There are many methods to sharpen your knives. For example, you can use a sharppening stone, or a sharpening rod, sharpening system or an electrical sharpening machine. You can also ask someone else to do the job. The best sharpening method for you, depends on the kind of knives you want to sharpen, the type of steel of the blade, your experience with sharpening and your own preferences.
Note that, unlike steel honing rods, ceramic hones need occasional cleaning, as particles of knife metal build up on their surface (they form a gray layer). Idahone sells a “Superaser,” but on knife forums, many owners of ceramic hones recommend generic melamine foam sponges as a more economical alternative (the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is the famous name-brand version). Messermeister, the maker of one of the other ceramic hones in our test, recommends a mild abrasive cleanser, like Bon Ami or Bar Keepers Friend, advice that is also echoed by many knife enthusiasts.
If you’re a serious home chef, we recommend the Chef’sChoice Trizor XV Sharpener. (And we’re not alone: It’s the top pick for Cook’s Illustrated as well.) This model is much more expensive than our top pick, but it produces a professional-quality, polished and honed edge, as opposed to the ProntoPro 4643’s “toothy” edge. “Polished and honed” means it’s inherently sharp: The Trizor XV brings the metal of the blade to an infinitesimally fine point rather than to the relatively coarse edge that our main pick produces. That means you can chop straight down through, say, onions and carrots rather than stroking through them as with a saw. And that makes for faster, more efficient knife work—as long as you possess the knife skills to take advantage. But the Trizor XV is a bit bulky (about the size of a loaf of homemade bread) and heavy, so you’ll need to find space for it under your countertop.
There will be a drawer that extends into the mechanism under the abrasives. Any detritus from the sharpening process drops into this drawer. Exactly where the drawer is located will differ from sharpener to sharpener but it shouldn’t be hard to find. Remove the drawer flick any material into the wastebasket and then wipe out the drawer with a damp cloth or tissue. You may want to use work gloves and goggles to protect your hands and eyes from any loose metal shavings. Once the drawer is clean and dry replace it. The exact means by which the sharpening mechanism itself is cleaned will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Consult your owners guide for specific details. Make sure you don’t introduce any grease or other lubricants into the sharpener unless specifically directed to do so by the owner’s manual. Also, the outside of the sharpener should come perfectly clean with just a damp cloth. Avoid using commercial cleaners or abrasives of any kind.
The Chef’sChoice ProntoPro 4643 is our overall pick among knife sharpeners. A manual model, it was the easiest of all our test models to use—almost intuitive, in fact: You insert the blade in one of the slots and run it back and forth, from heel to tip, until the tool grinds a new edge. The sharpening elements are wheels impregnated with diamond abrasive—a material that Cook’s Illustrated found to be superior (subscription required) to ceramics in both sharpening speed and lack of friction. In our test, about 30 strokes on the coarse wheels under light pressure cut a brand-new edge. Another 20 strokes on the fine, polishing wheels gave the edge a reasonably smooth finish.
Most people don't think about sharpening knives until this vital kitchen tool is no longer sharp. The truth is that nothing impacts the longevity of your knives, or their daily performance, more than regular sharpening and maintenance. A dull knife in the kitchen is more dangerous than a sharp one when employees must force their way through cutting meat and slicing vegetables. As a result, daily sharpening and maintenance is easy, and most importantly, necessary. We're here to show you how to use a sharpening stone, including correct techniques and maintenance. The end result is a more efficient, and safer, set of knives!
The Presto EverSharp 08800 electric knife sharpener gets great reviews. In our test, though, its flimsy motor instantly bogged down when our knife contacted its sharpening wheels—and even light pressure threatened to stop the the sharpening wheels entirely. The high, wide guide frames meant it couldn’t sharpen the last ¾ inch of a blade, an unacceptable shortcoming. We’ll take our experience over the reviews.
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