I've tried a lot of different kitchen knife sharpeners, and this cheap one is my favorite

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/10/31/ive-tried-a-lot-of-different.html

I also use this sharpener, and it’s pretty great

There’s no need to sharpen that frequently.
You should be using a honing steel.


Agree. I was going to upload a picture of a steel but then I didn’t. You have to be careful with the angles a bit or you get no results. But I keep my knives super sharp without wearing them down.

Don’t use this carbide thing, but do use a ceramic steel (it’s not steel, but does perform as one, as well as honing the blade. Get 2000 grit), and a (I prefer horse) leather strop. Both are easy to use and will keep an edge much sharper and more useful than these carbide gadgets which tend to ruin knifes as the carbide loads and breaks down.


If you check over at Cool Tools, the comments are quite dismissive of this kind of sharpener (various similar types have had entries over there).

They say these remove too much from the blade each sharpening, and some will point out their expensive and intricate sharpening kits, gettingbtge angle at the precisely correct angle.

That said, this isn’t quite new. We had something as a kid where you draw the knife over tye sharpener, though I’m not sure what it was made of. At least thirty years ago I had a pair of Fiskar scissors with a ceramic sharpener in the plastic sheath. And there are lots similar to this that have a ceramic and other slot (for rough and fine sharpening). I got mine about ten years ago, a plastic case and no famous brand name.

So tge same function can be had multiple ways, with likely lower price.

I use it mostly for my chisels and woodturning tools, but it’ll do knives as well.


That’s more extensive than I was thinking. More a gizmo to hold the knife at the correct angle and then whatever to do the sharpening, I think with multiple iterations. But some of your stuff is good for other purposes besides sharpening knives. I vascillate over buying a bench grinder each time they are on sale. I did see one cheap at a garage sale some years back, but I was going elsewhere and didn’t want to carry the weight.

If you think steels aren’t actually sharpening your knife, run a damp paper towel over the steel.

Steels shouldn’t technically be sharpening shit.
(I’m talking traditional butcher steels, not those ridged monstrosities that are fairly common now)
A proper butcher steel (smooth) helps maintain sharpness by realigning the micro-teeth present on even a sharpened edge (google that, the SEM pictures are really cool).

But in all seriousness, as someone who makes custom knives (and spwnt my childhood weekends in a family butcher shop), if you like to cook, or have good knives, please please learn how to sharpen your knives with stones and a hone. I don’t care if you like Japanese water stones (my preference), oil stones (not bad either), or even diamond “stones”. Learn to hold a proper angle and sharpen properly.

If you’re not willing to do that, but still want high quality tools, find someone to sharpen them professionally for you. Otherwise, you’re just abusing a good tool (and if it’s custom, making a maker very sad).

These carbide sharpeners do take off a shit load of edge, also leaving it rough and ugly. Yeah, it’s “sharp” but nothing like a properly sharpened blade. I’ll grant that the ceramic V sharpener probably isn’t that bad, but you can still screw up the edge if you’re not drawing it evenly through the V.

(blade snob rant mode off…)


Or get a gadget to hold either the stone or the blade at the proper angle. I enjoy hand sharpening on my water stones, but get a better edge with fixed-angle jigs. Heck, put the blade on a block of wood, and with a bit of trig you can get a perfect angle with the stone upside down:

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It’s inevitable that since a steel’s purpose is to bend the microscopic “teeth” back into place, that a few of them will break off. But this is certainly not “sharpening” in the widely accepted sense. Especially compared to a whetstone’s single purpose of reshaping the edge by removing some of the knife material.

Pure-quill truth, every word

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Lansky makes a sharpening jig exactly for that.

But IMHO, if you’re willing to invest in good tools, you should really practice the skills to get the most out of them. Otherwise, why get good tools? Edge maintenance is absolutely essential to knife use. Ask any pro chef, or butcher, or hunter, or wood carver, or…

There are many guided systems out there, not only the Lansky but also Edgepro and variants, and Chinese and Russian clones. However, even if you don’t have such a system you can get guided angles as pictured.

You can be a good cook or woodworker, and want good blades without having the ability or desire to become as good at sharpening them as the quality of the blades allows. The guided systems and non-system kludges are there to help such a person get a better edge than they can get freehand. For sure they are more respectful of the quality of the tools than some of the edge manglers that are sold as sharpeners.

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What a lot of people don’t get is that a steel can keep your knife honed but it CANNOT sharpen it. A major distinction. Still, if you use the steel properly, you can keep your knife sharp. You’re still going to need somtething with which to sharpen the knife at some point.

ETA: I really should have read all the replies first…

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Yes, but I’m going to argue that you should at least know the difference between a crap edge and not, and the tools and skills you need to have to obtain the same. I know some pretty amazing woodworkers that only use guided sharpeners (Tormek’s and the like), and have no criticisms. They know their limits (either in skill or interest), and have shopped out some of the work/talent to a machine or jig.

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Sharpening I can do, but I’m crap at getting rid of burrs… :-/

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