Learn how to use a knife sharpener in the right way. Knives are important tools that are used for daily chores, for occupation, and for other outdoor activities. They serve various purposes and are designed with specific functions. While to most, any cutting edges is a knife; to an enthusiast, knives have various faces with various roles to play. They come in a variety of sizes, different edge, and varying specifications. But for whatever purpose a knife may be serving, the most daunting and bitter foe is encountering dull blades.
How To Use A Knife Sharpener?
To extend the useful life of the blades, one needs to invest in quality knife sharpeners. The market is filled with various knife sharpeners that are confusing when it comes to appropriateness and suitability with each type of knives. In selecting the fitting tool, perusing through and understanding how to use a knife sharpener is the best way to start.
1. Sharpening stones
These are considered the best knife sharpener when it comes to versatility and quality. Sharpening stones have been around for centuries and people are more used to handling it although it may require a bit of skill, precision and time. Users are more in control with the outcome and quality of result that they wanted. They come in different stone materials.
The oil-stones are the most traditional and are considered in terms of quality sharpening result and inexpensiveness. Water stones are designed to sharpen faster than oil-stones producing the same quality of sharpness. Ceramic stone sharpeners are used to create a durable and well-polished edge of the blades. Diamond stones are also available for speedier sharpening with its ability to cut into the metal blades faster as compared with the rest of the stones.
These types of knife sharpeners are utilized in different ways. Oil stones require honing oil or lubricant prior to use. This is specifically designed to protect the edges of the blade and the surface of the stones during the sharpening. Waterstones are porous materials and needs to be pre-soaked in water before using to wash out the dull surface for more efficient sharpening.
Ceramic and diamond stones rarely require lubricants and can be used either dry or wet. Stone sharpeners are used by scraping the beveled edge of the blade across the surface of the stones until a burr is created. The burr or rough edge is an indication that the knife is properly sharpened. It may take three or more strokes using moderate downward force.
King Japanese Whetstone Combination Grit 1000/6000 ($25.30)
The grit combination of this stone is ideal for sharpening and regular maintenance of any types of knives. Before using, soak the stone in water for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape the blade across the surface of the stone using moderate downward force, with about 3 to 5 strokes. Repeat on the other side of the blade scraping it towards the end of the stone, splashing water to remove the debris from the surface. Flip the stone and polish both of the edges on the surface using the same method as the coarse stone.
Smith’s 50008 8-inch Diamond Tri-Hone Bench Stone ($98.03)
This 8” Diamond hone has three stages of sharpening stones. It a coarse and fine diamond stone for sharpening, and Medium Arkansas stone for honing and polishing. The stones are strategically arranged in triangular formation. A rotating lever at the edge of the bench is used to switch stones to the desired sharpening surface without the need for taking them out. The diamond hones on the coarse and fine surfaces have an overlapping interrupted design to catch metal filings that keep the surface clean during sharpening.
It also has a micro-tool sharpening pad on the edge of the stones that can be used for sharpening the tip and narrow blades of chisels. To sharpen, rotate the lever so that the desired stone is on top and spread it with a honing solution. Place the sharpening angle guide on the end of the stone and align the back of the knife on it for the precise angle. Push the blade away in a scraping motion across the stone, applying moderate pressure.
Repeat the process 8 to 10 times until thoroughly sharpened. Transfer the angle guide to the other end of the stone to sharpen the other side of the blade using the same number of strokes. Repeat the process on the fine stone if started with the coarse stone before polishing it on the Arkansas stone. The Arkansas stone can be used for regular maintenance of the blades.
2. Manual sharpeners
To bring ease and convenience into sharpening, the manual knife sharpeners were made. They are mechanically designed with abrasive notches where a knife can be slid through. These slots mostly come in two different sharpening stages: the coarse stage for setting the knife’s edges and the fine stage for polishing and honing. The coarse stages are usually made with carbide abrasives, while the fine ones have ceramic rods.
