Knife sharpening resources for the inept amateur

I want a simple resourse - video or website - to learn how to sharpen my knives. Looking at old threads, I see a lot of information that’s a little recondite for me. When it comes to tools, I’m not a simpering ninny. I don’t pick up a hammer and whimper, “I don’t even know which end of this to blow into.” But I’ll never be that skilled with things - it just isn’t in my DNA.

My kitchen knives have gotten dull and it took me till now to realize that the guy we use at the farmers market makes them sort of sharp for maybe two or three weeks before we need to sharpen them again and I should learn how to do this, somehow. I have a few knives that came from Williams Sonoma (think Wusthof or Henckels) and two nicer ones (Messermeister Oliva). I tried and failed to follow a few youtube videos on using stones (I scratched the hell out of the stones and the knives were no sharper) and then a friend who took pity on me sent me an orange ninja knife sharpener. I used it as advertised on a couple of cheaper knives and nothing happened. Then instead of drawing the blade through 5-6 times, I just decided to go town and do it 30-40 times on one of my Wusthof, and nothing still happened. Couldn’t cut a tomato or paper or whatnot.

So A: what device do I need to sharpen my knives and B: what video or instruction sheet should I use to learn how t use this device? I don’t mind using stones (believe it or not, I’ve ground my own sumi ink - I do have patience) - I just don’t want to start out by using them wrong and then spending an hour or two wasting my time and screwing up a good knife. There was, for instance, some interrupted discussion of a HORL system, but I couldn’t tell if the ones on amazon are what people like.

A good starting point is to ask some chefs in the area where they get their knives sharpened and use them to bring the edges back. I do this every year or so, and maintain the edges with a ceramic hone (similar to the steels they sell with knife sets, but ceramic). I do use sharpening stones occasionally, and unless you have lots of experience or an eye for angles, there are jigs that attach to the full edge of the knife that can help you maintain the proper angle.

I have friends who do a good job with electric grinders, but I don’t have a basement workshop or the inclination to do so


Try a different farmers market? Been happy with my farmers market guy.

I’m prepared to get massively shamed but I get good (as far as I know) results using a Chef’s Choice electric sharpener on my run-off-the-mill knives.


I used to use a Chef’s Choice on some of my European knives, and it did a decent job, but changed the geometry on my knife’s edges. Not the end of the world (some sharpening guys have done that as well). It’s pretty old now and my sharpening regimen works pretty well, so I don’t think I’ve used it for half a dozen years

I’ve had good experiences too. It’s a good match for the level of effort I’m apparently willing to put in (my stone remains in its packaging in a drawer).

Get the Ken Onion Knife Works sharpener, it’s got different angled jigs and sharpens very well. Super easy to use and isn’t too expensive.

The only drawback is you will use some steel on your knife faster than hand sharpening, unless you are chef or have custom made Japanese knives, this isn’t an issue.

Serious Eats did a good review on the subject.

I’ll hazard a guess I’ve butchered more animals than most on the board and I’ve been happy with the Knife Works sharpener on hunting, butcher and chef’s knives for years.


Martin Z posted a German knife sharpening system that looks good.

Horl, now there’s a knockoff.

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Yeah, and I didn’t see anyone affirming their love of it. The amazon reviews of the HORL and its various versions are positive but a video review said it only got things somewhat sharp.

I want to thank everyone for their responses so far - the Ken Onion looks pretty thorough but the shavings and eye gear and mask might make it a non-starter around our kitchen.

I’m going to ask some local chefs where they get their knives sharpened.

I’ll look into the Chef’s Choice for my basic knives. I’m taking it people mean this one:

I have the same Chef’s Choice - a hand me down no less! - and it works for my mass market Wusthofs.

There are no shavings with the Ken Onion and I’ve used it for years. Definitely don’t need eye gear as well, but to each their own. The Chef’s choice makes as many shavings as the Knife Works, I’ve owned both and gave away my Chef’s choice.

Yikes I had no idea that Chef’s Choice was so expensive. Mine has to be 30-40 years old, and was salvaged from my in-laws gadgetry when they were downsizing.

I have been looking into buying knives and learned that one of the things that may matter is the sort of steel they’re made of. That could determine the sort of stone you need and maybe other things too that I’m not aware of.

Another thing is that, if the edge isn’t lasting for even three weeks, you may be the problem (chopping motion instead of rolling for certain knives, wrong cutting board, etc.). Your knives could need a wider edge angle which means less precision cutting but longer lasting sharpness.

It’s bewildering really, but it may be worth your while to look into before you spend time and money going down the wrong path.


Henckels Zwilling offers a mail in sharpening service and they do a great job. Buy ZWILLING Sharpening Service Sharpening service | ZWILLING.COM
Once sharp an occasional use of a sharpening steel maintains the edge for a long time, for me 3+ years. I am sure the quality of the steel in the Zwilling Pro line steel contributes to maintain a sharp edge too.

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To be clear, all reputable knives are made with “quality” steel. But the style of the user matters in determining what tradeoffs are best because no steel can ever be best at toughness, edge retention and corrosion resistance at the same time. And even if you know the sort of steel, it matters at what temperature it was tempered to know what sort edge it will take and keep (if you temper it at high temps it tends to lose corrosion resistance and that makes keeping an edge harder). The link below explains some of it. That guy’s website is exclusively about this. He even invented a new alloy a few years back but it’s still not “best” for everyone.

I’ve had amazing results with just a diamond steel on my global knives. The diamonds on it actually do a great job sharpening the edge instead of just lining it up. You can see metal dust when you wipe off the knife after using it and it is razor sharp, been using one for decades now with no reason to try anything else. Costs about $20 so you’re not out much if it’s not for you. Can’t get a link to work, just search Amzon for diamond steel.

Might want to look into end grain cutting boards if you’re not already using one.

Try Knife Aid, mailin service , extremely efficient( knives returned in 48hr) incredibly sharp( now missing the nail end middle finger). Was once featured on shark tank. Not cheap . Mailing no hassle and included in cost. A treat to use very sharp knives.


Used Knife Aid for the first time. They did a fantastic job.


All right - I’m going to give them a try.