How to Use an Electric Knife Sharpener

how to use an electric knife

Sharpening your knives is a necessary but time-consuming task. You probably use your blades on meats, vegetables, and everything else you eat. This day-to-day use will take away the edge of even the best of knives so you should know how to use an electric knife sharpener.

Most people, however, do not learn how to sharpen knives manually the proper way. Sharpening knives is a time-consuming task that can cause damage if not done correctly. To streamline the job, we find the electric knife sharpeners invaluable.

But since these tools are usually non-descript little machines, we felt it would be useful to explain how to use electric knife sharpeners.


First, make sure your machine is facing you. It may seem a little too nit-picky to start here, but these machines aren’t always the most clearly labeled. The on/off button should be facing you, as should any numbers or labels on the grinding slots.

Clean your knife thoroughly prior to sharpening, to prevent dirt and grease from clogging your sharpener. Dirt and grease can also interfere with the sharpening process, or potentially damage your knife.

You should also double-check your user’s manual, in case there are any extra features that you want to be aware of.

Using An Electric Knife Sharpener

Once your electric knife sharpener is on, you should hear the motor spinning the grinding wheels inside.

You will start with the slots labeled ‘1’ or ‘coarse.’ These are the roughest grindstones and will do the general shaping and restoration.

Place the knife into the leftmost slot – you want the handle of the blade as far inwards as possible.

Then you will slowly pull the knife out from the slot while slowly raising the handle. Be firm, but gentle. Sharper edges are more fragile, so it’s worth being careful.

The rising motion is needed because most knives are curved upwards towards the tip, and you want the entire edge to sharpen. If you are working with a straight blade, then this isn’t necessary and might damage the blade.

Most sharpeners will have two slots for each stage, which will sharpen one side of the blade at a time. You will want to pull the knife through both slots at least two times each.

Before you move on to the next stage of sharpening, you’ll want to check the blade for ‘burrs,’ which are bits of metal that didn’t get removed by grinding. If you have any, you may need to run the blade through again, a bit more slowly.

A professional chef using an electric knife sharpener

Checking As You Go

The first stage of sharpening is not typically enough for a knife to be well-sharpened. You will want to continue to the next pair of slots, drawing your carver through at least two times with each slot. Not all sharpeners have the third stage, but this super-fine grain polishing will clean your edge while providing that extra bit of sharpness.

Lastly, you’ll want to rinse off your knife to remove any left-over filings or burrs.

Now you’re ready to test out your blade.

Take a folded piece of news- or printer paper and hold it up in one hand. Take the knife and slowly draw down and through the sheet. A well-sharpened knife should be able to cut smoothly and without catching. Feel free to do this before and after each stage of sharpening. This is how you can be sure an old sharpener is working well.

And that’s how to use an electric sharpener! Always treat every knife as if it were razor-sharp, and be careful with any cutting edge.

How Does An Electric Knife Sharpener Work?

Electric knife sharpeners work like the grinding wheels you would see in movies set in medieval times; These use spinning wheels of rough stone to grind down the edge of your blades. Modern grindstones are much more refined, smaller, and easy to use.

Most electric knife sharpeners will have two or three of these stones to help shape your blade. Typically a rough stone, which will remove metal from the knife to form a new edge. This is necessary because you can’t fill in any chips or nicks on a blade, you need to grind down the rest of the edge to match where this damage begins.

Then, a finer grit will buff away smaller amounts of metal to form the blade. This allows you to shape the blade more finely and create a cutting edge. Professional artisans and knife enthusiasts often have several sharpening stones of progressively finer grit, allowing them to produce incredibly sharp blades.

For kitchen purposes, you shouldn’t need more than two or three – just as many as an electric knife sharpener uses.

Are Electric Knife Sharpeners Bad For Knives?

Yes and no. An electric sharpener will remove much more metal than manual sharpening since it uses rotating grindstones. For more expensive knives, this will cut down on their lifespan.

Cheaper knives will benefit from sharpening, no matter how much metal is removed.

However, a short-lived knife is more useful – and safer – than a dull one. And if you aren’t willing to spend the time to sit down with a whetstone, then an electric knife sharpener is far better for your knives – and you.

Ultimately, an electric knife sharpener is most useful for a home kitchen. If you are interested in knives as a hobby, it would be far better to look into manual sharpening blocks. These are more versatile and gentle, allowing you to work with a broader array of knife types as well as improving their lifespan and edge.


An electric knife sharpener can make a tedious task a breeze. We absolutely recommend picking up a model for yourself, especially if you fancy yourself a home-chef.


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