best knife sharpener 2018

Best Knife Sharpener 2018-2019:Manual and Electric Knife Sharpener 2020

Best Knife Sharpener 2018-2019:Manual and Electric Knife Sharpener 2020

A knife sharpener doesn’t have to be an expensive investment. It’s also a worthwhile tool for cooks of all levels. Dull blades can make food preparation longer and harder. They can also be a safety hazard, as you need to apply more pressure to cut up food. Instead of sending your dull knives off to get professionally sharpened, take a look at the knife sharpeners below. We’ve included a variety of types as well as price points to help make your search easier.

Best Knife Sharpener 2018-2019 If you have invested your hard-earned money in a quality set of kitchen knives it is important that you care for them properly. Of course, you could always send them away for sharpening, but why pay money to have someone else do what you could easily do yourself? Not to mention the inconvenience of having to drive them to and from the sharpener or pay shipping and handling to send them by mail.

Best Knife Sharpener 2018-2019 The days of visiting the knife sharpener are gone. It is rare that you will see a knife sharpening truck roaming the streets, dinging its bell, on a search for customers. Those days are gone because newer, easier methods of sharpening knives have been developed. You no longer need to know special techniques and methods to properly sharpen a knife. You don’t need to worry about holding your knife at the perfect angle to get a nice straight edge.

Best Knife Sharpener 2018-2019 Newer knife sharpeners have been designed with you in mind. They are quick and easy to use. They figure out the angle for you, so you can focus on learning skills in other areas of your life without wasting time learning how to hold a knife. This page has been designed to bring you the best of the best of today’s most popular kitchen knife sharpeners. Of course, some of the older style sharpeners have prevailed in popularity over the years and we will be sure to include a couple of those here as well.

As you will see, I have included three categories of knife sharpeners here – manual sharpeners, electric sharpeners, and sharpening/honing rods. For each of these I have selected one Best in Class choice to be featured in the Top Three Choices of knife sharpeners.

Top Three Choices

If you have already perused some of the knife review pages on this website, you have probably noticed that I usually select a “Best in Class”, “Best Value”, and Best something else for each Top Three Choices section. What I quickly noticed when working with these knife sharpeners was that it simply wouldn’t be possible to do such a thing. Each of these types of sharpeners is so different from the other types that I felt all deserved their very own “Best in Class” selections.

The following three reviews are for the knife sharpeners which I believe are most likely to satisfy your needs. To come to these conclusions, I spent hours researching each of the three kinds of knife sharpeners on this list so that I could select the best version of each type, research sales statistics, and read countless consumer reviews.

Best Knife Sharpener 2018-2019

1. Kangever Kitchen Knife Sharpener

knife sharpener, kitchen knife sharpener

Kangever

This knife sharpener is geared towards straight and serrated knives, including a fixed angle slot specifically for serrated blades. Just place the dull blade on the appropriate sharpening slot, while the two-stage sharpening system takes care of the rest. For your safety and comfort, this knife sharpener has a soft grip handle and non-skid rubber feet.

This knife sharpener is best for straight and serrated blades.

Price: $13.98 Check Price On Amazon

Buy the Kangever Kitchen Knife Sharpener here.



Pros:

  • Ideal for straight and serrated blades
  • Has a fixed angle slot for serrated knives
  • Non-skid rubber feet

Cons:

  • Scissor sharpener could be better
  • Some wish the sharpener was larger
  • Can require several pulls to get the blade razor sharp

Find more Kangever Kitchen Knife Sharpener information and reviews here.


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2. Priority Chef Knife Sharpener

knife sharpener

Priority Chef

The Priority Chef Knife Sharpener has a two-stage sharpening system. The first is a diamond coated wheel for coarse sharpening, while the second is a ceramic sharpening wheel. When your knife is done, it will have a double bevelled edge that’s razor sharp and remains sharp for an extended period of time. Another advantage of a diamond coated wheel is that diamonds can withstand the task of repeatedly cutting and sharpening even the hardest metals. The diamond coated wheel is also slightly angled to help shape both sides of the knife as it’s sharpened. You can use the ceramic wheel for sharpening serrated knives and for getting rid of any imperfections within a knife edge. Other features include a modern stainless steel design and a non-slip cushion on the bottom. Aside from kitchen knives, it’s ideal for pocket, utility, and hunting knives.

This knife sharpener is best for coarse and ceramic sharpening to keep blades razor sharp for an extended period of time.

Check Price On Amazon

Price: $19.95 (43 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Priority Chef Knife Sharpener here.



Pros:

  • Has diamond coated and ceramic sharpening wheels
  • Non-slip bottom cushion
  • Ideal for a variety of knives

Cons:

  • Instructions could be better
  • Slots may not be wide enough to accommodate larger blades
  • A few find that it works best for thinner blades

Find more Priority Chef Knife Sharpener information and reviews here.


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3. Winware Stainless Steel Sharpening Steel

sharpening steel, stainless steel sharpening steel

Winware

Honing and sharpening steels look similar, but they offer different results. Honing steels are ideal for re-aligning the blade and can be used as often as after every use. Honing steels don’t actually sharpen a knife, but can produce similar results as they help push the knife blade into its proper position. In contrast, sharpening steels remove a thin layer of steel from the blade, resulting in a sharp new edge. You only need to use a sharpening steel a few times per year, even if you use your knives frequently. For best results, choose a sharpening steel that’s at least as long as the knife you will be sharpening. This sharpening steel features a 12-inch sharpening blade and a 5-inch plastic handle. To clean, simply wipe it down with a damp cloth.

This knife sharpener is best for those seeking a sharpening steel that only needs to be used a few times per year to keep blades sharp.

A 14-inch variation is also available.

Price: $8.87 (16 percent off MSRP) Check Price On Amazon

Buy the Winware Stainless Steel Sharpening Steel here.



Pros:

  • Creates a sharp, new blade
  • Only needs to be used a few times per year
  • 12-inch sharpening blade

Cons:

  • Initial learning curve
  • Some find it tough to store due to its size
  • A few mention the handle is uncomfortable

Find more Winware Stainless Steel Sharpening Steel information and reviews here.


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4. SunrisePro Knife Sharpener

knife sharpener

SunrisePro

In addition to kitchen knives, the SunrisePro Knife Sharpener also sharpens garden utensils. It’s designed to accommodate everything from carving and bread knives to blender blades, serrated knives, and scissors, along with pruning and hedge shears. A suction cup mount holds the sharpener securely in place. This tool is designed to sharpen blades in less than a minute. It’s also available in a variety of colors.

This knife sharpener is best for sharpening kitchen knives and garden utensils.

Price: $15.27 (60 percent off MSRP) Check Price On Amazon

Buy the SunrisePro Knife Sharpener here.



Pros:

  • Sharpens kitchen knives and garden utensils
  • Suction cup mount
  • Comes in several colors

Cons:

  • Sharpening angle isn’t adjustable
  • First sharpening can generate a lot of excess shavings
  • Several mention it isn’t compatible with Japanese knives

Find more SunrisePro Knife Sharpener information and reviews here.


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5. Presto Professional EverSharp Electric Knife Sharpener

knife sharpener, electric knife sharpener

Presto

If you’re looking for professional-level results, consider this electric knife sharpener. You don’t have to be a professional chef to invest in a knife sharpener with features such as a three-stage sharpening system and interchangeable blades to ensure optimal sharpening angles. In fact, this sharpener is a practical choice for beginners, as the blade guides keep the knife at the ideal sharpening angle. The tool is ideal for kitchen and hunting knives.

This sharpener is best for use with kitchen and hunting knives.

A less expensive alternative, LINKYO Electric Knife Sharpener, is also available.

Price: $36.99 Check Price On Amazon

Buy the Presto Professional EverSharp Electric Knife Sharpener here.



