Looking for the best knife sharpener for your budget? You've come to the right place.
We've spend plenty of time in research, reviews and testing to help you make an informed decision that is best for your needs. Get started by taking a look at our comparison chart of top knife sharpeners of each type and proceed to check out ultimate guide to knife sharpeners and how-to manuals.
Comparison Chart of the Top Models of Each Type:
Edge Pro Apex 4
Norton IM200 -8"
Messermeister Ceramic Rod
Manual Knife Sharpener
Electric Knife Sharpener
Professional Sharpening System
Sharpening Rod (Steel)
Pocket Knife Sharpener
7.48 x 1.97 x 2.36 inches
12 x 3.37 x 6.25 inches
18 x 5.5 x 3 inches
25.8 x 7 x 16.5 inches
18.5 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches
4 x 0.25 x 0.5 inches
Thelifecutter was created to provide you with the best knife sharpener reviews to help you choose the best model for any purpose. We will introduce you to different types of knife sharpeners and accessories, as well as provide information on some of the top sharpeners on the market. We will also show you techniques for sharpening a variety of knives, like ceramic, Japanese, serrated and even hunting knives. Our information is based on recommendations from expert reviewers, customer feedback, and personal experiences.
Why do you need the best knife sharpener for the money? There is nothing like having guests over for a special occasion dinner, and not being able to slice the meat properly because your knife is too dull. Not only can this be embarrassing, but you can end up with a pretty sloppy presentation of your meal. Food that has a ragged appearance is not very appetizing, and you certainly don’t want any cut fingers as a result of trying to plow your way through a succulent roast with a dull knife.
Whether you use a knife as a tool, or as a kitchen utensil, a sharp knife is important for several reasons; the number one reason is safety. The sharper your knife, the less pressure you have to exert when cutting or slicing. A sharp knife means you can easily slice, instead of forcefully pushing through, which can lead to accidents. Another benefit of using a sharp knife is that you will not have a messy cleanup because you will achieve a more precise cut. Dull knives tend to leave more residue behind.
Main Types of Knife Sharpeners
There are several types/styles of knife sharpeners:
Of course, your selection will be based upon your needs and what you are comfortable with. For example, if you are a professional chef, you would most likely choose a sharpener that is quick, efficient, and can handle heavy usage. If you will only be sharpening knives for your home kitchen, then you probably don’t need all of the bells and whistles, and can go with a simple, economical knife sharpener. Listed below are the main types of knife sharpeners on the market along with descriptions and the differences between them. We have also described some of the pros and cons for each sharpener and reviewed top sharpener models of each type.
Best Manual Knife Sharpener (pull-through)
This sharpener is often called a pull-through sharpener because that is exactly how you sharpen your knife. You manually pull the knife through the sharpener from the heel to the tip. Manual sharpeners are the most commonly used, and much less expensive than electric knife sharpeners. Manual sharpeners are small and compact, so you can carry them anywhere. Although you have much more control with these sharpeners, you have to be careful until you get the hang of sharpening manually.
Most manual sharpeners are hand held with slots for coarse and fine sharpening. Manual sharpening takes more effort because you are doing all of the work, and you have to be careful that the knife does not slip while you are sharpening.
Be sure to hold the sharpener firmly with one hand while pulling through with the other. Sometimes gripping the handle firmly is a little uncomfortable, because your hands may tire, but it is a necessary safety measure.
The number of strokes required depends on how dull your knife is. A knife that is not very dull may require 15 or 20 strokes, but a very dull knife will require more. In order to get excellent results, you have to really practice for a nice, sharply precise, polished knife. It is a skill that is acquired, and like with so many other skills, practice makes perfect.
If you think that a pull-through sharpener satisfies your needs and requirements, choose one from the best manual knife sharpener reviews that we have put together on the comparison table and to get more information on specific models.
Top 5 Pull-Through Sharpeners:
7.48 x 1.97 x 2.36 inches
9.06 x 2.36 x 8.27 inches
9.45 x 2.83 x 2.4 inches
10.5 x 5.25 x 7.5 inches
9 x 1.5 x 3.5 inches
Best Electric Knife Sharpener
Many people like electric knife sharpeners because they are convenient and precise. Electric knife sharpeners can be costly, but they do not require as much human effort as manual sharpeners. The sharpener is quick, and designed to do the work for you. Electric sharpeners are usually shaped like a rectangle and have several slots to accommodate up to three sharpening stages. They are safer than manual sharpeners because you don’t handle the knife as much during the sharpening process.
