The Best Knife Sharpener for EDC and Hunting Knives

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I was told growing up that a dull knife was more dangerous than a sharp one. When I was a kid, it was a head-scratcher for me, but when I really started using knives on my backpacking and camping trips and to dress and butcher game, it all came into focus. A dull knife takes a lot more effort to cut and usually ends up with you ‘’sawing’’ with the knife. Consequently, you can slip off and stick yourself. The lesson is that a dull knife is a worthless knife. This is why you need the best knife sharpener, which I’ll discuss below. 

So, the cure for what ails you is a sharp knife. But no matter how good the heat treat on the blade, or how sharp the factory edge, every knife will need to be sharpened. So where to begin? Sharpeners are available anywhere from Five bucks to over $500. I have been sharpening knives since I was about 14 years old and sharpening them professionally since 2015. In that time, I have used just about everything out there and I want to help you navigate the crowded knife sharpener market. So, let’s begin by figuring out what type of edge you want and how you use your knife. That will help determine what sharpener will be best for you.

How to Choose the Best Knife Sharpener

Sharpeners are available anywhere from $5 to over $500. I have been sharpening knives since I was about 14 years old and sharpening them professionally since 2015. In that time, I have used just about everything out there and I want to help you navigate the crowded knife sharpener market. So, let’s begin by figuring out what type of edge you want and how you use your knife. 

The flat or V bevel is better for slicing and the convex edge offers superior durability. Knives and Tools Knives and Tools

There are two primary types of edges a sharpener can put on a knife, a v-edge and a convex edge. The v-edge has a cross-section that looks like a “V”. A convex edge has a slight curve to the bevel, like a “V” that curves inward slightly at the bottom. A convex edge is generally more durable, and less likely to chip or roll under heavy use, but they usually don’t feel as sharp as a v-edge of the same angle. Both types of edges can be made sharp enough to whittle hair, and both are great in the right application. 

The last factor you should look at before choosing a sharpener is edge angle. To keep it simple, the smaller, more acute the angle, the sharper the knife will be, and the better the outright cutting performance. But, that performance comes at the cost of edge strength and stability. The lower your angle, the more likely you are to chip or roll your edge if you run into something hard like bone, or a staple in the cardboard, or a bullet fragment in your game meat. Many systems have angle guides that help you maintain a consistent angle across the entire edge, and they let you pick from a range of angles. 

Best Electric Knife Sharpener: Work Sharp Ken Onion

This is a spin off of Work Sharp’s Original electric belt knife sharpener, but with some big upgrades that make it the most versatile sharpener on the market. With the blade grinder attachment, you can even dabble in knife making. Adjust from 10 degrees per side all the way to 35 on the semi-guided attachment. I still use my Wicked Edge, but this is my main tool now. Easy mirror polished, beyond razor-sharp edges on every type of knife, and it will also do scissors, machetes, axes, and even my straight razor. Like the other Work Sharp knife sharpener, this will give you a convex edge, and it will get it done fast. Repair broken tips, deep chips, and rolls in just a few minutes. 

Best Pocket Knife Sharpener: Wicked Edge Pro Pack 1

No, it’s not cheap, but you can’t argue with the results. I bought a Pro Pack 1 for my sharpening business, and it was worth every penny. Perfectly mirror polished, hair whittling edges every time. I have sharpened nearly 2000 high-end EDC knives with mine, and it’s still going strong. Pick any angle from 15-25 degrees per side, clamp it in, follow the directions, and you’re going to get a level of sharpness that you’ve probably never experienced. The Wicked Edge gives the perfect v-edge, every time. If you plan to sharpen a lot of knives, or you want the mirror edge with the least effort, this is the way to go. 

Best Budget Knife Sharpener: Smith’s Arkansas Stone

I cut my teeth on a Smith’s Medium Arkansas Stone. And for the price, you can’t beat them. There are some “pull-through” sharpeners out there for a little less than the cost of a knife-sharpening stone, but they really don’t do a good job, and they chew up your blade. The small 4 inch stone can be had for around $10, but the 6 inch stone is preferable for a little more money. This blade sharpener method will take some practice, and you might not get the results you want right off the bat, but when you master it, there is a deep satisfaction that comes from it. Learning to keep your angle consistent will be the biggest hurdle, but there are many good tutorials online, and Smith’s does make small guides to help you out in the beginning. Depending on your technique, you can either get a v-edge, or a slight convex from a stone. A very slight “rocking” motion at the end of each pass can produce a convex if you prefer.  

Best Kitchen Knife Sharpener: Spyderco Tri-Angle Sharpmaker  

Kitchen knives usually aren’t taking big hits, and really need more maintenance than anything. The Sharpmaker is perfect for maintenance. It comes with ceramic rods of differing grits, depending on how much material you need to remove. It’s also a semi-guided system and lets you choose from some preset angles. You hold the knife nice and straight and make alternating passes down each ceramic rod with a sweeping motion to get it sharp from the heel all the way to the tip. Again, it will take some practice, but this sharpener gives excellent results, and can bring you edge to a near mirror polish with practice. If your edge has some real damage, it may take some time to sharpen it out. The Sharpmaker doesn’t have a coarse enough rod to remove damage quickly. It’s worth noting that this system will work with blades of any size. You can put a nice v-edge on anything from a Case Mini-Trapper to a meat carving knife.  

Best Hunting Knife Sharpener: Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener 

This knife sharpener has various belts driven by an electric motor and produces some excellent convex edges—great to use on your best hunting knives. The belts it comes with will last you several seasons of sharpening, and when they wear out, the replacements are cheap. Overall, these are easy to use, and quickly give consistent razor-sharp edges that are well suited for hunting applications. One less thing to worry about while in the field. 

It comes with pre-set guides so you can choose your angle, and it’s as simple as pulling your knife through alternating sides of the guides. Be careful with the coarsest belts and high RPM because you can take off a lot of material in a hurry if you are heavy-handed. Also, be careful not to rotate the blade as you sharpen, which can dull the tip. 

FAQs

Q: Are pull-through sharpeners bad for knives?

Pull through sharpeners can do more harm than good. Some models are fine for light touch-ups, but they don’t really sharpen a knife. It’s much better to invest in a ceramic hone and learn how to use it properly. 

Q: What is the best way to sharpen knives at home?

The best way to sharpen a kitchen knife is to use a ceramic hone for touch-ups and a guided sharpening system like the Work Sharp Ken Onion knife sharpener. 

Q: Do knife sharpeners really work?

Knife sharpeners work extremely well if you take the time to learn how to use them. The good news is best knife sharpeners in this review are all easy to use. 

Final Thoughts on the Best Knife Sharpener 

Few things match the satisfaction of taking a rough edge to a polished edge that will split hairs. Whether you choose a manual knife sharpener like the Wicked Edge or an electric sharpener like the Work Sharp, you can produce a sharp knife that will give you the satisfaction of slicing paper with ease.

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