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knife sharpener buying guide

Knife Sharpener Buying Guide – Learn Before You Buy

Imagine yourself cutting up vegetables for a delicious meal, when suddenly your dull knife slips and slams down on the cutting board. Nobody got hurt, the vegetable is more squeezed than cut, but the situation could have gone south if your dull knife had slipped towards your fingers.

Dull knives are more dangerous than sharp ones – it’s a fact! The University of Rochester Medical Center teaches us that a dull blade slips with great force behind it because it requires more pressure to cut. Hence our warning to always make sure that you are using a sharp knife.

Luckily, sharpening knives is easy nowadays, thanks to the many different types of knife sharpeners. Continue reading our guide, and soon enough you will learn everything there is to know about knife sharpeners.

Types of Knife Sharpeners

There are plenty of different knife sharpeners on the market, but three types have become recognizable due to their proven quality and ease of use. All of them will sharpen your knife, but some of them might not be right for you. Don’t fret, read on and find out which type of a knife sharpener is a best-buy for you.

Whetstones

Whetstones, better known as sharpening stones, come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and material composition. Most of them are flat, but some of them come shaped for complex edges. Whetstones can be natural or made out of artificial stones. It is important to note that whetstones don’t carve out a new blade, they simply sharpen the existing blade of the knife.

Using a whetstone is not particularly difficult, but it does take some practice. If you want to perfect the art of knife sharpening, then you will need to learn how to use a whetstone. You need to hold the knife at a correct angle, which depends on the blade of the knife, as you run the blade down the stone. A few passes over the stone should make your knife sharp – simple!

The material composition of a whetstone doesn’t play a huge role in the sharpening properties – it is simply a matter of a personal preference. But, this does not mean that you should buy the first whetstone you notice! Whetstones range in quality, and price, so make sure that you are happy with the features your new whetstone can provide.

Manual and Electric Sharpeners

Manual and electric sharpeners are created to simplify the sharpening process, without sacrificing the quality of the end result. Unlike the whetstones, which sharpen your knife, manual and electric sharpeners carve a new edge into your blade.

There aren’t many differences between the manual and electric knife sharpeners, but they are worth noting.

Manual sharpeners feature rods or blades which are used to sharpen your knife. They can be found in a handheld version, but most of them simply sit atop your kitchen counter. Using a manual knife sharpener is easy – you slide the blade through the slots of a sharpener in a sweeping motion, from the edge closest to the handle to the tip. Most of the time three to six passes are enough to sharpen your knife. Plenty of chefs enjoy using manual sharpeners because they allow them plenty of precision, and the freedom to stop the sharpening process whenever they feel the need to do so.

Electric sharpeners are very similar to the manual ones look-wise. What makes them different is the material used for the sharpening process. Electric knife sharpeners utilize sharpening discs or sharpening belts. The entire process of sharpening is similar to electric sanding devices. The biggest difference between the electric and manual sharpeners is that the discs or belts in the electric sharpeners move on their own. A chef can simply pull the knife through the sharpener once, and the sharpener does its work of creating a new, sharp blade. The only drawback we have noticed is that a knife could get over-sharpened with an electric sharpener. But, if you are not a professional chef with decades of experience behind you, then you need not worry about it.

There are plenty of arguments to support the use of one sharpener over the other, but it is our opinion that you shouldn’t focus on the debate. In the end, it all comes down to personal preference.

Honing Rods

Honing rods are not knife sharpeners per se, but they are an invaluable tool in any kitchen that should not be disregarded.

The main purpose of a honing rod is to keep the blade of your knife straight. The only downside is that you have to use them often, but the value they provide makes it worth it. Using a honing rod should become a daily habit. You simply hold the honing rod in one hand and run the knife along the rod using your other hand for twenty to thirty seconds. If you own an expensive knife, then you definitely need to invest in a high-quality honing rod – your knife will last longer.

Sharpening Rods

Sharpening rods are similar to honing rods, but only to the untrained eye. While the purpose of a honing rod is to straighten the blade, the purpose of a sharpening rod is to sand away parts of the blade, making it sharper.

You can easily distinguish the difference if you take a closer look. Honing steel rods are completely smooth, while the sharpening rods feature long grooves. The grooves are what gives the sharpening rods the ability to shave away bits of the blade.

Sharpening rods are never used on dull blades, they are only used on blades that are beginning to dull, which is why we don’t see them as a necessary part of a kitchen, but they are worth mentioning.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Knife Sharpener

There are a few more things you should know about before you consider yourself knowledgeable on the topic of knife sharpeners. If you are serious about purchasing a high-quality knife sharpener that will last you a long time, then read on and learn what to think about before opting in for a knife sharpener.

Size

Size of a sharpener will not influence its ability to sharpen, but it is an important factor to think about. Ask yourself whether your kitchen is tight on space, and make sure that the size of your new sharpener doesn’t prevent it from being stored safely.

Grit

All of the knife sharpeners on the market come in different levels of grit. Most of the whetstones have two sides, which provide you with different levels of grit. Electric and manual sharpeners come with different settings, which allow you the freedom to choose the level of grit.

Different levels of grit allow you to sharpen different types of dull knives:

  • Coarse grit (labeled less than 1000) is used on damaged knives for removal of chips.
  • Medium grit (labeled 1000 to 3000) is used on dull knives that have suffered no damage.
  • Fine grit (labeled 4000 to 8000) is used to refine the edge of your knife.

Time

Think about the value of your time. You should know whether you want to spend a few minutes running your knife down a whetstone, or whether you are more inclined towards pulling the knife through an electric sharpener for a few seconds. If you don’t mind taking your time to sharpen a knife, then a whetstone will do the job. But, if you are often in a hurry, then a manual or an electric sharpener is what you are looking for.

Price

Finally, consider your budget! Knife sharpener prices range from $10 to over $150, so make sure to consider whether you will be using your new knife sharpener enough to warrant an expensive purchase. Like with the most of purchases – you get what you pay for. Be sure that you aren’t purchasing a cheap sharpener that will only set you back further if it damages your blades.

Now that you have come to the end, you can consider yourself well-versed on the topic of knife sharpeners. We hope that we have provided you with all of the necessary information needed to make an educated purchase. If you are looking for a good place to buy knife sharpeners, then be sure to read our guide. We made sure to ease your search by providing you with the best possible options in different price ranges.

You started reading our article thinking that you are not cut out for making an educated decision, but now that you have learned a lot, you can safely make a purchase without any worries. Have a sharp day!