Advantages of this type of sharpener are that you do not have to figure out the correct angle for your knife. Built-in guides help you adjust your knife to the most accurate angle instead of you having to figure it out.
Many of these sharpeners are made from diamond abrasives which are the toughest and best surfaces for sharpening knives. The diamond makes this sharpener more durable, so you will not have to replace it often. Suction cups help hold the knife in place on electric sharpeners, making slippage less of an issue, and making it safer for you. Microscopic filters are built in to catch the tiny pieces of metal that are shaved off of the knife during the sharpening process, which makes clean up easier.
In most cases you just turn on the sharpener and everything else is automatic. Of course, electric sharpeners run on electricity, however some are battery-operated as well. The spinning motorized wheel can be a little noisy, and these sharpeners are not as easy to store or carry because they are bulkier than manual sharpeners. Also, you do not have as much control with an electric sharpener as you do with a manual sharpener. Check out our selection of the top electric sharpeners and choose one that suits your needs.
Top 5 Electric Sharpeners:
12 x 3.37 x 6.25 inches
5.5 x 10 x 6 inches
12 x 6.25 x 6.37 inches
10 x 4.25 x 0 inches
6.2 x 12 x 6 inches
Best Professional Knife Sharpening Systems
A knife sharpening system is a complete kit with all of your knife sharpening needs. It may include things like a belt sander, sanding belts of various grits, a leather stropping belt, safety glasses, a stropping compound, a diamond file, and an instruction manual or video. Some systems include stones with grits for coarse, medium and fine sharpening, water bottles, micro-fiber towels, as well as guide rods which will help you sharpen using the most effective angle.
A sharpening system also has options for sharpening different types of knives. With a professional knife sharpening system you can get a razor sharp, professional cut on chef and culinary knives, hunting knives, serrated knifes, broadheads, and even fish hooks. You do not have to have to purchase separate tools for each knife.
An edge tester is included with some systems so that you can determine the sharpness of your blade. A quality system will adjust to various knife lengths and angles. Most systems are designed to keep all of your sharpening tools in one place, and often include some type of carrying case or storage bin. A knife sharpening system can be costly, but it is worth the investment if you want to keep your knife collection in tip-top shape for years to come. Here is a comparison chart of the highest ranking professional systems for sharpening knives.
Top 5 Sharpening Systems:
18 x 5.5 x 3 inches
15 x 11.5 x 15 inches
1 x 2 x 2 inches
11.5 x 11.4 x 2.5 inches
17.5 x 4.9 x 2.9 inches
Best Knife Sharpening Stones
Using sharpening stones, often called whetstones is one of the oldest methods used for sharpening knives. When you use stones to sharpen your knife, it is called “stoning.” The word whet means to sharpen a blade. Sharpening stones often come in rectangular box shapes that measure about an inch thick, and are made from material like ceramic, diamond and natural sharpening stones that come from Arkansas.
Sharpening stones can be natural or artificial. Artificial stones are mostly bonded abrasives made of material like silicon carbide and aluminum oxide which are ceramics. Bonded abrasives cut faster than natural stones. Natural stones are not as common these days, and many of the natural quarries have been exhausted. Today’s artificial stones equal natural stones in consistency. One type of natural stone called Novaculite, is from Arkansas, and considered by chefs, sportsmen and craftsmen, to be of the highest quality.
There are also water stones and oil stones, so be sure you know which one you have. For example, if you are using a diamond sharpening stone, you would not use oil because it would damage the stone. Diamonds are considered to be one of the best sharpeners; however, these stones can be expensive. Stones made of oil or water, require that you use oil or water when using them. Ceramic stones do not need oil and are excellent for sharpening because of their smooth surface, but they can be very brittle and subject to break easy.
Sharpening stones are not limited to knives; they can be used on other things made of steel such as razors, tools that have large blades (eg lawn mowers), and razors. Because this is a manual type sharpening method, you have more control over the sharpening process; but, you do have to be careful and make sure that you practice using the stone for safety reasons.
Top 5 Sharpening Stones:
3/8 x 8 x 2 inch
9.8 x 4.2 x 2.2 inches
9.2 x 3.2 x 2.9 inches
8 x 2 x 0.5 inches
7.2 x 2.5 x 1 inches
Best Knife Sharpening Rod (Steel)
A sharpening rod, also called a honing rod or sharpening steel, is used to help keep the edge of a knife blade sharp. These rods should be used in between knife sharpening not only to keep your knife sharp, but to maintain the life of the blade.
Although it is called a sharpening rod, it is not meant to sharpen, but to realign and hone your knife. Knife blades can bend slightly after heavy usage.
