No matter what kind of knife or sharp tool you are using, constant sharpening is required to keep it in tip-top shape. This is why everyone, from beginner knife-enthusiasts to the highly experienced, should look into finding the best sharpening system that suits their purposes to keep their knives sharp and safe. With so many options in the market, the choice can be overwhelming. In this case, you can feel free to buy any that suits your work from the list I reviewed below.
Feature Comparison Table of 10 Best Knife Sharpening Systems in the World
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Stones or Belts
5" x 9" x 5"
10.25" x 9.75" x 1.5"
17.09" x 4.49" x 2.6"
5.5" x 10" x 6"
7" x 4" x 4"
14.3" x 14.1" x 9.6"
7" x 4" x 4"
17.09" x 4.49" x 2.6"
13" x 9" x 10"
7" x 4" x 4"
Best Knife Sharpening System Reviews
How to Choose the Best Knife Sharpening System in 2021 – Buying Guide
A knife sharpening system means more than maximizing the lifetime value of your knives. A dull blade can be frustrating to use, and even dangerous to the uncareful. Accidents can happen when a dull blade glides off whatever you’re cutting and onto things that are not meant to be cut. A dull knife requires greater force to cut with and lacks control, which makes it prone to mishaps. For all these reasons you need to find the right sharpener system from the market. By considering the following guidelines, you can make the most informed decision about choosing the best rated knife sharpening system.
First, of All, What are You Trying to Sharpen?
To determine what features are necessary for your sharpening system, understand what types of knives you plan to sharpen.
How about your backyard appliances such as garden pruners, lawnmower blades, shovels, scrappers, shears, and many more.
Even better, how about all of the above? Exploring these questions will eliminate certain systems that do not suit your needs, narrowing down your search.
What Types of Knife Sharpening Systems Exist?
It can be summarized into several main categories, here I try to describe some of the most popular knife sharpening systems exist at the present time.
1. Stone Sharpening System
Perhaps the most common and most ancient form of knife sharpening. A sharpening stone sharpens a blade by grinding it to give it a sharp edge. Sharpening stones come in many shapes and sizes but are most commonly found in the form of a flat block of dense material. They are made of different materials such as stone, ceramic, diamond, and there are some made with artificial materials as well. Some require oil, others require water, while there are also stones that do not require any lubricant at all.
Stone sharpening is one of the most efficient ways to sharpen your knife. It is fast and also versatile because you can use your sharpening stone to sharpen many different tools at different angles. Sharpening stones can also last quite a long time. However, sharpening a knife using a sharpening stone is a skill that requires a steady hand and much practice. The angle of the blade, the direction, and the movement are all factors that can influence how well-sharpened your blade is on the best stone sharpening system.
One important thing you should remember is that a sharpening stone is only useful for sharpening straight-edged blades. If you try to sharpen a serrated knife on a flat sharpening stone, the serrated knife will lose its serrated edges.
2. Electric or Guided Knife Sharpening System
These sharpeners are the easiest and fastest to use, and suitable for all skill levels as they feature guided slots to place dulled blades. They usually involve two or three steps, where the first slot uses a coarse grit to sharpen dull blades while finer grits work in the later stages to hone the blade.
However, they tend to be more expensive with certain models reaching up to $100, are not portable for purposes such as a camping trip, and may not sharpen the entire edge. Since they often employ spinning sharpening stones or abrasive belts, they are ill-suited for serrated knives and may damage them.
3. Handheld or Manual Knife Sharpening System
If you are more than a sharpening novice, a manual or handheld sharpener is ideal as they are more affordable, compact, and help achieve precise beveling, such as achieving razor-sharp edges. Their portability makes them the choice sharpener for traveling or fishing.
Depending on the type of manual knife sharpening system, there are two ways to use them – the system either lies flat on a surface while the knife slides through its slot, or the knife is placed spine-down while the sharpener is drawn down the blade. Similar to electric sharpeners, however, they are ill-suited for serrated knives and may cause damage.
4. Sharpening Steel System
A sharpening steel, also known as honing steel, is a handheld metal rod used to realign the edge of a blade. There is a common misconception that sharpening steel will “sharpen” a blade, however, a sharpening steel does not actually “sharpen” since it doesn’t remove any metal from the blade.
