Gear We Use: Best Knife Sharpeners

Gear We Use: Best Knife Sharpeners

A sharp knife can be the difference between clean quarters in game bags and a trip to the E.R. to stitch up your slip-up. The simplest step in protecting yourself from injury when butchering in the field or cooking up your harvest in the kitchen is ensuring your blade is as sharp as can be.

While this may seem contradictory to some, a well-honed blade will cut with ease, whereas a dull edge requires more force to make a cut. That force could be enough to stick that blade into your thigh instead of the hindquarter you’re working on.

Here at MeatEater, we’ve partnered with Work Sharp because we believe they provide the best in the business to keep your blades on point, from high country hunts to home-cooked meals.

What to Look for in a Good Knife Sharpener

A good knife sharpener should (obviously) get your blades sharp, but it should also get the job done without much fuss and fight. It’s important to consider where you plan to use this sharpener, how much you plan to use it, as well as your experience with sharpening. Here are a few key things to consider when buying a knife sharpener:

  1. Grit
  2. Guided Angle
  3. Field or Kitchen

You wouldn’t want to pack the weight of the Whetstone Sharpener with you on a hunt, but the Guided Field Sharpener is light and portable for such instances. If you’re sharpening your entire kitchen knife arsenal, it’d be tough to get it done in a timely manner on a field tool, so a belt sharpener will get the job done quicker.

If you’ve never sharpened a blade with a belt sharpener, the E5 Kitchen Sharpener is a more accessible product to learn on than the Ken Onion Edition Knife and Tool Sharpener. And if you’re looking for something you can use inside and outside, the Guided Sharpening System with Pivot Response is a sharpener for your home that comes with a field honing tool.

Work Sharp includes angles guides on all of its sharpeners so you can have a consistent edge degree across your blade. Most folks agree that 20° is a suitable angle for most knives, but be sure to research your knife before sharpening it to learn more about what angle is most appropriate.

Knife Sharpeners We Use

What Makes a Knife Sharpener Good

Appropriate abrasion, stability, and consistency make a really good knife sharpener. You don’t want wobbles along your blade, and must follow a consistent angle for the sharpest knife possible. Work Sharp makes sharpeners built with you in mind with angle guides, secure footing, and a structure built to last.

Sharpen Like a Samurai

The infamously lethal katana did not get that way by accident. And since the times of feudal Japan, much really hasn’t changed about sharpening. Samurais used a two-step process to get their blades razor-sharp.

First, they’d grind the edge on low grit grinding stone, working up to fine grit. A coarser grit will remove more metal from the blade, creating a burr and angled edge. Then the finer grit will refine the edge into a sharper blade. After grinding, they’d finish sharpening the sword on water stones. We now call these whetstones. Essentially it’s a super-fine grit stone that uses water to lubricate the surface to create an ultra-sharp finish.

You don’t have to be a samurai or swing a katana to have the sharpest knives on the butcher block. To read more on how to sharpen a knife properly, click here.

Field notes from the MeatEater Crew

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Guided Sharpening System w/Pivot Response
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Work Sharp
$59.95
An innovative sharpening system for the field or kitchen.
Guided Field Sharpener
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Work Sharp
$35.00
A complete sharpening solution for field, home or shop use.
Whetstone Knife Sharpener
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Work Sharp
$29.99
A sharp knife is a safe knife! Keep your most important cooking tool in good shape with a whetstone.
Knife & Tool Sharpener - Ken Onion Edition
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Work Sharp
$139.95
The perfect tool for quickly shaping and sharpening heavily damaged knives and tools.
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