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Knife sharpening is an aspect of knife ownership that is intimidating for beginners. There are many different types of sharpening systems to choose from, but how do you decide which one will suit your sharpening purpose the best? Another question is whether you should be looking for a beginner system at all. Here is the short answer (Amazon link:
The best knife sharpening system for beginners is Edge Pro Apex 1. It will help you easily maintain the correct sharpening angle throughout the process and be simple and easy to use. This sharpening system also produces repeatable, predictable results that do not rely on the skill of the person.
The way to choose a knife sharpening system if you are a beginner is to examine what you want your knife sharpening system to achieve and the types of knives that you intend to sharpen on the system. Answering these questions about your knife sharpening goals will give you a starting point that may eliminate specific sharpening systems from the outset and help you select the best solution for your needs.
If you are interested in checking out the best sharpening systems we recommend and use you can find them by clicking here (Amazon link).
What Are Your Knife Sharpening Needs?
If you are just starting out tackling the task of sharpening your own knives, you will need to establish a starting point that will guide you in selecting a sharpening system.
You should evaluate several considerations before you look at any of these systems to make sure you are buying a system that is going to do what you need it to do and sharpen your knives the way you need them to be sharpened.
- What kind of knives do you want to sharpen?
Do you need to sharpen pocket knives, bushcraft knives, kitchen knives, Japanese kitchen knives, or general-purpose knives?
- Are your knives stainless steel or carbon steel?
Carbon steel knives and stainless steel knives have different characteristics that affect the sharpening system that you will need.
- Do you have any single bevel knives?
If you own Japanese kitchen knives, there is a chance some of them could be single bevel knives, which will affect your choice in a sharpening system. By far, the best knife sharpening system for single bevel knives are whetstones, but some other sharpening systems cater to this bevel type as well.
- How sharp do you need your knives to be?
The Yanagiba is often made from laminated steel, with softer steel surrounding a central high carbon steel core made from traditional Japanese high carbon steels.
This type of construction produces a blade that has overall toughness with some flexibility but retaining the hard central core, which allows for an extremely sharp, hard cutting edge. From a traditional point of view, the steel used for these knives is usually Hitachi blue or white steel.
- Edge repair of simple sharpening?
If you simply need to restore a knife to full sharpness rather than fix a very dull or damaged knife edge, your choice in sharpener will differ.
Once you have evaluated your knives and decide what you want your knife sharpener to do for you, you are ready to look at how to go about selecting a knife sharpening system.
What Makes A Good Knife Sharpening System?
There are a few criteria that you should look for in a knife sharpening system that will make the process of sharpening easier and less intimidating for you as a beginner.
The best knife sharpening method is with a set of whetstones, but using this system to sharpen knives as a beginner is quite challenging.
Whetstones require a lot of practice and skill development to become proficient and consistent in getting predictable and acceptable results in your knife sharpening.
For this reason, we will leave whetstones out of the equation, even though they are the best and most versatile of the sharpening systems.
Even as a beginner, if you have the time and inclination, learning to sharpen knives on whetstones is a worthwhile and satisfying skill to acquire.
Once you have the skill needed on whetstones, you will be able to sharpen knives as quickly as any other system, and your knives will be significantly sharper.
However, from the point of view of getting up and running quickly and putting a great edge on your knives today, we will exclude whetstones as a choice for beginners.
The points to consider when looking for a beginner sharpening system are as follows.
- Preset angles
Maintaining the correct angle while sharpening the knife is one of the aspects of sharpening that beginners struggle with the most. Having a sharpening system that takes the guesswork out of setting and keeping the correct angle is a good advantage for a beginner.
A system that requires very little setup and the process of sharpening is basic and easy to perform will be of benefit to a beginner.
- Predictable and repeatable results
A knife sharpening system that will give predictable and reliable results on every knife that is not reliant on skill from the person using the system is a bonus feature to look for in the system.
- Robust construction
You will need a system made from quality materials to provide longevity of the sharpener.