Pros:

  • Three-stage sharpening system
  • Ideal for home chefs of all levels
  • Designed for kitchen and hunting knives

Cons:

  • Knife guides move too easily
  • A few note it doesn’t quite return blades to their original sharpness
  • Can be tricky to use with serrated knives

Find more Presto Professional EverSharp Electric Knife Sharpener information and reviews here.


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6. EdgeCraft Chef’sChoice Trizor XV Sharpener EdgeSelect

EdgeCraft

The hallmark feature of the Chef’sChoice Trizor XV Sharpener EdgeSelect is its ability to convert household knife angles from the typical 20 degrees to 15 degrees. Flexible spring guides ensure proper control of the sharpening angle, while the three-stage sharpening system helps create the optimal edge for various cutting tasks. This knife sharpener is geared towards sharpening serrated and straight edge blades.

This knife sharpener is best for converting knife angles from 20 to 15 degrees.

Price: $117.50 (44 percent off MSRP) Check Price On Amazon

Buy the EdgeCraft Chef’sChoice Trizor XV Sharpener EdgeSelect here.



Pros:

  • Converts knife angles from 20 to 15 degrees
  • Ideal for straight edge and serrated blades
  • Flexible spring guides

Cons:

  • A handful mention the rubber feet on the bottom tend to fall off easily
  • Some note an initial learning curve
  • Doesn’t sharpen ceramic or scissor blades

Find more EdgeCraft Chef’sChoice Trizor XV Sharpener EdgeSelect information and reviews here.


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7. Unimi Whetstone Knife Sharpener

whetstone knife sharpener

Unimi

Whetstone sharpeners offer a gentle yet efficient way to sharpen dull knife blades. Most stones come with two distinct sides, one of which is a finer grit while the other is a coarser grit. This particular sharpener features 2,000 and 6,000 grit sides. A 2,000 grit stone falls in the middle and is ideal for those who want to frequently sharper their knives often. Since it’s less abrasive than some finer grits, it can take longer to sharpen knives. On the other side you’ll find 6,000 grit, which is a basic finishing stone for a more sharp and polished blade. You can sharpen more than your kitchen knives, including gardening tools, woodworking tools, carpentry kits, and more. Other features include a corrosion-resistant material and a non-slip silicone base. If this is your first time using a stone or you just need a bit more guidance, check out the sharpening guide that comes with this product.

This knife sharpener is best for frequent sharpening with a basic finishing stone.

Price: $18.99 Check Price On Amazon

Buy the Unimi Whetstone Knife Sharpener here.



Pros:

  • Ideal for those who frequently sharpen knives
  • Non-slip silicone base
  • Comes with a sharpening guide

Cons:

  • Can take awhile to sharpen blades
  • Those seeking razor sharp blades may want to go with a higher grit
  • Not designed for use with ceramic or serrated knives

Find more Unimi Whetstone Knife Sharpener information and reviews here.


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8. Wüsthof – 2 Stage Hand-Held Sharpener

knife sharpener

Wüsthof

Some knife sharpeners don’t include markings for fine and coarse sharpening, which can be especially confusing for those who are new to knife sharpeners. If you’re tired of guessing, you’ll appreciate how each side of this sharpener is clearly marked. Another highlight is its lightweight construction and compact size, which allows you to leave it out on the countertop or store it away. Carbide steel blades are utilized during the coarse sharpening stage. There are also fine ceramic rods during the honing stage. A rubberized base ensures your grip remains secure.

This knife sharpener is best for budget-conscious consumers who want clearly markings, as well as for beginners.

Price: $19.94 (20 percent off MSRP) Check Price On Amazon

Buy the Wüsthof – 2 Stage Hand-Held Sharpener here.



Pros:

  • Comes with markings for both sides
  • Rubberized base provides a solid grip
  • Weighted for added security

Cons:

  • Sharpening stones could be raised higher from the plastic
  • May not sharpen knives as well as pricier products
  • Doesn’t work with serrated blades

Find more Wüsthof – 2 Stage Hand-Held Sharpener information and reviews here.


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9. Smith’s TRI-6 Arkansas TRI-HONE Sharpening System

sharpening stone

Smith’s

The Smith’s TRI-6 Arkansas TRI-HONE Sharpening System features a medium synthetic stone, fine Arkansas stone, and a coarse synthetic stone. Each stone measures six inches. They are also molded onto a plastic triangle with handles so that you can easily rotate between stones. Rubber feet sit on the bottom of the plastic base for added traction and security during the sharpening process. The coarse stone is 400 grit, while the medium synthetic stone is 600 grit and the fine Arkansas stone is 1000-1200 grit. A trough helps catch any oil that drips down. This sharpener comes with a bottle of honing solution along with a sharpening guide to help you get started.

This knife sharpener is best for experienced users seeking medium synthetic, fine Arkansas, and coarse synthetic stones.

Price: $24.97 (6 percent off MSRP) Check Price On Amazon

Buy the Smith’s TRI-6 Arkansas TRI-HONE Sharpening System here.



Pros:

  • Three distinct stones
  • Trough helps catch excess oil
  • Includes a bottle of honing solution and a sharpening guide

Cons:

  • Plastic base feels flimsy
  • Some wish the guide included more angles
  • Several mention the medium stone soaks up the honing oil

Find more Smith’s TRI-6 Arkansas TRI-HONE Sharpening System information and reviews here.


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10.Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Sharp Duo Knife Sharpener

Henckels

The price is a bit higher than other manual knife sharpeners, but this unit features four distinct slots instead of the typical two or three. There are two options for standard Western knives and two for Asian knives. An ergonomically contoured handle keeps hands comfortable as you sharpen your knives. There’s also a rubberized bottom to keep the knife sharpener from slipping.

This knife sharpener is best for Western and Asian knives.

Price: $24.95 Check Price On Amazon

Buy the Zwilling J.A. Henckels 4-Stage Manual Knife Sharpener here.



Pros:

  • Includes options for Western and Asian knives
  • Contoured handle
  • Rubberized bottom prevents slips

Cons:

  • A bit pricey
  • Doesn’t work with ceramic or serrated blades
  • Handle is a bit thin for those with larger hands

Find more Zwilling J.A. Henckels 4-Stage Manual Knife Sharpener information and reviews here.

Overall Winner:  Apex 1 Knife Sharpening Kit

The Apex 1 claimed the top spot in our comparison. In terms of portability the Apex can’t be beat. This sharpener is easy to set up on just about any flat surface. It also comes with a case making it easy to pack up and store.

Why a Manual Sharpener You Ask?

While most consumers initially look for electric sharpeners because they are supposed to be fast, they can also destroy your knives.

All electric models use grinding wheels. Because of the speed at which they spin, they generate a significant amount of heat. This heat transfers to the blade and can affect the hardness of the steel. It can literally RUIN your knives.

The Good

  • Infinite angle adjustment
  • Works with any knife
  • Won’t affect steel tempering

The Bad

  • Manual operation
  • Takes a bit of practice

Electric sharpeners can often cause more harm than good.  They generate heat along the length of the blade, causing it to lose it’s strength and durability.

Most electric models also only allow you to sharpen at one angle. This is also a huge disadvantage. The blade angle and hardness are two core design components of any knife and shouldn’t be changed.

Because the Apex system is manual it does not generate heat. And it is infinitely adjustable in terms of sharpening angle. This means it can be used on anything in your kitchen knife set.

The manufacturing quality is top notch. The sharpening stones glide smoothly along the length of the blade ensuring a consistent bevel.

It’s capability to sharpen knives both large and small is also a big plus. And the safety features such as the built-in stops and guards ensure that you won’t hurt yourself in the process.

