Sharpening kits or systems can be manual or electric. They tend to require more time and effort than other simple sharpeners, and you always have to pass a learning curve before you can properly sharpen your knives without causing damages on the blades. A good sharpening kit is totally worth it though: once you’ve mastered the technique, your blades can have even keener and sharper edges than when they’re fresh out of the factory.
Clamp-style sharpening tools use a clamp with several holes with predefined angles. The stone is mounted on a rod and is pulled through these holes, so that the angle remains consistent. Another system is the crock stick setup, where two sticks are put into a plastic or wooden base to form a V shape. When the knife is pulled up the V, the angle is held so long as the blade is held perpendicular to the base. Several cutlery manufacturers now offer electric knife sharpeners with multiple stages with at least one grinding stage. These electric sharpeners are typically used in the kitchen but have the ability to sharpen blades such as pocket or tactical knives. The main benefit of using an electric sharpener is speed with many models that can complete the sharpening process in one to two minutes. The disadvantage is that the sharpening angle is fixed so some specialized knives, like a Japanese style Santoku, may need additional attention to sharpen to the ideal angle.
That’s a pity, because the merits of a sharp knife become apparent the moment you swipe through an onion with one. It’s pure pleasure. A sharp knife cuts easily and precisely, requiring little more pressure than the knife’s own weight to do the job. By the end of this project, I was used to working with truly sharp knives. From now on, that’s how I’ll be keeping mine, and I hope to help you put aside your qualms and make knife sharpening part of your routine, too. Of course, that means you’ll need a knife sharpener—the question is, which one?
Stone: With a sharpening stone, you'll 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.
If you’re a serious home chef, we recommend the Chef’sChoice Trizor XV Sharpener. (And we’re not alone: It’s the top pick for Cook’s Illustrated as well.) This model is much more expensive than our top pick, but it produces a professional-quality, polished and honed edge, as opposed to the ProntoPro 4643’s “toothy” edge. “Polished and honed” means it’s inherently sharp: The Trizor XV brings the metal of the blade to an infinitesimally fine point rather than to the relatively coarse edge that our main pick produces. That means you can chop straight down through, say, onions and carrots rather than stroking through them as with a saw. And that makes for faster, more efficient knife work—as long as you possess the knife skills to take advantage. But the Trizor XV is a bit bulky (about the size of a loaf of homemade bread) and heavy, so you’ll need to find space for it under your countertop.
However, because the Belgian Blue stone generally occurs in relatively wide columns with much thinner layers of Vielsalm Coticule on either side adjacent to the slate, the Belgian Blue stone is more plentiful that Coticule and thus, it’s somewhat less expensive. But, it’s also somewhat softer than Coticule and is not divided into different grades as Coticule is. Furthermore, because it is a softer stone than Coticule, it is sold without a substrate layer.
The Work Sharp WSKTS-KO Knife and Tool Sharpener is a handheld device, which is optimized to handle various sharpening jobs. It comes with a belt sander, which spins around following a triangular configuration. It has a set of angles on either side, which can be adjusted from 15 to 30 degrees, depending on your sharpening needs. Unlike other electric knife sharpeners, which tend to overheat during high speeds, the speed of this one is adjustable.
You can even determine just how sharp your knife can be when you have your own knife sharpener. For a chopping blade, you may want to have a 45-degree angle on each side so you have enough mass to use for chopping. A fine slicing knife may have a 15-degree angle instead so it can slice through food with ease. You can also limit the sharpness for such food ingredients as very ripe tomatoes.
Furthermore, Novaculite consists of several different layers of stone of different densities, grit sizes, and colors. Thus, the red Novaculite layer (aka Washita Stone) is the both the softest and most coarse while, the next most coarse/hard grade is the grey/white Soft Arkansas stone; both of which cut relatively fast for a hard whetstone material and thus, they are an excellent choice for refining a bevel. Then, the next grade of coarseness/hardness is the hard Arkansas stone which is used to polish the bevel rather than define it and, last there are the grades of Hard Black and Hard Translucent Arkansas stones which are used for extremely fine honing and polishing of a cutting edge. Plus, it’s also the primary material in “Charnley Forest” (English) and “Turkey” oilstones.
Chef's Choice 316 Diamond Sharpener (for Asian knives - Click here for the latest pricing) for Asian Knives. I have a lot of Asian-style knives so this is pretty important to me. And, I have a couple of German knives that I sharpen to a 15º angle because I like sharp things! So, if you need an economic choice for your Asian-style knives, then check out the Chef's Choice 316 Diamond Sharpener for Asian Knives. You can normally get it for a low to mid price tag, and it does a perfect job on a 15º angle.
Every continent—Europe, Asia, and the Americas, seem to have their own knife design traits, so it can be a bother to find a sharpener that suits your knife. And this is especially true if you have lots of different knives from different areas in the world. Add the fact that your sharpener has to deal with serrated as well as straight-edged knives, and it may seem as if you’ll need more than one sharpener to take care of them all.
