A good knife is one of a chef’s most valued tools. There is simply no substitute for sharp, well-honed knives in the kitchen. A properly sharpened knife can mean the difference between success and failure. Outside of the kitchen, sharp knives are important for everyone with an interest in camping, landscaping, or any of the many hobbies that require the use of them. If you are one of the many people who needs to use knives on a regular basis, then you need to learn how to choose the best knife sharpening system that will allow you to perform at your best.
- 1 Knife Sharpening System Comparison
- 2 What Are Knife Sharpening Systems?
- 3 Understanding The Pros And Cons Of Different Systems
- 4 Why Do We Need To Get The Best Knife Sharpening System?
- 5 Watch Out For Inferior Materials
- 6 Good Quality Construction Is A Must
- 7 Warranties Matter
- 8 Match Your Blade With The Right System
- 9 Consider Purchasing More Than One System
- 10 The Lost Art Of Knife Sharpening
- 11 Getting Blades Worthy Of A Great Sharpening System
- 12 Maintenance
Knife Sharpening System Comparison
What Are Knife Sharpening Systems?
These are systems that allow you to do the job efficiently. There are many different kinds. Some systems are very simple and rely on the use of a few grinding stones. Other systems are more complex and come with guides to make grinding the blade easier. Some of the most advanced models are completely automated. Basically, all you have to do is insert the blade in the slot, and the machine will sharpen the blade for you.
They vary a lot in price and quality. Some systems are very cheap and will cost you under 50 dollars. Other systems are expensive enough to make most potential buyers wince a little. Finding the best system for you depends upon being aware of both your budget and your needs.
Do you need to regularly sharpen knives, or do you only need to sharpen them once a month or less? Your answer to this question can help guide you in selecting the most suitable product for you. Someone who needs to sharpen them on a daily basis is going to have to spend more money for a system that can handle that level of use and still deliver great results. On the other hand, someone who rarely sharpens knives can afford to opt for a system that isn’t top-notch but can still handle small jobs.
Understanding The Pros And Cons Of Different Systems
Basically, there are three main types of sharpening systems that you need to be aware of. The first type is among the cheapest. It consists of nothing but a few grinding stones and instructions on sharpening your blade with the stones. Stone-based models can yield very good results. Unfortunately, they are not as simple to use as they may appear at first glance.
Getting great results with a stone-based system requires a degree of skill. You need to learn and practice a bit before you are ready to produce properly sharpened knives. In the beginning, there is a bit of a learning curve. If you are not the type of person who likes to acquire new skills, or you simply don’t want to spend any time learning how to properly sharpen with a stone-based system, then this is probably not the right system for you.
Unlike stone-based systems, systems with a guide are easier to use. The mechanical guide makes it much easier for you to sharpen the knife correctly and avoid damaging your expensive knives. Using a knife sharpening guide properly does take a little bit of practice, but it is very easy, and after a little bit of trial and error, you should quickly get the hang of it.
The only real downside to systems with a built-in guide is that unlike stone-based systems, they are not always capable of producing top-quality edges. A few of them are made with cheap materials. It is better to err on the side of caution when picking out one of these systems and choose one of the more expensive ones.
Unlike both stone-based systems and systems with a guide, automated systems (commonly referred to as electric knife sharpeners) make sharpening knives fantastically simple. Basically, in order to sharpen a blade with an automated system, all you have to do is insert your knife into the appropriate slot (slot to use depends on the size of your blade and the kind of edge you want), wait for an appropriate length of time, and then stick your knife into the finishing slot to polish it.
The downside of automated systems is that they tend to be on the expensive side and can cost quite a bit. If you are someone who needs to sharpen a lot of knives regularly, then an electric knife sharpener is probably the best for you. It will help you quickly get good edges on even your dullest knives.
Why Do We Need To Get The Best Knife Sharpening System?
It is an unfortunate fact that there are a lot of low-grade products out on the market. It can be a challenging task to discriminate between the good models and the bad models. It is even harder to find the best. Fortunately, if you learn a little more about how to evaluate the quality, you will be well on your way to finding the most suitable product for you.
Watch Out For Inferior Materials
Good products are made with only the highest quality materials. You cannot expect to get good results from a system that is made of low-quality materials. Although systems made from high quality metal and ceramic materials can be much more costly up front than systems made with cheap materials, in the long run you will actually save a significant amount of money.