- Easy to source replacement parts
Many sharpening systems use abrasives that wear out over time. Make sure you select a system that you can easily source replacement parts for.
BTW: If you want to know more about Japanese and other knives and their sharpening, check out the books listed above. These books are recommended by professional sharpeners and knife makers (Amazon links):
- Japanese Kitchen Knives: Essential Techniques and Recipes
- The Knifenerd Guide to Japanese Knives
- Knife: The Culture, Craft, and Cult of the Cook’s Knife
- Sharp: The Definitive Introduction to Knives, Sharpening, and Cutting Techniques, with Recipes from Great Chefs
TIP: Do you know which sharpening stones require a lubricant and which lubricant is the best? Find out the answer in the article below:
Lubricating A Sharpening Stone: The 12 Do’s & Don’ts
Knife Sharpening Systems For Beginners
Knife sharpeners can be classified into systems that will re-sharpen an already sharp edge that has lost a little of its sharpness and others that will give you the ability to perform more aggressive sharpening on the edge of your knife.
We will examine different types of knife sharpeners for beginners, from light-duty systems to systems that can be used to restore damaged edges on your knife.
Some manufacturers make knife sharpeners in both these categories of knife sharpeners, so you may see the same manufacturer’s name come up with different model sharpeners.
Best Light-Duty Knife Sharpening Systems for Beginners
A light-duty knife sharpener will have all the attributes that we discussed to make the sharpener easy to use with repeatable results every time.
The main difference between light-duty sharpening systems and heavier-duty systems is in the aggressiveness of the sharpening and the ability of the sharpener to fix a damaged edge.
The Warthog V-Sharp Knife Sharpening System For Beginners
This sharpening system is undoubtedly one of the best in the category of light-duty sharpening systems. The system has three angle settings that you can choose from for the secondary bevel on the knife.
These angles are 20, 25, and 30 degrees, suitable for most kitchen knives, pocket knives, and bushcraft knives.
The Warthog V-Sharp sharpening system (Amazon link) is an advanced version of a pull-through sharpener. It has sharpening rods that can be removed and positioned at one of the preset angle settings.
The sharpening rods are oriented to sharpen both sides of the knife edge simultaneously with a single movement.
The sharpening motion is by pulling the knife’s blade through the “V” that the sharpening rods form. The angle is maintained by the spring-loaded rods keeping the abrasive rod surface in contact with the knife’s edge throughout the process.
The system comes with a range of rods in different grit levels for sharpening to polishing the edge of the knife. The system also has optional extra ceramic rods that can be mounted in the system to hone the edge.
An advantage of this sharpening system is that you can sharpen serrated blades in exactly the same manner as straight-edged blades and with the same rods.
If you are interested in checking out the latest prices for the Warthog V-Sharp Knife Sharpening System click here (Amazon link).
Lansky Master’s Edge Knife Sharpening System For Beginners
Lansky is well-known for its quality knife sharpeners and is an example of a company that makes a range of sharpening systems for different applications.
The Lansky Master’s Edge (Amazon link) sharpens straight-edged knives and serrated blades and employs a “V” shaped sharpening system using sharpening rods.
This knife sharpening system is different from the Warthog system in that it does not sharpen both sides of the blade in a single stroke. You need to sharpen each side of the sharp edge with its own stroke on the rods.
The correct sharpening angle is maintained because the rods are placed in slots on the stand that keep the rods at the desired angle. As long as you keep the downward strokes of the knife vertical and straight, the correct angle will be maintained.
The Master’s Edge Knife Sharpening System comes with a pair of medium-grit ceramic rods at 800-grit for general sharpening and a couple of fine rods at 1000-grit for polishing the edge of the knife.
The system also comes with a triangular medium-grit rod used to sharpen serrated edge knives, fishhooks, and awls.
The Lansky Master’s Edge system offers 3 sharpening angles, namely 17, 20, and 25 degrees. The lid covering the system opens to become a hand guard to protect you from being cut during the sharpening process.
