There is no tool more versatile than the trusty knife. The best knives are sturdy, reliable, and, of course, extremely sharp. It takes time to get familiar with your knife — to get to know its weight, balance, and handling. Without a precisely sharpened edge, your trusty knife is little more than a blunt force tool, which is why everyone needs a high-quality knife sharpener. Instead of getting a new blade every time your edge grows dull, investing just a few minutes in sharpening and upkeep can restore your knife to its former glory. After all, even Rambo couldn’t draw first blood without an acute edge.
Sharpening tech has come a long way, and nowadays you can get your blade back to where it should be quicker than ever before. To help you cut through the noise, we’ve broken down everything you need to know about the best knife sharpeners on the market, so grab your gear and let’s get to it.
If you have a lot of knives in your home, the PriorityChef Knife Sharpener is a good tool to have around. It has a clever design that uses three tiers of sharpening to restore even the most worn down knives. Built to work with all types of carbon and stainless steel blades, this professional-grade sharpener is distinctly powerful. Coming with a cut-resistant glove, you hold the sharpener down with your protected hand, and by running the knife’s blade through the different sharpening parts, you can return the edge to complete sharpness. The first step is the tungsten sharpener which uses grit to grind away any flawed parts. Next, the diamond rods straighten it out and make the blade smooth. Finally, you run the knife through the ceramic buffer to give it a polished sheen. Ideal for large, straight-edge blades, this knife sharpener is an excellent household tool.
Few things are worse than being in a survival situation and learning that your knife simply can’t cut it. Instead of running that risk, it helps to bring along a compact restoration tool like the Smith’s CCKS Step Knife Sharpener. This pocket-sized device is made out of sturdy polymer with ceramic and carbide sharpening rods. It features a rubber base for stability so you can hold it in position while you pull your knife through. Designed to work with folding and tactical knives, this lightweight sharpener does its best work on smaller blades. The carbide rods are set in a crisscrossed design, speeding up the sharpening process. In conjunction with the ceramic component, you can quickly return your compact blade to its smooth and polished glory. Small enough to fit in your tackle box, this sharpener is an excellent companion for the dedicated outdoorsman.
For those who spend a lot of time working with food, the Kitchellence Knife Sharpener is a must-have addition to your kitchen. Not only is it durable and compact, but the sharpener also works quickly and requires minimal elbow grease. It incorporates an ergonomic handle and firm base, letting you control its position on any flat surface. Thanks to the clever design, it enables you to use either your right or left hand to sharpen the blades. In conjunction with the included safety glove, the three slots are able to precisely restore all types of steel and carbide blades. It uses both fine and coarse grit inside the slots to grind away at any flaws on the blade. The first slot features diamond grit to tear through damage while the second slot smooths it back down. Requiring nothing more than smooth, fluid motions, you simply pull the knife through a few times and it’s back to its original sharpness — or close to it.
Prefer to stick with the classics when it comes to managing your gear? If that’s the case, consider the Allwin Houseware Professional Knife Sharpener for its traditional design and high utility. A key benefit of this type of sharpener is that it works with blades of all types and sizes. It features a polymer handle and carbon-heavy steel rod that has multiple ridges along the sides. The foot-long rod is plated with chrome to add durability. To use this sharpener, simply hold onto the plastic base — a task made easier by the ergonomic design — and run it along the side of your blade to restore its sharpness. Depending on how dull your knives are, you can pull it along the rod quickly or slowly, repeating as needed. Even when used over long periods of time, the rod retains its value, making it a favorite long-term solution for any knife enthusiast.
Your knives aren’t the only tools with a sharp edge that gets dull over time. So, if you want to sharpen all your assorted gear, the AccuSharp Knife & Tool Sharpener is the way to go. You can go full Rambo and sharpen your machete or stick to the classics and restore a whittling knife. The handheld sharpener features a small opening at the front. You place this on the edge of your metal tools and run it along the blade. Because the opening is small, you can use the sharpener on oddly shaped blades like carpet tools or even on serrated edges. Plus, since it is made mainly out of polymer, it won’t rust or degrade with time. It’s easy to maintain and uses trusted sharpener materials like diamond and tungsten grit to give you lasting, precise effects.
Why should you trust us
I have three years as a product reviewer under my belt, covering topics that range from mechanical equipment to tactical gear to financial services. I use my experience with e-commerce and my science education to analyze the benefits of a variety of products. My work is featured on Narcity Media, The Drive, and Car Bibles, and some of my recent pieces for Task & Purpose include reviews of machetes and folding knives, two supplies that definitely require sharpening.