What We Like

  • Extremely flexible design allows exact matching of bevel angle
  • Manual Operation ensures no damage to steel temper.
  • Sharpen knives of almost any length and up to 3 1/2″ in width.
  • Great safety features and great price.
  • Works on Western, Japanese and serrated knives

Things We Don’t Like

  • unfortunately the manual operation is a deterrent to many consumers
  • doesn’t work well on filet knives

Operation & Performance

The Apex sharpener system is specifically designed to be easy to set up and break down. The base has suction cups on the bottom, allowing a stable platform from which to work. All you need is a smooth surface such as a kitchen counter. The suction cups can be removed if you’re going to attach the unit to a work bench.

While most sharpening systems (like the KME) use clamps to hold the blade in place. The Apex uses a patented guide instead. This allows you to sharpen longer and taller blades. There aren’t really any length restrictions and blades as tall as 3 1/2″ can be accommodated on this system.

Allowing for a range of anywhere from 10 to 24 degrees, the Apex offers a great amount of flexibility. There are settings for the most common angles, but you can select any angle you like depending on the blade.

Edge pro apex1 sharpening system

What’s Included

  • Apex Model Edge Pro Sharpening System
  • 220 Grit Medium Fine water stone
  • 400 Grit Fine water stone
  • Micro-fiber Towel
  • Water Bottle
  • Instructional Manual
  • Black Cordura Carrying Case

There are quite a few accessories for this particular knife sharpening kit. They are all available separately, or included in the higher end kits. There’s an Apex 2, 3, and even 4. Basically the only thing that changes is the number of stones, accessories, and an instructional DVD.

Final Verdict

While the manual operation of this sharpener might be off-putting to some consumers, the Apex system is VERY simple to operate.  It can sharpen knives at just about any angle and will get your knives sharper than they’ve EVER been.  Changing stones is quick and painless, and the manual action ensures no damage to the tempering of your blades.  We highly recommend it.

Second Place: Best Electric Knife Sharpener

Our overall winner for best electric sharpener is the Edge Pro from Smith’s. While they aren’t as well-known as some of the other brands in this comparison, there are several reasons why this product is superior to the rest of the field. Here are the highlights:

  • Speed – this unit is as fast as any other in the comparison
  • Flexibility – can sharpen a wide variety of angles
  • Consistency – the design of the grinding wheels keeps consistent contact with the blade

The most important feature of this particular unit is the ability to select the angle at which you wish to sharpen your blade. Why is this important?

The Good

  • Simple angle adjustment
  • Works with a variety of knives
  • Fast

The Bad

  • Can damage temper of blade.
  • Can overheat with extended use.

Different knives have different angles. A paring blade will have a steeper (sharper) angle than a chef’s knife. To maintain this blade properly it should be sharpened to the factory angle.

What We Like About the Edge Pro

The Edge Pro has a knob that allows you to easily adjust for the type of knife you’re sharpening. The knob is labeled showing everything from hunting to kitchen knives. Just select angle for the type of knife you’re sharpening and away you go. Doesn’t get any easier than that. It even has a special hidden serrated blade sharpener in the side of the unit.

Even with all of this functionality the Edge Pro is one of the most competitively priced products in this category. The flexibility it offers in selecting various angles based on the knife blade makes it the #1 electric model in our comparison.

Things We Don’t Like

Our biggest complaint with any electric knife model, including this one, is that the spinning discs that do the sharpening will heat the blade all along it’s length.  This causes an overall weakening of the steel and shortens the usable life of the blade.

This must be balanced against the fact that most consumers prefer electric models because of how fast they operate.

We also found that the Edge Pro tends to heat up pretty quickly.  We were only able to sharpen 4-5 knives before we had to wait for it to cool down.  Obviously this is not a problem if you’re only sharpening a couple knives at a time.

Final Verdict

We’re not huge fans of electric knife sharpeners, but the Edge Pro Adjustable from Smith’s is far and away the best choice in this category.  It offers a wide variety of sharpening angles, interlocking discs for a consistent bevel, and handy options like a slot for serrated knives.  For those that aren’t willing to go the manual route, this is far and away the best option.

Third Place:  KME’s Sharpening System

While a relative newcomer to the market, KME has delivered a fine product. This sharpener was originally designed for arrowheads, the product has now become a very capable knife sharpener.

The KME comes with a set of stones, but can use just about any 4″ stone on the market. You simply attach the stone to the rod using the supplied clamps. The blade angle is adjustable to anywhere within 17 and 30 degrees. You simply raise or lower the the slot on the frame of the unit and then lock it.

To protect the blade while it is clamped into the unit KME uses a neoprene finish. Both large and small knives can be sharpened by choosing one of the two lines on the clamp. Smaller blades should be placed not the first line, and larger on the second. Clamping the blade in place is as simple as tightening the supplied thumb nut.

The Good

  • Simple angle adjustment
  • Blade clamps in place
  • Great carrying case

The Bad

  • Base not as stable as Apex.
  • Struggles with unusual blade geometries.

The diamond stone series includes a coarse, fine, and extra fine stones.

Operation & Performance

Once you have the blade locked in place, select the stone you want to start with and place it into the slot on the carrier. The thumb-nut on the end tightens on the stone, holding it in place.

The next step is to slide the rod into the ball joint that is built into the angle selector. The ball joint is a relatively new feature and allows the stone to travel smoothly along the entire length of the blade.

Since you have to sharpen both sides of most knives, KME has included an easy way to flip the knife over without removing it from the clamp. This is a great time-saving innovation that saves you from the aggravation of having to re-seat the blade in the middle of sharpening.

For serrated knives you can also purchase the tapered rod. It’s made diamond so it should last as long as the rest of the kit.

If you have re-curved blades you can also purchase the 3 level grit diamond honing rod. And of course there are stropping stones that can be purchased for this sharpener as well.

What We Like

  • simple and flexible design
  • clamp flips to avoid re-clamping balde
  • works with just about any 4″ stone

What We Don’t Like

  • clamp isn’t great with odd blade geometries
  • the base is not as stable as the Apex System

Final Verdict

The KME stone-based sharpening system is a very high quality product.  Our biggest gripe is the instability of the base.  On top of that, you have to pay extra for it.  The lowest angle setting is 17 degrees so it’s not quite as flexible as the Apex.  And it costs more.  A great product, but the Apex is better.

Best Way to Sharpen Kitchen Knives

When it comes to sharpeners there are four basic styles.

  1. Electric sharpeners – by far the most popular. They’re fast, easy to use, and don’t take up a ton of space. In fact most models can easily be stored in a drawer.
  2. Manual models – the second most popular style. They are less expensive than electric, but they also take longer. For those that are budget conscious they can be a great value. Manual models also take up a minimum of space.
  3. Sharpening stone systems – the third type. Stones are what the pros prefer.  They offer the greatest amount of flexibility and will not damage the tempering of the steel of your knives.
  4. Sharpening stones – the original method of sharpening.  They require a great deal of practice to master and are much slower than the other three methods.

Which Type is Best for You?

Here are a few simple questions to help you decide what type of sharpener is best for your kitchen.

  1. What sorts of knives will you be sharpening? Kitchen? Western or Japanese? Hunting knives? Pocket knives?
  2. What is your budget?
  3. Are you primarily interested in speed or accuracy?

Comparison of Sharpeners

Type of

Sharpener

Electric Models

Manual Models

Stone Systems

Stones

Knife sizes

Larger knives

All Sizes

All Sizes

All Sizes

Speed

Very Fast

Slow

Fast

Slow

Accuracy

Dubious Accuracy

Somewhat accurate

Very accurate

Accuarate, (requires skill)

Potential to Damage Steel

Can Damage Tempering

No damage

No damage

No damage

Price

Expensive

Inexpensive

Expensive

Wide range

Angle Flexibility

Mostly Fixed Angle

Fixed angle

Multiple angles

Multiple angles

If you’re interested in speed electric models are the way to go.  They’re not as accurate and will struggle with smaller blades like paring and pocket knives.  They also have a hard time sharpening knives with a large bolster (like Wusthof’s).  Second in terms of speed are sharpening systems.