The rods can be stored conveniently in the unit’s base, which also has a non-slip rubber base to keep the unit stable while sharpening.
This beginner sharpening system works equally well on bushcraft knives, kitchen knives, pocket knives, and other utility knives.
- The 17-degree angle is excellent for sharpening thin-bladed sharp knives such as fish filleting knives.
- The 20-degree angle is ideal for sharpening butcher knives, paring knives, and skinning knives.
- The 25-degree angle is suitable for sharpening bushcraft and camping knives, chef’s knives, and kitchen utility knives.
This sharpening system packs away into a compact, easy-to-store package that can be stored out of the way when it is not being used.
If you are interested in checking out the latest prices for Lansky Master’s Edge Knife Sharpening System click here (Amazon link).
Work Sharp Ken Onion Angle Set Sharpening System
The Work Sharp Ken Onion Angle Set sharpener is another light-duty sharpener that uses a rod system for the abrasive.
The triangular rods have a different grit level on each side, ranging from coarse grit to medium and fine grit. The addition of the coarse grit abrasive is a positive feature of this sharpener, giving it more versatility for sharpening edges that have sustained some damage from use.
The fine abrasive is very fine with gives a nice polished finish to the edge of the blade, which takes the sharpness of the edge to the next level.
One of the features that we like the most about the Work Sharp Set Angle system (Amazon link) is the versatility of the angle choice for sharpening. This system can begin sharpening at an angle of 15 degrees and go up to a maximum of 25 degrees.
This product stands out because you can adjust the angle between the 15 and 25-degree angles in 2.5-degree increments.
This gives you a wider range of sharpening angles to choose from than most other systems with 3 or 4 set positions with no options in between.
This sharpening system is easy to use, and the rods can be rotated quickly to change the sharpening grit, and they index in exactly the same position to maintain the same angle you have set for sharpening your blade.
The abrasives used on the rods are ceramic and diamond abrasives, making this sharpening system suitable for knives made from all metals.
The sharpening method on the Work Sharp Set Angle system is such that you sharpen each side of the blade separately, but the cutting action of the diamond abrasive helps to speed up the process.
If you are interested in checking out the latest prices for Work Sharp Ken Onion Angle Set Sharpening System click here (Amazon link).
TIP: Do you know you can use even aluminum foil as a knife sharpener? Find out more in the article below:
Knives Sharpening With Aluminum Foil: Is It Even Possible?
Best Heavier-Duty Knife Sharpening Systems for Beginners
A knife sharpening system that we consider to be heavier-duty than the systems we have discussed thus far would provide more versatility in the number of grits offered for sharpening and one that is more aggressive in the sharpening method.
These systems may take a bit more time to establish the edge, but they give you the ability to restore the damage on your knives’ cutting edge and put a much keener edge on the blade.
These systems are typically a little larger, require more space to operate, and include several more steps in the sharpening process than the light-duty options.
Lansky Deluxe 5-Stone Sharpening System For Beginners
Lansky is a company that has built a name and a reputation for producing quality sharpening systems that knife makers and knife owners have come to respect. You can hardly hold a conversation about knife sharpening and not expect the Lansky name to come up!
The Lansky Deluxe 5-Stone Sharpening System (Amazon link) is easy to use with its preset 4 angles of 17, 20, 25, and 30 degrees. The angle is set by placing the guide rod of the abrasive in the relevant slot in the unit mounting frame.
Even though this Lansky sharpening system is excellent for beginners, it also works well for experienced people. This means that there is no need to replace this system with a more advanced product as your knife-sharpening skills improve.
The system comes with 5 abrasive stones, which are rated as follows.
- Extra coarse. This is a 70-grit stone that can quickly repair a blade with nicks and chips. You will only use this stone on very dull knives or knives with damaged edges. Knifemakers would use this stone to establish the secondary bevel for the first time on a new knife.
- Coarse stone. The coarse stone is a 120-grit stone that is used to condition the edge of the knife.
