How To Choose The Best Pocket Kitchen Knife Sharpener

How many times have you complained about a blunt knife? Too many, I’ll guess. It’s the biggest lament of any cook. Buying a ‘good’ set of knives won’t solve the problem – all knives need sharpening.

The solution is simple – a good knife sharpener. The one I use most is my pocket knife sharpener, so here are a few I’ve honed in on for you.

A Good Cook Needs Sharp Knives

Cooking is my passion, and the more I cook, the more I realise the importance of having quality tools. Dull knives are my pet hate. Having a pocket knife sharpener handy in my apron pocket is so convenient! It sharpens my knives in a few short strokes, and I can get on with my food preparation.

A dull knife is dangerous for two reasons:

  1.  You need to apply more pressure, and you become reliant on the force to do the cutting instead of the blade. Applying too much force means slipping which can lead to injury.
  2. If it does cut you, a dull knife does a poor job making it more difficult for the wound to heal or stitch.

Besides the safety reasons, a good sharp knife is faster, does a better job, and is a joy to use.

If you can afford to pay someone to sharpen your knives, then that is a good option. However, it can work out to be quite expensive if you use them a lot. By comparison, a pocket knife sharpener is low on price and high on versatility and sharpening performance.

What to Look For in a Pocket Knife Sharpener

Carbide Blades and Ceramic Stones

Most knife sharpeners have two stages for sharpening: carbide blades for setting the blade edge, and ceramic stones for sharpening knives that need finer sharpening.

So, for your dull knives, slide them through the carbide first to re-set the cutting edge, then slide them through ceramic stones to sharpen finely. Once they are sharp, they should only need to be honed in the future unless they have been neglected for a while or have had heavy use. Only flat edged knives should be drawn through cross-set sharpeners.

Serrated Knife Sharpening Capability

Serrated knives can be sharpened using a diamond-coated rod, or a sloped ceramic edge (as shown on the Lansky PS-MED01 BladeMedicbelow) both of which are especially designed for sharpening the individual edges of a serrated blade.

Sharpening Angles

To get the most out of your knives, it is best to sharpen them at the angle that best suits their purpose. The sharpening angle refers to the angle between the blade and the sharpener. As a general rule, the following angles are best:

17° Angle:

The 17° angle is best for extremely sharp but delicate edges such as razor blades, scalpels, and some meat knives, etc.

20° Angle:

The 20° angle is the most commonly used and is ideal for kitchen knives and filet knives.

25° Angle:

The 25° angle is recommended for knives needing a durable, sharp edge such as hunting and outdoor knives.

30° Angle:

The 30° Angle is most suited to knives used for heavy duty jobs such as cutting cardboard, wire, or carpets.

Now, that you have all that information you may not have had before, you are probably thinking about how lacking most of your kitchen knives are. When you go from chopping crab shells to removing fine membranes from shrimp, you will agree with me that not only do you need a variety of knives, but they need to do the job they were designed for.

When you are busy preparing an elaborate meal and only have a short moment to devote to sharpening your tools, a pocket sharpener is invaluable.

1. Smith's PP1 Pocket Pal Multifunction Sharpener, Grey

Smith's PP1 Pocket Pal Multifunction Sharpener, Grey

If you’re looking for a pocket knife sharpener to pop into your kitchen drawer, this one has all the features you need. The casing has a ‘thumb’ shaped indentation for a comfortable grip, allowing you to place your thumb in the safest position on the tool.

One of the things I like about this sharpener is the removeable carbide blades and ceramic stones. Unscrew the casing and turn them around to double the life of the sharpener. This is a great feature for such a low-priced tool.

The fold out diamond-coated rod is a mini sharpening steel and can be used for sharpening serrated and flat edged knives. The tiny rod allows you to get in between the serrations to sharpen them individually.

If you have a combination of flat blade and serrated knives in your kitchen tool arsenal, this pocket blade sharpener will serve well.

Pros

Lanyard hole

Diamond-coated rod

Comfortable grip

Cons

Serrated knife sharpening is limited to the diamond-coated rod; no ceramic edge.

2. Lansky QuadSharp QSHARP

Lansky QuadSharp QSHARP

Different knives will have blades sharpened to the angle that best suits their purpose, and this little sharpener gives you all the options. From fine paring knives to an axe head, this one will do them all.