For those on a tight budget manual sharpeners are fine.  They are slower, but will get the job done.  They can also handle a wide variety of knives and will not impact the tempering of the steel.

For those concerned with accuracy and ensuring the long life of their blades a stone-based sharpening system is the way to go.

Best Electric Knife Sharpener Reviews

If you’re looking for an electric sharpener that won’t damage the temper of your blades check out our Tormek T7 review.  It’s a low RPM water cooled sharpening system that is designed to sharpen quickly without impacting the temper of the steel.

We prefer stone-based sharpening systems, but the vast majority of people want the fastest and nothing else.  With that in mind we highlight some of the most highly rated electric models below.

An electric model is going to be the best solution for the majority of consumers. The best electric knife sharpeners are easy to use and sharpen quickly. They have guides that take all the guesswork out of making sure you sharpen the blade to the proper angle.

Winner: Smith’s Edge Pro Adjustable Angle Sharpener

While it took second place overall in our competition, the Edge Pro adjustable from Smith’s easily takes first place among electric sharpeners. Since we highlighted it at the beginning

The biggest reason?  You can adjust the sharpening angle to a wide variety of angles.  This is especially helpful when sharpening kitchen knives such as a paring knife, filet knife, or even a chef’s knife.

This flexibility coupled with the simple operation makes it easy to get a consistent bevel along almonst the entire length of the blade.

As with most electric sharpeners it has difficulty sharpening knives with a large bolster as the wide heel of the blade won’t fit into the slots.  But it’s other capabilities more than make up for this issue.

The Good

  • Simple angle adjustment
  • Works with a variety of knives
  • Fast

The Bad

  • Can damage temper of blade.
  • Can overheat with extended use.

Second Place:  Chef’s Choice Angle Select

Chef’s Choice has been around the kitchen knife sharpening scene for quite some time.  The Angle Select is a solid product, but lacks the flexibility of the Edge Pro.  It offers 2 sharpening angles of 15 and 20 degrees and utilizes only diamond abrasives.

The unit is a two-stage device.  The first slot uses a 15 degree angle for Japanese style knives and other sharper knives such as a paring knife.  The second slot is for 20 degree blades such as European style chef knives.  The third slot is for honing of either type.

Since it only sharpens one side of the blade at a time, it is capable of handling both Western and Japanese style knives.  You’ll want to read the instructions thoroughly before running one of your expensive Japanese knives through this sharpener just to be sure you’re doing it correctly.

The Good

  • Can sharpen at 15 or 20 degrees
  • Works with a variety of knives
  • Fast

The Bad

  • Can damage temper of blade.
  • Expensive
  • Less angle flexibility

Operation & Performance

Using the Angle Select is very easy.  The guide slots are magnetized to help keep the blade in the proper position for consistent sharpening all along it’s length.

There is a bit of difficulty in sharpening knives such as a Wüsthof that have large bolsters.  The extra width doesn’t allow you to sharpen all the way to the heel.  This is not a problem that is unique to this product though.  Most electric models struggle in this area.

For more information check out our full review of the Angle Select.

What We Like

  • ability to select between 2 popular angles (15 and 20 degrees)
  • magnetized guides for consistent angle
  • quick operation
  • no overheating issues

What We Don’t Like

  • sharpening discs damage steel tempering
  • lack of flexibility of blade angle

Final Verdict

If you’re familiar with the Chef’s Choice name you know they make a quality product.  That being said, the Angle Select can’t compare to the Smith’s in terms of flexibility of choosing your sharpening angle.  It’s a solid second choice, but for the money we recommend the Edge Pro sharpener instead.

Third Place: Chef’s Choice Trizor XV Edgeselect

The third place model in our comparison is also from Chef’s Choice. The Trizor XV takes a different tack from most of the sharpeners we’ve covered. It is capable of sharpening both European (Western) knives and Japanese blades. It’s important to know that the angle on this model is set to 15 degrees. This is sharper than most Western blades come from the factory.

The name Trizor refers to the bevel shape this unit creates when sharpening the blade.  It’s not a traditional shape and you should be aware that the first time you use this it will remove a fairly significant amount of material from the blade.

It creates a very sharp edge, and seems somewhat durable, but we’re not a fan of anything that removes that much material.  Additionally the shape of the bevel is not what most knife manufacturers intended when designing the strength and hardness of the steel in their blades.

The Good

  • Creates very sharp edge
  • Works with a variety of knives
  • Fast

The Bad

  • Can damage temper of blade.
  • Removes too much blade material
  • Only one angle

Operation & Performance

This sharpener has three stages. The first grinds the blade down to accept the 15 degree angle. This is where you’ll see most of the blade material removed. Then the second stage develops the beveled edge. Finally the the third stage uses what is known as a stropping disc to smooth the bevel to a keen edge.  Chef’s choice offers other models that are lower priced and will not reprofile the blade angle.

You can also use this final stage to sharpen your serrated blades.

Read our full review of the Trizor for more information.

What We Like

  • creates a very sharp edge
  • simple operation
  • very fast

What We Don’t Like

  • sharpens every knife to the same angle
  • utilizes a bevel shape different than manufacturers
  • removes a lot of material during first sharpening
  • generates enough heat to damage temper of the blade

Final Verdict

The Trizor’s claim to fame is the unique bevel shape it creates that is supposed to be both strong and sharp.  That being said, it doesn’t offer anywhere near the flexibility of the Edge Pro. The amount of material it removes from the blade during the first sharpening is a serious turnoff.  It does create a VERY sharp edge, but we feel this is achieved by sacrificing the durability of the blade.  As a result it would be our last choice in an electric sharpener.

Important Features of Electric Sharpeners

Selecting the best kitchen knife sharpener for your needs is a matter of determining what features you want and how much you’re willing to spend. There are a few important features that should be considered above the rest. Some apply to both manual and electric models. Here they are.

Ability to Select the Sharpening Angle

Knives are designed based on a number of different variables. Of these steel strength and angle are the two most critical. Many Japanese knife makers choose to go with a harder steel and a lower angle (sharper blade). Western blades are typically made from softer steel and have a higher angle (not as sharp).

The sharpness of the knife is determined by the bevel angle, which is measured in degrees. The lower the angle, the sharper the knife. But other factors come into play.

An extremely sharp knife with a lower bevel angle won’t be as durable as one that is slightly less sharp and made with softer steel. Harder steel will actually chip since it is more brittle. Great care needs to be taken with hard steel knifes. Dropping one on the floor or tossing it into the sink could actually cause it to break.

A knife made with softer steel and a higher bevel angle won’t be as sharp, but can actually be more durable because it is able to take abuse without cracking or chipping.

Short story long…(sorry, this is important)

The ability to set the sharpening angle to specifically match the angles of your knives can help preserve and extend the life of the blade. Since the manufacturer designed it to operate at it’s factory bevel angle, keeping the knife at angle is the best option.

For whatever reason this feature isn’t the one that gets the most marketing hype, but it is probably one of the most important to consider when buying.

The Edge Pro manual and electric both incorporate this particular feature and that is the primary reason we selected it as the best electric model. It can sharpen anything from a chef’s knife to a paring knife.

Number of Stages

Regardless of the type of product you buy, the basics of knife sharpening are always the same. In the first stage you are grinding down any imperfections or damage to the blade. This creates a consistent surface for applying a clean edge.

Not all sharpeners have a repair stage so keep this in mind if many of your blades are nicked or damaged severely.

In stage two a stone that is less coarse is used to raise a burr. This burr will eventually become the cutting edge. When doing simple maintenance on a blade you can generally skip straight to this stage.

