About Knife Sharpeners
Best Knife Sharpeners
BEST KNIFE SHARPENERS
Updated by Blade HQ Staff Writer Logan Rainey and Andrew Hamilton on 1/23/2020
What good is carrying around a dull knife? Learning how to keep your gear in tip-top shape will give you a greater appreciation of your edged tools and cutting and slicing will be effortless! If you’ve invested in an expensive EDC knife, it’s important to have a great knife sharpener to maintain that steel. Read through this guide as we’ve got sharpeners in all price ranges to get your knife back to its best laser status.
1. Spyderco Sharpmaker
The Spyderco Sharpmaker is: affordable, portable, and easy to use.
The Sharpmaker shines for its ease of use combined with high quality results. The Sharpmaker is capable of reprofiling a knife, but where it really stands out is in doing quick weekly touch ups on your EDC knife. This sharpener fits easily in any bag or drawer. Pull it out, set up the stones, and make a few passes on each stone. Your knife will be back to shaving sharp in no time. Many in the knife industry consider the Sharpmaker to be the best knife sharpener available for the price.
How to Use: Not sure how to use your Spyderco Sharpmaker? Good news is that it comes with an informational DVD. But here are the basics… Open up the plastic case. Insert the brass safety rods into the two small holes near the center of the rig. This will protect your stabilizing hand as you’re sharpening. Insert your stones into the plastic base—there are slots for a 30° or 40° edge. Start with the edge of the brown stone. Then rotate the stone to the flat section. Next you can move on to the white finishing stones and do the same thing. Hold your knife perpendicular to the table and make passes from the back of the blade to the tip. Go back and forth between the two stones equally to ensure an even bevel. There are also other rods available for the Sharpmaker. Check out our awesome Sharpmaker Review for more information on this great sharpener.
Click here to see our video of the Sharpmaker in action.
2. Darex Work Sharp Field Sharpener
The Darex Work Sharp Field Sharpener is: affordable, portable, and innovative.
If you’re a hiker, camper, or hunter, there may be no better field sharpener than the Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener. With built in angle guides, coarse and fine sharpening stones, coarse and fine ceramic rods, and a leather strop, you can get any edged tool back in tip-top shape. From knives to your favorite axe, scissors, fishhooks, and more, the Work Sharp Field Sharpener does it all and is the best knife sharpener to throw in a camping pack.
How to Use: The Darex Work Sharp Field Sharpener is a great tool for field sharpening. Start with the coarse stones, move to the fine ceramic rods, and finish your edge with the leather strop. It’s important to consider what edge angle you’re trying to achieve. The Field Sharpener gives you an angle reference to increase consistency. A system like this teaches you a lot about how sharpening works!
Click here to see a video of the Work Sharp Field Sharpener in action.
3. Darex Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition
The Darex Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition is: fast, flexible, and easy to use.
For the guy that’s short on time but wants professional results, look to the Ken Onion Edition Work Sharp. Easily change the grit of your belts to refine your edge, and set an angle anywhere from 15-30 degrees per side. A variable speed motor ensures you never remove too much steel at once. With the Ken Onion Work Sharp, you could sharpen all the knives at Blade HQ in a single afternoon!
How to Use: The Ken Onion Edition Work Sharp sharpening system is impressively easy to use. Set your edge angle, install the appropriate grit belt, and let ‘er rip! When learning, start with a slow speed and fine grit to make sure you remove material as desired. This sharpener has a Grinding Attachment available separately that will allow you to customize your sharpening angles.
Click here to see a video of the Ken Onion Sharpener in action.
4. Edge Pro Apex 4
The Edge Pro Apex 4 is: professional, flexible, and modular.
My personal favorite sharpening system is the Edge Pro Apex. With an infinitely adjustable angle arm, edge profile is completely up to you. The stones that come with the Edge Pro are of an extremely high quality, and aftermarket stones from Chosera can be purchased to round out your kit. The Edge Pro Apex makes those Instagram-worthy mirrored edges simple. If you’re interested in pursuing sharpening professionally, there’s no better brand than Edge Pro.