As a cook, you need your knives sharpened at angles between 17o – 25o,  but if you have other heavier duty cutting implements in your home, you will get a lot of use out of this little tool. It has a ceramic stone edge along the top for sharpening serrated knives, too.

If you are particular about the cutting edge angle on your knives and want the right knife edge for the right job, then the Lansky Quadsharp would be a good choice.

Pros

Removeable blades and stones

Multiple sharpening angles

Ceramic stone edge for serrated knives

Cons

No diamond-coated steel rod

3. SiliSlick 2 Stage Portable Knife Sharpener, Tungsten and Ceramic Blades

SiliSlick 2 Stage Portable Knife Sharpener, Tungsten and Ceramic Blades

The little chain gives you the option of hanging this sharpener in a convenient spot in your kitchen, or on your knife block; no need to rummage through your utensils drawer, however, if you do store it there, the bright orange color makes it easy to find.

I like the design of this sharpener – it fits well in your hand and has a textured surface and rubber base providing a good solid grip, minimizing slipping – an important feature in any sharpening device.

Having both carbide blades and ceramic stone sharpeners means you can sharpen all kinds of flat blade knives in just 3-4 strokes, saving you time in the kitchen.

Pros

bright color for easy finding

key chain

solid grip

Cons

Not suitable for serrated knives

4. Sharpal 101N 6-In-1 Pocket Knife Sharpener & Survival Tool, with Fire Starter & Whistle

Sharpal 101N 6-In-1 Pocket Knife Sharpener & Survival Tool, with Fire Starter & Whistle

Pocket knife sharpeners are made specifically for the outdoors, and the Sharpal has extra features making it more useful in that setting. The whistle and fire starter features are not necessary for use in the kitchen unless you need to whistle for help or save your voice when calling everyone to dinner, but they are perfect if you are camping.

Because this sharpener is designed for the outdoors, the angles on the sharpening blades and stones are set broader, designed for heavier duty outdoor knives. It would probably be ok for a butcher’s knife or meat cleaver, but not for a paring knife or any knife needing a fine edge.

The grooves on the diamond-coated sharpening rod are a handy feature for sharpening fish hooks.

Over all, this sharpener is best suited to the camping or fishing enthusiast.

Pros

Grooved diamond-coated rod

Whistle

Fire starter

Cons

No ceramic sharpening edge for serrated blades

Sharpening angle better suited to outdoor knives

Not suitable for kitchen knives needing a fine cutting edge

5. Lansky PS-MED01 BladeMedic

Lansky PS-MED01 BladeMedic

This Lansky pocket knife sharpener is a useful addition to your kitchen tools and is the most feature rich of all the ones I’ve researched. It will give you a good useable sharp edge for your larger kitchen knives, however, it does not give you the option of getting a really fine cutting edge with smaller angles. Even so, it does have the flat ceramic edge and diamond-coated rod for sharpening your serrated knives, which makes it very handy to have.

The sharpening edges are all removeable, so you can turn them around to get more life out of the sharpener.

The body is a comfortable ergonomic design with a cut-out underneath for a firm grip and a lanyard hole for convenience.

If you are looking for a basic pocket knife sharpener that sharpens both flat and serrated blades, this will be a valuable addition to your kitchen.

Pros

Suitable for both flat blade and serrated knives

Removeable sharpening blades and stones

Lanyard hole

Cons

Only one sharpening angle

CONCLUSION

One thing stands out with four of the five pocket knife sharpeners I’ve reviewed here – they all have only one sharpening angle best suited to outdoor knives, which is what they are originally designed for.

Loving to experiment in the kitchen means I need to have a collection of many different knives. A knife with the right sharpness gives me good results and saves me time. Having a good sharp knife specific to a particular task can make the difference between cooking being a chore and being a pleasure.

The Lansky QuadSharp Carbide/Ceramic Multi Angle Knife Sharpener, Blue meets all my requirements for a kitchen pocket knife sharpener. Although it doesn’t have the diamond-coated rod, it can still sharpen serrated blades with the ceramic edge. If I found I needed the rod, then I’d buy the Lansky PS-MED01 BladeMedic as well, but not instead.

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