Knife sharpeners review and compare

We test knife sharpeners for safety and performance.
 
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  • Updated:6 May 2009
 

01 .Introduction

Knife sharpener

Test results for 16 knife sharpeners priced from $4 to $199

Keeping your knives sharp not only makes your job as master chef in the kitchen easier and quicker, but much safer too. If your knife is blunt, there’s a danger it could slip from the food you’re cutting and slice through your fingers.

Refining the already-sharp edge of your knife on a honing steel is a handy interim measure but eventually, depending on how often you use your knives, honing will no longer be enough to keep the blade sharp as the edge degrades with use. One of the safest ways to test whether your knife is sharp enough is to cut through a soft tomato. If it’s sharp, it will slice through easily. If it requires pressure to cut, then it’s time to run your knife through a sharpener. Eventually your knives may need professional sharpening though, which can be done at most good cookware shops.

To determine which knife sharpeners currently on the market are the best at sharpening and the safest to operate, we put three electric and 13 manual models to the test and found some to be safer than others.

Please note: this information was current as of May 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market.


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These independent ratings are only available through membership with CHOICE Online because no one test products like we do. Arm yourself with our unique and exclusive information and make your next purchase with confidence.

Brands tested

  • Accusharp Knife and Tool Sharpener
  • Anolon Universal Sharpener
  • Breville BKS600 Ikon
  • Chef's Choice 2 stage Sharpener 450
  • Cuisinart KS-80A
  • Furi Ozitech Diamond Fingers Knife Sharpening System FUR626
  • Kuhn Rikon Kyocera Knife Sharpener KR-2941
  • Minosharp Water Sharpener 220/GB
  • Russell Hobbs RHKS1000
  • Saphire Knife and Tool Sharpener
  • Scanpan Sharpener Classic 3 Step Knife Sharpener
  • Smart Chef Knife Sharpener with Grind Stone
  • Victorinox Knife Sharpener 7.8715
  • Wiltshire WILT595064 Knife sharpener
  • Wusthof Knife Sharpener 4344
  • Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twinsharp 32590-200 Blue
 
 

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The following models scored the best results in our test.

What to buy
Brand Price
Cuisinart KS-80A $199
Anolon Universal Sharpener $80
Breville BKS600 Ikon $115
Chef’s Choice 2 stage Sharpener 450 $60
Furi Ozitech Diamond Fingers Knife Sharpening System FUR626 $50
Minosharp Water Sharpener 220/GB $60
Kuhn Rikon Kyocera Knife Sharpener KR-2941* $32

*The first Kuhn Rikon model we tried didn’t sharpen to an acceptable level. Our tester discovered the stone wheels had separated, so we retested a second model that gave a much better resul

Results table

Full results for all models are shown in the table below.

Brand / model (in rank order) Overall score (%) Performance (%) Ease of use (%) Sharpening stages Sharpening material Serrated knife use Left- / right-hand use Manual / electric Price $
Cuisinart KS-80A
www.cuisinart.com.au
91 90 91 3 Stone Y Either E 199
Anolon Universal Sharpener
www.anolon.com.au
86 90 82 3 Stone N R M 80
Breville BKS600 Ikon
www.breville.com.au
86 90 82 1 Ceramic N R E 115
Chef's Choice 2 stage Sharpener 450
www.oppenheimer.com.au
86 90 82 2 Diamond N Either M 60
Furi Ozitech Diamond Fingers Knife Sharpening System FUR626 www.furitechnics.com.au 85 90 80 1 Diamond N Either M 50
Minosharp Water Sharpener 220/GB
02 9482 6666
85 90 80 2 Stone N Either M 60
Kuhn Rikon Kyocera Knife Sharpener KR-2941
www.kuhnrikon.com
84 90 77 1 Stone N Either M 32
Scanpan Sharpener Classic 3 Step Knife Sharpener
www.scanpan.com.au
80 80 80 3 Tungsten carbide, diamond and ceramic N Either M 60
Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twinsharp 32590-200 Blue
www2.dksh.com
79 90 68 2 Tungsted carbide and Ceramic N R M 43
Victorinox Knife Sharpener 7.8715
www.oppenheimer.com.au
73 80 66 1 Tungsten carbide N Either M 36
Wiltshire WILT595064 Knife sharpener
www.mcpher.com.au
71 90 52 1 Tungsten carbide N Either M 30
Accusharp Knife and Tool Sharpener
www.pacificrimdistributors.com.au
68 80 55 1 Tungsten carbide Y Either M 39
Smart Chef Knife Sharpener with Grind Stone
www.smartchef.com.au
68 80 55 1 Stone N Either M 4
Russell Hobbs RHKS1000
www.salton.com.au
67 60 73 1 Stone Y (+scissor) Either E 40
Saphire Knife and Tool Sharpener
www.kingofknives.com
62 60 64 1 Tungsten carbide N Either M 35
Wusthof Knife Sharpener 4344 (ceramic)
www.wusthof.com.au
57 40 73 1 Ceramic N Either M 80

 

Using the table

Scores The overall score is made up of:

  • Performance: 50%
  • Ease of use: 50%

Features See What to Look For.