Some experts recommend that you use a sharpening rod every time you use your knife, to keep the cutting edge sharp. Even if your knife is not dull, you should make a practice of doing this.
Over time, a knife can get nicks, indentations, and flat spots from cutting through different material. Erosion of your knife blade can even be caused by cutting through soft things like food, which can contain acids and other ingredients that interact with the metal on the knife. A sharpening rod removes those indentations, nicks and flat spots without removing a lot of metal from the blade.
Some rods only realign the knife, while others hone and realign simultaneously. It is standard practice to hone a knife blade at a 15 to 20 degree angle. Ten to 20 swipes on each side of your knife should give you the sharpness that you desire.
Most rods are made of ceramic, diamond or steel, and come in small convenient sizes, so you can carry them anywhere.
Top 5 Sharpening Steels/Rods:
J A. Henckels
18.5 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches
4.8 x 3.1 x 17.3 inches
14 x 2 x 2 inches
13 x 2 x 2 inches
15 x 4.25 x 1.5 inches
Best Pocket Knife Sharpener
Pocket knives sharpeners are small, convenient, and compact, and easily fold up to fit into your pocket without causing inconveniences. Some pocket sharpeners even come with lanyard holes so that you can hang them around your neck, or on a hook, or wherever it is easy to access. By having one always at hand, you don’t have to worry about tools for sharpening your knives while camping, going on a hunting trip or any other adventure.
One type of pocket sharpener is a mini tungsten steel keychain so that you can carry it with you wherever you go. Even though it is small, it has a coarse and fine ceramic grit sharpening capability. Some of these sharpeners have non-slip rubber feet, so that the sharpener stays secure while you sharpening. They come with ceramic rods for a razor sharp edge, crossed carbide blades which provide fast edge setting, even preset sharpening angles. On average it may take three or four strokes to restore the edge of your knife.
Regardless of the type of knife you use, you will want to get the most efficient use out of it. To do this, you need to maintain the knife’s sharpness. The pocket-sized knife sharpener is perfect for this reason. Just pull it out on the spot and you are ready to go. Below, we have provided five of the best pocket-sized sharpener reviews to help keep your knife in tip-top condition. We have also included detailed customer feedback and ratings for each sharpener.
Top 5 Pocket-sized Sharpeners for Knives and other tools:
4 x 0.2 x 0.5 inches
8.3 x 3.2 x 0.3 inches
0.8 x 0.3 x 4.3 inches
5.5 x 0.75 x 2.25 inches
9.75 x 5 x 1.4 inches
Main Knife Sharpening Accessories
Knife sharpeners come with many accessories that will enhance your knife sharpening experience. Accessories like stone holders, knife protectors, bevel gauges and more, will help make your knife sharpening safer and easier, so that you get the most out of your sharpener. Below we will detail two popular accessories that are often needed with a knife sharpener.
1) Best Knife Sharpening Angle Guides
One of the most important aspects of the knife sharpening process is finding the correct angle. If you do not have the correct angle when sharpening, not only will your blade be ineffective, but you can damage the knife permanently. To achieve a very sharp knife, the angle should suitable for the blade. The key to finding the most effective angle is to find one that results in a balance between hardness and sharpness. The most common angles are between 17 and 22 degrees. Many knife sharpeners now come with angle guides to take the guesswork out of finding the right angle, and give you a perfect edge. You can also purchase angle guides separately.
Angle guides will help you position the knife so that you can sharpen consistently at the same angle. They come in a variety of styles. One type is mounted on a small stand, along with a rod that helps guide the blade into place; another is a small metal vise held by screws. There are also angle guides that are measuring tools. These come in a semi-circle and have measurement markings around the edge, similar to a protractor, except the middle part is not missing. Some of these come with clamps for both guiding and measuring, while others can only be used for measurement.
There is also an angle guide that has holes of different sizes that enable you to see how the different angles will look when you place your knife in the different holes. Look at the comparison table below for more information on best knife sharpening angle guides available on the market:
Sharpening Angle Guide
4.0 / 5.0
3.7 / 5.0
3.6 / 5.0
2) Best Knife Sharpening Oil
Sharpening oil, or honing oil as it is often called, is used to lubricate sharpening stones. There are a variety of honing oils to choose from, but you have to be sure to use the right one for your knife sharpener. Motor oil is too thick and will clog up the sharpening stone. An oil such as WD-40 is too light and will not remove all of the stone dust and metal filings (swarf), from the stone. It will also clog up the stone. If you do not use any oil, the stone will still get clogged from the swarf. It will glaze over, and make the stone less effective for sharpening. Sharpening oil will keep the metal from bonding with the stone by flushing away metal chips and abrasive that has been dislodged during the sharpening process.