What it does instead is hone and realign the blade if there is a curled edge. The act of using sharpening steel is called “steeling”. Steeling can be done every day because it removes very little metal, while in contrast, sharpening a knife is done much less often. Some disadvantages of sharpening steel are that it cannot sharpen a dull blade nor can it remove nicks on the edge.
5. Pull-Through Sharpener System
To use a pull-through sharpener, you pull your knife through a V-shaped notch to sharpen the edge of your knife to a certain set angle. The slot is usually made out of two pieces of hard material such as carbide or diamond. Pull-through sharpeners are quite easy to use by simply placing the knife’s edge in the slot and pulling steadily from heel to tip with a light and even amount of pressure. They are portable, fast, and easy to carry around.
Some can be used to sharpen smooth blades as well as serrated ones. There are electric ones as well as manual, handheld versions. Some pull-through sharpeners have only one slot while others have two or three of decreasing coarseness to finely hone the blade. While the pull-through sharpener is cost-friendly and easy to use, disadvantages of the pull-through sharpener include scraping off metal very easily, meaning that frequent use will eat away your blade, and providing an edge of slightly lower quality compared to a sharpening stone.
6. Serrated Knife Sharpening System
Sharpening a serrated knife is not easy. Standard sharpening stones cannot be used to sharpen serrated blades, otherwise, the blade will lose its serrated edge. A handheld serrated knife sharpener looks like a thin metal rod that tapers towards the end. There are round rods as well as triangular rods for different types of serrations. By sliding the handheld knife sharpener back and forth at the serrations at the proper size and angle, it can hone the entire curve of each serration on a knife.
While sharpening a knife with a serrated blade takes a bit of time and effort, luckily, serrated blades typically don’t require sharpening as often as straight-edged blades do. A handheld serrated knife sharpener works well on serrated knives with single bevels, however, it does not work on scalloped or wavy edges, nor does it work on double serrated edges.
7. Crock Stick Sharpener System
A crock stick sharpener, also known as a ceramic rod sharpener, is a set of ceramic rods held in a V-shape at a predetermined angle. The blade is brought down vertically against the rods in a slicing motion, allowing the edges of the knife to be sharpened at a fixed angle. Crock stick sharpeners come in many different kinds. There are round rods for straight-edged knives and triangular rods for serrated knives.
The rods also have varying degrees of coarseness to sharpen and hone your knife to the finest degree. Some crock stick sharpeners have bases that allow the user to adjust the angle, while others do not. It takes a bit of time to learn how to use a crock stick sharpener, but it is easier than most other options.
What Kind of Best Knife Sharpening System are You Looking for?
The sharpening systems vary in sophistication and cost. In general, you want a system that is versatile and sharpens a variety of knives, includes different blade angles, and will not temper or warp the steel blade. Beyond those qualities, understand the types of knives you use, your budget, your expertise level in sharpening knives, and how particular you are about cut quality. Knowing these particulars will further refine your search for the best system that suits your needs.
What is Grit and Why Does It Matter?
Many standard sharpening systems, such as sharpening stones, electric sharpeners, and manual sharpeners, use stones to sharpen knives. Accordingly, the stone’s abrasiveness, called grit, is useful to know when selecting the best sharpening system for you. Specifically, grit size alludes to the stone’s particle density and is measured in microns; the higher the number, the smaller the particles and the finer the sharpening.
For general maintenance such as maintaining dull knives, a grit between 1,000 and 6,000 will suffice. A lower grit number will achieve desired bevel shapes quickly, but if you want a finer edge for something like a Japanese sushi knife, you will want finer grits, which cut slower and do not remove as much of the blade. When selecting a sharpening system, ensure that the grit or set of grits is appropriate for your knives and desired bevel shape.
What Blade Angles Should a System Include?
Manual and electric sharpening systems typically feature precision guides to ensure that your knives are sharpened to specific angles. Novices should look for a tool that allows for a specific set of blade angles that can handle a variety of knives, while more initiated users should look for systems with sharpening angles that closely align with their specific knives. More experienced users can also opt for sharpening stones or steels instead of a manual or electric knife sharpening system, as stones and steels yield greater control.
