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It doesn’t matter which knife you buy, they all need to be sharpened eventually. And it's a good idea to keep your knives sharp because a sharp knife is safer to cut with than a dull one. Dull knives can drag or skip while cutting and can increase your chance of injury.
The gentlest maintenance, using a sharpening steel, simply straightens the edge of the knife without removing very much material from it. Honing should be done regularly, either using a sharpening steel or a very fine stone or sharpener.
Eventually the knife will require sharpening, which removes more material from the knife edge. How often you need to sharpen depends on how often you use the knife, what you cut, and what surface you cut on. While many people feel that hand-sharpening is best, it takes some skill. Not everyone wants to learn how to sharpen knives or spend that much time doing the sharpening. Electric sharpeners are faster and require very little skill. There are also non-electric sharpeners that are easier to use than traditional sharpening stones.
Which sharpener is best for you depends not only on your skill, but also the types of knives you use. Ceramic knives are harder than steel knives, and can’t be sharpened with traditional sharpeners; some knives are sharpened on one side of the blade while others are sharpened on both sides; the angle of the knife edge can vary depending on the style of knife; and not all sharpeners can handle serrated knives. In the end, you might decide that you need more than one sharpener if you have a wide variety knives.
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Best Overall: Brod and Taylor Professional Knife Sharpener
A nearly foolproof manual sharpener that looks like modern art, the angle that the knife is inserted into the sharpener determines how aggressive the sharpening is (yes, there is a correct angle for sharpening your knives). You can start by sharpening the knife then hone it to a fine finish in the same slot. If the knife doesn’t need sharpening, you can use this for honing only. This sharpener self-adjusts, and sharpens the knife edge to its original angle, so you don’t need to know the edge angle to sharpen the knife correctly, and there’s nothing to adjust. The tungsten carbide sharpeners will last a long time, but can be replaced when necessary.
02 of 10
Best Manual: PriorityChef Knife Sharpener for Straight and Serrated Knives
An Amazon best-seller this manual knife sharpener comes at a bargain price and will sharpen both straight and serrated knives. Not only does it sharpen knives for instant sharpness it does so in a way that they stay sharp for longer.
It has two wheels, a coarse diamond coated one that will shapen your knife to a double-edge finish while the second wheel hones the knife to improve any small imperfections. Users love this tool because it gets the job done and doesn't take up a lot of real estate in the kitchen.
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Runner-Up, Best Overall: Lansky Deluxe 5-Stone Sharpening System
This sharpener includes five different sharpening stones along with a knife clamp that holds the knife during sharpening, and a guide that allows you to select the proper blade angle. Honing oil is also included. The stones have finger grips for a secure hold and are color coded so you know which are coarser and which are finer. Unlike traditional whetstones, with this system the knife remains still while you move the stones along the blade. This manual system allows you to sharpen knives at four different angles, but requires some practice to become comfortable with the technique.
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Best Electric: Presto Professional Electric Knife Sharpener
This sharpener can be used on metal knives of any thickness, from thin filet knives to thicker chef’s knives and cleavers. The interchangeable blade guides hold the blades at your choice of three different sharpening angles, and a slider lets you choose thick, medium, or thin blades.
The sharpener creates a slight micro-serration on the edge of the blade that results in a super-sharp edge. It might take a short while to get the technique of pulling knives through the sharpener perfected, but then it’s simple to use. This cannot be used to sharpen ceramic knives.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Best Budget: Smith’s Pocket Sharpener
This pocket-sized tool sharpens knives using carbide sharpening blades, then gives the knife a smooth finish using ceramic blades. A diamond rod is used for honing knives or for sharpening serrated knives. This is a great tool to keep in the toolkit, the tackle box, or to carry along when camping. Since it’s small, your hands will be close to your sharp knife blades as you work, so you might want to save it for occasional use rather than for sharpening all of your kitchen knives on a regular basis.
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Best for Ceramic Knives: Gelindo 3 Stage Knife Sharpener
Since ceramic blades are so hard, not all knife sharpeners are capable of sharpening them. In fact, many knife sharpeners designed for steel knives use ceramic cutters. For ceramic knives, diamond-embedded cutters are required.
This knife sharpener has three sharpening slots with three different cutting materials: tungsten carbide, ceramic, and diamond. The diamond slot is used for ceramic knives, while the other two slots for sharpening and honing steel knives. This can also sharpen serrated knives. This sharpener is easy to use and has a handle that keeps your hand safely away from the knife blade.
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Best Whetstone: Smiths SK2 Deluxe Knife Sharpening Kit
If you want to start hand-sharpening knives, and you’ve never used stones, this kit has everything you need. It includes a medium-grit stone for sharpening and an Arkansas stone for finishing. It also includes a honing solution that protects and cleans the stone’s surface as well as a small plastic guide to help sharpening novices learn the correct angle for sharpening. This is the classic method for sharpening knives, which takes some time to master, but once you learn how to use a stone, you can sharpen knives to any angle you prefer.
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Best Sharpening Steel: Wusthoff Sharpening Steel
Technically, a sharpening steel doesn’t sharpen a knife, it actually hones or straightens the fine edge that gets bent during use, which makes the knife seem dull. That bending isn’t visible to the naked eye, but it still effects the way the knife cuts.
This steel has an easy-to-hold handle and loop for hanging, or it might fit in your knife block. This steel is magnetic, so it collects any metal dust created during the process. Knives should be honed regularly, so a steel is an important tool to have in your kitchen. This steel is also available in shorter and longer lengths.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Best High End: Chef's Choice Diamond Hone Professional 100 Knife Sharpener Box
With 100 percent diamond abrasives and proprietary Trizor Edge technology, this knife sharpener has been engineered to give your knives an incredibly sharp and professional edge. Although it’s designed to professional standards, it’s easy for anyone to use, with magnetic guides that properly position the knife in the sharpening slots and help increase control of the sharpening process.
The sharpener has three slots that perform different sharpening steps from pre-sharpening to sharpening to the final honing, for a perfect edge every time.
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Best for Scissors: Victorinox Swiss Army Manual Sharpener
Scissors get dull, too, but many sharpeners can’t handle their unique shape. This easy-to-use manual sharpener can handle scissor easily, and will also sharpen all of your non-serrated knives with ease. It’s ergonomically designed for either right- or left-hand use and has a protective finger guard so you can safely sharpen all the knives in the block.
The v-shaped tungsten carbide plates are placed at the perfect angle for a razor-sharp edge every time. The plates can be turned to prolong the life of the sharpener. The sharpener is dishwasher safe if it needs cleaning.