7 Best Knife Sharpeners

Sharpening studios are great – much better than trying to cut through things and prepare food with knives the equivalent of butter knives in sharpness.  However, sometimes you get the itch to learn how to sharpen your own knives.  Maybe you’ve tried before and didn’t like the way that cheap little pull-through sharpener scraped the steel from your knife like it was an infinite resource.

Never fear, I’m here to help you pick a better knife sharpener.  Whether you’d like to learn how to hand sharpen your knives or want an electric sharpener you can rely on, this post should give you some reliable equipment ideas.

Table of Contents

Why Would You Want a Knife Sharpener?

There are plenty of reasons to have a knife sharpener in your home.

  • You’re a knife enthusiast!  Anyone who has a lot of knives (and doesn’t just keep them for decoration) is going to soon find themselves with a bunch of dull, useless blades.  Sure, you could bring them to a pro, but if you find yourself doing this all the time, you’re going to be spending a ton of money.
  • You cook often.  Anyone who does a lot of their own cooking will soon find themselves struggling to slice through their ingredients.  Unless you go out often or live on frozen meals, a knife sharpener is going to be something you want in your kitchen.
  • It’s calming.  In The Art of Hand Sharpening, Ms. Smith claims that sharpening knives by hand is a bit of a meditative experience.  I’m going to have to agree, so long as you enjoy sharpening on a whetstone.  You might find it boring, but you might also find it calming and tranquil.
  • You won’t have to toss your old knives.  Wouldn’t it be great to have knives that can last?  For many, their knives will be their sharpest when first purchased and then only live long enough to need their first sharpening.  When the frustration of cutting, chopping, and slicing outweighs the cost of buying a new knife, most people will opt to chuck the knife.

Of course, not everyone will need a knife sharpener.  Some people just don’t use knives often enough to justify the cost, others just don’t enjoy sharpening knives.  If you’re hanging out here, however, you might want to think about getting one.

Who Am I To Tell You Which Sharpeners Are the Best?

I’m just a knife guy, like most of you.  However, I actually sharpen my own knives.  A quick look at my guide to knife sharpening books should give you a hint that I do this a lot.  I’ve used a lot of sharpening systems and can at least give you my own preferences.

For example, I’ll never recommend the Lansky system.  I just hate it.  Maybe someone else out there loves it and would recommend it to anyone, but I just don’t like it.  As such, a lot of these suggestions just come down to opinions, but most recommendations do.  It doesn’t matter whether they come from me or someone on Reddit or any other platform.

At least I’ve been sharpening for a while and enjoy it, so you can rest assured that I know what I’m talking about.  Nonetheless, it’s up to you to decide which sharpener is best for you.  You’re here to do your own research, not to blindly buy whatever anyone tells you to.  I’m just here to help you along.

How I Chose This List

Most ‘best knife sharpeners’ or ‘best sharpeners’ lists will have an all-around top pick, a best budget pick, and so on and so forth.  I’m not going to do that because there are too many sharpeners that I like and because everyone has different needs and wants.  What one person thinks is the best sharpener for anyone on a budget and what the cash-strapped consumer actually wants out of a sharpener might be totally different.

As such, I chose this list based on which sharpeners have been my favorites over the years.  I also chose it based on what others (such as my brother or my uncle, who’s a fantastic woodworker) have used and enjoyed. I trust their opinions as much as my own, sometimes more than my own.

As such, I don’t have a top pick; all I have are seven knife sharpeners that I think are best for most knife enthusiasts.  What you want out of a sharpener, how you like to sharpen your knives, and what you’re willing to spend are the things you need to worry about.

The Top 7 Knife Sharpeners

Features

  • Two Double-Sided Whetstones: 400/1000 and 3000/8000
  • Non-Slip Bamboo Base
  • Black Flattening Stone
  • Angle Guide
  • Two Leather Strops
  • Green Polishing Compound
  • Cut-Resistant Gloves
  • Honing Guide for Chisels
  • User Guide

Pros

  • Complete Kit
  • Beginner-Friendly
  • Variety of Grits
  • Extremely Safe

Cons

  • Poor Instructions
  • Stones Need a Lot of Maintenance

Starting off with the Kerye whetstones, all I can say is that this set is good for beginners.  It comes in a fancy gift box, which was perfect because I gave it to a friend who wanted to learn how to sharpen knives by hand.  He loved it, but it does have cons.