- Medium stone. The medium stone is a 280-grit abrasive for sharpening and the occasional more aggressive touch-ups to the knife’s edge.
- Fine stone. This is a 600-grit stone that is less aggressive and can be used for frequent touch-ups to the edge of your knife and make it very sharp.
- Ultra-fine. The ultra-fine abrasive is 1000-grit, an excellent finishing or polishing stone, and will put a razor-sharp finish on the knife’s cutting edge.
We like the Lansky feature because you can purchase additional sharpening and polishing stones and attachments, such as a leather strop with a polishing compound.
The strop is designed to be the same as the other stones, meaning it can be used in the same fashion in the system without learning a new technique.
The leather strop is a worthwhile optional extra to purchase because it can be used to do frequent touch-ups to the sharp edge of your blades without removing much metal from the knife edge.
A downside to the Lansky Deluxe 5-Stone sharpening system is that it does not come with a stand. You will need to use the system by holding it free-hand or purchase the stand separately, or clamp the system in a bench-vice to keep it stable while sharpening.
If you are interested in checking out the latest prices for Lansky Deluxe 5-Stone Sharpening System click here (Amazon link).
TIP: Are you looking to buy a new whetstone? Check out our recommendations (we personally use the first three ones):
Our PRO choice whetstones combo (Amazon links):
- Fixing stone: Whetstone SHAPTON Ceramic KUROMAKU #320
- Sharpening stone: Suehiro CERAX soaking whetstone: Medium #1000
- Finishing stone: Whetstone SHAPTON Ceramic KUROMAKU #5000
Our budget choice (Amazon link): Sharp Pebble Extra Large Sharpening Stone Set
Wicked Edge Precision Sharpener WE100 Knife Sharpening System
Wicked Edge is a USA-made knife sharpening system that has grown in popularity and comes in various systems, from beginner to advanced level sharpening.
Wicked Edge Precision Sharpener WE100 (Amazon link) is their entry-level knife sharpening system specifically geared for beginners to knife sharpening.
The system comes with diamond grit abrasives arranged in a back-to-back block with the 100 and 200-grits on one block and the 400 and 600-grit on the second pair of blocks.
When you are finished with one grit, simply turn the blocks around on the rod to use the next grit. The knife is mounted in a center clamp in a vertical position with the edge facing up.
This gives the ability to sharpen both sides of the sharp edge simultaneously by using an abrasive stone in your left and right hand with alternating strokes.
The angle range that can be set is from 15 to 30 degrees in 1-degree increments. This gives a great deal of versatility in the fine-tuning of the angle that you want on the knife.
The systems are modular, which allows you to buy additional accessories for the sharpening system without the need to buy a brand-new system.
This is a good thing because the Wicked Edge system is costly compared to the other sharpening systems we have discussed.
The price is the main reason many beginners choose a different system from the Wicked Edge brand, but these systems work very well and can give a professional finish to the edge of your blade.
If you are interested in checking out the latest prices for Wicked Edge Precision Sharpener WE100 Knife Sharpening System click here (Amazon link).
TIP: Serrated knives have different blades than other knives so they are sharpened differently. Find out how to sharpen a serrated knife in the article below:
TOP 7 Knife Sharpeners For Serrated Knives: Complete Guide
Edge Pro Apex 1 Knife Sharpening System For Beginners
Edge Pro is a knife sharpening system company that has a wide range of sharpening systems. They offer basic systems to pro systems, and the Apex 1 is their entry-level sharpening system for beginners.
The Edge Pro uses water stones as the abrasive in their system to sharpen knives. This gives you all the features that you can get with whetstones in an easy-to-use system.
You can get the same finish on your knife edge as you would with manual whetstones without the need to learn the skills of using these stones by hand.
The system’s action is similar to the Lansky system, where the blade is secured on the system’s frame, and the sharpening angle is adjusted on the rod the abrasive is connected to.
The system comes with an integrated stand, making it easy to use on a table or kitchen countertop with no need for a bench vice or other mounting accessory.
