Knives are probably the most important utensils in the kitchen, especially if you are a keen cook. You’ll likely have a range of knives which are all perfect for different jobs. And you’d probably be bereft if one was to suddenly stop working as well because it became blunt.
Rather than throwing it away and spending ages trying to find one which is just as good, a knife sharpener could inject some life back into the item. For them to work well, they need to be sharp, and a sharp knife will also improve safety.
The majority are manual, but there are a couple of electric options out there for anyone who needs the work to be done for them. There are different kinds, and the best for each blade type differs too, so read our buying guide before jumping in and purchasing.
It can be a daunting task, but one that must be done. All of those we have reviewed below are simple and user-friendly, and you should be able to find the perfect model for both you and your knives.
The Best Knife Sharpeners – Our Top Picks
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Best Pull-Through Knife Sharpeners
AnySharp Knife Sharpener
AnySharp has boldly said this is ‘The World’s Best Knife Sharpener’ on the side of the body of these sharpeners, and on first thought, this seems a bit overly-confident. Upon reviewing it, we can see it is a justified statement.
Using diamond precision, it will sharpen all of your hardened steel blades and will even top-up large-tooth serrated models such as bread knives. All you need to do is put the knife into the sharpening jaw, press down lightly and then pull it towards you. After a few rounds of this, your knife should be back to its best.
It can be used with just one hand, as the PowerGrip suction fixes securely to the kitchen bench or any other flat surface. The ideal degree to sharpen a knife is at 20 degrees, and the AnySharp is pre-set at this angle.
Despite the pictures, which makes it look like a huge machine, this is actually a tiny device which is suitable for popping away in your drawer between uses. It is purely manual, so there is no need to operate it near a plug socket.
- Material: Diamond Dimensions: 6.2 x 6.2 x 6.68 cm
- Manual Compact to store
- Compact to store
- Remains firmly on surface for better control
- Takes a bit of time to get the pressure right - press too hard and too much steel comes away
It takes quite a lot of metal off the blades, but is so easy to use, small to store and quick at the job
Robert Welch Signature
If you would rather have a sharpener which you can hold with one hand and sharpen with the other, to give yourself peace of mind, then this Signature is a solid choice.
Just a few strokes through the mechanism will do the job, and if this is done little but often, your knife will never get to the point of no return in terms of bluntness. It is definitely one of the easiest to use, which is great if you will be buying your first ever sharpener and need something you can swiftly get to grips with.
This model can’t be used with serrated blades, so it is just for the solid steel cooking knives. The manufacturers recommend that the ceramic wheel is replaced around every 18 months, and these are incredibly good value, so it won’t cost a lot of money to keep it in the best possible condition either.
Price-wise, it is very reasonable indeed. Robert Welch is a huge name in the cutlery, kitchenware and tableware world, so it is a trusted brand, and the longevity aspect means it will save you a lot of money on new knives over the years.
- Material: Ceramic
- Dimensions: 6.5 x 3 x 18cm
- Ceramic wheel can be replaced - increases life of product
- Comfortable to hold
- Works quickly
- Wheel has to be replaced - you could see this as a negative
Performs the job very well, and is great value for money as seeing it will last for a long, long time
Joseph Joseph Rota Sharpener
Another brand which is big in the kitchen world, mostly for its innovative space-saving designs.
This sharpener is no different, as it folds down into a tiny device which doesn’t just fit in the palm of your hands but also in the tightest of spaces in your drawer. Because of this, the sharpening wheels are covered when not in use, so there is no risk of them getting clogged up with dust, dirt and grease from your cooking.
When folded out, you get an ergonomic sturdy handle to hold when you’re sharpening away. Non-slip feet on the base will keep the unit steady when you are using it too, so you don’t have to strain to keep it perfectly still.
There are two different sharpening wheels, one coarse and one fine, so no matter how blunt your knife has got, you’ll be able to inject a bit of life back into it.
You may think that all of the efforts have been put into the design, but we can safely say it does its primary job too. The knives come out perfectly sharp, and it can be used as much as needed without much of a negative effect on the ceramic wheels.
- Material: Ceramic
- Dimensions: 10.16 x 32.51 x 10.16 cm
- Folds up neatly
- Safe to use
- Good price (Joseph Joseph is often at the higher end)
- Not suitable for serrated or ceramic knives
A very competitive price for an item which is so thoughtfully designed but still one of the best knife sharpeners out there
Chantry Knife Sharpener
Not only is this sharpener strong on the inside at the sharpening wheels, but the overall exterior build also shines through.
The steel housing will remain scratch and dent-proof, even when your kitchen is a bit busy and haphazard. It is very solid, and weighty too so remains well in place when in use. This makes it ideal for one-handed use.