To start off with, this is a solid set obviously made with beginners in mind.  It’s a complete kit for hand sharpening and is totally capable of getting your knives back to peak performance.  The kit you receive will work well for most knives and chisels, so unless you’re trying to sharpen a razor or something with an uncommon edge, you’ll be good to go.

The reason for not being able to sharpen razors, if you must know, is that the angle guide that comes with this kit sharpens at 18 degrees.  As far as I know, there aren’t any additional guides to purchase as an option with this kit, so keep that in mind before you purchase.

However, the kit is extremely safe.  It comes with cut-resistant gloves to keep your fingers as protected as possible, although my hands (which are so small that children’s hands dwarf them) are too small to properly fit into them.  Most people won’t have that problem, though.  Anyone of average height should be able to use them.

Now for the cons.

The biggest is the instructions.  Honestly, you should just throw them away and head over to either YouTube or our sharpening guide page and look for actually good instructions.  These instructions were so bad, I had to laugh out loud when my friend showed them to me.

The only other bad thing I can think of is that the stones wear easily.  The kit comes with a flattening stone to mitigate this, but you’d think that they would have a little more durability to them.  Oh, and I don’t think the 8,000 grit stone is actually 8,000 grit.

You also won’t be able to sharpen ceramic knives using this kit, as you need diamond tools to properly sharpen them.

So, other than a couple of things, I really like these whetstones.  They’re a cheaper alternative to some of the other stones out there, but for someone who’s never sharpened anything by hand and isn’t sure if they’d like the process, these are a great entry.

I recommend these whetstones for anyone who wants to learn how to sharpen their knives by hand and doesn’t mind doing a little bit of research to learn how to properly use them.  If you’re unintimidated by a little learning curve and aren’t constantly having to sharpen knives, then this is a really great kit to start with.

Features

  • Portable
  • 4 Aluminum Safety Rods: 2 Fine and 2 Medium Grit
  • High Alumina Ceramic Sharpening Stone
  • Instruction Book
  • Instructional DVD

Pros

  • Very Good Instructions
  • Portable
  • Oil-Free System
  • Can Take Most Blades from Dull to Sharp Quickly

Cons

  • No High-Grit Rods
  • Not Good for Badly Damaged Knives

Some people will see the Spyderco brand and think, “Yep, this is for me!” and for good reason.  Spyderco is known for its craftsmanship in the knife world and this is no different.

I would recommend this sharpener for someone with a lot of knives in good condition that just needs maintenance.  However, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who is sharpening multiple knives on a daily basis, as this system is too time-consuming for constant use.

That being said, for general knife maintenance, it’s hard to beat.  The Spyderco Sharpmaker can take most knives, including serrated blades (although they don’t need sharpening as often) back to a sharp edge.  It takes about 10 minutes to sharpen a blade, which isn’t too bad.

This system is also oil-free, which eliminates some of the hassles.  It can still take some time to set up and get into, but the learning curve really isn’t too steep.

Now, are there any cons?

Yeah, most systems have cons.  Like the whetstone kit from before, the Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker can get your blade sharp again if it has a thirty or forty-degree bevel.

In other words, it’s stuck at around 15 and 20 degrees as a guide.  You can get other blades to sharpen with this system, but you’ll be spending a lot of time scraping away steel and, essentially, creating a new edge.

Another downside is that there are no high-grit rods.  This means that hard steels take forever (maybe I’m just impatient?) to sharpen.  It also means that if your blades are in really bad shape, the Spyderco Sharpmaker won’t do a good job of repairing them.

I recommend this for anyone who wants to maintain their knives without the hassle of whetstones.

