Tuesday, September 3, 2013
In the past, I've recommended that knives be professionally sharpened. Until fairly recently, getting a good edge with inexpensive home sharpeners was next to impossible. You can get a great edge with any number of expensive sharpeners (tri-stones and Chef's Choice brand electric sharpeners, for example). Have the inexpensive ones improved enough to recommend them?
Yes, they have. I have an IKEA 3-stage sharpener that cost about $12 (pictured above). You can get similar inexpensive ceramic sharpeners at kitchen stores, Target, and online at Amazon.com. The prices are highly variable, but you should be able to find a 2-stage sharpeners for about $8 and a 3-stage sharpener for under $15. There is no need to pay more than that. The difference between a 3-stage and 2-stage sharpener is enough to justify the extra $5-7, but if you are on a tight budget, a 2-stage sharpener is adequate.
I like the IKEA sharpeners because it is easy to hold steady when you are sharpening. This is important for safety and for getting a sharp, smooth edge. I find that my knives don't hold a good edge quite as long as with a more "professional" sharpening (I theorize this has to do with the difference in the angle of the edge between the cheap sharpener and a great sharpener) but who cares? You have the sharpener there and it's easy to use. Sharpen your knives whenever they start to lose their edge. I don't even use a steel anymore. One advantage of the 3-stage sharpener - you can mostly use the medium and fine grit sharpener to keep your knives sharp. The coarse grit is great for really dull knives (like the ones you haven't sharpened in...well...forever) or when you want the absolute sharpest edge (good when you are trying to slice tomatoes).