The final step, or stage three, is the honing or stropping stage. This is where you polish out the burr and create a keen edge on the blade of the knife.

Materials Used for Sharpening

When it comes to materials used in the sharpening of a blade there is a considerable variety out there. They include natural stones and composite materials that have been designed specifically for this task.

Natural stones have been used for thousands of years for sharpening tools, weapons, and knives. Some of the best natural stones come from quarries in Arkansas. While there are several different types they are generally known as Arkansas stones.

Composite or man-made stones are made up of a variety of materials and are generally considered to be more long lasting that natural materials. Much of the time this is a matter of personal preference.

Many of the best electric knife sharpening tools choose man-made diamond abrasives that are bound to wheels for the most effective sharpening. The coarseness of the abrasive changes as your progress through the various stages of the sharpener. Ceramics, steel, and other naturally occurring and man-made stones are also common materials.

Sharpening professionals generally prefer either natural or man-made stones. And while the type of stone is important, it plays a secondary role to using the proper angle to sharpen the blade.

Knife Sharpening System Reviews

There are quite a few products on the market labeled ‘systems’, but how are they different from traditional sharpeners? For starters, the three products we’re comparing utilize a rod and stone based method.

Best Knife Sharpening Systems

Traditional sharpening stones require you to move the blade across the stone at a specific angle along the entire length. This requires a great deal of patience and practice to do correctly.

These systems utilize the same principles but in reverse. The knife is locked into a clamp that holds it in place at a specific angle. The stones are then dragged across the blade. This allows even a complete beginner to create a consistent bevel along the length of the blade.  And since you can adjust the angle to anything you like, they allow you to sharpen a wide variety of knives.

The three products differ slightly in how this is accomplished. But the basic idea is the same.  Each allow the user to quickly and safely sharpen knives back to their factory edge and beyond.

Winner of Best Knife Sharpening System: Apex

As our top choice overall the Apex sharpener easily wins out in the knife sharpening system category.

It offers the most solid construction, simple operation, and best results of any of the sharpening tools we’ve tested so far.

You can read more about it towards the top of this article or you can read our full review post here.

The Good

  • Infinite angle adjustment between 10-14 degrees
  • Works with any knife
  • Won’t affect steel tempering

The Bad

  • Narrower angle selection

Second Place:  KME Precision Sharpener System

The KME was our third choice overall and the second place finisher in the sharpening system category.

While not quite at the same level as the Apex, the KME system is still very solid.  It offers a different spectrum of sharpening angles, and our only real complaint is the instability of the base compared to the other systems we tested.​

You can read a more comprehensive review of this sharpener up above or our full review here.

The Good

  • Infinite angle adjustment between 17-30 degrees
  • Works with any knife
  • Won’t affect steel tempering

The Bad

  • Narrower angle selection
  • Unstable base

Wicked Edge Precision Knife Sharpener

The last product in our best knife sharpening system comparison is the Wicked Edge Precision sharpener. Founded by Clay Allison and Devin Kennemore back in 2007, the company was started to provide a quality product for outdoor enthusiasts.

​The biggest difference between this sharpener and the other two is that the Wicked Edge uses two rods rather than one. This enables the user to sharpen both sides of the blade at the same time, speeding up the entire process.

The Good

  • Infinite angle adjustment between 15-30 degrees
  • Works with any knife
  • Won’t affect steel tempering

The Bad

  • Requires additional parts to sharpen smaller knvies
  • Most expensive of the group.

​The sharpening angle ranges from 15 to 30 degrees. This angle must be set on both sides of the sharpener. The process of setting the angle is easy, but some care must be taken to ensure that both sides are set the same. Otherwise you’re edge will be uneven.

Operation & Performance

Working both sides of the blade simultaneously does reduce the amount of time need to sharpen a blade. For beginners it’s best to start out slowly. You want to make sure you’re raising a good burr on both sides of the knife blade.

The Wicked Edge system comes with the blade vice and eight stones. They range in grit from 100 to 600. Two of each is included. The granite base shown in the picture does NOT come with standard kit. This is a bit of a disadvantage since the unit is typically priced $100 higher than it’s competitors in this competition.

Some features, such as the ball joint of the KME, are only included as upgrades on the Wicked Edge.

What We Like

  • sharpens both sides of the blade at one time
  • simple and fast operation
  • works on a wide variety of knives
  • easy to lock in blade angle

What We Don’t Like

  • won’t work on filet knives
  • requires noting how each knife is mounted to ensure consistency across sharpenings
  • most expensive of the group

Final Verdict

The Wicked Edge Precision blade sharpener is a high quality product.  But we have a hard time swallowing the price tag that comes in at nearly twice the other two in this comparison.  You can sharpen both sides of the knife simultaneously, but doing so requires a good bit of practice and we didn’t find it to speed up the process all that much.  It’s a beautiful product, especially if you choose to get the stone base.  We just can’t justify the extra $$$.

Budget Option:  Spyderco Tri Angle

Given the high price of the first three sharpening system options we thought it made sense to include a more budget conscious option.  The Tri-Angle Sharpmaker from Spyderco is just that.

​While this sharpener isn’t as easy to use as the other systems we’ve covered, it still offers excellent results at a significantly lower price.  The Spyderco unit is set on a flat surface and the knife blade is dragged along each of the stones.  Once the motion is mastered you can quickly create a very sharp edge in very little time.

The Good

  • Offers good flexibility
  • Works with any knife
  • Won’t affect steel tempering
  • Very inexpensive

The Bad

  • Requires a bit more practice to master
  • Not a true guided system

Advantages of Sharpening Systems Over Electric Models

Knife sharpening involves removing a small amount of material from the blade. The less material removed during this process, the longer the knife will last. This is one of the main reasons professionals don’t like electric models. They tend to remove more metal in the interest of speed.

Additionally, electric sharpeners only allow for a couple angle settings. This means that if the angle of a sharpener doesn’t line up with the angle of your knives, the first sharpening will remove a significant amount of material. This process is typically called re-profiling. Most of the electric products on the market do this to one degree or another. Because they are designed to work on a wide variety of knives there is a trade off of accuracy for flexibility.

Most knife makers base their blade angles on the strength of the steel used, so this can be bad for the strength and durability of the blade.

The Edge Pro electric (our #2 pick) is an electric model that allows for a great deal of flexibility in choosing your angle. But even this unit can’t match the flexibility of these rod and stone sharpening systems.​

​One of the most important factors in the sharpening process is creating a consistent edge. Consistency equates to durability. And durability means you have to sharpen less frequently, thereby extending the life expectancy of your knives.

Consistency is where sharpening systems separate themselves from the other products on the market.

choosing the top knife sharpener

Overall Winner

Second Place

Third Place

Apex 1 Sharpening System

Smith’s Adjustable Edge Pro

KME Sharpening System

$$$

$$$$

$$$$

10 – 24 Degree Angle

15 – 30 Degree Angle

17 – 30 Degree Angle

Full Review

Full Review

Full Review

Infinite Angle Selection​

One of the most impressive features of these sharpeners is the ability to select an infinite number of angles. This means if you want to sharpen your 15 degree paring knife, you can match it EXACTLY. Or maybe you want to sharpen a hunting knife that has a 30 degree angle. No problem.

If you want to avoid re-profiling your knives and keeping the factory angle, these sharpening systems are probably your best bet.

Wide Variety of Sharpening Stones

Another important feature of these products is the wide variety of stones that are available for each. An electric sharpener will generally have at most 3 stages for repairing, sharpening, and polishing the blade edge. These products have significantly more flexibility in terms of grit levels, and stropping capabilities.

Basically they allow you to put a professionally polished edge on your blades every time without having to send your knives off or taking them somewhere.

​The kits we cover in this comparison each have a pre-set number of stones that come with it, but the manufacturers sell additional stones in varying grits as well.

