The best knife sharpeners for the field and the kitchen

A sharp knife can be the difference between clean rooms in game bags and a trip to the ER to sew up your slip. The simplest step to protect yourself from injury when cutting in the field or cooking your crop in the kitchen is to make sure your blade is as sharp as possible.

While this may seem counterintuitive to some, a sharp blade will cut easily, while a dull edge requires more force to make a cut. That force might be enough to drive that blade into your thigh instead of the hindquarter you’re working on.

Here at MeatEater, we’ve partnered with Work Sharp because we believe they provide the best in the business to keep your blades sharp, from high-flying hunts to home-cooked meals.

Jump to: Knife sharpeners we use

What to look for in a good knife sharpener

A good knife sharpener should (obviously) sharpen your blades, but it should also get the job done without much fuss and fuss. It is important to consider where you plan to use this sharpener, how long you plan to use it, as well as your experience with sharpening. Here are some key things to consider when shopping for a knife sharpener:

  1. Sand
  2. Guided angle
  3. Country or Kitchen

You don’t want to carry the weight of the Whetstone sharpener on a hunt, but the Field Guided Sharpener is lightweight and portable for such instances. If you’re sharpening your entire arsenal of kitchen knives, it would be difficult to do it in a timely manner with a field tool, so a strap sharpener will get the job done faster.

If you’ve never sharpened a blade with a belt sharpener, the E5 kitchen sharpener is a more accessible product to learn than the Ken Onion Edition knife and tool sharpener. And if you’re looking for something you can use indoors and outdoors, the Pivot Response Guided Sharpening System is a sharpener for your home that comes with a sharpening tool in the field.

Work Sharp includes angle guides on all of its sharpeners so you can have a consistent degree of sharpness throughout the blade. Most people agree that 20° is a suitable angle for most knives, but be sure to research your knife before sharpening it to learn more about which angle is most appropriate.

Jump to: What makes a good knife sharpener

Knife sharpeners we use

What makes a good knife sharpener

Proper abrasion, stability, and consistency make it a very good knife sharpener. You don’t want the blade to wobble and it should follow a consistent angle to get the sharpest knife possible. Work Sharp builds sharpeners with you in mind with angle guides, a secure base, and a frame built to last.

Sharpen like a Samurai

The infamously deadly katana was not made this way by accident. And since the days of feudal Japan, not much has changed when it comes to sharpening. The samurai used a two-step process to sharpen their blades.

First, they polished the edge with a low-grit emery stone, working to a fine grain. A coarser grit will remove more metal from the blade, creating a burr and angled edge. Then the finer grit will refine the edge into a sharper blade. After grinding, they would finish sharpening the sword on water stones. Now we call these whetstones. Essentially, it is a superfine grit stone that uses water to lubricate the surface and create an ultrafine finish.

You don’t have to be a samurai or wield a katana to have the sharpest knives on the butcher block. To read more about how to properly sharpen a knife, click here.

MeatEater Crew Field Notes