Comparing a $9 knife sharpener with a $900 version

Originally published at:

Now you’ve gone and done it.


“I’m going to test knife sharpeners!”

Spends 3/4 of video reading sharpener instructions.


No kidding; I’d managed to push the jonesing for a Lansky sharpener into the back, unexamined part of my mind. Then @frauenfelder goes and runs one of these articles again!


I’ll stick with taking my knives to the pro sharpener at the kitchen shop where I got them. $5 a knife a year is a pretty good value for not having to worry about all this. I do have the fiskars unit for my Mac santoku knife but I use it more as a honing tool than for sharpening. I’ve got a honing rod for the rest of the knives but the fiskars is supposed to be the right angle for my santoku.

The thing I think of when asking if a knife is sharp is can it cut through tomato skin with no pressure. If it can then it’s sharp.


A large factor is the time you will regularly invest in sharpening. After an initial sharpening, the Fiskars and Chef’s Choice can touch up a blade quickly whenever you need it.

1 Like

If I have a quick sharpening to do on a mostly good blade, I use an 3 micron diamond faced steel whetstone. A little water and a few strokes gives a surgical sharp edge.



I’ve had an Apex unit for about 15 years and it does work pretty well. It’s easy and reliable. Obviously, the Apex, Lansky, and Spyderco systems are just fancy jigs to help you hold the blade at the right angle for stone sharpening, so used right they should produce a good edge. I worked for a while in a cooking school where they had the Chef’s Choice in the student kitchens. It’s pretty much the only electric sharpener that’s any good.

I prefer using a whetstone, but not because I think other systems are inferior. I just enjoy the process of bringing a knife edge to a wicked sharpness by hand. It’s a very soothing experience once you develop a proper technique.


As a knifemaker, I just hand-sharpen, but I’ve been doing it for literally decades and have the stones and such to pull it off. Current standard is to start, for a really dull or damaged knife, with coarse to fine diamond, then switch to japanese waterstones to finish, ending with black shiage-to, though over the years I’ve collected dozens of other stones. New blades go from the belt grinder (2" x 72" .5 micron) to the waterstones. If I’m doing a whole lot of blades at one time, I’ll set up the Makita donut power waterstone hone, but honestly its not worth the effort unless I’m doing a dozen or more at once.
At a symposium on knifemaking, one maker who had access to an electron microscope showed how he got hair-popping sharp edges on his razors and what the resulting edges looked like: put one piece of vinyl electric tape on the spine of the razor and put on the primary bevel, then add a second piece for the secondary bevel. The edges, even at absurd magnification, were clearly sharp down to almost molecular thicknesses.



I’m also a big fan of the 2x72 to japanese stones approach, but know a lot of knife guys that are oilstone fans from the “I hate maintaining stones” approach.

I’m really not a fan of the two carbide chunk approach as you end up with an irregular raggy edge that feels like you’ve got a giant burr on it.

Knives are like any good tool. Learn the techniques to maintain them, and you’ll get good service. Don’t maintain, or maintain improperly, and you can reduce the best tool to a steaming pile of…


I’ve been pretty happy with DuoSharp bench stones. I should probably to fine sharpening more often; when I’m on top of it it’s pretty easy.

1 Like

They didn’t try one of these bad boys? A Tormek with both a slow wet grinding wheel and built in leather strop wheel and a continuous duty cycle motor.

I mean, maybe not the best knife sharpener since it is built to use a single grit wheel, but with all the available jigs it’s a pretty cool tool sharpening rig.

This video is the sort of TV only an insomniac could appreciate.

I bet that’s just because you are not aware of this simple trick that helps you sharpen any knife in 60 seconds: :grinning:

You mean like this guy?:


Oh sweet baby jesus, you’re trying to make me sad aren’t you?

Actually, I wouldn’t have a problem with the cup one if the guy could hold a steady angle. It’s probably a pretty fine grit. The nuts in a drill one is well… nuts.

I will cite this video in my arguments why some people should not be allowed anything sharper than an egg.


You can get wheels for the tormek that are high grit synthetic waterstones. Just imagine a bank of these with a few ascending grit options… But they’re pricey.

1 Like

Seriously, though - a thread on knife sharpening, more than one day in, and only 18 posts?
What is going on here?