​Simplicity of Operation

Mankind has been using stones to sharpen their blades for hundreds of thousand of years. But sharpening and honing a blade to a razor’s edge is a skill that takes a good amount of practice. Keeping the blade at the same angle as it travels along the surface of the stone is imperative to creating a consistent edge. In fact you can even damage the blade if this motion is performed improperly.

The beauty of these systems is that they combine the simplicity of a guided sharpener with the results of a sharpening stone. Once the angle is selected and the blade is locked in place, you simply slide the stones along the length of the blade. Beginners can get the same results as professionals but without spending hours and hours learning the techniques.

There are other systems on the market such as the Lansky we reviewed here.  But this unit doesn’t offer the stability and accuracy as the products in this comparison.

In addition to models that are geared towards kitchen knives there are lots of models out there geared towards other types of knives as well. Let’s take a look at a few.

Pocket Knife Sharpeners

A pocket knife can be a bit challenging to work with on an electric sharpener. They often have shorter, folding blades as well as a wide handle. This makes it difficult to sharpen along the entire length of the blade. Tools designed for your kitchen knives won’t necessarily perform well on pocket knives.

Luckily there are some inexpensive options out there when it comes to sharpening your pocket knives. Here’s another post in which we talk about some great options for under $25.

The other upside besides the price is the size of these models. They’re perfect for throwing in a pack or keeping in your vehicle. They’re not necessarily designed to repair damaged blades, but they do a great job restoring a dull knife back to a razor’s edge.

The Blade Medic from Smith’s in particular is a great little unit. It’s easy to use and can fit just about anywhere. I actually have a couple of these little guys stashed around the house and in the car.  It’s perfect for touching up a pocket knife, or every-day-carry knife like the North Fork from Benchmade.  Another option for pocket knives is any of the knife sharpening systems we’ve reviewed. They allow you to work on just about any size blade with ease.

Sharpeners for Hunting Knives

When it comes to sharpening a hunting knife we almost always recommend going with a stone based sharpener. Most hunters love their knives as much as their dog or their kids and are terrified of scratching or marring the blade in any way.

An electric model is much more likely to cause harm than good. Most models don’t allow you to adjust the sharpening angle, and hunting knives come with a wide array of bevel angles. So if you’re looking for the best hunting knife sharpener I would recommend one of the following.

Products like the Apex, KME, and Wicked Edge are designed to ensure the sides of the blade are protected during sharpening. They also allow you to match the EXACT angle of the blade. This helps improve the durability and longevity of the knife. Besides all that, you’ll never get your knife as sharp with an electric model as you can with a sharpening kit or system. They allow for precise control and pressure throughout the entire process.

Sharpeners for Serrated Knives

Sharpening serrated knives can be fairly challenging. Thankfully most serrated blades are pretty tough and so they don’t require frequent upkeep. Most electric models will only chew up a serrated blade.

The Edge Pro from Smith does have a slide out attachment for sharpening serrated blades. It works fairly well. But the best way to get a good edge back on a serrated blade is to use a rounded honing rod.

But for most people that would be fairly inconvenient. If you’re looking for sharpener specifically for serrated knives we recommend going with a product like the Chef’s Choice manual sharpener. It operates the same basic way as their electric model, but since it’s manual you can control the sharpening process more carefully. The Apex 1 system above can also sharpen serrated knives with a honing rod attachment.

It’s not perfect, but there’s nothing more frustrating than tearing up a perfectly good baguette instead of cutting clean through it.

Sharpener for Ceramic Knives

​In recent years ceramic knives have gained a great deal of popularity. This is mostly because they cost significantly less than knives forged from steel.  Ceramic knives are too hard to be sharpened by stone-based sharpeners. On top of that, it’s very easy to crack or chip them in the process.

There are only a couple models of sharpeners out there designed to work with ceramic blades. The best model for ceramic blades is the Precisharp manual sharpener. It will work with both steel and ceramic.

Sharpening Stones

Humans have been using stones to sharpen blades for thousands of years. Back in the day it wouldn’t be uncommon for anyone and everyone to know how to use a stone to sharpen their knife. But those days are long gone.

While there truly is no better way to get the perfect edge back on your knife than with a sharpening stone it is a method that requires a great deal of practice to do correctly. Here’s a great video showing the proper technique.

As you can see it requires a decent amount of skill. And even then it can take a while, especially with blades that are damage. For this reason we typically recommend going with one the products listed above.

Professional Knife Sharpening Services

Sharpening services are great. But they are expensive. Typically you’re going to pay between $8 and $12 per knife every time you get them sharpened. This can really add up if you have a lot of knives. You also have to deal with the inconvenience of not having your knives around while they’re being worked on.

I have used services in the past and they were great. But I didn’t care for having to take them somewhere and then go pick them up. I’m more inclined to do it if I have an electric knife sharpener around the house.

That being said… When a professional truly knows what they’re doing it’s tough to beat the edge they put on a blade. It will be clean, sharp and should last for a good long while. Any sharpener worth their salt will take excellent care not to damage the blade in any way. And of course they can work on just about any knife in the world.

Understanding Your Kitchen Knives

To give you a better understanding about kitchen knives in general I wanted to touch briefly on the two main types out there. They are usually categorized as either Western which are sharpened on both sides of the blade, and Japanese which are only sharpened on one side. Western knives are the most common, but Japanese knives are growing in popularity every year. Not understanding the difference between the two can lead to serious damage to your blades when you go to sharpen them.

Japanese Knives

japanes chef's knife The Japanese have excelled at making knives for thousands of years. They typically come in two different formats.

  • Single-bevel blades are sharpened only on one side. As a result the bevel angle is typically smaller which in turn makes it sharper. While most Western-style knives have angles no smaller than 15 degrees, some Japanese knives are sharpened to 5 or 6 degrees.
  • Double-bevel blades are sharpened on both sides. These are similar to Western-style knives, but they are often sharpened to 16 degrees as is the case with many Shun knives.

If you own Japanese knives, this is the single most important factor in choosing the right sharpener. Depending on which type you own you might need a sharpener that is capable of sharpening only one side at a time.

The steel used in Japanese knives is also much harder than that used in Western knives. Since the bevel angle is lower, the steel needs to be harder so that the blade can hold up to use. Harder steel is also more brittle. This is why Eastern-style knives must be handled with such care.

The other big difference in a Japanese and Western knife is the shape of the blade itself. A typical Japanese knife will be flat along the length of the blade. This has the effect of putting more blade in contact with the food while you’re cutting. This also changes the way it should be sharpened. Pulling straight back through the sharpener is important here.

Western Knives (European)

Most of the sharpener reviews on this site are geared toward Western-style knives. But there are some capable of sharpening both. Not to be outdone by the Japanese, Western style knives also have a history that goes way back.

In particular knives from Germany are well known for their efficient design and durability. Compared to Eastern style knives there are a few important differences. The biggest difference is that a European style blade will be sharpened on both sides (called a symmetrical bevel). When you take the angle from both sides and combine it, you get the total angle.

Generally speaking they range from 28 high end to 18 on the lower end. The overall thickness of the blade itself is also very different. European knives are generally made with softer steel so they need the additional metal to lend strength to the blade. This is the main reason they are so strong.

A good German chef’s knife will have no problem cutting through bones and then slicing through a tomato. Bones are typically a no no with Japanese single sided blades. The Western style knife isn’t impervious to damage, but a properly maintained blade should be able to withstand a decent amount of punishment.

Regular honing is one way to make sure your knife stays in good shape. You can find some honing steels here.

The final difference is that their blades are curved. This puts more pressure on one particular part of the blade at a time. This is especially important when cutting bones and other hard materials. When sharpening it means that the blade must be pulled back along this same angle. This ensures that the knife is sharpened along the whole length.