While the most common types are the V-notches or slots, other manual sharpeners have rotating wheels or stationary rods that grind into the edges of the blades. Sharpeners with rotating rods are sometimes designed to be ambidextrous for ease of use of both left-handed and right-handed users. Manual sharpeners are ideal for quick touch-ups and routine maintenance of the blades.
Work Sharp WSGFS221 Guided Field Sharpener ($$$)
It is a reliable manual knife sharpener that has a built-in angle guide of 20° to 25° for precise sharpening. It has five abrasives in its plate: the coarse diamond and fine diamond sharpener; coarse and fine ceramic rods, and a leather strop.
To use, lightly rest the blade on the angle guide ramp and push it along the abrasive surface about 5 to 10 strokes. Repeat on the other side of the blade starting from the other end. If the coarse plate is used, repeat the process on the fine sharpening plate. Hone the blades on the ceramic rod to polish, then strop it in the leather strop to produce hairsplitting sharpness that lasts.
Brod & Taylor Professional Knife Sharpener ($$$$+)
It does not only sharpen straight and serrated blades but also the single beveled Japanese knives. It has a unique sharpening system than other manual sharpeners. Its tungsten carbide is mounted on spring action bars to provide proper adjustment of the angle that could range from 12° up to 20° angles of the blade. These bars carve the edge of the blade to produce optimum sharpness. Simply insert the knife horizontally at the center with the “V” shaped sharpener and pull the knife smoothly through it. Use moderate pressure and make sure that the blades are in contact with the sharpening rod.
3. Electric Knife Sharpeners
Wide selection of electric sharpeners is also available in the market that creates confusion when choosing. Their functions are similar to manual sharpeners, but there are electric sharpeners that are built to cater types of knives other than the standard and commonly used. This could include specific knives like ceramics, serrated, fishing or outdoor and sports blades.
These knives cannot be sharpened with just any electric knife sharpener because of its material or blade settings can be easily damaged. Electric designs are the best knife sharpener for real speedy knife sharpening. Most of them have diamond or other hard abrasives that enable them to cut precisely into the hard metals of the blade. It can polish an edge in just a couple of seconds, or a matter of minutes for severely blunt edges. Aside from automatic sharpening, it is also pre-set with blade angles to reduce the guesswork in sharpening. Other electric knife sharpeners have angle control knob to be able to sharpen the knife on its factory edge.
Kitchen IQ Smart Sharp Electric Knife Sharpener ($$$$+)
This unit has interlocking diamond wheels that sharpen knife’s edges together at the same time. It also has an angle adjustment knob for precise sharpening. Its coarse slot is an aggressive abrasive that is used only for setting edges of damaged knives. For normal sharpening, the fine slot is used.
First, adjust the angle to match the factory angle of the knife. The knob has blade angle suggestion if the angle of the knife to be sharpened is unknown. Pull the knife into the appropriate slot with about 8 to 10 pulls until the desired sharpness is achieved. If sharpening in the coarse slot, pull it on the fine slot again to hone or align and polish the edges.
Work Sharp WSKTS-KO Knife and Tool Sharpener Ken Onion Edition ($$$+)
It is another versatile electric knife and tool sharpener that can sharpen just anything possible. It produces industrial quality sharpness with its flexible abrasive belts. The different angle guides enable accurate and precise sharpening regardless of the type of knife being sharpened. The angles are at 15°, 20°, 25°, and 30°. Its flexible diamond belt has 5 abrasives: extra coarse, coarse, medium, fine, and extra-fine.
Replacement abrasive belts like ceramics are available as an additional belt kit. To start sharpening, mount a diamond belt abrasive into the machine with the knife sharpening guide. Slide the blade into the sharpening slot while pressing the “on” button using uniform and consistent pull until the tip. Force is not necessary. Just allow the machine to work into the blades. Repeat on the other sharpening slot to sharpen the other edge. If a coarse diamond belt is used, change into a fine belt abrasive and polish the edge.
4. Hybrid Knife Sharpener
Hybrid knife sharpeners combine the efficient and quick sharpening of electric and manual sharpeners. The electric slots are aggressive in creating the true edges of the blades. In hybrid sharpeners, there are stages that are designed for specific types of knives that are not accommodated by just electric sharpeners.
