The best kitchen knives are only as good as how well they are sharpened. No matter how much you spend on a knife there will come a time when it is no longer cutting at it’s best, making it not only harder to use, but also more dangerous as you are forced to put more force into each cut.
A good knife sharpener can bring your knives back to the time when they would glide through an onion before your tears had enough time to even start to well up. So read on and find out which steels, whetstones and sharpening gadgets made it onto our list of the best of the best.
What type of sharpener is for you?
The first thing you need to decide is what kind of sharpener do you want to use. The most traditional type is the sharpening steel, a textured metal rod with a handle at the end like a knife. Steels are used by running the edge of the knife along the steel and is the method you will often see portrayed in kitchens with the chefs wildly flailing their arms about – we strongly recommend you do not do this, believe us, we have the scars to prove it is not a good idea.
Steels are a good way of sharpening knives but it is work intensive and it can often be difficult to tell you are doing it properly.
Whetstones require a bit more time and work, but instead of holding the knife and steel in either hand you have the stone in front of you (after soaking it in water) and you rub the edge along the course side of the stone at an angle of around 20 degrees, followed by the smooth side of the stone. We find that this is a slightly easier way of definitely getting a good edge on a blade – and possibility the best way of getting the sharpest edge – but it does take a bit longer than using steel.
The other way of sharpening your knives is using either an electric or manual dedicated knife sharpener. These tend to have grooves you insert the knife into so you don’t have to worry about the angles or if you are doing it right. These are the fool-proof method of getting your knives in working order, and in the case of electric knife sharpeners are a quick and easy way of getting them back to their best.
Best knife sharpeners
Wusthoff Extra Fine Diamond Sharpening Steel – The best sharpening steel
If you want a professional grade sharpening steel, this Wusthof is a fantastic option. The wide steel and extra fine finish allow you to get a consistent edge with greater polish, making it easy to restore a dull blade to full sharpness.
It feels exceptionally solid in the hand and is well balanced to give you extra control when you are using it. If we had one quibble, it is that the finger guard isn’t very large, so you will have to be very careful when using it, but you should always take care when sharpening knives regardless.
It’s not cheap at around £35-50, but it is very fine quality.
If you’re looking for a cheaper steel option, we would recommend giving the Acero sharpening steel a look.
BearMoo 2-in-1 Whetstone – The best whetstone
If a whetstone is your sharpening method of choice we’re not sure why anyone would bother looking beyond this fantastic offering from BearMoo. The colour coded sides make it easy to know exactly what coarseness level you are using, plus it comes with a non-slip rubber stone holder to help keep it in place while you sharpen.
Available in 400/1000 grit for regular sharpening or 240/800 for working with really blunt or damaged knives, there’s an option for you whether you are a fastidious sharpener or you have left it so long it feels like there’s no hope of getting that edge back.
All this and the stone is available for considerably less than £20, bargain.
SunrisePro Professional Knife Sharpener – The best manual knife sharpener
You’ve considered the steel, you’ve pondered a whetstone, but what you really want is something you can just run the knife through and know you are getting the edge you are looking for. This sharpener from SunrisePro is the answer to your prayers, with two slots for coarse and fine grinding, all you need to do is run the knife through and it takes care of the angles for you.
A non-slip silicone base and handle mean it is easy to hold steady while you do the sharpening, and all this for less than £15. What’s not to like?
VonShef Electric Two Stage Knife Sharpener – The best budget electric knife sharpener
It’s not easy to find a decent electric knife sharpener for around the £20 mark but this one from VonShef takes even more effort out of using a manual sharpener. It includes two grinding wheels so you can grind and hone the knife, as well as four slots, allowing you to sharpen each side of your blade separately.
It can be a little loud in use but it does its job well and for the price is an excellent buy.
Chef’s Choice 1520 Diamond Hone Angle Select Electric Knife Sharpener – The best professional electric knife sharpener
If you want the best of the best you don’t need to look any further, it’s not cheap but this electric sharpener can add an edge to any blade and quickly. It works with serrated blades and is suitable for use with European, American and Asian knives.
It uses a 3 stage sharpening system and diamond abrasives for getting the finest edge, plus you can also choose between a 15 or 20 degree angle so you can get the right edge for each knife.
It’s a powerful machine making sharpening super quick and efficient. If you’ve invested a lot in your knives it’s worth investing well in this sharpener.