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If you have a passion for cooking, chances are you have a favorite set of kitchen knives on display. Keeping your knives sharp will ensure your cooking prep goes smoothly. A dull knife will slow you down while you're preparing meals and can even cause you to injure yourself.
While knife-sharpening services are available, they are relatively costly and sometimes time-consuming. Purchasing your own knife sharpener gives you the ability to sharpen your knives as needed and will make you feel like a real pro.
The BestReviews team has pored over a variety of different knife sharpeners and done some digging into the knife-sharpening world to produce the buying guide below. You'll find information about various types of knife sharpeners and learn which could suit your particular needs. We also delve into what you should look for when choosing a knife sharpener and provide a handy guide on how to best care for your knives.
There are various types of knife sharpeners available on the market. Handheld knife sharpeners are the simplest to store and are often quite versatile. Electric knife sharpeners make the task of sharpening quick and efficient. Honing tools are another important part of the blade-care process, and some sharpening units are made especially for specific blade types.
A serrated knife sharpener is a particular type of knife sharpener that allows users to sharpen serrated knives. Because of their oddly shaped edges, serrated knives are more difficult to sharpen with other tools and could incur damage if improperly sharpened.
There are different types of knife edge shapes which dictate how sharp a knife is and what purpose it's intended for.
A handheld knife sharpener is compatible with most knives. It may look like a simple tool, but handheld knife sharpeners are actually difficult to master and may take some practice. They are a good option for traveling cooks, those with limited storage space, and experienced sharpeners.
Some handheld knife sharpeners require you to use a swift pulling motion as you pass the knife through the device. Often, these types of sharpeners will have handy guides to help you sharpen correctly.
Others are more basic and do not have any kind of guide. These are best for more experienced knife owners.
Manual sharpening stones require more patience and skill to use than other types of knife sharpeners.
When powered on, the sharpening stones in an electric knife sharpener spin, allowing the user to get the job done.
Electric knife sharpeners are easier to use than other types of sharpeners, but they are usually more expensive and produce a fair bit of noise.
An electric sharpener is a good option for an inexperienced knife owner.
An electric knife sharpener will allow you to refresh your blade in under a minute.
A butcher’s steel, also known as a sharpening steel, is actually intended to hone blades. It can sharpen somewhat, but it’s less effective at sharpening than other tools.
A butcher’s steel is often sold as part of a knife set to be used with specific knives. They are easy to procure, simple to use, and easy to store since they usually just slide into your knife block.
They are inexpensive but won’t help you if your knife is very dull.
If you have an extensive collection of kitchen knives that serve a variety of purposes, choose a sharpener that is more versatile.
When browsing for a knife sharpener to add to your arsenal of kitchen tools, look for one that suits your unique needs. Are you an experienced chef with a large knife collection? Or are you a beginner with a few basic kitchen knives? Either way, you’ll need to consider the material, ease of use, and safety features of the models you are looking at.
For the inexperienced knife wielder, having a knife sharpener that takes the guesswork out of sharpening may be useful. Some sharpeners feature blade guides to help even the newest knife aficionados sharpen correctly. These guides will help you to angle your blade correctly as you sharpen. Units with adjustable guides are best if you plan on sharpening different types of knives.
Handheld knife sharpeners can be used for all types of blades, but some models are harder to get the hang of than others. If you're willing to spend more money, a pricier manual knife sharpener may be made of a harder material that is more durable.
The harder the material, the better your knife sharpener will perform. Sharpeners made of harder materials like diamond or tungsten usually cost more, but they are also more effective when it comes to sharpening.
If you’re new to knife sharpening and are apprehensive about getting injured during the process, choose a knife sharpener that offers some type of barrier for your digits. This reduces the risk of injury. Manual sharpeners that lack barriers and guides are better-suited for more experienced users.
A knife sharpener with a stable base ensures that nothing will slip out of place due to wobbling. We urge potential buyers to avoid knife sharpeners with poor-quality bases.
Keep in mind that a knife sharpener actually scrapes metal off your knife to create a newly sharpened edge. Pressing too hard may remove more material than desired.
When it comes to cost, higher-end knife sharpeners made of harder materials can cost upwards of $150. You don’t necessarily have to spend this much money to get a good knife sharpener, though. It all depends on the type you choose.
In general, electric knife sharpeners cost more than manual knife sharpeners. Electric knife sharpeners work faster and are easier to use than manual knife sharpeners. However, they are also bulkier, require a power source, and may be more troublesome to store.
Don’t try to sharpen a dirty knife. You’ll get your sharpening tool dirty, and the task will be less effective.
With manual knife sharpeners, the cost largely depends on the materials used.
Stone sharpeners that contain diamond or have a diamond coating will undoubtedly be pricier than sharpeners made of softer materials.
In general, manual knife sharpeners are less effective at sharpening, though they still do the job. These devices are a good option for the occasional cook with a small knife collection.
Most handheld knife sharpeners are made of or coated with a hard stone material. These types of devices are either rod-shaped or flattened. Rod-shaped knife sharpeners are more straightforward to use, but flat stone tools are the most effective.
While sharpening is an important part of keeping your knives in tip-top shape, you should also do the following to keep your knives working and looking like new.
Store your knives properly. A knife block or magnetic holder are the best options to protect your blades since the blade won’t unnecessarily bump around and get damaged.
Use an appropriate cutting board to avoid dulling the edge of your knife. Avoid cutting on hard surfaces, as that can dull your blades. Having a cutting board will keep your counters free of knicks, too.
Dry your knives thoroughly after cleaning them to prevent corrosion.
Do not place your knives in the dishwasher. Wash them by hand instead.
Hone your knives frequently between sharpenings.
Sharpen your knives when dull, and use a quality knife sharpener to do so.
Q. Do I really need to sharpen my knives?
A. Yes! A well-sharpened knife is easier to use and less likely to slip and hurt you as you slice through something. It will cut through your meat or produce efficiently and make kitchen prep a piece of cake.
Q. How do I know if I need to sharpen my knife?
A. You'll run into resistance when you're cutting. If you notice your blade doesn't slice through produce and meat as it did before, it's likely time to sharpen it.
Q. What is honing? Is that the same as sharpening?
A. No. A butcher's steel works to hone knives, not sharpen them. What does this achieve? Honing helps to even out the edge of the blade so you can get the straightest possible knife edge. When honing, nothing is actually shaved off of your knife.
Q. How often should I sharpen my knives?
A. This really depends on how often you use your knives, what you cut, and how well you take care of them. Less-expensive knives will require more frequent sharpening.
Q. Is there a way to keep my knives sharp longer?
A. The more you use your knives, the more often they will need to be sharpened. Of course, limiting your knife use is out of the question. Use wood cutting boards to keep your blades from dulling quickly. Store your knives in such a way that the blades are protected. Dry them right away after washing, and keep them away from the dishwasher.
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At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.