From time to time we hear various comments, from professionals and enthusiastic hobbyists alike, about knife sharpeners and the best way to sharpen knives. We don’t really weigh into the debate that often, and in fact we sell a very wide range of different products for keeping your knives sharp. However, we did come across this article on the Chef’s Armoury website recently…
…and felt compelled to add another perspective and some comments for consideration.
Chef’s Armoury listed eight reasons not to use a pull through knife sharpener. Although we do stock pull through knife sharpeners, we highly recommend using other sharpening products, particularly the Nirey range of electric sharpeners, especially when sharpening professional quality knives.
So, here are some of our comments and perspectives on the advice given in the article above…
“Pull through sharpeners (not all but most) assume a one size fits all approach. The angle on the edge is different on all knives and most good quality Japanese knives have offset bevels so how can a plastic box with ceramic wheels know the difference? Even the adjustable ones are not well suited to all knives.”
TKC Comment: We agree totally and add that if you have a chip in your knife, the manual sharpener will not remove it. In fact the chip will usually get worse when the chipped edge catches in the V section of the pull throughs.
“Electric pull through sharpeners remove way too much metal and shorten the life of your knife by years.”
TKC Comment: Respectfully disagree! If your knife is blunt and has lost its profile, the same amount of steel needs to be removed whether you use a stone or a machine. And all machines are not the same. The Nirey KE-280 and KE-3000 models are very kind to knives and will only remove steel depending on the downward pressure applied. For instance, if you need to touch up, you use less than the weight of the knife downward pressure to achieve a razor edge. And if you need to reprofile, simply apply more downward pressure.
“Ceramic wheel sharpeners tend to take chips and chunks out of thin Japanese blades.”
TKC Comment: We agree with this, and if there is already a small chip they tend to make the problem worse.
“A pull through sharpener will permanently damage any single-sided blade like a Yanagiba, Deba, Usuba”
TKC Comment: We agree with this comment as well, as there are no pull through manual sharpeners that only sharpen one side of a blade.
“Because of the mechanics of use, it is impossible to apply the same amount of pressure throughout the blade. As a result, the edge tends to go out of shape changing the original blade profile.”
TKC Comment: And we agree with this comment as well.
In summary, we agree with pretty much everything except the broad comment about electric sharpeners, although we’re also happy to admit that any knife sharpening device, including an electric sharpener, may shorten the life of your blades if not used properly. For anyone interested in the finer points (pun intended) of knife sharpening, we’d recommend downloading our free guide ‘Sharpening’*, the veritable bible of how to sharpen knives and blades.
*we send you a copy when you subscribe to our email update, Stay Sharp