Features

  • Portable
  • Four Diamond Hones: 140 Extra Coarse, 300 Coarse, 600 Fine, 1500 Extra Fine
  • Spherical Bearing Rod Guide
  • 17-30 Degree Angles Possible

Pros

  • Easy to Learn
  • Multiple Angles
  • Good for Anyone Who Doesn’t Want to Learn Hand Sharpening

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not as easy to sharpen long blades

The KME Knife Sharpening System is kind of like a higher-end Lansky system.  In other words, it’s a guided sharpening system.  I can’t bring myself to advocate for Lansky, but my uncle swears by this.  He loves it for his whittling knives, especially.  So, I decided to try it out when I went to visit him over the holidays and see if it was really that good.

All in all, it’s a very easy system to use.  The knives I brought over wound up being sharper than most knives I own, actually.

I think what makes this system work is that it has a very small learning curve.  A quick hop over to YouTube and within minutes you’re sharpening knives that will wind up sharper than they’ve ever been.

I also appreciate that everything you need actually comes in the kit and that it doesn’t take up too much space on your work desk.  It’s a small system that works, and it comes with enough grits and angles that you can sharpen just about any knife.  It worked great with both the softer and harder steel blades I tried.

I don’t think the angels get low enough for straight razors, however, so if that’s a priority for you, the KME Precision Knife Sharpening System may not be for you.

So, what are the cons?

The first is the price tag.  Amazon’s rules won’t let me put the price anywhere in the article (I suppose because prices are apt to change), but if you click the link, you’ll be able to see how expensive it is.  I wouldn’t have thought this was such an expensive little tool, personally.  Is it worth the money?  Yeah, if you like the system.  However, I think the manufacturers could afford to lower the price a little bit.

The second thing I didn’t care for was that I had a hard time sharpening my longer blades.  I struggled to really get the stone to glide across the breadth of my tanto knives and my longer kitchen knives.  The KME Precision Knife Sharpener is great for pocket knives and most other EDC knives, not to mention a lot of kitchen knives, but if the blade is particularly long, you’ll have a hard time.

I recommend this system for anyone who wants an easy way to sharpen their EDC knives (as well as kitchen knives such as paring knives) and gets enjoyment from the sharpening process.  If you hate whetstones, then this is especially a good system.

I don’t recommend it if you aren’t fond of sharpening, don’t do it very often, or have a lot of things you’d like to sharpen other than knives.

Features

  • Ken Onion Edition Knife & Tool Sharpener
  • P120 Extra-Coarse Belt
  • X65 Coarse Abrasive Belt
  • X22 Medium Abrasive Belt
  • X4 Fine Abrasive Belt
  • 6000 Extra-Fine Abrasive Belt
  • Quick Start Guide
  • User’s Guide

Pros

  • Good Instructions
  • Sharpens Quickly
  • Belts Make Changing the Grit Easy
  • Angle Guide Makes it Easy to Replicate Results

Cons

  • Generates Lots of Steel Dust
  • Learning Curve
  • Not Great for Chisels or Knives with Special Edges

I bought this sharpener as my first ‘electric’ sharpener.  I love sharpening my knives by hand, but sometimes I just want to get the job done and move on to something else.  Other times, I’ll realize that I’ve got quite a backlog of dull knives piling up on my bench, and then the procrastination kicks in.

This sharpener is one solid unit, allowing me to catch up on my sharpening or finish up a job quickly.  I can get the kitchen knives back to working order very quickly, whereas it takes quite a while using just my whetstones.

The instructions are clear, although I recommend using a practice knife before you move on to your valuable knives.  I used an ancient boning knife and an old pocket knife as my practice knives, and I’m glad I did.  It goes so fast, it’s easy to screw up.

Changing the belt is easy – just slip off the old and slip on the new.  It also comes with different grit belts, so you won’t need to run around buying a ton of accessories to be able to sharpen your knife.

Oh, and it sharpens hard steels just as quickly as soft steels.  The Spyderco Sharpmaker is a great tool, but, as I said, it’s not that great for hard metal.  Work Sharp, on the other hand, works very well if you have a lot of blades made from hard steel.

On to the cons.

WEAR GOGGLES!  Seriously, this thing sprays steel dust all over the place, and you really don’t want that stuff flying into your eyeballs.  You’ll want a dustbuster or a sink nearby to get rid of all the dust.