How to Use: The Edge Pro Apex is a system that can take a little bit of study to get dialed. I recommend picking up their bench mount to stabilize the sharpening system fully. Adjust the angle arm to the desired edge angle. Progress through the stones until you’re satisfied with the edge. You’ll start to see a mirrored edge around 400-600 grit, and it really shines with the use of edge tapes or a leather strop.
5. KME Precision Sharpener
The KME Precision Sharpener is: high-quality, portable, and upgradable.
One alternative to the Edge Pro is the KME Precision Sharpener. A more compact system, mount your blade in the clamp and sharpen away with the ergonomic wood pistol grip. A wood base can be purchased to securely mount your sharpener to a work bench.
How to Use: The primary difference between the KME Sharpening System and the Edge Pro Apex is that the KME holds your blade between a clamp. Clamp based systems have an easier learning curve but are less effective at sharpening large knives like you might use while in the kitchen or camping. Additional stones can be purchased to increase the quality of your edge. The KME comes in a high quality plastic case for when you want to take your gear on the go.
6. Spyderco Double Stuff Ceramic
The Spyderco Double Stuff Ceramic Sharpener is: affordable, portable, and minimalistic.
The Spyderco Double Stuff Ceramic sharpener offers a premium double-sided ceramic stone in a streamlined, lightweight package. Housed in a premium handmade leather slip, this guy is at home in an ultralight camping pack. Spyderco is known for making some of the highest quality ceramic stones in the world. From simple touch-ups to full-on reprofiles, anything can be done with the Spyderco Double Stuff sharpener.
How to Use: The Spyderco Double Stuff Ceramic Pocket Sharpener excels in situations where every bit of weight matters. Compared to the Work Sharp Field Sharpener, the Spyderco Double Stuff is more than 20 times lighter! This system is simple—no guides or motors. What you do get is high quality ceramic capable of putting a nasty sharp edge on any blade.
7. Work Sharp Benchtop Sharpener
The Work Sharp Benchtop Angle Set Knife Sharpener is: precise, clean and quick.
The Benchtop Knife Sharpener is a no-nonsense tool for getting all your sharpening done, cleanly and quickly. The sharpener features two triangular pillars, each with three different grits.
How to Use: Included is a tapered ceramic rod for honing serrations. When erected the sharpener is held in place via the use of grooves and magnets, allowing for three different sharpening angles. The whole tool can be broken down and stowed in its 9x3x2" plastic container. Packaging includes instructions to maximize your sharpening experience.
8. Lansky Tactical Blademedic
The Lansky Tactical Blademedic Sharpener is: portable, ultralight, and simple.
I’ll be honest, pull-through sharpeners are really not something we recommend… That said, if you need to touch up a cheap knife or are unwilling to invest in one of our other recommended systems, the Lansky Tactical Blademedic will put a nice working edge on your blades. I’d recommend this system as a last resort in a Get Home or Bugout Bag.
How to Use: So this one’s pretty simple. Pull your knife through the tungsten carbide slot 3-4 times. Then pull it through the ceramic slot another 3-4 times. There ya go. This system lacks in precision, but sometimes you just need something pocket size and fast. It's good to have one of our other systems to refine your edge from time to time.
9. Flexcut Knife Strop
The Flexcut Knife Strop is: affordable, a great compliment to other sharpeners, and perfect for any knife guy.
Every sharpener needs a good strop! Between sharpening, your edge can roll over at a micro level. A couple of passes on a leather strop realigns your edge and returns your blade to its former glory. I tend to sharpen my knives about once a month. I pass a knife over a strop any time I clean it or when I feel like the knife might need a little touch up. Many strops come with a stropping compound, which is to be rubbed in and helps your strop do its thing.
