When it comes to knife sharpening, it seems there are two kinds of people. First, the practical kind, that just need the knife to be sharp enough to do what they need it to do. The second kind is the type to insist on making a blade as sharp as it can be. If you find yourself wanting your knives to be as sharp as they can get, you’re going to want to stick around – we put our review team to work on figuring out the Best Knife Sharpening Systems available.
Table of Contents
- What to Look For in a Knife Sharpening System
- Knife Sharpening System Reviews
What to Look For in a Knife Sharpening System
We concede that a good number of these knife sharpening systems look alike; so how on Earth are you supposed to tell which is good and which is not? To find the best among all the noise, make sure the knife sharpening system satisfies the following criterion:
We mentioned that some people prefer a sharper blade, but sometimes hunters and campers prefer these sharpening kits as well. They can be highly portable, with many coming in well-built water-resistant cases. Being able to return your blades to keen sharpness in the field can be handy, so pay close attention to how well the sharpening kit can be packed up and carried.
Range of Grit
Any quality knife sharpening kit will include, at minimum, a coarse, medium, and fine grit whetstone. While you may not need to use every stone in the kit every time you sharpen a blade, being able to restore blades in any condition should be possible with any good sharpening kit. Premium kits will offer additional options, such as extra-coarse whetstones for repairing chipped edges or leather strops for honing wire edges.
Sturdiness of Guidance
And finally, a high-quality knife sharpening kit should also include some means of guiding the angle of the blade across the stone. This is the biggest point of vulnerability in these kits, as one flaw can bring down the whole house of cards. If you are a master sharpener you may be able to ditch these guide rods and other means of controlling edge angle, but generally speaking, you will want strong rods that come with clear instructions. This can be the part of a kit that determines whether it actually gets used, or forgotten in some drawer.
Knife Sharpening System Reviews
In addition to the vise, the sharpening kit includes 4 whetstones ranging from Extra-Coarse (140 grit) to Extra-Fine (1500 grit), a bottle of sharpening oil, a wiping cloth, and a durable plastic hard case for storage and transport. The sharpening stand itself is crafted from hard cherry wood and provides a stable vise with a pistol grip for extra control during sharpening. The angle guidance system uses a single rod that runs through a spherical bearing that allows for smooth and precise control at any angle. This feature alone makes this system stand out from the competition.
This sharpening kit from KME includes everything you need to quickly and safely sharpen your blades to their maximum potential – and it provides it all in a very presentable setup that you’ll be proud to have on your workbench!
This kit is a no-frills set that gets the job done without trying to be fancy or overcomplicated. Simply clamp the guide to the spine of your blade and attach the proper stone to the guide rod. This set doesn’t have a spherical bearing like the previous one; this model has a slot in the bracket that the guide rod slides through. The result works just as well, though it feels a touch sloppier in practice.
A perfect kit for campers and hunters, the Lansky sharpening kit stores away in a compact plastic carrying-case that includes sharpening oil, the 4 whetstones, and a variety of rods for edge angles ranging from 17° to 30°. The Lansky Knife Sharpening System wins Best Value because it brings much of the same utility as more expensive kits, though lowers the price dramatically by cutting out unnecessary (and often unwanted) features.
This kit might present a slight learning curve to beginners that have never sharpened a knife or used a sharpening kit, but the included instructions are clear and easy to understand. If you are a beginner, you might be comfortable learning on a kit like this before upgrading to a more professional caliber setup.
And while that particular sharpening system didn’t make the cut, this supplemental stone is a steal at this price! These kinds of Ultra-Fine stones are typically what make the kits that include them cost so much than those that don’t. While our reviewers were really looking at systems more than whetstones, the affordability of this Ultra-Fine stone makes it stand out as a smart upgrade option to any kit.
The beauty of this stone is largely in its simplicity. Lay this on your kitchen counter, just beside the cutting block, and try a few strokes on either side of the blade before cutting. Throw it in a Ziploc bag and toss it in your hunting backpack for quick honing before skinning your hides, or keep it in a sewing room for quickly bringing scissors back to life.
The base of the system includes a suction cup to help stabilize while sharpening, and the edge control system is one of the better designs we’ve come across. If the same design were to be constructed with the same solid feeling of the KME’s base, this could easily be the winner.
That is not, in any way, meant to imply that this is not a great sharpening system. The edge control is intuitive and easy to set and the clamping device is engineered to offer maximum protection to your blade’s finish. Sharpening any style of knife on this kit is a breeze, as is changing out stones or setting a secondary angle. Best of all, everything fits nicely in the durable Cordura bag, included with the kit.
This is a highly versatile sharpening system that can put virtually any edge angle on any blade shape or length. The drawback is that it is so effective that a beginner’s mistake could potentially ruin your knife. As such, beginners should probably look at the top three kits first, until they are more familiar with edge angles and blade sharpening in general.
The WEN still makes an amazingly valuable addition to any workbench or hobby space, and this model includes a unique leather strop belt that will help take off wire edges and hone your knife to a razor’s edge. Additionally, the included jigs will help ensure you stay at the right edge angle throughout sharpening.
It is important to note that it is possible to sharpen at edge angles beyond what is listed on the platform. This is due to the listed edge being provided when ⅝” of the blade is above the vise clamp. By changing the depth of the blade in its mounting, it is possible to change the given angle of the stone.
The knife includes a carrying case for portability, but the design features small screw holes in its base for a more secure mounting. This can still be suitable for camping and hunting, however, as you can easily keep a couple of small screws in the bag and mount it to any picnic table or suitable log.
As we wrap this up, let’s briefly reflect on our top picks for Best Knife Sharpening System (some of you like to skip to the end). First, we selected the KME Precision Knife Sharpener System as our Best Overall. This kit brings the best in craftsmanship, stability, ease-of-use, and precise results. The inclusion of a spherical bearing to hold the guide rod is a feature that sets this kit apart from the competition in a big way.
Our pick for Best Value in a Knife Sharpening System went to the classic Lansky 4-Stone Deluxe Diamond System, due to its bringing the fundamentals of a top-notch kit in a highly-portable package and an affordable price. This kit is capable of doing the same thing as much more expensive kits, though the edge control system may present a learning curve to beginners.
And finally, our pick for Best Budget Sharpener actually went to an individual whetstone over a complete system, owing to it being an Ultra-Fine stone at an incredible price. Simply put, our review team didn’t want anybody out there to miss out on such an amazing addition to any system. We could have listed a cheap sharpening kit for sure, but if you’ve only got a few dollars to spend you will see far better results from this single stone than a cheap, poorly-built sharpening system.
We also covered a few runners-up; sharpening systems that were close calls to win a Top-3 pick or that represented some other unique value or feature. We know that everyone can have different needs or different budgets, and we’ve tried to make sure to present options that bring the best balance between cost and quality.
We hope you found this review of knife sharpening systems to be insightful, and maybe we even helped you find the perfect sharpening system! In any case, we sincerely hope it helped – stay safe out there, and thanks for reading!