- Sharp knives make cooking easier and safer. To keep your knives in good shape, you need a great knife sharpener.
- The Chef’s Choice Trizor XV is our top pick because of its versatility and three distinct sharpening stages.
While a sharp knife can be dangerous if you’re not careful, a dull knife can actually do more harm. Dull knives cut poorly, causing you to apply extra force in the process, which increases the chance of injury. Additionally, dull knives tear up your food, rather than creating beautiful slices. Sharp knives have a longer lifespan, too, which is especially important for an expensive knife set.
The best knife sharpeners are easy to use and give you that desirable sharp edge. Because knife sharpeners exist in a variety of configurations, finding just the right type to best suit your needs requires a bit of research. If you’re a beginner knife honer, jump to the end of this guide for an in-depth explainer on how knife sharpeners work and a look at the different styles you may want to consider. If you already know what you’re after, dive right into our top picks.
Here are the best knife sharpeners in 2021
- Best electric knife sharpener: Chef’s Choice Trizor XV
- Best pull-through knife sharpener: Chef’s Choice ProntoPro 4643
- Best knife sharpening kit: Edge Pro Apex 4
- Best whetstone for knife sharpening: Smith’s TRI-6 Arkansas TRI-HOME Sharpening System
The Chef’s Choice Trizor XV knife sharpener is extremely easy to use and works with a variety of kitchen knife blades, making it a versatile option.
Pros: Triple beveled knives should need fewer sharpenings, three sharpening guide slots, easy to use, motor runs smoothly, excellent sharpening results
Cons: Doesn’t work well with smaller knives, don’t work with serrated knives
The Chef’s Choice Trizor XV is our top pick for the best electric knife sharpener for its exceptional ease of use.
Most electric knife sharpeners offer easy-to-use features, but the Trizor XV truly simplifies things with its three sharpening guides, starting with coarse before moving to fine and polishing. It also features a strong motor, which allows it to run smoothly during sharpening with no catches on the blade.
The Chef’s Choice sharpener creates a triple bevel on the blade, which allows it to work with both Asian and European/American knives. The bevels are at roughly 25 degrees, 20 degrees, and 15 degrees. This triple bevel design increases the length of time required between sharpenings.
Overall, we think it’s the best knife sharpener for most people with its multiple settings, clear instructions, and decent price.
The best pull-through knife sharpener
If you’re looking to save some money on a knife sharpener, the Chef’s Choice ProntoPro 4643 provides outstanding results at a low price.
Pros: Reasonable price point, excellent results versus other manual knife sharpeners, three guide slots for different types of knives, fits in a drawer, suitable for serrated knives
Cons: Not quite as versatile as some more expensive electric options
The Chef’s Choice ProntoPro 4643 is one of our favorite knife sharpeners on the market, providing outstanding results at a low price point. This manual pull-through knife sharpener offers a lot of the same features as our top pick, the electric Chef’s Choice Trizor XV, but does so at a far lower price point.
The design of the ProntoPro 4643 is a little different from most manual knife sharpeners because it has a curved handle with a soft grip. You can hold this handle firmly to achieve the best results. Additionally, the ProntoPro 4643 is only about nine inches in length, meaning it’ll fit easily in a drawer.
You can control the angle of the knife blade at either 15 degrees or 20 degrees, making it work well for both American/European and Asian knives. In fact, the manual sharpener uses different guide slots for each type of knife, as well as a third guide slot for serrated knives, making it one of the few picks on our list suitable for serrated blades.
The best knife sharpening kit
The Edge Pro Apex 4 sharpens all knives at precise blade angles for some of the best and sharpest results you’ll see.
Pros: Excellent sharpening kit, allows for precise multiple knife blade angles, includes multiple grit stones for fine polishing, all parts fit in a carrying case for easy portability, works with multiple blade widths
Cons: Expensive, requires practice to use well, doesn’t work well with thin-bladed knives
The Edge Pro Apex 4 gives you the ability to fine-tune your knives. The kit uses a guide system along with different sharpening stones to help you draw the blade at the right angle. It does require some know-how and practice to achieve the desired results.
Additionally, this completely portable kit fits inside a carrying case, allowing for easy transportation for camping or hunting. The kit can handle blade sizes ranging from small knives to machetes, however, the system doesn’t work as well with very thin-bladed knives, such as a fillet knife.
The kit ships with five water stones, ranging from 120 to 1,000 grit, allowing for coarse to fine sharpening. It also contains 2,000 and 3,000 grit polish tapes for honing. The stones fit tightly into the kit’s design, ensuring no slippage as you use the kit’s angle guide to draw the knife blade across the stones.