How to Use: Using a strop is super simple. Start by applying some stropping compound to your leather strop. Your knife should already be freshly sharpened or feature only a rolled edge. Edges that need significant sharpening should be taken to the stone-based systems. Make passes in one direction on your strop while holding the knife at an angle slightly more acute than the edge angle on your knife.
Bonus: Richard Kell Bevel Gauge
This affordable tool will give you a good idea of your edge bevel or edge angle. Small edge angles make for better slicers, but tend to lack in durability. Obtuse angles tend to be more durable, but good luck when you try cutting a transparent slice of tomato. More information is always a good thing. A bevel gauge is an important bit of kit when you get into sharpening.
A lot of people seem to get intimidated by sharpening. They bring their knives to “professionals” at the farmer’s market that end up doing more harm than good. Don’t make that mistake! Take sharpening into your own hands. Any of these systems will get a great edge on your knife. Learning how to sharpen will feel liberating, I promise!
What sharpening system appeals most to you? It’s great to have a more professional system at home while also keeping a more minimal system in your backpack or car. Remember, a dull knife is more dangerous because it is unpredictable and prone to slipping.
You already know Blade HQ has all the knives. Use one of these sharpeners to spruce up your favorite knife and leave a review telling us how it performed! Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for future knife-related content!
How To Use A Sharpening Stone
HOW TO USE A SHARPENING STONE
Written by Blade HQ Staff Writer Logan Rainey on 10/31/2019
We’ve all been there. We get a new knife, we love how sharp it is out of the box, and we use it… a lot. Over time, we start noticing the knife is losing its edge. What happened to the smooth slicing we once shared with our beloved blade? If only there was a way to restore it back to its original glory!
Melodramatics aside, knives get dull over time. For some of you, sharpening a knife is second nature. Instinctively, your knives are always shave sharp and no one needs to tell you how to sharpen a pocket knife, chainsaw, scissors or the like. Knife sharpening will help your knife last for years to come. This guide will walk you through basic knife sharpening while using the Spyderco Double Stuff sharpening stone.
First, you’ll need a coarse and a fine grit sharpening stone. We like Spyderco’s Double Stuff because it comes with both, and they are stuck together. Second, you will need a strop and stropping compound after using the stone to finish the edge. Let’s get going!
The Sharpening Process
To sharpen your knife, start by examining the edge of the blade paying special attention to the angle of the edge (check out our knife angle guide for more info, but it should be about 20°). Be sure to note any damage like gouges, gashes or corrosion.
Next, place the coarse stone on a flat surface. In our case, we put the coarse side of the Double Stuff facing up. Make sure the sharpening stone is stable and will stay in place. If your sharpening system doesn't come with a grippy base, put a damp paper towel or cloth under the stone for the same effect. Do not wet your sharpening stone unless instructions direct otherwise.
Now place the blade on the sharpening stone with the back of the blade at the front of the stone. Position the blade with the edge at a 20° angle. Next, slide the blade with light pressure from the front of the stone to the back of the stone moving from the back of the blade to the front of the blade. Make sure to maintain that 20° angle for the entire length of the edge. Continue to work the blade in this manner until a burr develops on the opposite edge and all imperfections are gone from the edge.
When a burr has developed, flip the knife over. This time place the edge of the knife at the 20° angle on the top of the sharpening stone. Using light pressure, slide the knife toward you making sure to hold the edge angle as you move the entire edge of the knife across the stone. When the burr is gone and can’t be felt on the other side of the edge, you can now move on to the fine side of the sharpening stone.
When using the fine side of the sharpening stone, we are going to use the same technique used on the coarse side. Start with one side of the knife, again at around 20°, and lightly work the edge from end to end until a burr develops. When you can feel a burr on the opposite side, flip the knife over and repeat the process until a burr can no longer be felt on either side.
Finishing the Edge
At this point, the knife should have a sharpened edge. It will perform well enough for most tasks, but we all know sharper is better. Stropping your knife will help you reach next level, hair-splitting sharp.