The honing oils used most often for knife sharpeners are mineral oil, and water or vegetable-based oil. These oils give enough lubrication to the stone so that it does not wear out early. The consistency is just right for sharpening stones because it will not glaze over or clog up. Experts recommend that you do wear gloves when working with honing oil. The oil is not harmful, but it can cause your skin to dry out. Oilstones do not need to be soaked like waterstones. It only takes a few drops spread out over the stone before you start sharpening. For more information on best sharpening oil available on the market today, refer to the comparison chart below:
Sharpening Angle Guide
4.7 / 5.0
4.7 / 5.0
4.3 / 5.0
Sharpening Techniques for Different Types of Knives
There are many types of knives such as kitchen knives, ceramic, Japanese, hunting, and more. When it comes to sharpening techniques, the same method does not apply to all. Some of the things to consider are your personal preference as well as what you will be using the knife for. Listed below are techniques for sharpening most popular types of knives.
How To Sharpen Ceramic Knives
Ceramic knives are very popular especially among professional chefs. They are hard, do not rust, and only need to be sharpened every few years depending on usage. They are made from zirconia which measures 8/5 on the mineral hardness scale (which is very high). Because ceramic knives are so hard, you should use diamond sharpeners specifically designed to sharpen ceramic knives. You can also use silicone carbide sandpaper to smooth out any scratches on ceramic blades. If you do not smooth out the scratches, they can cause the blade to fracture. The sandpaper should be about 1500 grit, and can be dry or wet. If you are interested to find out more, please read our detailed Sharpening Ceramic Knives guide.
How to Sharpen Japanese Knives
Japanese cutlery is produced using a variety of different methods. They are made with high quality steel that is frequently heat treated to a high level, much higher than Western knives, and they are designed to be harder than traditional western knives. These knives are often sharpened so that only one side holds a cutting edge. If you lay them flat on the back side, they will be at the perfect angle. Many Japanese knives are single bevel, so in most cases you should not raise the back of the knife off of the stone while sharpening. The best sharpener for Japanese knives is whetstone. We have put together a detailed guide to sharpening Japanese knives with more information, reviews and recommendations to best sharpeners for Japanese knives.
How to Sharpen Hunting Knives
Humans have been hunting for years and have always been adept at keeping their knives sharp and ready for a good hunt. You can use a number of things to sharpen your hunting knife such as a whetstone, a steel bar, a ceramic brick or bar, or a flat stone. Usually the knife will have one side that is more angled than the other. You will be rubbing the knife against the stone on that side. For a hunting knife use about a 60 degree angle. When you use a ceramic bar, use the same swiping motion as for the whetstone. You don’t have to soak the ceramic bar in water like you do the whetstone. When using a steel bar, the blade should be swiped at about a 20 degree angle, pulling the knife towards you. Turn the blade over and do the same thing. It should take about 10 swipes. A flat stone can be found anywhere in the woods, however these stone have imperfections and the hunting knife may not be as effective using this method. You can see a more detailed guide to sharpening hunting knives.
How to Sharpen Serrated Knives
When you sharpen a serrated knife it is different from a straight blade because you have to sharpen each serration separately. A serrated knife is similar to a saw. You will be able to tell if it is dull because it will not cut smoothly, but will shred and tear. Fine grit usually works best on these knives although coarser grits do well on really dull serrated knives, or if you want to sharpen quicker. Some serrated knife sharpeners have a conical shape. Match this part of the sharpener to the gullet or serration size on your knife. A serrated sharpener usually has a taper that fits narrow and wide serrations. Use short, light, back and forth strokes on each serration. Make sure the sharpener is perpendicular to the beveled edge. After you have done a few strokes, check for a burr on the back of the knife. If you feel one, go on to the next serration. Click here to read out full guide to sharpening serrated knives with recommendations of the best tools for the job.
A safe knife is a sharp, well-maintained knife. Maintaining your knives will not only preserve their life, but will also provide a measure of safety each time you use them. Contrary to what people think, dull knives pose more of a risk when it comes to accidents. We created TheLifeCutter.com to provide with all the resources and information needed to help you maintain your own knife without resorting to professional knife sharpening services. With the information you now have, you can make informed choices about what type of knife sharpeners you need, which particular model is the best knife sharpeners for your budget and needs, and what techniques will help you with the sharpening process.