It doesn’t make sense to pick a single knife sharpener to rule them all—it would be an apples to oranges comparison—so we set out to find the best manual knife sharpener and the best electric knife sharpener, and—in the case of one of our top picks—an option for the best kitchen knife sharpener that actually straddles both categories.
Table of contentsThe best electric knife sharpenerThe best budget electric knife sharpenerThe best manual knife sharpenerOther knife sharpeners we testedHow we testedWhat a knife expert thinksWhat we looked forThe takeaway
The Chef’s Choice Trizor XV knife sharpener has three sharpening slots, each with a separate purpose. There’s a honing slot, a sharpening slot, and a polishing slot. The sharpener employs 100-percent diamond abrasives on the sharpening and honing stages, while the polishing slot uses flexible abrasives that gently conform to grooves in order to sharpen serrated knives.
The Chef’s Choice was very tough to beat in this category thanks to one notable feature: It can actually convert the standard, 20-degree angle of your basic, inexpensive American or European factory knife into the 15-degree angle featured on coveted, handcrafted Japanese blades. What’s the upside to this, you ask? While the standard 20-degrees is good for chopping and exerting cleaver-like blunt force on tough cuts of meat, whittling down to a lightweight and razor-sharp 15-degrees reduces friction when cutting, which is ideal for precision tasks like paring, peeling, and working with vegetables and fish.
Even if you don’t want to full-on reshape your blade, this sharpener has the ability to resuscitate seriously nicked or banged-up knives. Prior to sharpening, our most-used German knife was no match for the hard hide of an acorn squash or the slippery skin of a tomato. Post-Trizor, the slimmed down edge, lined with tiny micro grooves designed to “push” food away from the blades, meant that no downward pressure was needed to break through the squash, and that the knife cleanly slipped through the tomato without crushing it. It’s also worth noting that the Trizor evenly sharpened the blade from end to end, without leaving random dull spots. The whole sharpening process takes minutes, and spring-loaded guides inside the sharpening slots ensure your blade won’t slip around in the process. Unsurprisingly, it’s amongst the most expensive models we tested, but that cost is offset a bit by a 3-year warranty.
The only potential caveat is you can’t simply grab a knife, press the power button and go. At least, you shouldn’t, if you’re looking to get the most out of the machine and don’t want to risk damaging your knives. There’s an extensive (and we mean extensive) manual that you need to wade through first, which goes into excruciating detail about how to sharpen American vs. European vs. Japanese and flat vs. serrated blades. For instance, knives with only one bevel (the angle leading to the edge), such as traditional Japanese knives, should only be sharpened and honed in the left slot, while American/Euro and contemporary Asian blades require alternating right and left slot pulls. The booklet also advises pulling your knife through at different speeds when honing or polishing. Needless to say, this is all in pursuit of superior results, and with repeat use, the steps required to expertly operate the Trizor can become ingrained. They just aren’t intuitive.
In contrast, the Work Sharp is dummy-proof (unlike the Trizor, you can simply grab a knife, press the power button and go). It operates on a timer, so all you need to do is pull your knife in alternating swipes through the right and leftmost slots (the middle is used for manual pull-through sharpening), until the machine shuts off. This is intended to prevent over-sharpening, although if you find more time is needed, you can simply press the button again. The E2 sharpener also offers an impressive variety of sharpening options. In addition to the fact that it can be used manually or electrically, it accommodates chef’s knives, serrated knives, paring knives, pocket knives, scissors, and shears.