Are you thinking of buying an electric knife sharpener, but aren’t sure if you really need one? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. With dozens of different knife experts chiming in on the electric knife sharpener, it can be hard to tell if these new machines are God’s gift to knife owners everywhere, or a contraption from hell. Thankfully, it is neither of those. The electric knife sharpener, like every machine ever created, has its strengths and its weaknesses. It might be the perfect tool for you, or you might hate it. If you’re on the fence about getting one, consider these pros and cons of a knife sharpener.
First, did you know that an electric knife sharpener will probably make your knife sharper than it was when you bought it? That’s right, sharper. Electric knife sharpeners tend to be set to between 15 and 10 degrees (source: thekitchenprofessor.com), which will put quite a point on your knives. It is also significantly sharper than most factories will make your blade. The reason behind this is that very sharp blades dull quickly. It is in the factories best interest to give you a knife that stays relatively sharp instead of actually being really sharp. This quick dulling won’t be a problem for you though, because you can just sharpen your knife whenever it gets dull.
The flip side of this awesome sharpening power is that most electric knife sharpeners don’t let you adjust the setting, which means you will only ever be sharpening your knife at the preset setting. This preset setting on most knife sharpeners, as previously mentioned, tends to be between 10 and 15 degrees. For most people, this will be all the sharpness you need, but some people prefer adaptability. For example, you might not think you need 10 degrees of sharpness, or you might prefer to have a duller knife that lasts longer. Either way, you will want to consider adaptability before you purchase an electric knife sharpener.
Another awesome thing about electric knife sharpeners is there speed. With most sharpeners, all you need is two passes on each side of the knife before it is fully sharpened (source: foodservicewarehouse.com). This speed is a result of the spinning wheels which grind your knife much faster than you could do yourself. These spinning wheels translate into a maximum sharpening time of two minutes, as opposed to the maximum of 40 minutes which is recommended on our article on whetstones. If you don’t want to spend a ton of time sharpening your knife, you might want to get an electric knife sharpener.
The flip side of this increased speed is that you have less control over how much steel is taken off your knife. Every sharpener will take steel off your knife, that is how you sharpen it. But an electric sharpener works far more efficiently than a stone. It will take steel off your blade quickly. Even if you’re careful, it is possible to cause cosmetic damage to your blade or significantly shrink it (source: morethanjustsurviving.com). Now, this isn’t that big of a deal for a cheap knife which never really needed to look good in the first place and can be easily replaced. But you might not want to send your hundred dollar blades through this kind of machine before you test it.
The final consideration is price. On amazon, you can get quality electric knife sharpeners for as little as $25.99, as shown in our article here. However, you will only get so much bang for your buck. High end electric knife sharpeners can be as expensive as $130. This high price could be enough to deter some people. However, it should be noted that high end sharpening stones can be as expensive as $100. For many, the speed and efficiency of an electric knife sharpener is more than enough reason to put out a little extra money. And in reality, you don’t even need to spend more than you would spend for a good sharpening stone to get a good electric knife sharpener.