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The Best Tools For Knife Sharpening

by Liam Williams
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A sharp knife is essential in the kitchen. It’s much more dangerous working with a dull knife firstly because you could slip, and second because it can leave a much nastier injury. There are a lot of sharpeners to choose from both in style and brand so it’s important to know which ones you’re comfortable with and ones you’d be open to learning to use. These are the best tools for knife sharpening from the fancy and expensive, to the simple and easy to use.

Electric Sharpeners

Electric sharpeners are pricier but for what they swallow in price they make up for in convenience. That being said, unless you have experience using one it’ll take at least a little practice as they have a tendency to strip off more steel than they’re supposed to. Once you do know how to use them, it’s hard to get a similar edge using a handheld tool. It’s an eye-opening experience to sharpen with a truly sharp blade for the first time. 

The Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener is built like a tank and it will virtually last forever as long as you take care of it.

If the Work sharp looks too industrial for your tastes then the Chef’s Choice 320 two-stage sharpener might be the one for you! It fits into any kitchen finish and in fact, it’s very popular in a lot of commercial kitchens!

Whetstones

Whetstones take some practice but they’re fun to use for anyone who likes to maintain their tools. They come in all shapes and grains and can be mined from the earth (most commonly used in Japan) or artificially made carborundum (a semiconductor containing silicon and carbon) or corundum (a crystalline form of aluminum oxide).

When choosing a whetstone the grit is the most important factor. 1000-3000 grit stones are used to sharpen dull knives, 4000-8000 grit stones are used to hone edges. You’ll hardly ever find yourself using a grit under 1000 because they’re typically used to sand out chipped edges. 

The Sharp Pebble Premium Whitstone 2-side has 1000/6000 grits so that you can both sharpen and hone your knives using only one stone! And as an added bonus, the kit comes with a non-slip bamboo base and angle guide!

The Shan Zu is also an excellent set to consider with 1000/5000 grit sizes. You’d be hard pressed to spot the difference between 5000 and 6000 grit for home so both of these would work well for your home kitchen.

Angle Guides

Angle guides are crutches for people new to using a whetstone. A lot of chefs don’t like them, but they’re incredibly useful if you’re totally new to using sharpening stones. The universal angle for sharpening any type of knife is usually around 15-20°.

The Sharpal 196N Angle Guide has 4 commonly used angles that can help you maintain the proper angle when sharpening on a whetstone! The bad news? They’re kind of easy to misplace so make sure to be careful with them after usage. The good news? It’s very cheap and each pack comes with two pieces!

For larger angle guides, the Mercer Culinary angle guide is not only our choice, but it’s also the choice of many of the chefs that I’ve worked with!

Sink Bridge

A sink bridge is a base for your whetstone that clamps to the edges of your sink for easy access to water. They’re usually made from wood or stainless steel 

This sink bridge is made from stainless steel and it has non-slip rubber boots that allow for easy and stable sharpening even on wet and slippery surfaces!

For a more traditional look, this wooden sink bridge from Zwilling J.A. Henckels is perfect for any kitchen design.

Pull Through Sharpeners

Pull Through sharpeners are the easiest to use and store and one of the cheapest you can buy. They generally come in three different shapes, one you hold against a countertop, one you hold with one hand with a finger guard, and little small ones you can keep in your pocket. 

While my favorite sharpener to use happens to be one of the most expensive, they’re by far the easiest to use.

The Brod & Taylor Professional Knife Sharpener can keep your blades as sharp as possible and they’re absolutely a joy to use! Not only that, but they exude that stylish “I know what I’m doing in the kitchen” look!

For those on a budget or just want to keep their blades in a manageable condition, the Norpro Aladin Knife sharpener is around ten bucks, for that price, you really can’t beat it!

Honing Steels

Honing steels are used to hone your blade. Using one before and after you cook will keep a sharp edge on your blade much longer. You’ll still need to sharpen your knives properly every few weeks depending on how much you use them, but honing them every time keeps a very clean edge for efficient cutting. 

The Bubba 10 inch honing steel is a good choice for those who cut a lot of meat and keeping the edge honed is a priority.

For lighter or home use, the Shun Classic Honing steel is more than sufficient for the job. In fact, I know a couple of professional chefs that considers their knife bags incomplete without one!

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