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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

Best Knife Sharpener



Looking for a sharpener at a GREAT VALUE? Let’s look at the very best economic knife sharpener…

If you’re wondering about what sharpener to get at a bargain price, you’re in the right place. I didn’t need one for a while but here’s what happened…

Some years ago, when my wife and I were moving into our first apartment a friend of ours gave us a very nice Henkel knife set at Amazon.

It had a paring knife, a chef’s knife, a serrated bread knife, and some great kitchen scissors all in a very nice hardwood knife block.

Everything you need, except, of course, a knife sharpener.

See the Presto 08810 Professional Electric Knife Sharpener at Amazon.

Eventually, as it does with all knives, our knives started getting dull.

We started looking at some top reviewed knife sharpeners and were floored by how much they cost.

We loved our knife set so we didn’t want to damage them by using an inferior knife sharpener.

But we also didn’t want to buy a knife sharpener for almost as much as it would cost to buy a new knife set!

This was a gift after all.

Fortunately, we discovered that it is entirely possible to get a high-quality sharpener without paying an arm and a leg.

Today, we’ll take a look at how to find an excellent knife sharpener for a reasonable price. (If you can spend a little more, here are sharpeners for the money…)

Selecting the best knife sharpener

When you’re shopping for any knife sharpener, it’s important to understand the basics of how sharpeners work. When you drag your knife through the sharpener, the abrasive surfaces remove a small amount of metal to restore your knife’s edge.

Manual or Electric

Lansky Sharpening Tool 3 Stone Natural Arkansas LKNAT

See the Lansky Natural Arkansas Manual Sharpening System at Amazon

All knife sharpeners fall into two basic categories:

  • Manual – Less expensive, but takes a lot more time.
  • Electric – More expensive, but is really fast.

In manual units, the user, meaning you, drags the knife across the abrasives for several passes until it is sharp enough for the next stage. In electric units, the abrasives spin so that the blade can be sharpened more quickly, sometimes in a single pass. If you’re on a budget, however, manual sharpeners are the way to go.

They are generally less expensive than their electric counterparts and perform every bit as well, albeit with a little more effort on the user’s part. Electric models will sharpen a really dull knife in just about 2 minutes, and if you only need a small touch up, then it only takes about 30 seconds. See the top 5 electric sharpeners.

See the Chef’s Choice 250 Diamond Hone Hybrid Knife Sharpener at Amazon.

Additionally, it’s important to consider your sharpener’s ease of use. A knife sharpener that’s difficult or uncomfortable to use will typically end up tucked away in a cabinet or drawer somewhere and, you guessed it, never being used.

With the amount of ergonomically correct models available on the market, there’s no need to settle for an uncomfortable knife sharpener, even if you have a small budget. Make sure your unit has rubber feet or a non-slip pad to keep it firmly planted on your countertop. Look for models with a comfortable handle so you can hold it in place confidently while sharpening your blades.

Types of Abrasives

Common abrasive materials used include

  • diamond
  • tungsten carbide
  • ceramic
  • steel

A quality knife sharpener will have two or three stages, progressing from coarse to fine abrasives.

What about single stages models?

Steer clear of any sharpeners that claim to provide a high-quality edge with just one stage of sharpening. While these sharpeners are inexpensive, they only use a medium grit abrasive and consistently provide unsatisfactory results. You do not have to compromise on your abrasives to stay within your budget.

In addition to changing the type of abrasive used, the angle in each sharpening stage changes as well. This gives your blade a beveled edge, ensuring that it will stay sharp even after repeated use. This is another reason that it is crucial to have multiple sharpening stages.

What is the Best Knife Sharpener under $50

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I sharpen with these? Kitchen knives? Scissors? Hunting knives? American and Japanese blades?

None of these can be used for scissors, let’s get that out of the way. The angle will be wrong, and the blades will not slide against one another, making them useless.

As for kitchen knives, of course, these can be used for them. That’s kind of the point of all of these sharpeners. They can all be used on standard 20-degree knives. It gets a little tricky with specialty knives or Japanese blades, which are sharpened at a 17-degree angle.

The Gatco has an angle clamp and is adjustable so you can use it on most blades. The electric sharpeners, for the most part, are only made to sharpen blades at a 20-degree angle. The Eversharp is adjustable and can be used on Japanese style blades.

Hunting knives and machetes or other particular blades need specialty sharpening and you may be better off with an old-fashioned stone sharpener for these tools.

How do I clean my sharpener?

Each of these has a different cleaning method.

For the electric sharpeners, there is usually a plug somewhere on the bottom which can be removed and the metal shavings can be emptied. Make sure to do this over a paper towel or directly over the trash can to avoid making a bigger mess than necessary. This should only be required about once a year under normal, household kitchen usage.

According to reviews, the Gatco is a bit difficult to keep clean. The metal shavings can build up on the stones and the oil can create a mess if you aren’t careful. So take care of this product.

Do I need oil or any sort of lubricant?

The only product on this list that requires oil is the Gatco.

The electric sharpeners don’t require any lubricant, though some reviewers have stated that they put a bit of oil on the blade before sharpening it anyway.

Make sure to read the manual so you know whether or not oil will damage the sharpener of your choice. Aside from that, it’s a personal preference and up to you!

What voltage does my sharpener require?

This is a common concern when buying a new electric appliance online. Since different countries have different specifications it can be difficult to know whether or not an appliance designed by an American company can be used in European kitchens or the other way around.

Thankfully the Gatco isn’t electric, so if this is a huge concern, the Gatco may be right for you!

The Prestos are built to North American Standards and require 120 volts, the same is true for the Shenzen and the Chef’s choice. They all only need 120 volts, so make sure to check what your outlets put out before plugging them in.

How difficult is it to use?

From the reviews, these are all fairly easy to use, as long as you read the manual first. This seems to be an issue for some.

For the electric sharpeners, you simply insert the blade in the sharpener and pull it out towards you. Do not put any extra weight on the blade as you pull, simply let the weight of the blade do the work for you.

The Gatco has instructions to get the right angle for your blade, again, just read the manual and it will be simple. The clamp goes on the blade, select the stone with the grit you want, and sharpen.


To sum it up, you can get a great knife sharpener for less than the cost of a fancy dinner. The main thing to consider at this price point is the critical components such as its:

  • abrasives
  • multi-stage sharpening
  • features such as rubber feet (for the electric models or the base of manual models)
  • a comfortable handle and other ergonomics

Your goal should be to have a functional manual sharpener made of high-quality parts.

If your knife sharpener will have a permanent home on your countertop, however, you should consider how it looks and size fit in with the rest of your kitchen. While some more expensive models may look like a work of art, there are knife sharpeners at this price point that are also very aesthetically pleasing. If the unit will be stowed away when it’s not in use, consider its size and how much space you have to store it.

Also, see this article on honing steels to learn how to keep your knife in good shape between sharpening sessions.

Remember, with just a little bit of research, you can have a high-quality knife sharpener for a bargain that will restore a razor sharp edge to your blades and last you many years.

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Bryce Heitman

Bryce is not a real professor, but he's real nerdy in the kitchen. He's been barbecuing, chopping, and generally blazing food for many decades. He thinks there's definitely a better spatula or utensil out there that hasn't been invented yet.

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