The most important point to take away from this is that you should have a good understanding about what type of knives you own before investing in a sharpener.

Choose Wisely

When considering various sharpeners take into consideration their flexibility. Some units are capable of sharpening tools and scissors. Some are capable of sharpening serrated blades, while others are not. These factors may not be the most important in making your decision, but don’t shortchange yourself with what you buy.

How Do We Rank Products?

Our primary method of ranking products for our knife sharpener reviews is through testing and customer comments on various forums and online communities. It’s how I was able to find Edge Pro Apex, which is what I currently use.

We encourage you to dig through reviews of the products you’re considering before making your purchase. The best knife sharpening tool for one person might not be ideal for someone else.

It’s also a great place to score some valuable information on how the company handles customer service and repairs. The product attributes are obviously something else to look at. But I’ve covered those pretty thoroughly earlier in the article.

Last but not least is price. Some of the products that rank at the top of our comparison are expensive. But I am a firm believer that you get what you pay for. If you only pay $30 for an electric unit, don’t expect to get the same performance as from a $200 unit. I hope that this guide has been helpful in your search for the best knife sharpener. Please feel free to post any questions you might have about the sharpeners we reviewed in the comments section. I’ll try to get back to you as quickly as I can.

STEPS: SHARPENING MADE SIMPLE

Before analyzing my two recommended sharpening methods, freehand and guided systems, let’s start by simplifying the process of knife sharpening. Regardless of the method, how do we actually sharpen a knife?

STEP 1: RAISING AND REMOVING THE BURR

Practically, it’s just a matter of grinding metal on one side until we form a burr, and grinding on the other side until we form another burr. Then, grinding on both sides evenly manipulating pressure until the burr is removed and the primary edge is formed.

sharpening the edge to infinity.

Sharpening the edge to infinity.

STEP 2: REFINING THE EDGE

A knife becomes sharp when we bring the two sides together as precisely as possible at the Apex of the knife, that microscopically thin line called the primary edge, the sharp part.

A sharp knife cutting though paper.

SO… A GUIDED SYSTEM MUST BE BETTER!

It sounds pretty simple and if precision equals sharpness then logically thinking, a guided system would reign supreme, every time. If only it were that simple, there is a lot more to this than you may think, arriving at an answer to this question, deserves much consideration of all the collateral elements we become exposed to as we sharpen knives.

So, we have the human component versus the human component using a sharpening system like the Edge Pro. Here is the question that I have asked myself a hundred times and undoubtedly this question has come up over and over in the multitude of sharpening forums… Given two identical knives, can a human make the knife as sharp as someone using the Edge Pro?

FREEHAND SHARPENING VS EDGE PRO
stones vs edgepro

Before giving my opinion I need to set the stage for this to make sense: Let’s assume that two people are relatively new to sharpening, they are novices but have an understanding of what is required to make a knife sharp. They get that fatigued metal must be removed and the fresh steel lying beneath must be exposed and brought together at the apex using a given angle of let’s say 20 deg on both sides. Or, the edge may be new but it requires some refinement to improve it, the angle may be too obtuse, just to wide to be a good performer.

These novices will sharpen the knives differently, one will do so using water stones, coarse medium and fine and use a freehand technique and the other will use the Edge Pro and similar grit stones. The knives are in good condition, they are just dull or need improvement.

In this case, once they get comfortable with the process, I believe that the Edge Pro user will be able to create sharper knives in less time, this is why.

WHY GUIDED SHARPENING SYSTEMS WORK WELL

A knife that is well suited for the EdgePro.

A knife that is well suited for my EdgePro.

The system makes the humans inability to precisely grind metal on both sides of the knife and form and edge that meets perfectly at the Apex of the blade go away. The magic of the Edge Pro is exactly this, while there is definitely a learning curve, the creation of muscle memory is a moot point, the system forces you to replicate chosen angles as you sharpen on both sides and in my experience, it made the knives I sharpened sharper than any knife I had ever seen. We must assume that the user of the Edge Pro has followed the directions provided by the maker and is moving at a good rate up the learning curve.

But it does not end here though folks… We are talking about human control vs a guided system and despite the incredible advantage the device provides, we humans are pretty good and adapting and learning and building muscle memory.

So what about a year later or two years later with hundreds of knives sharpened by both methods, freehand and guided?

THE SHARPENER’S DILEMMA

Freehand sharpening is an art.

Freehand sharpening is an art.

This is what happened to me and if happened to me, it can happen to anyone:
Don’t worry, I will give my opinion of “what is the best knife  sharpener for you” answer a little later.

As my sharpening business started to bloom about six years ago, I found myself suddenly drawn back to sharpening by freehand. I was and still do sharpen knives every single day, anywhere from five knives to forty knives, and forty was my extreme (I couldn’t do anymore after that).

I found that the Edge Pro was not providing me the same level of satisfaction that I was achieving my free handing. Before I got the Edge Pro, I already was quite comfortable with free hand sharpening but I was not prepared for the influx of knives I was receiving and started to miss the Zen like feeling associated with free hand sharpening.

It’s not just the final result. This was huge for me, a deal breaker in fact, in order for me to produce the sharpest knives I possibly could, I had to love what I was doing. I have stated many times in previous articles that for me, there is more to sharpening knives than the physical process of drawing the edge of a knife over a water stone.

I switched back to freehand sharpening. With apprehension, I put away the Edge Pro and started collecting more Japanese Water Stones and with what seemed at the time an endless supply of dull knives, I devoted my time to become the best freehand sharpener I could. All the while thinking, “I just need to get them as sharp as I can on the Edge Pro”.

BUILDING MUSCLE MEMORY BRINGS GREAT RESULTS

sharpening on stones

Remember, we humans are pretty nifty sometimes. I found that my muscle memory was providing me with the opportunity to create edges that really forced me to compare with the edges off of the Edge Pro. It came to me that the Edge Pro had made me a better freehand sharpener, My confidence level had been boosted and with knives to sharpen daily, I was getting more comfortable with sharpening freehand every day, I was improving. That was about four years ago, what about today.

Yes, I now believe that we can make knives as sharp and in fact sharper by sharpening freehand than we can using only the Edge Pro. This does not mean that we can discard our systems and just stick to freehand sharpening. Remember, this did not happen overnight, it came with hundreds and hundreds of sharpening sessions and also, I always knew that the Edge Pro was there If I needed it. Also, remember, I am obsessed with knife sharpening, this is all I think about so that perhaps has had an impact on my ability to sharpen knives.

BUT HOW DO YOU BUILD MUSCLE MEMORY?

We can build muscle memory to an impressive extent. And in collaboration with other skills and human abilities such as patience, persistence, and above all: passion. we can achieve a surprising degree of precision when we sharpen a knife. Naturally there will be imperfections, we are not machines but those little imperfections may in fact create edges that surpass our expectations. As our experience grows and as we sharpen different knives, we adapt and manipulate the angle and pressure a minuscule amount to achieve what can be quite startling results.

I can honestly say that the sharpest knives that I have ever seen in my life were sharpened freehand. Knives beyond razor sharp, edges created by master sharpeners in Japan that have conquered any obstacle that prevents him from achieving near perfection in knife sharpening. I am not talking about the novice sharpener here. I am talking about someone who has done his/her homework, put in the hours of practice necessary.

WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE THE EDGE PRO?

This photo is of a knife that is difficult to sharpen freehand. The Edge Pro made this easy.

This photo is of a knife that is difficult to sharpen freehand. The Edge Pro made this easy.

In my case it leaves it standing proudly at my sharpening station ready to go to work when I get a knife that just seems to cry out for what the versatility of the Edge Pro delivers. There are certain knives that are difficult to sharpen freehand. There are people who want a mirror finish on their hunting or tactical knives. While one can achieve this either way, the precision offered by the device is capable of creating mirror finishes on bevels that are quite beautiful. What If i want to create a Relief Angle, I can simply do this by grinding at 15 degrees for example and polishing that Relief Angle as much as I want to. Then I can sharpen it at 20 degrees per side and I have an extremely sharp knife that will perform very well in a kitchen.