Price Recommended retail, as of April 2009.

How we test

Out tester uses a new Victorinox Fibrox 20cm chef knife for each sharpener. Each knife is tested for sharpness on arrival from the manufacturer and is then put through a blunting process. Our tester sharpens each knife according to manufacturers’ instructions, however if the desired sharpness is not achieved, it’s continued until the edge is found to be sharp.

Performance After sharpening, each blade is assessed by slicing an A4 sheet of paper from the edge (the knife should slice through without tearing), and cutting the skin of a tomato (it should slide through cleanly and smoothly mostly under the weight of the knife).

Ease of use This is a combination of ease of sharpening the knife, ease of reading and following the instructions, and how safe the sharpener is to use.

Profiles - what to buy

Cuisinart KS-80A

Price $199Cuisinart KS-80A

Good points

  • Safe to use
  • Easy to sharpen and handle.
  • Secure.
  • Either hand use.
  • Excellent performance score; achieves a smooth edge.
  • Easy to maintain.
  • Claims to sharpen serrated knives.

Bad points

  • Requires electrical connection.

Anolon Universal Sharpener

Price $80Anolon Universal Sharpener

Good points

  • Easy to sharpen and handle.
  • Secure.
  • Excellent performance score; achieves a smooth edge.
  • Easy to maintain.

Bad points

  • May damage the bench if knife slides out of sharpening slot.
  • Right-hand use only.

Breville BKS600 Ikon

Price $115Breville BKS600 Ikon

Good points

  • Easy to sharpen with.
  • Excellent performance score; achieves a smooth edge.

Bad points

  • Requires electrical connection, not very portable.
  • May damage the bench if the knife slides out of sharpening slot.
  • The switch requires some effort to push.
  • Right-hand use only.
  • Screwdriver required to clean the wheel housing.

Chef’s Choice 2 stage Sharpener 450

Price $60Chef’s Choice 2 stage Sharpener 450

Good points

  • Easy to sharpen and handle.
  • Secure.
  • Can be used with either hand.
  • Excellent performance score; achieves a smooth edge.
  • Easy to maintain.

Bad points

  • May damage bench if the knife slides out of sharpening slot.

Furi Ozitech Diamond Fingers Knife Sharpening System FUR626

Price $50Furi Ozitech Diamond Fingers Knife Sharpening System FUR626

Good points

  • Easy to carry.
  • Safe to use.
  • Easy to sharpen and handle.
  • Secure.
  • Either hand use.
  • Excellent performance score; achieves a smooth edge.
  • Easy to maintain.

Bad points

  • Nothing to mention.

Minosharp Water Sharpener 220/GB

Price $60Minosharp Water Sharpener 220/GB

Good points

  • Easy to sharpen and handle.
  • Secure.
  • Either hand use.
  • Excellent performance score; achieves a smooth edge.
  • Easy to maintain.

Bad points

  • May damage bench if the knife slides out of sharpening slot.

Kuhn Rikon Kyocera Knife Sharpener KR-2941

Price $32Kuhn Rikon Kyocera Knife Sharpener KR-2941

Good points

  • Easy to carry.
  • Easy to sharpen and handle.
  • Second model tested had an excellent performance score.
  • Secure.
  • Either hand use.
  • Easy to maintain.

Bad points

  • Our first sample achieved a very poor sharpening score, so we retested a second model.
  • May damage bench if the knife slides out of sharpening slot.

Profiles - the rest

The remaining models - not included in the What to buy list - are profiled below in rank order.

Scanpan Sharpener Classic 3 Step Knife Sharpener

Price $60Scanpan Sharpener Classic 3 Step Knife Sharpener

Good points

  • Easy to sharpen with.
  • Secure.
  • Either hand use.
  • Very good performance score; achieves a smooth edge.
  • Easy to maintain

Bad points

  • May damage bench if the knife slides out of sharpening slot.

Zwilling JA Henckels Twinsharp 32590-200 Blue

Price $43Zwilling JA Henckels Twinsharp 32590-200 Blue

Good points

  • Easy to sharpen with.
  • Either hand use.
  • Excellent performance score; achieves a smooth edge.
  • Easy to maintain.

Bad points

  • May damage bench if knife slides out of sharpening slot.

Victorinox Knife Sharpener 7.8715

Price $36Victorinox Knife Sharpener 7.8715

Good points

  • Easy to carry.
  • Easy to sharpen with.
  • Moulded grip handle.
  • Either hand use.
  • Very good performance score.
  • Quick to use.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Blades exchangeable.

