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Knife sharpening is an art to some, and an annoyance to others. Some enthusiasts will only ever opt to have their knives sharpened the traditional way i.e. using sharpening stones, while others only trust the work of a professional service. Whether you own the best spyderco knife or a regular knife you’ll still to sharpen them. If you think about it, there are actually a plethora of methods/tools to sharpen your knife. Some of the more popular tools that are used today include:
- Electric knife sharpeners
- Manual pull-through sharpeners
- Sharpening stones (water and oil)
All of these methods are different and as you’d expect provide different results. I am not going to debate which system works best, as that would be a separate discussion in and of itself. The intent of this post is to provide some direction to anyone who has decided to opt for an electric knife sharpening system. The factors listed here will save you from buying a system that doesn’t meet your needs. Okay, without further ado let’s get started!
Consideration #1 – Price
Why is price an important consideration? Because understanding and deciding on how much you are willing to spend will filter out a lot of the products you shouldn’t even be considering. Don’t be tempted to think that the more expensive electric knife sharpener is necessarily better than the cheaper one! People who tell you this are not telling you the truth, unfortunately. Alright, so you may be wondering, how am I supposed to decide on how much I am willing to spend if I have no idea on what the average electric knife sharpener typically costs? That’s a great question! And to answer that question, I’d like to offer you some perspective. After having reviewed quite a few of these electric sharpeners, I can tell you that the prices vary quite a bit. What’s important for you to know is this: the price ranges from as low as $20 to as high as $170. This is only true for home options, and the price range changes when considering commercial options (I am assuming you are not looking for a commercial sharpener). Now that you have a price range, you can set a budget of how much you wish to spend and proceed from there.
Consideration #2 – What Are You Going To Be Sharpening?
This is another matter that most people fail to consider and then wonder why the device doesn’t make their knives sharp. Before you even think about researching electric knife sharpeners, you need to take a closer look at your knife collection and understand the following:
- Edge Angle – Sounds complicated right? It’s actually very simple. Edge angle is the measured angle from an imaginary vertical line (splitting the blade in half) to the knife’s edge. The schematic below shows the typical edge angle for two blade styles: European/American & Japanese. Now, you may not know what your edge angle is, so what do you do then? Check with the manufacturer if the information isn’t available online or is not listed in the packaging/instructions. Still no luck? Try a quick google search to at least understand if the blade can be categorized as American/European or Asian. Once you know this, you should be able to proceed accordingly. American/European knives are usually thicker in comparison to the thinner Japanese blades. Word Of Caution: Not all electric knife sharpeners can handle both Asian/Western styles.
- Knife Type – There are plenty of different knives out there, so it’s important to understand what type you will be sharpening. Will you be sharpening utensil or hunting knives? Or maybe a weapon knife? If you’re sharpening a utensil type blade, what kind is it? Maybe it’s a chef knife or paring blade. The point is you’ll have to do your homework and understand more about what type of blade you’re sharpening before actually doing so. I have not mentioned serrated knives here as they are a special case I will address as a separate consideration (see #4).
- Will You Be Sharpening Tools? – Anything from scissors to pliers and cleavers require special tools to be sharpened. A typical electric sharpener is best suited for working only on knives.
Consideration #3 – Did You Check The Voltage Requirements?
If you’re like most people, then probably not. The result is everything works out okay, or the unit voltage rating doesn’t match your requirements and you’re forced to return it back for a refund. The more popular electric knife sharpeners like Chef’s Choice, Presto, Smith’s are mostly all rated at 100-120V. In fact you’d be hard pressed to find any of their units available in 220-240V rating. This is based purely on my experience and I may be wrong. If you require a 220-240V unit, you have two choices: the first is to purchase a transformer, and the second option is to contact the manufacturer and inquire about the higher voltage unit. Important: Make sure you do your homework and ensure that the voltage of where you live matches up to the unit’s voltage.
Consideration #4 – The Special Case Of Serrated Knives
This is more a note of caution than it is a consideration. Electric knife sharpeners have the potential to completely ruin your serrated knives. Yes, you heard that right. The sharpening wheels that are preset to rotate at a constant rpm will grind away your serrations, ultimately leaving you with a plain edge. Serrations are a special case that require more attention than plain edge blades. Here’s a blog post that talks more about how to sharpen a serrated knife. There are some electric sharpeners that make claims of being able to work on serrations, I would recommend you do not believe these.
Consideration #5 – Warranty, Reviews & Final Decisions
Reviews can be both beneficial and unconstructive. Unfortunately, there are many sites whose only intent is to promote a product without discussing any of the drawbacks. It goes without being said that there is a lot of valuable and worthless information on the internet. It’s up to you to gauge and filter accordingly. In your search for an electric knife sharpener, you should read both Amazon reviews as well as a complete product write-up (with pros, cons etc.). The only thing I will mention about warranty is that you may (or may not) want to consider an extended warranty depending on the duration of the manufacturer’s warranty and price of the product.
That’s it! I hope these 5 important factors will help you find the right device. If there’s one thing you should remember from this post, it is this: more expensive does not necessarily mean better. Take your time to research and do your homework. Finally, If you want to check out electric knife sharpener reviews, click the link. Please leave me any comments or questions below, and I’ll be happy to answer!