This includes slots for serrations, thin fishing blades, or thick outdoor ones. The manual slots are often used for polishing edges and is ideal for regular sharpening. These versatile sharpeners are also cost effective because it reduces the needs for purchasing additional sharpeners for other knives.
Chef’s Choice 290 Hybrid Angle Select 15/20 Diamond Hone Knife Sharpener ($$$)
It has combined the electric and manual features for creating exceedingly sharp and durable blades. The Stage 1 is also for severely dull or damaged knives. To use the sharpener for the first time with a dull knife, use Stage 1. Insert the knife into the slot and make simultaneous pulls in the left and right on the full length of the blade, about 2 seconds per inch of the knife and about 10-20 pulls that would create a burr in both edges.
Make sure that the blade is in contact with the rollers. If the coarse sharpener is used, proceed to Stage 2. Repeat the same procedure in this slot to create a more distinct burr. Finally, make only 3 pulls in stage 3 to refine the edges. Stage 3 is also the sharpening slot for serrated knives.
Kitchen IQ 50142 Pro Ceramic Edge Gourmet Electric Knife and Scissors Sharpener ($$+)
It is another innovative hybrid sharpener with a retractable ceramic rod for sharpening shears and scissors. Its electric sharpening slot has interlocking ceramic wheels to sharpen edges of the blades at the same time. Its manual slot has crossed carbide interlocking blades that are used for setting edges on damaged knives.
When sharpening a damaged edge, slide the blades into the manual slot first. Use moderate pressure and make about 8 to 10 pulls or more until sharp. Refine the edges by pulling it on the electric sharpening slot for at least 10 pulls until it comes out smooth. Slightly dull knives are sharpened only in the electric slot.
5. Controlled Angle Knife Sharpeners
This type of sharpeners utilize the efficiency of stones and rods to attain the razor-sharp edges of the blades. Its mechanical design is fashioned to sharpen the knives on its factory edges. Sharpening stones are the essential element in the set. The coarsest one for damaged edges. Medium stones will work with slightly dull knives, while the finer ones are the final honing stage or regular maintenance of knives. The guided angles help specify the exact degree of angle of the bevel, while clamps may also be available to secure the knife into place.
Lansky LKUNV Universal Kit ($$+)
It is a controlled angle knife sharpener kit. It has a set of stones ranging from extra coarse, coarse, fine and extra fine. Setting up the kit may take time and a little tedious for novice users. To use, insert the knife into the knife clamp with the blades out and fasten the screw to tightly hold its cheek.
Select the desired hone and attach the guide rod into the hole on its end making sure it aligns properly when laid on a flat surface. Insert the rod on the designated sharpening angles and start sharpening using sweeping motions on the entire surface of the knife.
KME Precision Knife Sharpening System with 4 Gold Series Diamond Stones ($$$$+)
Its latest kit with diamond gold stones. Even more extensive in sharpening, the stones have extra coarse, coarse, extra fine and fine abrasives for various sharpening result. It also has a rod guide with rotating clamp to adjust the angles with the blade ranging from 17° to 30°.
To use the KME system, insert the end of the rod guide into the stone clamp with the stone already in it. Attach the knife into the system’s clamp and tighten the lever to secure. Adjust the angle on and attach the end of the guide rod into it. Sharpen the knife by using a brushing motion of the stone across the surface of the entire blade.
6. Controlled Angle Electric Knife Sharpener
As mentioned, not all electric sharpeners are designed to accommodate the angle configuration of every blade. The angle is the determinant of the sharpness and durability of the knives according to its uses. The standard angle is set at 17° to 20° angle.
The thinner blades for Asian knives and fillet knives are designed to enable it to thinly slice into foods and fishes. Thicker blades on hunting knives, pocket knives, and other outdoor tools give its durability to withstand the rigorous cutting activities. Controlled Angle Electric Sharpener is the fastest and most efficient tool for sharpening edges precisely on its original form.
