Knife Sharpeners: Ratings of Sources
Cook's Illustrated publishes two articles on knife sharpeners, evaluating both manual and electric models. They include a number of sharpeners meant to handle either 15-degree Asian knives or 20-degree Western-style knives; a few can handle both. These comparative reviews are among the best in the industry, with extensive hands-on testing and separate ratings for design and performance.
Tim Heffernan and his testing crew spent 15 hours testing an undisclosed number of knife sharpeners to determine which is the best. Although the various models aren't assigned comparative scores, the testing protocol -- which included running knife blade across a chunk of concrete to ruin the blade, then testing how quickly a sharpener could restore it -- is clearly detailed. A total of three sharpeners are chosen as the best of the best.
The author links to a series of videos tutorials on knife sharpening, then tests seven knife sharpeners, both electric and manual. Each sharpener receives a comparative rating out of ten, a brief listing of pros and cons, and a short summary that explains how it felt to use and, ultimately, how it performed under real-world conditions.
Although we do take note of the knife sharpeners highlighted on the Knife Depot website, the user reviews collected for each model are much more instructive. The most notable models receive a dozen user reviews or more, with an average score of at least 4 stars out of 5 possible. Reviewer comments are usually brief and to the point, from users who are generally quite familiar with the range of knife sharpening options.
Amazon.com stocks a wide selection of knife sharpeners. User comments here tend toward the lengthy end of the spectrum. The most useful reviews come from owners who return several times to give updates on how their knife sharpeners perform over time. Standout models receive a rating of 4.4 stars or more after at least 100 user reviews.
Walmart.com also carries an extensive selection of knife sharpeners, but the number of reviews is relatively modest. Those reviews that are available tend to be frank and to the point, although the users' familiarity with knife sharpeners varies. We took special note of any models that receive a 4-star or better rating after at least eight user reviews.
Most of the knife sharpeners at BedBathandBeyond.com receive at least a few reviews from users. User education about knife sharpeners varies widely. The most notable models receive an average rating of 4 stars or more after at least a half dozen comments from owners.
Professional photographer John B. Holbrook II is also a knife enthusiast, and has worked with enough knife sharpeners to lend some heft to this in-depth review of the Work Sharp Ken Onion Edition knife and tool sharpener. He includes a video that explains the sharpener's features and assembly, but doesn't actually show it in use. Elsewhere on the site, he publishes an older but positive review and video of the Spyderco Sharpmaker knife sharpening system.
KnifeCenter.com accumulates a modest number of user reviews for knife sharpeners, which are now much easier to access than in years past. They also used to maintain a list of recommended sharpeners, but that seems to be gone. Notable products received an average rating of at least 4.5 stars after at least ten informative user reviews.