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Different Types of Knife Sharpeners: Which is Right for You?

13th February 2024

So, we start considering the knife in the equation. It’s an extension of your arm in the kitchen, your cutting, slicing, and dicing partner, but over time and sometimes quickly, your steel will inevitably start to dull, and that’s where issues begin.  Enter knife sharpeners.

Dull Blades 

A blunt knife becomes a source of frustration, slowing down prep, compromising results, and posing safety risks. Knife sharpening tools become an essential ritual, but navigating the labyrinth of sharpeners requires a little study and know-how before you press the ‘BUY’ button. 

However, we are here to take you through the basics. Whether sporting a meat knife, cutting knives or going upmarket with Victorinox or Giesser knives, sharpening is a must! 

This mini-guide will ensure you know what knife sharpeners do, plus a few other tips and some advice from the inside of the industry about knife sharpening tools so you choose the right sharpening tool and start to hone your blades and unlock their true potential. 

So let’s get going.

Unveiling Knife Sharpening Tools Full Arsenal

  • Electric Knife Sharpeners: Imagine mechanised titans wielding spinning discs or belts to grind away metal and restore sharpness. Effortless convenience is their mantra, offering multi-stage systems for shaping, refining, and honing the edge. Ideal for most knives (except serrated or ultra-thin ones), they require minimal skill but caution to avoid over-sharpening.
  • Handheld Knife Sharpeners: Compact and agile, these warriors fit snugly in your hand, demanding you to guide the blade along their slots or rods. Easy to use and budget-friendly, they typically offer one or two stages for sharpening and honing. Suitable for most knives except severely dull or damaged ones, mastering the correct angle and pressure unlocks their potential.
  • Sharpening Stones: The ancient masters, whetstones are slabs of natural or synthetic abrasives that patiently grind and refine your blade. Versatility and timelessness are their hallmarks, tackling any knife of any size or shape. Offered in various grit levels (coarse to fine), they allow precise control over edge shaping and finishing. But beware, mastering their use requires dedicated practice and technique, including maintaining proper angles and water/oil lubrication.
  • Sharpening Steels: The quick-draw artists, these smooth or ridged rods don’t remove metal but realign and straighten the existing edge. Think of them as maintainers, not sharpeners. Perfect for regular touch-ups on most knives (except dull, damaged, or serrated ones), they require just a few strokes at the correct angle. Simple and fast, they’re an excellent complement to other sharpening methods.
  • Sharpening Systems: The ultimate battle stations, these advanced setups cater to the meticulous chefs seeking professional-grade edges. Manual or electric, they come in various complexities and price points. Offering precise angle guides, multiple sharpening stages, and specialised stropping devices, they require investment and practice but deliver unparalleled results.

Choosing Your Partner: Matching Needs with Sharpeners

Remember, the perfect sharpener is a personal choice, dependent on your:

  • Knife Type and Condition: Match the sharpener to your blade’s material, size, and level of dullness. Coarse sharpeners tackle major issues, while fine ones maintain sharp edges. When you buy from top manufacturers, they have online guides for you to observe to understand exactly what your blade is best at. 
  • Skills and Experience: Beginners might prefer electric or handheld sharpeners for their ease of use, while experienced cooks might enjoy the control of stones or systems. Many top professionals are of the mindset that they should do it by hand and, therefore, practice for years to perfect the quick handheld sharpening of dull steel. 
  • Budget and Time Commitment: Electric and handheld options are budget-friendly and quick, while stones and systems require investment and practice. As described above, if you are doing it by hand, you need practice, but the more you know your blade, the easier it will be. 

Knife Sharpeners: Beyond the Tool

  • Sharpen Regularly: Don’t wait for your knife to be a blunt force trauma hazard. Sharpen before it gets too dull, and touch up frequently with steel. Dull blades affect cuts; even for a humble home cook wanting to progress, that’s a no-no. 
  • Technique Matters: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your chosen sharpener and practice proper angles and pressure. Also, if you are really unsure of the best way to sharpen, as a plan B, go to the knife manufacturer’s website or YouTube channel. 
  • Clean and Care: Clean your sharpener after each use and maintain it according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. If you neglect to take care of quality steel in your hand, then shame on you. It takes years to manufacture the right knife and handle and the right knife sharpeners to complement it. 

Unlocking Culinary Potential

With the right knowledge and tools, transforming a dull blade into a culinary scalpel becomes an empowering skill. Choose your sharpener wisely, embrace the sharpening ritual, and unlock the true potential of your knives. Remember, a sharp knife is a safe and happy knife, ready to turn your kitchen into a symphony of delicious creations.


Those were common tips to ensure your knife sharpening tools are on point so your steel is always sharp and ready for use. All knife sharpeners have positives and negatives, depending on what you want and how much money you have. Whether for the everyday meat knife or cutting knives, you should pick a knife sharpener that fits your knife type and condition and provides the most value and performance. If you buy the best, like Victorinox or Giesser knives, you want to make sure you are not going to B or C grade with the sharpener, so choose wisely. Good Luck.