May 15, 2017

What’s the Best Knife Sharpener for a Beginner?

If you’re new to the world of knife sharpening, you’re probably wondering where to start. Should you learn to freehand sharpen on a bench stone? Should you get a pull-through sharpener? What about those guided systems with the angles already set in place? Let’s take a look at each of these options.

Freehand Sharpening

sharpening stoneThere’s no doubt that freehand sharpening is a rewarding experience. There’s something almost meditative about sliding the blade across the stone, your hands automatically finding just the right angle, as if the muscle memory of this action has lived within you for as many centuries as man has been sharpening knives this way. The smell, the sound, the repetitive motion; it all feels great. It feels Zen.  But it isn’t easy. Learning to freehand sharpen properly takes a lot of practice. Can anyone learn it? Absolutely. Does everyone have the time and patience to learn how to do it correctly? Not always.  

If you’re the type of person who appreciates process as much as result, then freehand sharpening may be for you. If you’re more likely to want quick results and less of a learning curve, then read on.

Controlled-angle Sharpening Systems

sharpening system

A guided, or controlled-angle sharpening system, is great for beginners and experienced users alike. The pre-set angles in a controlled-angle system allow you to choose which angle is best for the particular knife you’re sharpening. For instance, you probably want your fillet knives razor sharp so you would go with a 17 degree angle. Your hunting knife will need to keep its durability though, so you won’t want to sharpen at that same angle and will most likely use the 25 degree slot instead.

The great thing about a controlled-angle sharpening system is that it gives you a precise angle every time. There’s no guesswork involved, no “feeling” for the right angle and hoping like heck you got it right. It will be right. The system is designed to get it right.

Learning to use a controlled-angle knife sharpener might take a little practice, but it’s nothing you won’t pick up right away. By the end of your first sharpening session, in fact, you’ll probably be doing it like an old pro. It’s a simple way to get the job done.

But if you’re looking for something even simpler, read on.

Pull-through Knife Sharpeners

pocket sharpenerThe easiest way to get a knife sharp is with a pull-through sharpener like the Lansky Blademedic or the QuadSharp. Pull-through sharpeners have v-shaped, pre-set angles and can get your blade sharp in just a few strokes. Using a pull-through is a great option for quick fixes and touch ups. One thing to keep in mind though is that these types of sharpeners do come with a carbide element, which is a very aggressive material. For regular maintenance you’ll want to use the ceramic element on these pocket sharpeners instead. Save the carbide for when you need a super quick sharpening, like when you realize you’re at the campsite with a dull knife! The best thing about a pull-through pocket sharpener is that it can go with you anywhere and is always ready to get to work.   

While the sharpening method or type of sharpener you choose will ultimately come down to personal preference and  your level of interest in the sharpening process, one thing is for sure; any one of the methods listed above will get your knives good and SHARP.


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Category: General


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