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Manual vs Electric Knife Sharpener: The Key Differences

manual vs electric knife sharpener
Written by Robert Stevens

We live in a world where everything around us is automated. Even our basic kitchen knife sharpeners use automation. We plug them in and pull the knife through a few times, smooth the edges, polish, and there we have it a razor-sharp blade. So deciding on a manual vs electric knife sharpener should be easy right?

Actually, it is not as there are quite a few factors to take into account when choosing between the two. Some even settle on having both!

Manual vs Electric Knife Sharpener: What’s True and What’s Not?

Let me tell you something before you start rolling your eyeballs on to the differences. There’re facts about both sharpeners which you may not know.

Manual vs Electric Sharpener

1. Electric Knife Sharpener

These are made by different brands and although the designs may look different just like a toaster or kettle they all work on the exact same concept type.

The device automatically sharpens your knives for you all you have to do is hold and guide the blade through. It works on three stages from a coarse grind, fine grind and then an extra fine grind.

It is quick and gets the job done in a fraction of the time giving a smooth burr-free knife edge

using a manual sharpener

2. Manual Knife Sharpener

There are three different types of manual knife sharpeners:

Steel Sharpeners

These are long steel rods that most chefs have and will use just before or after they utilize their knives. These sharpeners are great for honing the blade of the knife to get that super cut just before use and to touch it up after use.

Block Sharpeners

These are also called sharpening stones or whetstones and they are excellent for very blunt knives. They are also very handy for sharpening other things such as razor blades and scissors

Manual Sharpeners

These are usually plastic handheld devices that are a smaller version of the electric sharpener. They have a handle and a few sharpening slots much like that of the grinding wheels on their electric counterparts. A lot of top chefs will have one of these as they are easy to travel with.

3. Using an Electric Knife Sharpener

These sharpeners are great to keep in your kitchen. Modern electric sharpeners are very handy, easy to use and quick to get the cutting edge on the knife that is required.

Working Procedures

These are the steps to using an electric sharpener

  • Get to know the device, read the manual and find out what all the different sections are for. Identify each part of the electric knife sharpener.
  • Ready the knives you want to sharpen
  • Gently feel along the edges of the knife for any burrs the edge should feel quite smooth
  • Plug it in, make sure the on/off button is facing the person about to use the device and then switch it on.
  • Starting on the left-hand side of the wheel (usually marked coarse or 1) place the knife in the center of the grind slot.
  • Gently lower it until to the hilt of the knife with the tip sticking out of the other side until the grinding noise can be heard.
  • Pull the knife back towards you arcing it up following the pattern of the knives design.
  • Do this again s at least twice on both sides of the coarse grinding section before moving onto the next stage which is usually marked as fine or 2.
  • Repeat the motion as for stage 1 the same amount of times you pulled the knife through in stage 1.
  • Repeat the procedure on the third stage usually marked extra fine, polish or 3.
  • You’re almost done using an electric sharpener! Once done turn off the machine and rinse the knife in some warm soapy water before using it.


  • Fast sharper blades
  • Removes a lot more burs to keep knives precision sharp
  • Has three different modes that can be used to hone or just touch up a blade
  • Blade glides through smoothly and helps get better flavor.

In practice, these tools outperform their manual counterparts when much time is not to be consumed, and you don’t have a knack for such jobs. Sounds like you got an easy take from the ‘electric knife sharpener vs manual’ debate! But, not right away! Their limitations may not put you at ease.


  • If there is no power, you cannot use the device
  • It is not easy to travel with
  • They can be quite expensive
  • Needs more storage space
  • As it is electric there are more parts to go wrong with it

4. Using a Manual Sharpener

Manual sharpeners are still very much in demand with some people actually preferring them to electric sharpers. Especially when we are all trying to be a lot more energy efficient.

Working Procedures

  • Always ensure the knife sharpener is kept in good condition
  • Holding the sharpener securely and on a flat surface put the base of the blade into the middle of the slot and then pull it back and move the handle upward as you pull the blade through the sharpening blocks. Follow the flow of the knives design.
  • Turn it around and repeat the process on the other side of the blade.
  • If the manual sharpener has another grinding slot use it to hone and or polish the blade.


  • No need for electricity so you don’t have to plug it in to use
  • Small, compact and easy to store
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to travel with
  • Not very expensive


  • There are usually only one or two grinding settings
  • It is manual and takes a bit more effort to get the knife sharp

So, What’s the Key?

So, are you yet to catch the key to manual vs electric knife sharpener? Well, it is a matter of choice really and what you are looking for. As manual sharpeners are not too expensive it is always best to start with them. Especially if you are on a limited budget. They can work just as well as the electric ones. There were around long before electric ones came out and seem to keep knives precision sharp! So if it is all you can afford then stick with the old tried and tested.

using an electric knife sharpener

Electric knife sharpeners are a handy tool to have is you can afford them. They sharpen, hone and buff up a knife to precision point sharpness that’s often required in advanced knife use, such as when knife throwing. But they can be expensive, not very energy efficient if you do not buy the right one and a lot more can go wrong with them as it does with all electrical appliances.

Both the electric and manual knife sharpeners have their pros and cons. Which one you buy is a matter of choice and what suits both your lifestyle and budget.

The best thing to do, if you can, if to have both that way if the power goes out or the electric device fails there is always the manual one.

About the author

Robert Stevens

A Seasoned Hunter

It’s been several years that Robert, a retired teacher and a proud dad, has silently been piling up mature bucks down the South. This humble hunter began his hunting journey at quite an early age and since then, he spent countless hours in the woods and learned good lessons in terms of woodsmanship. Along the way, he also made money sharing his skill with his followers and well-wishers.

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