Three Things to Consider Before Buying a Knife Sharpener

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Knives are essential cooking tools that make slicing and dicing possible, but those blades just won’t cut it without regular maintenance. A good sharpener can get them working effectively again when the blade starts to go dull, but what exactly should you look for when you’re choosing one? After you’ve decided on what type you want to buy —commercial kitchens have different knife-sharpening needs than residential ones—you should focus on the grit (if you choose a whetstone) and the time it takes to work its sharpening magic.

Traditional Set-Up

Takes between 10-60 seconds to achieve a fresh razor edge. Chef’sChoice

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Whetstones use water or oil to activate the sharpening surface, and they sharpen a knife’s existing edge rather than carving out a new one. Manual and electric sharpeners do the latter via a V-shaped notch, but manual is far more portable and less expensive than mechanical. For both types, the angle is usually pre-set, so there’s no need to fret about holding the knife correctly. Sharpening steels aren’t technically knife sharpeners but rather long rods made of ceramic, steel and diamond that professional chefs use to hone their knives. Passing one on either side will straighten the blade without taking away any of the metal. They’re particularly helpful in keeping knives in cutting shape between sharpenings.

For Any Blade

No honing oils are needed, and it can be cleaned with just water. KITCHELLENCE

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Knife sharpeners come with different levels of grit, which is determined by the amount of metal that’s taken off during the sharpening process. A coarse grit (less than 1,000) should be used for knives that are damaged with nicks and chips. A medium grit (1,000 to 3,000) works for dull knives that are undamaged. A fine grit (4,000 to 8,000) is close to a honing steel and can refine a knife’s edge.

Fast and Precise

It’s a tiny 3.75 by 2.04 by 1.63 inches, so it takes up very little space, and it has an “edge grip” that allows you to rest it on the edge of a counter or table when using it. KitchenIQ

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A whetstone may require you to spend anywhere from five minutes to a half hour sharpening a knife, depending on how dull it is, while a manual or electric sharpener will require only a few passes. Knives should be sharpened every three to four months—don’t wait until they’re dull, since sharp is safer to use. To keep them in excellent cutting order, give knives a round of honing after every few times you use them.