Note that, unlike steel honing rods, ceramic hones need occasional cleaning, as particles of knife metal build up on their surface (they form a gray layer). Idahone sells a “Superaser,” but on knife forums, many owners of ceramic hones recommend generic melamine foam sponges as a more economical alternative (the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is the famous name-brand version). Messermeister, the maker of one of the other ceramic hones in our test, recommends a mild abrasive cleanser, like Bon Ami or Bar Keepers Friend, advice that is also echoed by many knife enthusiasts.
The main drawback to this design is that the heel of the knife doesn't get sharpened because you have to get this thing right on the corner of the heel in order for the whole length of the edge to be sharpened. Since this thing shaves lots of metal off the knife, you end up with a heel that's taller than the rest of the edge, rendering the knife unable to chop properly. Anything attempting to be chopped close to the heel will simply not be chopped. Just dented.
Good cutlery makes a difference, too; see our report on kitchen knives for the best knives that will hold an edge longer and sharpen up more quickly. If you find that you're uncomfortable working with an exposed blade or need a slicer that quickly makes many uniform cuts, we've also evaluated the best mandolines to make short work of any pile of veggies.
Whether they were professional testers or home users, reviewers sometimes found it a bit unnerving to pull the AccuSharp over an exposed knife blade with nothing but its plastic guard as protection. Once they got past that, though, they found it produced a sharp edge quickly and easily. Workers in a prominent test kitchen found it especially handy for quick touch-ups, since it's small and light enough to fit in a drawer.
One of the only things we don’t like about the Idahone is the lack of a prominent finger guard where the rod meets the handle. As a result, we highly recommend using the safer “supported” technique for honing a knife, as demonstrated in our guide to chef’s knives. In this method, the rod is held against the counter or cutting board, and blade always moves away from your body and grip-hand, greatly reducing the chance of a nasty accident.
However, what about the patented technology we touched upon at the beginning of this article? Well the Wicked Edge Field and Sport, carries on the tradition of earlier products in the range, with innovations and improvements such as the neoprene padded jaws, (ultimate protection for expensive knives) and the one knob clamping mechanism that makes operating the tool easy enough for anyone.
The Trizor XV employs a three-stage sharpening and honing process using diamond-impregnated cutting wheels. The first time you sharpen a blade, you use the coarsest setting first to establish a completely new bevel. The fine wheels then form a secondary bevel, and finally the honing wheels polish the secondary bevel. The result is an arch-shaped edge that Chef’sChoice claims is more durable than a standard triangular edge. Thereafter, use of the honing wheels and an occasional pass on the fine wheels will keep the edge sharp for months or years before you need to cut an entirely new edge with the coarse wheels.
Pull-through knife sharpeners can be very beneficial and convenient. They’re available in a wide assortment of different shapes and styles, but they all work in a similar manner. As the name suggests, the blade is pulled through the sharpener. Once this has been completed, you will be able to achieve a blade with a much sharper and more natural consistency.
Before I even begin discussing much else about this sharpener I would like to take a moment to discuss its four sharpening slots. Upon reading consumer reviews, I found that many people were confused by the fact that there were four slots and mistakenly believed that this was a four stage sharpener. This is a two stage sharpener. It has one stage with a rough grit and one stage with a fine grit so that you can adjust the type of sharpening to the dullness of the blade.
There are numerous types of stone sharpeners on the market. However, the Chosera 5,000 Grit Stone remains one of the best. This wet stone knife sharpener is an improvement on previous versions, allowing you to handle more blades. It uses magnesium as a binder. Since these stones don’t soak up water, you will have to sprinkle it with water regularly, during the sharpening process. Due to its hardness, it does not wear out easily, which adds to the overall durability.
As opposed to water whetstones that require you to pre-soak the stone, the Norton oil stone is pre-filled with oil to save time and eliminate the need to pre-soak it prior to use and the lubricant stays on the surface during sharpening. The oil also prevents metal from bonding with the abrasive surface by flushing away dislodged abrasive and metal chips.
Although the Chef’s Choice above was outstanding, this one is bigger, more powerful and a tad bit more expensive. Instead of two stages, the Chef’s Choice 1520 offers three stages and even more flexibility. With a three-year limited warranty, you will be able to guarantee that this sharpener will serve you admirably for a significant period of time. The product relies on 100% diamond abrasives to sharpen and hone your knives. Despite the powerful performance, the product is relatively small and compact. At only 5 pounds, you will be able to move it around your kitchen with ease.
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. Sharpening kits work great for both sharpening and honing. 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.
These are unquestionably great starter stones. After all the sharpening done over the course of a couple days, they're still perfectly flat, showing little to no signs of wearing down. Mind you I did watch tons of how-to videos online before undergoing the endeavor, so I knew how to try to make the stone wear evenly. But, my 15 year old nephew who was working on the Ontario, as I told him he could have it, if he wanted to fix it up, didn't watch all those videos and I didn't see any uneven wear on his stone after working it about a half hour either.