Good Quality Construction Is A Must
Shoddy construction clues you in to the fact that the product is unlikely to deliver good results or last a significant length of time. Avoid poorly made models at all costs. Bad models can actually harm your blades. Blades that have been damaged by a bad model may need to be sharpened by a professional in the future or may actually need to be replaced.
Great products always come with a warranty, at least if you purchase them new. A warranty is important, because it indicates that the company that made the sharpening system is confident that the system will give good performance and potentially provide years of use. A sharpener that is not purchased second hand and doesn’t come with a warranty should send off alarm bells. Don’t risk damaging your knives or ending up disappointed later.
Match Your Blade With The Right System
Not all knives are the same. This bears repeating, because the blades you need to sharpen will affect which model is going to produce the best results for you. Mismatching knives and sharpening systems only results in a mess at best and permanent damage at worst.
The first thing you need to know about the knives you are going to sharpen is their size. Size, when it comes to knives at least, matters. Some of the smaller systems (usually the ones that involve a mechanical guide) will not allow you to sharpen large blades for chefs. Conversely, some of the systems optimized for larger ones may be a little cumbersome to use with small pocket knives.
In general, if you are mainly going to be sharpening large blades, then you will have to forgo most of the systems with a mechanical guide. Your two options are stone-based systems and automated or electric types. For larger blades, stone-based systems are a cheaper option that can still yield good results. The downside is that, as mentioned previously, you will need some skill to properly sharpen your large knives with a stone.
Probably the best option for people with large knives is an automated sharpening system. The only exception to this general rule would be if you have some really expensive Japanese carbon steel blades or something similar. Truly top-notch knives (costing hundreds or thousands of dollars) cannot always be sharpened with an electric knife sharpener. You may have to seek the help of a professional or master the skill set necessary to use a stone-based system and get good results.
For people with small knives, such as camping enthusiasts who merely wish to sharpen pocket knives, systems with a guide are probably the best choice. A good model with a guide will make sharpening smaller blades almost effortless. You will get amazing results with pocket knives in a very short period of time. Small blades are generally much easier to sharpen than larger blades. Consequently, if you really are a rank beginner as far as this industry is concerned, you might want to start out by practicing sharpening small blades before you graduate to working with large knives.
Consider Purchasing More Than One System
It may be the case that there is no single best system for you. If you have a very large collection of knives, then you may want to purchase a couple different systems so that you can get the very best results with each knife in your collection. While this is obviously more expensive than only purchasing a single system, it will enable you to directly compare different systems and see which one is the best fit with your approach to sharpening knives.
The Lost Art Of Knife Sharpening
In the not-too-distant past, sharpening blades were an art that used to be practiced by skilled experts. Thankfully, the advanced systems available today makes sharpening knives far easier. It is now possible for amateurs to get great edges on their knives if they apply themselves and use the best sharpening systems available.
However, that being said, even the best knife sharpening system will still require you to learn a little bit about the best approach to sharpening blades. Before you start sharpening any large, expensive blades, it is in your best interest to take a little time to learn a bit about correct sharpening procedures. Take your time reading the instruction booklet that comes with your sharpener. Consider asking any friends who have experience with sharpening blades for help. Remember to be patient and let your skills develop as time passes.
Getting Blades Worthy Of A Great Sharpening System
As your sharpening skills grow, you may reach a point where you start to become dissatisfied with some of the knives in your collection. Many of the low-grade kitchen knives, while popular with consumers, are not quite up to the task of holding a good edge. They also do not tend to deliver the best performance in the long run. Cheap, badly made kitchen knives often make cooking more dangerous and a good deal less satisfying.
Sharpening blades regularly will make you aware of the importance of good quality knives. You will also learn how to distinguish between the best knives and cheap knives only suitable for use in the short term. This will help you to pick out the best knives when it is time for you to buy new knives.
Once you have a great model and have used it for a while, you will need to make sure that you maintain it properly. For some of the automated systems, there is very little maintenance required. However, for the stone-based systems, you have to keep in mind that you may need to soak the stones on occasion.
Soaking the stones allows for them to better sharpen blades and extends their lifespan. Don’t be stingy when it comes to applying water to your stones. The biggest mistake most beginners with stone-based systems make is failing to add enough water. Properly maintained stones will give you the best possible results.
Take a little time for maintenance, and it will give you good performance for years. Have an open attitude towards learning new skills, and you will be surprised how quickly you learn to produce well-sharpened blades. As your confidence in your abilities grows, you will get even better results.