Smith’s 50281 Adjustable Edge Pro Electric Knife Sharpener ($$$$+)
Features an easy to turn angle adjust the knob to set the angle at the knives’ factory angle. Its electrical slot has interlocking sharpening wheels with medium grit diamond and extra fine ceramic abrasives. The pull-through manual sharpener on the side of the machine has crossed ceramic stones that are used for sharpening serrated knives.
To use the unit, set the angle first by turning the knob into the 10° selection before turning it into the desired angle adjustment. Do this before turning the power button on. Insert the blade into the coarse slot making sure that it comes in contact with the wheel. Applying minimum downward force, pull the blade from the heel to the tip with consistent strokes.
Repeat 10 to 12 pulls, or more for damaged edges. Repeat the process in the ceramic slot with about the same pulls as the first stage. The ceramic slot can be used for regular sharpening of the blades.
KitchenIQ 50353 Angle Adjust Adjustable Electric Knife Sharpener ($$$$+)
It is another product of Smith’s with the patented angle select feature. The angle selection has range level of 10° to 30° for very thin or very thick edges of the knives. It has interlocking diamond wheels in its coarse stage and ceramic wheels on the fine stage.
To use, turn the angle adjustment to the desired angle. Place the knife sharpener on a flat and sturdy surface and insert a knife in the slot. The coarse slot is where severely damaged knives are sharpened. Pull the blade through the slot using medium downward pressure and consistent strokes 8 to 10 times or until thoroughly sharp. Repeat the process on the fine slot making 3 to 4 pulls using light downward pulls. For knives with a curved edge, lightly lift the knife’s handle so that the blade would come in contact with the sharpening wheels.
7. Pull-through Sharpener
This type of sharpeners is the easiest to use. It can polish a blade in just one slide without the need for water or any lubricant. These innovative knife sharpeners are great for daily touch-ups and quick sharpening needs. The “V” notch that is slid into the blade has honing materials that can give the same finish as other expensive sharpeners. These sharpeners are the example of convenient, portable, easy to use and easy to store sharpeners.
It is user-friendly and could work well even for novices and technology freak knife owners. Pull-through sharpeners are also best for outdoor activities and can be used for many types of blades including fillet knives, pocket knives or hunting knives.
AccuSharp 001 Knife Sharpener ($)
It is an all-around knife sharpener that can be used for all types of blades including serrated knives. The “V” type notch is diamond-honed tungsten carbide that is extensive in putting dull blades back into life. It has an ergonomic handle and finger guard that fits securely into the hand to prevent accidental nicks during sharpening. To use, grip the handle tightly with one hand and insert the knife into the appropriate slot. Slide the sharpener over the blade until the tip. Repeat two or three times to the desired sharpness.
Okami Knives Knife Sharpener ($$)
This knife sharpener can be used on all types of blades, either serrated or straight. It is fashioned with adjusting tungsten carbide that can adapt to the blade type. In sharpening edges of serrated knives, it is necessary to ensure that the rod applied is of smaller diameter than the depression of the gullet to avoid deforming the shape. To use, simply set the knife down with the blades up. Insert the sharpening notch and slide it across up to the tip of the blade. Repeat the steps until the desired sharpness is achieved.
8. Sharpening Rods
Sharpening rods are available either in coarse or fine ceramics. Coarse sharpening rods are used to extensively sharpen a very dull knife. The ceramic sticks are very useful in polishing edges of the pre-sharpened knife to create a sleek surface. It is very easy and straightforward to use compared to stones because it doesn’t require any pressure at all. Users can also have a better control with angles for precise sharpening. Ceramic rods are either mounted on a sharpening kit or held by hand. These are the best to use for quick honing of slightly dull knives.
Spyderco Tri-angle Sharpmaker
It is another sharpening kit that is designed for maintaining the consistent angle of the knives. It has an angle set at 15° and 20°, perfect for quick touch-ups of dull blades. It has a V-type high alumina ceramic coated stones that gently sharpen and refine the blade’s edge.
