Knives are arguably a chef’s most important tool. Professionals proudly carry them in cases and always sharpen them before use. This is why it’s strange that home cooks often take such poor care of their knives, putting them through dishwashers, storing them unsheathed, and never sharpening their edges.
The truth is that chopping with a dull knife is not only difficult and unsatisfying—it’s also unsafe. A dull knife is far more likely to slip off that red onion and cut you than a well-maintained blade. Not to mention the fact that good knives are expensive and deserve the right care. Below, some great options for keeping your blades sharp.
Good for the occasional cook. Amazon
This no-frills knife sharpener is compact and grips surfaces for safety. It has two stages—a set of carbide blades labeled “coarse” to fix dullness, and small ceramic rods labeled “fine” for final touch-ups. It is designed to give you full control of knives as you sharpen them, preventing knives from damaging the countertop you’re using the sharpener on. This is an effective, low-investment option.
On point blades. Amazon
This sharpener is perfect for a serious cook, but also super easy to use. It is electric, so it stops automatically once your knife is sharp enough. It has three stages—the first two using tiny diamond abrasives to sharpen. The third stage is a polishing touch-up stage. This machine is great for any kind of knife, including serrated knives. It takes about one minute to sharpen a knife that hasn’t been sharpened and 10 seconds for touch-ups. Blades are sharpened to a 15- or 20-degree edge.
Middle of the road option. Amazon
Similar to the Chef’sChoice electric option, this one has three stages for sharpening. They all use diamond abrasives, with the final stage designed for finishing touches. Your knives will sharpen to between 15 and 20-degree edges. This is more compact and portable than the electric option, and the grip is comfortable so it doesn’t take too much physical effort to get results.
Gentler on your blades. Amazon
If you want to get serious about sharpening, this whetstone sharpener comes with a manual and eBook to guide you through sharpening methods for different kinds of blades. The sharpener is a double-sided stone that sits in a slip-free bamboo base. One side of the stone is blue and 1,000-grit for sharpening a blade, and the flip side is white and 6,000-grit for honing the blade. Whetstone sharpeners are known for elongating the lives of knives, because they provide a gentler water-based sharpening method. They take a bit more technique to use, but if you’re intense about your kitchen tools, whetstone is a great way to go.
Pro chefs use honing rods before use. Amazon
Steel rod sharpeners are less for turning a dull knife sharp and more for honing an already sharp blade. If you keep your knives in good shape but you want to get that extra precision directly before use, a honing rod is a helpful tool. You can give your knife several light strokes against the rod and start chopping. Again, this method requires technique, as too much pressure or the wrong angle can damage your knife rather than improve it. The Henckels is a great stainless steel, 12-inch honing rod.