sharpener)
If you just want a simple and easy to use sharpener, then try out Chef’s Choice Trizor XV Edge Select. There are three different stage of grit set a 15 degree angle. Perfect for most Japanese knives out there. However, just be aware that they take off more metal than you standard whetstone.
Lansky Deluxe 5-Stone Sharpening System (Best Manual Kitchen Knife Sharpnener)
For a easy to use and well performing knife sharpener, check out Lansky. They have predfined angle to get you the right angle each time. You can even swap out the grit to get the right edge. Best of all, this product is relatively affordable. I consider this the next best option compared to the whetstone.
AccuSharp 001C Knife (Best Buy Manual Knife Sharpner)
AccuSharp knife sharpener is best used on cheap knives. They work great but only have one set angle. Which I cannot seem to find. So if you have a kitchen workhouse that you do not care about, this is a great option.
Is a Dull Knife Dangerous?
Those who are new to knives are afraid because of how sharp it is. But what people dont know is that a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife. When your knife is dull, you try to compensate by using too much force. Doing so, causes you to loose control and cut yourself.
Other benefit of a sharp knife includes healing faster. A sharp knife leaves a clean cut. This lets your body heal faster and reduce the chance of a scar.
For those who are still not comfortable with a knife. They can always opt to learn with a plastic knife. Cutting soft item like vegetables and fruits is a great way to get comfortable with it.
Different Type of Kitchen Knife Sharpener
There are many different type of knife sharpener on the market. Getting familiar with these tool will give you a better understand of how they work. From there you can see why each are important.
The most well known kitchen knife sharpener is the Honing Rods. Chef on tv love to do this knife trick where it goes back and forth. However, what most people dont know is that a honing rod does not actually sharpen the knife. What they do is realign the edge.
At the center of every knife, there is a thin edge. Depending on how it is sharpen, there will be variation in the angle. Nevertheless, that edge will, overtime, roll over. When that happen, the knife will loose it sharpness and become dull. To realign the edge, what you can do is use a honing rod. By swiping it at the correct angle, you are trying to bring the edge back to the center.
This realigning of the edge is different from sharpening. While a honing rod does shave some metal off, it is not as aggressive as a whetstone. Those should only be used when you find that the honing rod has no effect.
How to Use a Honing Rod
The way that the Chef use a honing rod on tv is mostly for show. While you can get result via that method, its not the proper method. To use a honing rod, point the tip downward towards the table. Its best to get a towel so that you can rest it on. This way it will reduce the chance of it slipping.
Grab the knife with your dominant hand and angle it downward. Use the angle that the manufacturer sharpen the knife at. Swipe it downwards a few time and switch to the other side. When you feel the knife edge realigning, I like to do a swipe on each side to make sure its at the center.
Whetstones are the oldest and most tried and true method of sharpening knife. However, its also one of the most difficult thing to master. If you have little or no experience, its recommend that you practice on a cheap knife.
How to Sharpen a Knife with a Whetstone
To master a whetstone, takes years of practice. I would not be able to explain the whole process in this article. However, some thing you should consider when buying and using a whetstone is grit.
The Grit determines how aggressive it will shave off metal. The 200 or 400 grit should only be used on incredibly dull knives. 1000-3000 grit whetstone are used to touch up dull knives. 4000 plus grit whetstone is used to polish a knife. It will give the edge a mirror finish.
Before using a whetstone, be sure to follow the manufacturer recommendation for lubricating. Some will have you soak it in water for 30 minutes. Others will recommend against that.
Once the stone is properly lubricated, set up and secure your stone. You can either buy whetstone bridge that goes over the sink or place it on a towel. Find the manufacturer angle of your knife and position the knife based on that. Finding the right angle can be a challenge and you can find tools that give you a preset angle.
Once you find the angle, push the knife back and forth. Some use a push that goes across the whole edge. You will eventually find a style that you are most comfortable with. Do this on both side. Eventually, your knife will develop a wire edge. That edge is a slight over hang of metal. Getting it off will make all the difference between a dull knife and a sharp knife.
To take off that wire edge, knife sharpener use a thing call a leather strop. It is a thick piece of leather on a platform. What you do is push the knife away from the strop. Make sure the blade is pointing toward you. You do not want to cut the leather. The goal is to just take off the wire edge.
You can find leather strop either with the leather itself or fully assemble. If you choose to buy a leather, you need to cut a piece of wood or board to match the size of the strop. I recommend you get something that is at least 2 inch thick. It will give you height and helps during usage. You can bond it to the wood with some wood glue.
While its cheaper to buy just the leather, it does take a little effort to assemble it. Its up to you.
Electric and Manual Knife Sharpener
These sharpener uses two wheel to set a angle. Using that angle, you will pull a knife through it. Since these angles are set, you have to find the right one based on your knife. Japanese knife will typically be at an angle of 15 degree. While German knives will have angle of 18 plus. I would also be sure to check the bevel of each knife. Most of these electric and manual knife sharpener is only suited for the double bevel knife.
The main difference between a electric and a manual knife sharpener is the motor. On a Electric Motor, they will turn the grinding wheels. When you pull the knife through it, a lot of the metal will be shaved off. Which is the main criticism of these knife sharpener. They simply take off too much metal off the knife and decrease the overall lifespan of the knife.
It might be acceptable for cheap knives, but if you spend a few hundred on a knife, its not worth it. With that being said, for the average home cook, these do work and its better than having a dull knife.
Other electric model might use a belt driven motor to sharpen knives. These work really well, but also take off a lot of steel. If you are not careful or experienced, you can easily ruin your knife.
Odd and Easy to Use Sharpening Contraption
If you are not experienced using a whetstone, there are tools out there designed to get the right angle. One of the most prominent one is made by Wicked Edge. They do work and have different grits, but they are generally over priced. Whether its worth it to spend the money, its up to you. I would rather invest my time in learning how to use a whetstone.
Best Kitchen Knife Sharpener Thoughts
There are many different knife sharpener on the market. While I think the traditional whetstone is the best out there, it does take practice and experience. For those who just want a simple and easy to use, a electric model might be better. They just take off a lot of metal. Manual models like those made by lansky is a great choice for easy to use and performance. However, what you choose should really depend on your need.
Looking for a Knife Holder? Check out our article on the Best Kitchen Knife Holder.