This kit also has two set of triangular ceramic stone sticks. The brown-colored medium grit and the white fine grit for sharpening and polishing. It also has brass safety rods to protect the hand in case the blade would slip off the stones, and can be easily packed in a plastic case for portability.
This kit has a quite easy to set-up. Just insert the sharpening rods into the hole of the desired angle and scrape the knife downward keeping it perpendicular to the ground. Do about 20 strokes per side and repeat using the fine honing rods.
BlizeTec 3 in 1 Tactical Knife Sharpener ($$)
This portable knife sharpener that resembles a pen contains a retractable tapered diamond rod sharpener that has incorporated three different sharpening needs into one rod. The rod has a flat surface, a rounded edge and a pointed end for serrations.
To use the sharpener, simply pull the rod halfway out of its plastic base holder and thread the lock back into place to hold the rod securely. Start sharpening by scraping the blades across the surface of the rod repeating until the desired sharpness is achieved.
To sharpen the serrations, flip the rod over to reveal the pointed edge and tighten the lid to secure. Rub the blade into the rod choosing the diameter that is slightly smaller than the depressed portion, several times until the desired sharpness.
9. Portable Knife Sharpener
Portable sharpeners are specially designed for ease and convenience in sharpening. They are lightweight and on-the-go, but provides the same edge of sharpening for kitchen knives. Portable knife sharpeners also have two slots for sharpening, the coarse one that sets the edge of dull knives, and the fine honing slot.
Sharpal 101N 6-In-1 Knife Sharpener & Survival Tool ($)
This survival tool has a pre-set tungsten carbide blade and ceramic sticks on a “V” notch slot. Using it is similar to other manual sharpeners except that it is smaller and is great for outdoor knives. To use the sharpener, set it on a flat surface for steady grip. Follow the arrow that shows the proper direction of strokes printed in the slot. Pull the blade through the slot from the heel to the tip 3 to 5 times until the desired sharpness is reached. Continue on the ceramic slot to refine the edges. To use the diamond tapered rod, simply rub the rod back and forth across the gullets of the knife until sharp.
Gerber Bear Grylls Field Sharpener ($$)
The Gerber Bear Grylls Field Sharpener has features similar to Sharpal’s. It has carbide and ceramic sharpeners and two diamond coated rod at each end for sharpening graduated sizes of serrations on serrated knives. First, set the sharpener on a sturdy surface and exert 3 to 5 downward pulls. If the coarse sharpener is used, the ceramic sharpener is then utilized to thoroughly polish the edges.
10. Serrated Knife Sharpener
The sharpness of serrated knives tends to stay longer than other knives, but in the long run, they do get dull. Serrated knives are usually sharpened manually especially if the serrations have varying sizes. Sharpening rods are the best knife sharpener to be able to get through the narrow edges. Technically, to avoid damaging the edges of serrations, the diameter of the rod to be used should be slightly smaller than that of the depressed portion or gullet.
DMT FSKF Diafold Serrated Knife Sharpener ($$)
It has conical edges that are intended to work on edges of the serrations. They are available in coarse, fine and extra-fine grit. The fine grit is the most recommended for serrated knives. Sharpen the serrations on the beveled edge by stroking the gullets with the rod. Repeat about 5 to 6 strokes on each gullet.
Chef’s Choice Model 430
It is a one-stage manual sharpener that is used for serrated knives. It has conical rollers with very fine diamond grits that harness the edges of the knife to an optimum sharpness. Sharpen the knife by leaning the blade in the red conical guide and make sure that it comes in contact with the rollers. Apply little to no downward force, while moving the knife back and forth into the slot until the knife is sharp. This knife sharpener can also be used in sharpening serrated electric knives.
Knife sharpeners are engineered differently to meet various needs of the blades. However, sharpeners that are intended for a specific purpose are fashioned to work quite similarly with other products in line with it. The key in choosing the appropriate knife sharpener is in determining the types of knives for which it will be used. How to use a knife sharpener is also subjective to the tool being acquired.