The Edge Pro Apex 1 sharpening system (Amazon link) offers a medium-fine stone of 220-grit, which is used to sharpen the knife’s edge. The kit also comes with a 400-grit stone for refining the edge after the 220-grit stone has been used.
You can build on this system by purchasing additional stones in varying grits as you progress in your knife sharpening or have different needs for other types of knives.
This knife sharpening kit is considered an entry-level kit, but you can opt for a more extensive kit, but the price of the systems increases substantially with the more advanced model systems.
If you are interested in checking out the latest prices for Edge Pro Apex 1 Knife Sharpening System, click here (Amazon link).
Choosing The Right Sharpening System
Selecting the appropriate knife sharpening system is pivotal for achieving optimal results and ensuring the longevity of your knives. Here’s a guide to help you navigate through the myriad of options available and choose the right system tailored to your needs and preferences.
1. Assess Your Sharpening Needs
Before diving into the plethora of sharpening systems, it’s crucial to understand your specific needs. Evaluate the types of knives you own, their material composition, and the level of sharpness you desire. Whether you have kitchen knives, pocket knives, or bushcraft knives, each may require a different sharpening approach.
2. Consider Your Skill Level
If you are a beginner, opt for user-friendly systems that offer guidance and simplicity, such as those with preset angles and straightforward processes. As you gain proficiency, you might want to explore advanced systems like whetstones, which offer versatility but require more skill and practice.
3. Determine The Purpose
Are you looking to maintain already sharp knives, or do you need to restore very dull or damaged ones? Light-duty systems are ideal for regular maintenance and minor sharpening needs, while heavier-duty systems are suitable for repairing and restoring damaged edges.
4. Explore The Features
Look for features that align with your needs, such as adjustable angles, ease of use, and the availability of different grit levels. A system that offers predictable and repeatable results, robust construction, and easy-to-source replacement parts is generally a good choice.
5. Set A Budget
Sharpening systems come in various price ranges, from budget-friendly to high-end. Establish a budget that reflects your usage frequency, the importance of knife sharpness in your activities, and how much you are willing to invest in learning and mastering the sharpening process.
6. Reviews And Recommendations
Explore user reviews, expert recommendations, and product comparisons to gain insights into the performance and reliability of the sharpening systems you are considering. Look for systems that have positive feedback regarding ease of use, effectiveness, and durability.
7. Think Long-Term
Consider whether your chosen system can meet your evolving needs as you become more experienced in knife sharpening. While excellent for beginners, some systems also cater to more experienced users, eliminating the need for a future upgrade.
8. Test Before Committing
Test different systems to get a feel for them before purchasing. This hands-on experience can provide valuable insights into the system’s functionality, ease of use, and effectiveness, helping you make a more informed decision.
Choosing the right knife sharpening system is a thoughtful process that involves considering your needs, preferences, skill level, and budget. By assessing your requirements, exploring available options, and doing thorough research, you can find a system that meets your immediate needs and accommodates your growth in the art of knife sharpening.
Whether you are a casual user or an experienced, the right sharpening system can make a significant difference in your knife sharpening experience, ensuring your knives are always in peak condition, ready to make precise and efficient cuts.
Sharpening your own knives is not only a rewarding activity, but you can get exactly the edge you want on your knife because you are in control of the process.
The process of sharpening a knife can seem a little intimidating to a beginner, but the systems we have discussed take much of the guesswork and high skill level out of the equation.
With these knife sharpening systems, you can get a superb edge on your knives and keep your knives in optimal operating condition all the time.
If you are not interested in pursuing knife sharpening as an interest or a hobby, we recommend one of the light-duty sharpening systems to do the basics.
However, if doing more significant repairs to the edges of your knives interests you, one of the heavier-duty systems would be a more appropriate choice.
TIP: Expensive versus cheap whetstones, do you think it is worth it to buy an expensive whetstone? We compared cheap and expensive whetstones, and you can find the result in the article below:
5 Reasons Why Expensive Whetstone Is Better Than Cheap One