04.What to look for
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.
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
- Regularly hone your knives to keep their cutting edge fine. Make sure to clean the blade afterwards to remove any filings.
- To avoid blunting or nicking the blade, use a soft chopping board, such as wood or plastic.
- 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.
- Don’t leave food to dry on the knife blade – acidic foods such as lemon and tomato sauce can permanently stain it.
- 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.