SO WHAT’S THE WAY TO GO, FREEHAND OR GUIDED?

I don’t believe I can say what is a better method of sharpening knives, at least not with an answer that covers all the bases. For me personally, I prefer to sharpen freehand, in fact 95% of my sharpening is done this way. It provides a more enjoyable experience, the fact that the knives are sharp is as I have repeated many times, is a piece of the process only. The essence of sharpening includes a blend of personal rewards that is quite unique and these only come from sharpening by freehand for me. They are as important to me as creating extremely sharp edges, without the joy that I experience sharpening every knife by hand, I doubt I would continue to sharpen knives professionally. So for me, a person who sharpen daily and absorbs in all the benefits the art of sharpening provides, it is hands down a freehand world. But what if you don’t sharpen knives everyday?

Then the Edge Pro is absolutely perfect. Now, since the majority of folks who sharpen knives sharpen their own knives mostly and some friends and family, the EdgePro is the way to go. You will get sharper knives than you may have ever used and you will get sharper knives as your skill with the system develops. You may get the same joy from using it as I do from sharpening freehand.

WHY NOT CHOOSING BOTH SHARPENING METHODS?

The bottom line, the beauty of this is that the two methods of sharpening complement each other. I believe a good sharpener should have a few tricks up his or her sleeve, those tricks could consist of skill with a guided device, with freehand sharpening and perhaps with a belt sander for those major repair jobs. Just today I had a knife that would have been quite difficult to sharpen freehand due to the blades profile. With the Edge Pro I was able to create a wonderful edge without any difficulty at all, much sharper than new in fact.

I don’t think we should even wonder what is better for sharpening knives. The Edge Pro or freehand sharpening, both are effective. It just depends on what method not only gives you sharp knives but makes you feel good about yourself when you are done. There are some people who are completely against using any type of Jig and I get that. I did not purchase the Edge Pro because I couldn’t sharpen knives without it, I got it because I am obsessed with knife sharpening and I believed this to be a quality product that sharpened knives well, I have never regretted the purchase.

MY REVIEW OF THE EDGEPRO SHARPENING SYSTEM

The Edge Pro kit.

The Edge Pro kit.

I have heard some people say that using the Edge Pro for sharpening is easier. I do not believe this to be true. Yes, it has the potential to create very sharp knives and do that every single time but that doesn’t make it easier. I can throw a water stone onto the stone holder and be in bliss in a matter of seconds. What makes this device shine is that it removes the obstacles that novice sharpeners face and does just what the creator of the Edge Pro says it does, it sharpen knives and it does it very well.

If you are on the fence about purchasing the system because you just know if it works or not, jump off, it does work, absolutely.

EdgePro Pro’s:

  1. Ease of use. Extremely sharp knives within hours or less of using the system, follow the directions on the very well designed website and you will be in sharpeners heaven.
  2. Quality. The Professional version is extremely well built, I have sharpened thousands of knives on it and there is very little sign of wear, it does the exact same job it did on day one. (The Apex version is very well built as well, both versions deliver sharpness to the same level).
  3. Ease of use. Using it and creating sharp knives inspires confidence, it creates levels of satisfaction rarely felt, it makes knives useful and can make the edges and bevels quite beautiful.
  4. The Edge Pro stock stones are very inexpensive. There is a multitude of other stones available for the Edge Pro, all of our favorites are out there if you want to explore other brands of water stones.
  5. The scissors attachment. The Professional version can utilize the optional scissors attachment and believe me, this works very well on scissors, I have used it countless times.
  6. The EdgePro’s costumer service. The after purchase service by Mr. Ben Dale is absolutely superb, he will personally answer emails within 24 hours or sooner, years after the original purchase. Even if you are asking him about another system like the KME or Wicked Edge Precision Sharpener, he is a true gentleman and will gain your respect immediately. I don’t know if I have every met anyone like Ben to be honest, he is that good.

Mirror Finishes such as the one on the Smaller Ulu are possible with the Edge Pro.

Mirror Finishes such as the one on the Smaller Ulu are possible with the Edge Pro.

EdgePro Con’s:

  1. Price. The Professional Version and Apex version are more expensive than most Japanese Water Stones, the initial start up cost that is.
  2. “That” feeling is missing. It is not sharpening by freehand so if you are looking for that traditional feel, that sensation of using your hands only, you will miss that. Having said that, this is just my reaction after many many knives, there is still a level of satisfaction guaranteed to be enjoyed by using the Edge Pro.

THE REASONS WHY I LOVE SHARPENING STONES

Edge pro stones stock and custom with full sized stones.

Edge pro stones stock and custom with full sized stones.

Sharpening on water stones is traditional, it carries with it a sense of pride. For me, I think of the men that I would like to talk the most in my life, those Master Sharpeners in Japan, those gentle and kind men that have dedicated their lives to sharpening knives, it goes back in history, it is a very special feeling being part of this. THIS is what drives me the most, yes the sharp knives are awesome but doing this with my bare hands, doing something my dad and his dad did, using a skill that I have spent years and years improving is a privilege. Coming from a person who sharpens knives every day for people, if I could only choose one method of sharpening knives it would be freehand, there is no question about that.

Freehand Sharpening Pro’s:

  1. It is an art. Achieving success with this method instills pride, after thousands of knives, I still get a thrill from sharpening a knife. A synergy develops that is created by the physical motion required with the water stone, the water and the knife and it is just you and those things that place you in a zen like environment that makes all personal problems vanish.
  2. The water stones. There are some very beautiful waters stones out there that are incredibly efficient, it is a very cool feeling when you get a new water stone. (Yes they are available for the Edge Pro and also the Wicked Edge Precision Sharpener)
  3. It’s a skill to master, and can be used countless times. There is learning process, it forces us to focus and be patient and persistent, if you do this, you will eventually create the sharpest knives you’ve ever seen, and you can repeat this process over and over, it relieves stress.
  4. It doesn’t cost much to get started. The initial start cost can be less than $40.00, you can purchase one stone and immerse yourself in the process and elevate your senses to a level you’ve never thought possible.

Freehand Sharpening Con’s:

  1. You have to be really focused. Some folks will not get the hang of it, something will distract them, they will become frustrated and normal life actives will hinder their chances of success.
  2. It’s not easy at first. Learning the skill can be frustrating, if patience is a challenge for people, freehand sharpening will be a challenge.
  3. It is addictive. One water stone will never suffice, after ten years, forty water stones will not seem like enough.

I understand that I am missing some items here but that’s not important, most people will make up their own minds on what method of sharpening is best for them. In my dream sharpening setup, I would have all my water stones, the Edge Pro Professional and the Wicked Edge Precision Sharpener. If the most important thing to you is making your knives sharp and you just don’t think you will have the time or patience to learn to free hand sharpen that the Edge Pro Apex is likely perfect for you.

FIND YOUR WAY TO FIGHT DULL KNIVES

Knife Sharpening is an important service. Everyone uses knives, dull knives are terrible, so we need to be able to fix that. You need to find a method that fixes that, I found mine a long time ago. That doesn’t make me a better sharpener than anyone else, but I’m a happy sharpener and that makes me a good sharpener. If you like to use a series of belt sanders and stones to get your knives sharp that is fantastic, you are keeping your knives sharp.

Change your perspective. Instead of worrying about what method is better than another, let’s work on enlightening those good folks who have no method at all, have no sharpening plan and use dull knives every single day. If you sharpen a knife for a person who has punished himself or herself with dull knives, than that person is going to think you have chosen THE method, that is what it’s all about.