Bad points

  • Extra attention for safety - knuckles move over the edge of knife.
  • Achieves a slightly serrated edge.

Wiltshire WILT595064 Knife sharpener

Price $30Wiltshire WILT595064 Knife sharpener

Good points

  • Easy to sharpen with.
  • Either hand use.
  • Excellent performance score.
  • Quick to use.
  • Easy to maintain.

Bad points

  • Achieves a slightly serrated edge.
  • May damage bench if knife slides out of sharpening slot.
  • Slippery base.
  • Handle is not moulded.

Accusharp Knife and Tool Sharpener

Price $39Accusharp Knife and Tool Sharpener

Good points

  • Easy to carry.
  • Easy to sharpen with.
  • Either hand use.
  • Very good performance score.
  • Quick to use.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Blades exchangeable.
  • Claims to sharpen serrated knives.

Bad points

  • Extra attention for safety, knuckles move over the edge of knife and guard is removable.
  • Achieves a slightly serrated edge.
  • Grip is smallish for large handed person.

Smart Chef Knife Sharpener with Grind Stone

Price $4Smart Chef Knife Sharpener with Grind Stone

Good points

  • Easy to sharpen with.
  • Either hand use.
  • Very good performance score; achieves a smooth edge.
  • Easy to maintain.

Bad points

  • May damage bench if the knife slides out of sharpening slot.
  • Slippery base.
  • Handle is not moulded.

Russell Hobbs RHKS1000

Price $40Russell Hobbs RHKS1000

Good points

  • Safe to use.
  • Easy to sharpen with.
  • Handling secure.
  • Either hand use.
  • Easy to maintain.
  • Claims to sharpen a serrated knife, scissor and screwdriver.

Bad points

  • Requires electrical connection.
  • Does not sharpen well.

Saphire Knife and Tool Sharpener

Price $35Saphire Knife and Tool Sharpener

Good points

  • Easy to carry.
  • Easy to sharpen with.
  • Either hand use.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Blades exchangeable.

Bad points

  • Extra attention for safety, knuckles move over the edge of knife and the guard is removable.
  • Grip is small for large handed person.
  • Requires more effort for sharpening.

Wusthof Knife Sharpener 4344

Price $80Wusthof Knife Sharpener 4344

Good points

  • Secure.
  • Either hands use.
  • Easy to clean.

Bad points

  • May damage bench if knife slides out of sharpening slot.
  • Sharpening takes a long time as it tends to make a hollow shaped edge.
  • Sharpness not achieved in allocated time.

What to look for

  • Multistage The best edge is achieved with a multistage sharpener, with at least two types of sharpening material – one for coarse grinding and one for fine honing. See the table for multistage models.
  • Multipurpose Some knife sharpeners can sharpen other tools as well. The Russell Hobbs model claims to sharpen scissors and screwdrivers – although we didn’t find it particularly good at sharpening our test knife. The Russell Hobbs, Accusharp and Cuisinart also claim to sharpen serrated-edge knives.
  • Sharpening materials Sharpeners using stone, ceramic and diamond materials achieve a fine, honed edge, whereas sharpeners using tungsten carbide tear material along the edge of the knife, leaving microscopic serrations. This serration cuts well initially, but the knife blade may wear out quicker.
  • Left/right hand use Most models allow both left- and right-hand use, although the Breville and Zwilling J.A. Henckels are right-hand use only.

Safety

A knife sharpener with one-handed operation is safest, according to our CHOICE tester, as it can’t potentially slip and injure the operator. He also discovered safety concerns with some of the models on test.

  • Take special care using the Accusharp and Saphire, as the only thing protecting your fingers from the knife blade is a removable finger guard. While the Victorinox also has a finger guard, it’s wider and can’t be removed, making it safer.
  • The Smart Chef and Wiltshire, which you’re meant to hold on the bench while you sharpen, don’t have anti-slip material on the base. This may be dangerous and they could slide around during operation.
  • Any model that sits on the benchtop requires extra attention to ensure the knife doesn’t slip out of the sharpening slot, cutting into the bench surface – place the sharpener on a chopping board to protect your benchtop.

Keep your knives sharp

  1. Regularly hone your knives to keep their cutting edge fine. Make sure to clean the blade afterwards to remove any filings.
  2. To avoid blunting or nicking the blade, use a soft chopping board, such as wood or plastic.
  3. Store your knives in a knife block, or if you keep them in a drawer, use a guard to protect the blade being knocked and chipped.
  4. Don’t leave food to dry on the knife blade – acidic foods such as lemon and tomato sauce can permanently stain it.
  5. Many manufacturers claim their products are dishwasher-safe, but if you want to be on the safe side, hand wash and dry immediately to avoid water spots appearing.