If you are new to knives and still learning the lingo, a strop is a strip of leather (or other soft material) originally used by barbers to give straight razors a finished edge. This soft material helps to take any fine burrs or fine imperfections out of the edge. Stropping your knife starts with a strop and some stropping compound. Here at Blade HQ, we prefer the Flexcut Knife Strop. At around $15 it’s an amazing tool to have and makes all the difference when sharpening knives.
Liberally apply stropping compound to the surface of the strop. Like we did with the sharpening stone, place the knife at a 20° angle with the back of the edge at the front of the strop. While maintaining the angle, lightly slide the knife from back to front across the strop for one pass. Holding the angle, pivot the knife to the other side of the edge and slide the knife from the back to the front of the strop. Repeat this process until the knife is finished to your liking.
Knife sharpening isn’t rocket science when you have the right tools. If you are patient and take time to practice, you can quickly freshen up your knife’s edge. Using a sharpening stone is the simplest and most cost-effective way to sharpen a knife. It isn’t necessarily the easiest or most perfect, but it gets the job done and yields great results.
Serrated Knife Sharpening
HOW TO SHARPEN A SERRATED KNIFE
Written by Blade HQ Staff Writer Logan Rainey on 10/18/2019
Serrated knives keep their edge longer and work well cutting through tough materials. The drawback is serrated knife maintenance. If you’re new to knives, sharpening a knife can be a daunting task. Throw in a few teeth-like edges and the job can seem impossible.
This guide breaks down some tips and tricks for serrated knife sharpening and some things to look for as you go through the process. For reference, we used the Spyderco Para 3 and the ESEE-3S-KO fixed blade to demonstrate.
While sharpening a plain edge knife can be done on practically anything abrasive, a serrated edge knife requires a sharpener that can get into its scallops. The right tool for the job makes all the difference. A ceramic or diamond coated sharpening rod is great for getting into the individual grooves of the serration. The idea is to use something narrow enough to get into the scallop, but large enough to sharpen the entire curve.
Begin with the sharpening rod in your dominant hand. Hold the knife in your opposite hand with the serrations pointing away from you. Next, set the sharpening rod in the serration you would like to sharpen at the same angle as the grind. Reference our Knife Angle Guide when determining bevel angle.
Gently slide the sharpening rod away from you making sure to stop when the diameter of the rod is the same width as the serration. It’s important to only sharpen each serration to its given width or you could risk damaging the blade. Follow this process for each serration until a burr, a thin strip of steel, develops on the cutting edge.
After a burr has developed, use the sharpening rod or stone to remove it. To do this, simply run the stone or rod down the length of the blade from end to end. It isn’t necessary to follow a specific angle as this side isn’t designed to be a cutting edge. Only work the burr until it is evenly removed from the opposite edge.
Fun fact: Syperco manufactured sharpeners before making knives, so you know they’re good! Using a Sharpmaker is one of the simplest and easiest ways to sharpen any serrated knife. It includes triangular sharpening rods that allow for easy access to individual serrations, while the system itself keeps the edge angle consistent.
To use one, orient the sharpening rods with one of the triangle corners facing the side of the knife you want to sharpen. Next, place the serration closest to the handle toward the top of the sharpening rod. Run the serrated edge of the knife along the sharpening rod making sure to run each serration over the stone. Repeat this process until you feel a burr develop on the opposite side, then use the other sharpening rod to remove the burr. You can also use a strop to give the knife that extra little bit of finish.
Some of the best Automatics and EDC knives are serrated. Even your kitchen knives, like your bread knife, need sharpening from time to time. These methods of sharpening a serrated knife may require a little more attention to detail than a plain edge knife, but it’s easy once you get the hang of things. Now that you know how to sharpen a serrated knife, check out Blade HQ’s huge selection of knife sharpeners to find the one that works for you.