Wider blade angles like 45⁰ are appropriate for strong blades used for chopping, such as a cleaver. Meanwhile, wide angles between 25⁰ to 30⁰ degrees are ideal for sharpening outdoor utility or fixed blade knives, while kitchen knives sit at 20⁰ delivering a balance of sharpness and blade strength. Furthermore, a 15⁰ angle is ideal for a fine slicing knife such as a fillet, paring, or Japanise gyuto knife. With so many angle options, find a system that fits the knife angles you plan to sharpen.
What Bevel Shape Should a Sharpening System Accommodate?
If considering a manual or electric knife sharpening system, you should find one that maintains or achieves your desired bevel shape. As a quick refresher, bevel refers to the angle running up the edge of the knife and ranges from a rounded convex shape to more angular shapes such as a chisel or saber. Knives may be single or double bevel, so it is critical to find a system that will accommodate your various knife types. Of course, this concern does not affect sharpening stones and steels, as they offer users more control in the sharpening process.
Is the System Ease-of-Use?
How often do you use your edc knife? How much time are you willing to spend sharpening your knife? If you are willing to put in the time and effort to learn how to manually sharpen your knife, then you might consider buying a sharpening stone or a crock stick sharpener to get the best results from a manually sharpened blade.
On the other hand, if you only wish to acquire a knife sharpener that is fast and easy to use, then you should consider buying a pull-through sharpener or even an electric one for the fastest and most efficient results.
What Is the Portability of the Knife Sharpening System?
When and where do you use your knife? If you often take your knife outdoors and go hunting or camping in the wild, a portable knife sharpener such as the pull-through sharpener would be the ideal choice because it is small, lightweight, and easy to use, so that keeping your knife sharp won’t be too much of a hassle in the great outdoors.
There are many best portable knife sharpening systems that include a combination of both sharpening rods and pull-through sharpeners that can fit right in your pocket as you trek out into the wild.
If, however, you prefer to stay at home, then the slightly bulkier knife sharpeners would work as well. Especially if you have many knives as well as other utensils around the house that need to be sharpened, then a sharpening stone would be perfectly suited for a variety of different tools.
How Much Time and Money are You Willing to Put into Sharpening Your Knife?
Buying a knife sharpener is an investment. A good knife sharpening system can be used to keep your knives sharp for many years while buying a low-quality one will take up your time and possibly ruin your blade. Electric sharpening systems tend to be on the expensive side, however, they are typically easier to use and sharpens faster. Electric sharpeners also require a power outlet nearby, therefore they may not be the ideal choice if you need to sharpen your military knives, hunting knives, or the tactical knives in the wild (although they are useful for kitchen knives).
Sharpening stones tend to be the most durable out of the aforementioned types of knife sharpeners, however, they can be quite costly. Before choosing a sharpener system, think about your budget and how much you are willing to spend in maintaining your knife at a high functionality. Very often, there is a trade-off between price and quality. For those on a low budget, the pull-through sharpener, as well as other small, handheld sharpeners, give you a decent quality edge for a modest price.
What Safety Measures Do You Need?
Depending on your comfort and experience with using sharpeners, you should look out for certain safety features to avoid injury. As a beginner seeking an electric or manual sharpening system, look out for non-skid rubber feet. If you are using a handheld device, ensure that it offers a secure grip.
What Level of Maintenance Does a Knife Sharpening System Require?
It requires continuous upkeep, because loading, which is the transfer of the knife’s steel to stone, can reduce the effectiveness of stones. Thus, it is important to find a system that fits the amount of time and effort you are willing to invest in its maintenance.
For instance, stones need to be cleaned, soaked, and flattened periodically, while the maintenance of electric machines can be more elaborate. After every use, electric machines must be unscrewed, its sharpening wheel removed, shaken upside down, and brushed thoroughly for debris. Understanding the energy you will put into a sharpening system’s maintenance will help you find a system that fits your lifestyle.
There is a myriad of other types of knife sharpeners and this article only covers a few of the most common ones. The sharpening system for you isn’t necessarily the one that provides the sharpest blade – after all, many of these sharpeners can all produce top-quality edges. Instead, in the end, the best knife sharpening system is the one that suits you and your needs the best, whether it be in price, portability, convenience, or efficiency. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some insight into picking a knife sharpener to keep your blades sharp and strong. Good luck!