While there are a number of ways to keep your knife sharp, as all knives used with frequency will become dull. That's why it's important to have a device to sharpen or hone your knife on a consistent basis. Currently, there are a several tools that effectively sharpen knives. Here is a description of four types, how they are used and what their advantages are.
Electric Knife Sharpener
Sharpening stones, also known as whetstones, are a popular way to sharpen knife blades. The stones typically come in a rectangular block about an inch thick and can be made out of material such as diamond, ceramic and natural sharpening stones from Arkansas. These work very well with extremely dull knives, because depending on the grade, they can remove a lot of material from the blade. One of the major advantages is that the stones can be used on many other steel products, including scissors, razors and tools with larger blades.
The name sharpening steel is a misnomer, since sharpening steels only hone knife blades. For this reason, sharpening steels should be used during the upkeep of a knife, not to sharpen a dull one. That job should be left to a different method like a sharpening stone or an electric knife sharpener. Sharpening steels are long, narrow rods made out of steel or ceramic. This design minimizes the contact made with the blade, so it doesn't shave off much material. Instead, they deform and realign the blade into its original shape, which is why sharpening steels are important to use immediately before and after a knife is utilized.
Knife hones perform a similar function to sharpening steels. They cannot sharpen a completely dull knife, because they use steel and stone to take off a small amount of material from the blade. Knife hones come in different styles and sizes. For example, one design has slots that hone and polish the blade. Another design is a small sharpening stone used to run up and down the blade of a knife.
Electric knife sharpeners
The final type is the electric knife sharpener. These knife sharpeners typically come in the shape of a rectangular box with about three slots to place the blade in. Within the sharpener, there is a motorized wheel that spins. While electric knife sharpeners are known for their convenience and speed, they are often criticized for giving less control over the process and being bulkier than other methods. Also, these sharpeners are much more effective with kitchen knives than tactical or survival knives.