It can sharpen the knives on both sides, and can also sharpen both straight and serrated knives which is great if you have the full range. Many others can’t deal with the latter as it wears away the teeth, so this one is one of a kind.
The size isn’t too large, but it isn’t really one to be stored away in between uses so is definitely for someone who cooks very often and has the space to leave it out, or a small commercial environment.
It is a good price for such a substantial bit of kitchen kit, and while there are a few which are cheaper, we think this one will last long enough for you to get your money worth at the very least.
- Material: Steel
- Dimensions: 16 x 14 x 5 cm
- Can sharpen serrated knives
- Trusted brand with global reputation
- Very sturdy
- Not as storage-friendly as other models
Worth paying that little bit more for a really strong and weighty sharpener if you are a serious chef
Global Knife Sharpener
A Shinkansen model of sharpener, for Japanese- and Asian-style blades primarily.
There are two grades, coarse and medium, so you can get the knives back up to the perfect level of sharpness no matter how blunt they have become. These wheels are replaceable, so if they start to perform underwhelmingly at their job, you can switch them for a new pair without replacing the entire unit.
It is a model made by Global, who make their own dedicated range of speciality kitchen knives. It is clear that this is a sharpener which does what it should because Global know what their knives need.
All you do is fill the reservoir base with cold water to keep the blades cool, run the blade through the coarse (white) wheel a few times then again through the pink, medium grade wheel. The narrow gaps help to keep the knife well-aligned, so sharpened at the perfect angle.
The wheels can be replaced if you ever need them, which will keep the item working at its best and save you from having to buy an entirely new model. It is available in black or red as an extra touch.
- Material: Ceramic
- Dimensions: 24.5 x 9 x 6.5 cm
- Comfortable to hold
- Replaceable wheels
- Easy to set up
- At the pricier end
The best water wheel sharpener we found, and perfect if your speciality knives are looking a bit dull and neglected
VonShef Electric Two Stage Knife Sharpener
There aren’t many electric models around, as the majority of sharpeners are manual, but if you’d prefer an electric model which does the movement for you, this is one of the best options.
It isn’t just a knife sharpener either. There is also a screwdriver sharpening port and scissor groove, so if you’re a bit if a DIY-er or your scissors are in the same state as your knives, you can tackle the lot.
The two-stage sharpening system not only does the main job but also defines them to finish it off and perfect the sharpness. You can sharpen both your kitchen knives and those which are a bit tougher, such as bread models (although it won’t tackle serrated knives).
Despite coming packed with the features, it is still relatively compact and easy to store away, whether it will be kept in the kitchen or utility room/shed. You can use Alloy, Carbon and Stainless Steel knives with it, and there are two wheels for both fine and coarse.
The fact that it can tackle so much definitely makes it worth the price, even if you doubt you’ll use the scissor or screwdriver ports – at least they will be there if you ever do.
- Material: Steel
- Dimensions: 17.2 x 17 x 12.8 cm
- Great value
- Surprisingly compact
- Very loud in use
A great 3-in-1, and definitely one of the best electric knife sharpeners out there
Best Sharpening Stones
PaiTree Sharpening Stone
Featuring two grit levels on separate stones, 1000 and 6000, this is a block which can sharpen blunt edges and then polish them up to eliminate burrs and achieve a high-quality finish.
As with most sharpening whetstones, it can cope with a range of different models of knife. From your ordinary kitchen knives, kitchen scissors, pocket knives and larger Asian-inspired knives to garden shears, razors and ceramic knives, the large base gives you plenty of room whether they are big or small.
Just soak for a few minutes, and swap one stone for the other depending on the job, and the silicone base will help to keep them both secure and in one place so you can focus entirely on the job rather than keeping them still.
It is a fabulous price for a stone of this build, especially as it gives you two choices which are at the broad opposite ends of the spectrum. You can really notice a difference in how sharp your knives get using an item like this compared to the pull-through blocks and can get even the bluntest knives back up to scratch.
- Grit Level: 6000, 1000
- Dimensions: 18 x 6 x 3 cm
- Good stone choices included
- Remains stable on flat surface
- A very time-consuming process
Definitely durable and high-performing. Whether it will last for ages is another thing, but for the price, it is well worth even just a couple of uses
BearMoo Sharpening Stone
If you need some low-grit stones for larger knives which don’t need quite as much of a heavy-handed sharpen, these are the ones.
It sharpens slightly slower than higher, coarser grits, but doesn’t leave as much of a refined edge. If you keep your knives in a relatively pristine condition, or maybe have just bought a new set and want to buy the sharpener for when the time comes, these are going to be enough to keep on top of it.
