6 best knife sharpeners 2018: manual and electric sharpeners to give you the edge

Get those santokus sharp and power up those paring knives with our pick of the best electric and manual knife sharpeners

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There are things you can do to make sure knives don’t lose their sharpness more quickly than they should – not using glass chopping boards, picking the right knife for the right task, and never scraping the cutting edge along the board. 

But when it comes to getting them sharp again, there are manual and electric knife sharpeners you can look to for help.

What is the best knife sharpener?

For all Western blades except ceramic, the Smart Sharp by Lantana is our best buy. It uses three slots to prep, sharpen and hone your beloved blades and is used worldwide, by top chefs and crap chefs alike.

How to buy the best knife sharpener

The first thing to know about most knife sharpeners is that you should NOT use them on Japanese-made or -influenced knives. Use a whetstone or specialist sharpener built specifically for these blades instead.

The type of sharpener that uses two surfaces to sharpen can also be a bit iffy with serrated knives, which really ought to only be sharpened on their flat edge. You're less likely to ruin this type of knife that way, but really you'd be better off with an old-fashioned chef's sharpening steel. 

A whetstone can be used on any type of knife and, while sometimes difficult and time-consuming to get the best out of at first, it's worth sticking at if you’re serious about your blades, because it’s generally considered to be the best method for sharpening knives. 

Standard sharpeners, by contrast, are quick and easy to use, and will be perfectly good if you don’t use your knives heavily enough for them to require very frequent sharpening – that will be the case for most non-professional chefs. 

Finally, there are electronic knife sharpeners, which eliminate all the guesswork, but tend to be more expensive and optimised to particular kinds of blade.

The best knife sharpener

1. Smart Sharp by Lantana

Best all-round sharpener for non-Japanese knives

Specifications
Material: Plastic
Colour: Black
Reasons to buy
+Three slots for preparing, honing and sharpening+Sharpens wide-serrated and straight-edged knives
Reasons to avoid
-Not for Japanese or ceramic knives

This versatile, handheld best seller offers three ways to sharpen, with ceramic, tungsten carbide and diamond rod sections for prepping, sharpening and honing steel and hardened steel blades. 

The ergonomic handle is loved by users for its maximum grip that’s suitable for righties and lefties and aims to keep your hand firmly and safely on the handle and nowhere near the blades. If you are looking for a knife sharpener for use on a whole range of different knives, this safe, expert knife sharpener might just be your guy.

2. AnySharp Knife Sharpener with PowerGrip

Best for easy sharpening of cheaper blades

Specifications
Material: Plastic
Colour: Silver, blue, black
Reasons to buy
+Safe suction grip +Sharpens hardened knives
 
Reasons to avoid
-Shaves a lot of metal off

Like our first pick, the AnySharp knife sharpener can handle hardened steel blades as well as serrated edges, making it a great versatile addition to the kitchen drawer. But while the Smart Sharp in our top spot wins for its ability to dish out start-to-finish treatment, the AnySharp is better for beginners and for slightly cheaper knives. 

That ‘PowerGrip’ is a suction system that securely attaches the sharpener to the worktop, so it’s ultra-safe for nervous first-time users, and the 'optimum' angle for sharpening is already set. 

The AnySharp isn't exactly subtle – it can take a fair bit of metal off in order to sharpen. As such, we wouldn't let this near an expensive blade, particularly a single-edged Japanese one. For everyday cooking, however, it's great.

3. Global Combination Whetstone MS-471

Best sharpener for high quality knives

Specifications
Material: Plastic, synthetic grit
Colour: Blue and black
Reasons to buy
+Works on damaged blades+Pro-grade results
Reasons to avoid
-Not as simple as the options above

Trust Global to know what’s good for knives – this two-sided whetstone cares for even damaged blades, with a rough side for bringing very blunt or chipped knives back from the edge, and a medium-rough side for maintaining sharpness. 

Large and small guard rails allow you to keep the perfect angle whether you’re sharpening a large chef’s knife or a small paring knife, and its holder has a non-slip base to avoid accidents. 

A serious knife sharpener, for people serious about keeping their set in tip-top condition. 

4. Salter Electronic Knife Sharpener

The best value electric knife sharpener

Specifications
Material: Stainless steel
Colour: Silver and black
Reasons to buy
+Very easy to use+Sturdy, safe and reliable
Reasons to avoid
-Not for serrated or Japanese knives

This Salter Electronic Knife Sharpener takes all of the guesswork and grunt work out of sharpening your knives. Just put in the blade, and the sharpener will self-adjust to the angle of it before using its durable ceramic pins to hone it into shape. 

The stainless steel body is good-looking and hard-wearing, and features a built-in guard to keep those all-important knives from being damaged. Again, not great for Japanese or serrated knives, though.

5. Robert Welch Signature Handheld Sharpener

A secure-feeling sharpener that’s not just for Robert Welch knives

Specifications
Material: Stainless steel
Colour: Black
Reasons to buy
+Great performance for less+Comfortable to hold and non-slip
Reasons to avoid
-Only one setting

Users of Robert Welch’s handheld sharpener have cited great performance at a low price point when giving it a big thumbs up, so it might just be our best value pick yet, ideal for the starter chef who only wants to invest once — the 25 year guarantee helps, too. 

Again, it’s only really for non-serrated, western knives, so steer clear if that’s a bugbear. However, this sharpener is otherwise safe – with a comfortable weighted handle, non-slip base and sharpening wheel guard – reliable and affordable.

6. Robert Welch Signature Sharpening Steel, 22cm

Our best old-style sharpening steel

Specifications
Material: Steel, plastic
Colour: Silver, black
Reasons to buy
+Quality, long-lasting steel+Good results, with practice
Reasons to avoid
-Not the easiest to use

This sharpening steel also comes with Robert Welch's impressive 25-year guarantee, so when it comes in at under £50, it’s looking to be a pretty good long-lasting investment. 

It’s easily the most low-tech option on our list, but that just means no added extras to potentially go wrong, and it’ll teach you proper sharpening techniques that you can use anywhere. Reviewers found the instructions easy to follow and the quality superb.