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Keep your knives sharp as new with a knife sharpener

What is a knife sharpener?

A knife sharpener is a tool used to keep a knife sharp after many uses, so it can continue to cut your food and ingredients as it did when you first bought it. Knife sharpeners are made from material like ceramic steel, steel, or diamond-abrasive material.

The best knife sharpeners grind the knife against a hard, rough surface to either remove metal, making a new, sharper edge, or to straighten out the metal so that it can cut more smoothly, effortlessly, and effectively.

What types of knife sharpeners are available?

While it might seem like a fairly simple concept and category, there are actually many different types of knife sharpeners.

A sharpening rod, honing rod, or sharpening steel is a long rod-shaped device that doesn’t sharpen the blade but rather “hones” it by straightening the knife’s bevel back out, which can “flop” over time. Honing rods can be anywhere from 7” long up to 14”.

Electric knife sharpeners allow you to insert the knife into a device to have it sharpened using discs made of materials like ceramic. This offers the quickest results but isn’t advisable for really expensive knives. They are best used with everyday knives.

Pull-through sharpeners work similarly except the process is manual. This requires more effort but gives you more control over how sharp the blade gets as you pass them through rollers that include materials like stones to sharpen the knife. They usually have preset sharpening angles so the knife always goes in the right position, along with safety hand grips.

There are also sharpening stones, whetstones, and oil stones, pieces of fine grain material that use water and/or oil. Simply run the knife blade across them to sharpen. These, like pull-through sharpeners, involve a manual process. But they can result in a very sharp knife.

Some kitchen knife sharpeners, whether pull-through or electric, offer several stages of sharpening, from coarse to fine, or for different types of knives. Some also include sharpeners that can be used for other items, like scissors and fish hooks.

How can you keep your knives sharper for longer?

Once you’ve freshly sharpened your knives, which should be done every now and then to keep them functioning perfectly, how can you keep them sharp for longer periods of time?

First, always make sure that you are using a cutting board when cutting food. This will soften the blow to the knife as it cuts.

Make sure that when you aren’t using the knives, you store them away in a knife block rather than throw them into drawers. This can further protect the blades.

And always use your knives for the right things. While a chef’s knife is ideal for slicing and cutting proteins and poultry, a slicer knife is better for large cuts of cooked or smoked meats, while a paring knife should be used for tasks like peeling, cutting, and julienning fruits and vegetables.

Want more info? Check out some of our resources on the Best Buy blog:

Kitchen Essentials for Every Type of Cook