Using the Edge Pro Apex 4 involves a learning curve, but the time invested pays off with incredibly sharp blades. The kit ships with a DVD, providing detailed instructions on how to use it. Once you have mastered this tool, its results are impressive.
This kit costs quite a bit more than most knife sharpeners, but it gives your knives more longevity by removing less metal from the blades during the sharpening process.
The best knife sharpening whetstone
For those who want complete control over the sharpening process, the Smith’s TRI-6 Arkansas TRI-HONE Sharpening System makes it easy to use a sharpening stone.
Pros: Offers full control over the sharpening process, three different grit stones included, stones mounted on triangular block are convenient to access, easy to use for beginners
Cons: Takes longer to sharpen knives than an electric sharpener, longevity of the plastic frame is questionable
If you’re frustrated with the performance of electric knife sharpeners – or if you’re just a bit of a control freak like me – the Smith’s TRI-6 Arkansas TRI-HONE Sharpening System allows you to manually sharpen your knives. The system ships with three high-quality sharpening stones and the included bracket holds the stones in place so you can work efficiently and safely.
The rotating triangle block on which the manufacturer has mounted the three different sharpening stones makes it convenient to just twist a knob and find the exact stone grit you wish to use.
Some people may be a bit intimidated by using a sharpening stone, rather than an electric sharpener, and it does take some practice to ensure you’re holding your knife at the right angle and applying proper pressure. But with some time, you’ll find that using a whetstone is one of the best ways to have precise control over how your blade is sharpened.
How knife sharpeners work
Several different gadgets and kits exist that will help you sharpen a knife. Some use electrical power, while others use a manual stroke. We’ll break down the different types of knife sharpeners in the next segment. If you need more information, we have further discussed knife care in a video.
As far as sharpening a knife blade goes, all types of sharpeners follow the same type of process. You’ll rub the metal blade of the knife against some sort of an abrasive surface that removes some of the metal to create a thin edge.
Knife sharpeners need to be able to create an exact angle on the knife’s edge. American and European knife blades use a 20-degree angle out of the factory, while Asian knife blades use a 17-degree angle. Hence, many people prefer a knife sharpening machine to a simple manual stone because the machine helps guide you to maintain the proper angle on the blade.
If the blade is only slightly dull, using a steel rod, called knife honing steel, can give the edge a quick touch up by realigning the edge, as shown by Cook’s Illustrated. Technically, using this method means you’re actually honing the knife, rather than sharpening it. For a dull blade, though, a knife sharpener provides the best method of obtaining a sharp edge again.
Types of knife sharpeners
- Electric machine: An electric knife sharpener offers the most convenient sharpening tool design. You’ll pull the knife blade through the guide slot on the machine, and a motor applies the sharpening agent (usually a sharpening stone) to the metal blade. Many electric sharpeners will offer multiple guide slots that run from coarse to fine sharpening or that handle different blade angles.
- Pull-through machine: A pull-through sharpener, also called a manual sharpener, works best with kitchen knives. You’ll pull the knife blade through the sharpener, which includes guide slots with the sharpening agent inside. Some pull-through sharpeners allow you to adjust the angle of the blade, which helps with different types of knives. Some provide multiple guide slots, ranging from coarse to fine sharpening.
- Sharpening kit: Sharpening kits appear at the top end of the market for knife sharpeners, as they have multiple parts to ensure a proper result. The kit allows you to set the sharpening angle you want to use while working from course to fine sharpening. Using a sharpening kit properly requires some time invested in learning to use the kit. However, for those who demand a perfect blade, the sharpening kit achieves the desired result with full manual control. They’re great for both sharpening and honing.
- Stone: With a sharpening stone, or whetstone, you drag the blade of the knife across the rough surface of the stone. Sharpening stones consist of a number of types of material, such as diamond stones, oil stones (also called Arkansas stones), water stones (or aluminum oxide stones), and ceramic stones. Yes, the diamond stone actually contains tiny fragments of diamonds, but it’s a little heavy to wear as an earring. The trick with a sharpening stone becomes applying the right amount of pressure and sharpening at the proper angle because using a sharpening stone requires a completely manual process with no guide slots. However, stones can sharpen many tools, including scissors and chisels.
One final item to mention: Serrated knife blades won’t work with all types of knife sharpeners. If you’re using a pull-through or electric knife sharpener, it needs to have a serrated setting or the blade will lose the serration during sharpening.
Check out our other great knife buying guides