Different types of knife sharpeners
This type of knife sharpener includes a handle and, usually, a main polymer structure. This sharpener is generally meant to go on a flat surface and for you to pull the knife through. Other models are built for you to move the sharpener across the blade so you can pull a serrated edge or a weapon through them. Typically, there will be more than one opening, each with a different grit material. The most common grit types are tungsten, diamond, and ceramic. When used in order, they work together to give you a smooth, sharp blade.
The original type of knife sharpener is the stone sharpener, a design that remains relevant to this day. Per the namesake, it consists of a stone, generally made out of aluminum oxide or silicon carbide. You can also find stones made out of novaculite. Either the stone will be small, meant for you to slide across the blade, or large and meant for the blade to move across its surface. The rock grinds away at the edge of the blade until it smooths out and returns to sharpness. While handheld sharpeners don’t require good technique, stone sharpeners do.
Another popular type of sharpener features a prominent steel rod along which you move the blade of the knife. While they add sharpness to the edge, they are best when used in conjunction with another tool since sharpening steel is only suitable for small tasks. The large rod features protruding edges made out of hard metal. Diamond grit is the most powerful option if you plan to use this as a primary sharpener. Conversely, you can find ceramic coating or a blend of the two if you are looking for a smooth and polished result.
Key features to look for in knife sharpeners
Most modern knife sharpeners are meant to rest on a flat surface so that you can pull the knife back and forth. For both safety and sharpening efficiency, the base needs to be stable. Many models feature a broad base that is wide enough to rest easily. Other models with smaller bases typically incorporate either rubber or silicone to prevent the sharpener from moving while you work.
Particularly for handheld sharpeners, the quality of the handle goes a long way. Designed for ergonomic comfort and slip-resistance, this is the part of the sharpener that you hold onto. It’s especially important if you have to move the sharpener itself along the side of the blade. High-quality options will have a rust-resistant, durable handle that is easy to hold onto and grip during longer sharpening projects.
This is the most essential part of any knife sharpener since it is the part that actually grinds away at the blade. Depending on the type of sharpener, it will use different materials as grit. The key is finding something harder on the Mohs hardness scale than the blade. Diamond grit (ringing in at the top of the hardness scale) is popular, along with tungsten. Many multi-stage sharpeners also feature a ceramic grit to add polish to the knife.
Advantages of owning a knife sharpener
- Keeps your blades sharp. The tactical advantage of a survival knife is its versatility and efficiency. Without a sharp blade, the latter benefit disappears. Especially if you’re using a knife as a weapon, you need to keep it sharp so it can slice through whatever you need it to.
- Work over long periods. A knife sharpener is meant to last for a long time. Even when used regularly over a long period, your knife sharpener shouldn’t break. Especially when you opt for a quality option (like the ones on this list), you can get years of utility out of it.
- Added safety value. Whether you’re in the kitchen or out hunting, if a knife blade can’t cut what you need it to, then it usually risks slipping. Instead of cutting yourself with a dull blade, a sharp knife is easier to control, mitigating the risk of injury.
- Familiarizes you with the knife. One of the best ways to get to know your blade is to learn how to sharpen the knife. It can help teach you the balance and weight of the tool so that it is easier to use in the future.
- Saves money. If you can’t restore the sharp edge of your blade, then you will likely need to replace it altogether. Since, generally speaking, a knife is more expensive than a sharpener, it is far less expensive to get a sharpener and keep the knife.
Knife sharpener pricing
- Under $20: Compact and portable sharpeners fall in this price range, along with more basic handheld models. You can find a good quality model in this category, though it may not have the best lasting power.
- Over $20: Most sharpening stones fall in this price range, largely due to their ability to last over the long term. You can also find multi-stage handheld options in this category. Usually, the higher price means a more efficient and durable option.
How we chose our top picks
After consulting a range of reliable online sources, we found specific information relating to the different knife sharpener types. Using this information, we analyzed the merit of the design of each selection, using criteria like safety, efficiency, ergonomic support, and durability. Based on the industry-standard Mohs Hardness Scale, we sought out sharpeners that use a grit that is harder than the material usually found in knives. From there, we aimed to provide a solid cross-section of the available sharpeners. By showcasing high-quality sharpeners for everything from kitchen knives to folding knives, we are confident that any knife enthusiast can find what they need on this list.
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