I know that belt sharpeners aren’t going to sharpen everything, but if you want to sharpen chisels, drill bits, or anything other than knives, the Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener isn’t going to cut it.  If I’m going to buy equipment, I prefer it to be more than a one-trick pony, but the Work Sharp sharpener makes up for its lack of versatility in how fast it sharpens blades and how sharp it gets edges.

I recommend this for anyone who has a lot of knives to sharpen but wants to get it done and out of the way.  If you dislike hand sharpening, then the Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener will make you very happy.  Just don’t expect it to do much other than sharpen knives.

Features

  • Water-Cooled System that Sharpens Nearly Everything
  • Dual Grit Sharpening Stone (Wheel)
  • Impact-Resistant
  • Very Heavy Duty

Pros

  • Fast
  • Sharpens Practically Anything
  • Can Create an Incredibly Sharp Edge

Cons

  • Steep Learning Curve
  • Needs Additional Jig Purchases

First off, this is a very heavy-duty machine that’s more for professionals than hobbyists.  If you’re a beginner, then this is a machine I’d stay away from for now.  If you sharpen drill bits and other things as well, then maybe consider it, but it really is more for pros.

My uncle uses it because, as a woodworker, he sharpens a lot of different things, and the Tormek T-4 has enough jigs (sold separately) to sharpen virtually anything you can think of.

It uses water-cooling and low RPMs to prevent too much heat build-up, which is a problem I’ve encountered with grinder sharpeners before.  Heat can damage steel, which was always why I preferred hand sharpening.  I think the Tormek T-4 changed my tune considerably in that regard.

It also helps that the instructions that come with it are actually good and not some hastily slapped-together thing that leaves you heading over to YouTube to fill in the gaps in your education.  I can’t say the same thing for the KERYE whetstones, even though I like using them.

It also creates edges fast.  If you’re going to use a machine to sharpen your knives instead of your own hands and a stone, it had better be a faster experience.  At least, that’s my opinion.  Tormek doesn’t fail to deliver.  Not only can you sharpen your knife (or anything else) to perfection, you can even put a new edge on it!

Yes, all things have cons.

The Tormek T-4 isn’t an exception.  A major drawback is the learning curve.  It’s not difficult to understand, but you’ll want to practice with a ton of cheap blades before you even attempt to sharpen something you love and value.  Because of how fast it works, you could easily find yourself grinding away chunks of your blade before you realize it.

I really don’t appreciate having to buy so many jigs to make it usable, though.  This isn’t an inexpensive piece of equipment, and when my uncle told me that he purchased most of the jigs we were using separately, my jaw nearly hit the floor.  You’ll definitely want a few of those extra jigs to make the machine worth your while.

Ultimately, I recommend this grinder for anyone who works professionally, whether as a knife sharpener or as a carpenter, woodworker, or major hobbyist.  If you just collect knives and use them for day-to-day things, then this is would be overkill.

Features

  • Ball-Joint Guide Rod System
  • Quartz Stone Base
  • 15-30 Degree Adjustable Angles
  • Stones in 100, 200, 400, 600, 800, and 1000 Grit
  • Strop
  • Instructions

Pros

  • Variety of Stones
  • Ruler, So You Can Repeat Your Results
  • Great for Anyone Starting a Sharpening Service
  • Great if You Sharpen Lots of Knives

Cons

  • Needs Attachments for Some Low Angles
  • Had Problems with Stick-On Feet
  • Expensive

I got this sharpener second-hand, but it was in good condition, so I think I can accurately judge the system as brand new.  I know that there are newer models out there, but I can’t speak for them.

All in all, it’s a good sharpener, but only for someone who does a lot of sharpening.  I wouldn’t recommend this to someone who doesn’t have too many knives or who only sharpens to maintain an edge.  If you’re constantly sharpening knives that are as dull as butter knives or need to reprofile edges, then this would be a good sharpener for you.

This is a nice system that you can just set on your workbench or kitchen table and get going on.  That being said, there are features that allow you to screw the kit to a surface, although I don’t actually do that myself.  I try to rely on the sticky feet to hold it in place, although they don’t always hold that well for me.