They can be more faff than the other types of sharpener. You have to soak this one for around 15 minutes before use, really narrow down your expert technique, and then leave it to dry preferably overnight to ensure it is good to be stored away.
But the results they give out are top-notch, and the fact they can be used with all forms of knife (pretty much) means they will certainly be well-used.
- Grit Level: 400, 1000
- Dimensions: 18 x 6 x 3 cm
- Works surprisingly well for low-level grit
Good for the low-level and precious sharpening, where anything too sharp would be damaging
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Knife Sharpener Buying Guide
Types Of Knife Sharpener
- Pull-Through – A bit like a block, these are the most commonly-found types, and generally suitable for most kitchen knives. But if yours is delicate or brittle, using a pull-through sharpener could cause it to break or chip. They are usually two V-shaped rotating steels, and you pull the knife towards yourself from heel to tip. A notable difference can be seen after a few goes
- Whetstone – Also known as a waterstone (surprise – they work when wet). It is essentially a block of stone, measured in grit counts to define the coarseness. The higher this count, the sharper it can get the blades. Many now come with several stones which are interchangeable, and there are loads of guides on how best to use them
- Shinkansen – Like a mix between the two above. They look like a pull-through but use water. You get two ceramic wheels which are placed at the right angle for sharpening finer knives, taking the guesswork out of using a waterstone. You have to fill a small reservoir with water which stops it overheating, but it doesn’t give quite as good results as a whetstone. They’re made especially for Japanese blades, as they are quite narrow
- Sharpening Steel – When you bring your knife back up from cutting on a board, it is usually done at an angle unintentionally. The steel straightens it back out as well as removing metal to sharpen
- Honing Steel – These look the same as a sharpening steel, but only straighten the blade as opposed to sharpening them. If you’re buying a steel, ensure it can sharpen if you want it to do both jobs with one tool. Likewise, you may want one of these to give your knives a finishing touch, or if you’re a professional chef you may use one of these every day and a dedicated sharpener every month
The Best Knife Sharpener For You
As much as we would say that you should go for the model which looks the most comfortable to use in your mind, it is not as simple as that.
The best knife sharpener for you depends on the knife you are using:
- Waterstones – The recommended options for Japanese- and Western-style blades (or any knife with very brittle blades), with which pull-through models aren’t suitable. But they can generally work with all types of knife
- Steels – Designed really to sharpen longer and larger knives as well as straightening them out
- Pull-Through – Not to be used on brittle knives as they can make them prone to chipping, these are the best for solidly-built knives
Another pointer mentioned, and some of the better knife sharpeners will be automatically set at a certain angle to make it easier for you. This is usually 22-degrees, but some Sushi chefs will prefer 15-degree angles as it is a bit more precise, and they are often thinner.
The wheel is the sharpening tool found in pull-through models. Other forms use standard sharpening surfaces a bit like sandpaper. Many of the wheels are replaceable and available to buy relatively inexpensively when the time comes.
If it isn’t replaceable, it should last for a fair few years if you use it every couple of months. Steels and blocks have large surfaces, and you should use the entire length/area of the sharpener to help it maintain a regular sharpness. Some models have been around for years, so if yours does need replacing, but you want to stick to the exact same version, you should be able to repurchase.
Why Are Most Knife Sharpeners Manual?
It gives you the best control over the knife sharpening, basically. There is a fine line between getting the perfect sharpness and then cutting it so much that the blade starts to chip or become uneven. An electric model could simply be too powerful for most models, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing and may get carried away.
Likewise, however, a manual sharpener in the hands of someone who hasn’t looked into how to properly use it could also be ineffective or used incorrectly.
Why Do Knives Need Sharpening?
A sharp knife will work much more effectively than a blunt one. If you’re cutting through meat or even just vegetables such as carrots, swede or parsnips, the job will be done much easier if you have the right tools for the task.
You also need to be safe when using knives, and a blunt blade could be dangerous as it is more likely to slide off food. You’d also probably be putting more elbow grease into the cutting method, which could cause accidents.
How Often Will I Have To Sharpen My Knives?
Once every two or three months will suffice, depending on the frequency of use. Oversharpening could cause the blade to become brittle or chip and would, therefore, reduce the lifespan of said knife.
How Can I Tell If My Knives Need Sharpening?
You’re going to need a knife sharpener one day, but to know whether it is a matter of urgency or you can wait for a few months, there are some tests:
- Grab a firm tomato and slice it. If it is effortless, you’re good for now
- A sharp knife should be able to cut a piece of paper in half if you hold it up vertically. If the paper crumbles or it doesn’t make an impact, it needs sharpening
- General day-to-day cutting should be easy, too. If it isn’t as quick cutting meat or veg as it once was, you can inject some life back into it