The Wicked Edge Pro Pack 1 is very durable.  I expect it to last me the rest of my life.  Even better, the stones that come with it are all most people will need, unlike the Sharpmaker from Spyderco, which comes with no diamond or high-grit rods.

I managed to take multiple knives that had small chips and were dull as can be and get them slicing through paper – something that can’t be done on something like the Spyderco Sharpmaker and KME Precision Knife Sharpener systems.

What I really loved was the ruler that allowed me to replicate my results.  Basically, you can use it to record how each knife was set up so you can get the same result next time you have to sharpen that particular knife.

You have to be careful, though, as the stones can take a lot of metal off quickly.  This isn’t so much a heat concern (I’ve never had trouble with heat buildup using the Wicked Edge) as it is a problem of drastically changing the edge of your blade if you’re not careful.

I also suggest wiping down the blade before you change out the grit to avoid contamination and extend the life of your stones.

Now, there are some downsides.

The first is that, for the cost of the Wicked Edge, it really should come with the low-angle adapter.  The angles and stones that come with the kit are all that most people will ever need, but would it have been so terrible to add them to the basic kit?  At some point, it just seems like a ploy to squeeze more money out of people.

I also had problems with the stick-on feet.  You really want this thing anchored down when you’re working with it, as you’ll be moving those stones around a lot to sharpen a blade.  This could’ve been because I received this kit second-hand, though.  Maybe if I’d gotten it new, it wouldn’t have given me trouble.

I recommend the Wicked Edge Pro Pack 1 for people who sharpen a lot of knives, enjoy hand-sharpening with a guided system, and are doing more than maintaining knives that just need some touching up.  It’s an expensive system, so you have to use it a lot to justify the cost.

Features

  • Sharpens Serrated Knives as Well as Straight Edge
  • Sharpens at a 15 Degree Edge

Pros

  • Good Instructions
  • Fast Sharpening
  • Gets Edges Very Sharp

Cons

  • Slight Learning Curve

Many knife people aren’t that keen on electric sharpeners, and I get it.  I prefer hand-sharpening my knives, too.  However, there are still a lot of people who just want a way to sharpen kitchen knives fast.  If that’s you or you know someone who just wants to keep their kitchen knives sharp, then the Chef’s Choice 15XV Edge Select Professional Electric Knife is what I recommend.

This electric sharpener gets kitchen knives razor-sharp in less than a minute.  Granted, it will take any knife and make it a 15-degree edge instead of a 20-degree edge.  Some people may not like that, but I don’t mind as long as the knife isn’t an heirloom knife.

A 15-degree edge won’t stay sharp for as long as a 20-degree edge, but it really doesn’t take long to resharpen with the Chef’s Choice sharpener.  Just remember not to touch the blade because it gets really sharp.

I got this sharpener for my mom, and she definitely gives it her seal of approval.  Her knives were so dull that chopping onions was difficult, so I got this for her as a Christmas present.  The last time I went to fix up some of my sloppy joes, I was able to chop the onions easily.

I highly recommend this sharpener for anyone who wants to be able to quickly sharpen their cutlery (or knows someone who desperately needs their kitchen knives sharpened) and doesn’t want to spend time doing it by hand.

Yes, the Chef’s Choice 15XV EdgeSelect will turn your knives into a 15-degree edge, but it sharpens so fast that it hardly matters.

Final Thoughts

These are my most recommend knife sharpeners, and I tried to include systems and sharpeners that will appeal to just about every knife enthusiast out there.  Hopefully, this post has given you some food for thought and will help you decide what you’d like in your knife sharpener.

Ka-Bar Becker Companion Review

KA-BAR Becker Companion

The Ka-Bar Becker Companion is a popular fixed-blade knife designed by Ethan Becker for outdoor use. I wouldn’t consider it a proper survival knife for

Read More »

9 Best Camping Knives (2023)

There are a broad range of knives you can bring camping, but most people don’t think in terms of what they plan to do while camping and what kinds of knives are best suited to those activities. This guide will help you out.

Read More »

Leave a Comment