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Pull-through knife sharpeners put to the test

The pull-through sharpener is one of the easiest and fastest ways to sharpen your knives. The way your knife is guided ensures the right sharpening angle, one of the most important aspects when sharpening a knife. Perhaps the sharpening result is less razor-sharp than sharpening on a whetstone, but it is quick and easy. But which pull-through sharpener is right for you? We tested the most popular pull-through sharpeners for ease-of-use, feel, speed and resulting sharpness.

Testing the sharpness

To determine sharpness, we used the Edge-on-Up sharpness tester. This Edge-on-Up accurately measures the pressure it takes to cut through a small nylon thread. The Edge-on-Up only tests a small part of the blade. That is why we have tested each blade on 6 different spots. The average counts as the result of the sharpness test. Read more about the Edge-on-Up here.

We carried out the test with the Eden Classic Damast chef's knife. This is a popular knife, but it's also an average chef's knife like the ones most people will have at home.

To keep the test as fair as possible, we started each test with a fixed sharpness of 600 BESS. It is typically around this level of sharpness that a knife could use some sharpening. To achieve this sharpness (or rather bluntness) for each test, we passed a ceramic sharpening steel at a 90-degree angle over the edge of the knife until it had the desired bluntness.

We took five different knife sharpeners and used them under similar conditions, following the manufacturer's instructions. We did continue sharpening until we couldn't get the knife any sharper.

  1. Skerper Basic pull-through knife sharpener, SM001
    1

    Skerper Basic pull-through knife sharpener, SM001

    The Skerper Basic pull-through sharpener is the cheapest pull-through sharpener in this test. It has three sharpening stages. One coarse diamond-coated sharpening stone in step 1, a medium diamond-coated sharpening stone in step 2 and a fine ceramic sharpening stone in step 3. The sharpener feels sturdy and there's enough space to comfortably hold on to it. The first thing we noticed is that the first two sharpening stages feel and sound like they're very coarse. This is not unusual for diamond-coated sharpening stones, as they need to be pre-sharpened. The level of coarseness did make these stages very quick. After a few pulls through the machine, we already felt that we could move to the next phase. Same thing for stage 2, quite coarse and quick results. The last step was the ceramic sharpening stone. This felt like a pretty steep step up in grain size compared to the coarse and medium diamond-coated sharpening stones. The ceramic sharpening stone felt very fine in grit size. However, this step did feel slightly wobblier than the other two. It took some more effort to keep the knife at the right angle.

    Results:

    We got average results with the 306 BESS. That is more or less the sharpness of the knife when it's fresh out the box. A good pull-through sharpener for a good price!

    €24.95
    In stock
  2. Vulkanus Professional VG2 knife sharpener
    2

    Vulkanus Professional VG2 knife sharpener

    After the cheapest, we tested the most expensive pull-through sharpener. De Vulkanus Professional VG2. This sharpener only has one sharpening stage, but it automatically adjusts the sharpening angle to your knife. This pull-through sharpener uses carbide as its sharpening material. First of all, look at it! It is a pull-through sharpener that you can proudly leave on your counter. The sharpener is sturdy, you don't need to hold on to it when you're sharpening. What stands out is the sharpening feel. It is very subtle, and the removal of material doesn't seem too bad. This is fine if you're sharpening a slightly blunt knife, but if your knives are very blunt, it would take a long time before you get them sharp again. During our test, this sharpener was already definitely slower than the others. But the sharpness does not disappoint!

    Results:

    After sharpening the knife, we got an average sharpness of 294 BESS.

    €99.00
    In stock
  3. Chef's Choice ProntoPro 4643, knife sharpener
    3

    Chef's Choice ProntoPro 4643, knife sharpener

    If you are familiar in the world of pull-through sharpeners, you have probably heard of Chef's Choice. This pull-through sharpener has three sharpening stages, but in a slightly different way than the previously mentioned sharpeners. It has one slot for Japanese kitchen knives with a sharpening angle of 15 degrees. And another for European kitchen knives with a sharpening angle of 20 degrees. The third slot has a little diamond-coated sharpening stones, with a fine grit size. This sharpener has a big and comfortable handle. Since we're sharpening a European chef's knife, we only used the second and third slots. What stood out was the grip the sharpening stones have on the blade. It's not at all wobbly. However, we were a little concerned about the material of the sharpening stones. The second slot felt pretty coarse. The final stage is finer, but it is still a diamond-coated sharpening stone. Diamond-coated sharpening stones are generally coarser than a ceramic sharpening stones. But it sharpens quickly, that's for sure. And even though it felt very coarse, the results did not disappoint!

    Results of the sharpness test

    After sharpening, the knife had a sharpness of 228 BESS.

    €80.10
    ± 3 days
  4. Zwilling J.A. Henckels TwinSharp Select Knife Sharpener
    4

    Zwilling J.A. Henckels TwinSharp Select Knife Sharpener

    The next pull-through sharpener is from the famous knife brand Zwilling. This sharpener has two stages. This first step features a little steel wheel, which you can use to hone your kitchen knife, similar to a honing steel. The second step has a fine ceramic sharpening stone for the actual sharpening. This sharpener has a stylish and sleek design, but did it pass the test? It took us a few tries before we got the knife in the right position and before we got the movement right. After five minutes, we got the hang of the technique and sharpening went smoothly. This sharpener does make more sound than the other sharpeners we tried. The metal slot is comparable to a honing steel, so this step is not suitable for really blunt knives. But the ceramic slot sharpens quickly. What's great about this sharpener is its price and its looks. All in all, a great product!

    Results:

    After sharpening, the knife had an average result of 288 BESS.

    €39.95
    In stock
  5. DMT Simple Sharp pull through sharpener
    5

    DMT Simple Sharp pull through sharpener

    DMT is known for their diamond-coated sharpening products. The DMT SimpleSharp combines DMT's high-quality diamond-coated sharpening stones with the convenience of a pull-through sharpener. The sharpening stones in the pull-through sharpener can be replaced with any other sharpening stones from DMT's W7 series. This gives you a lot of different sharpening stones to choose from! Sold separately, unfortunately. We tested it with the sharpening stones that are included with the SimpleSharp: the DMT W7F fine sharpening stones. It was a little difficult to hold on to the sharpener. We found the black parts with grip a bit oddly placed and you have to be careful not to cut your fingers. We held it at the bottom and that seemed to work okay. The pull-through sharpener is made of plastic, but it feels sturdy. The sharpening feel is nice and you get quick results. But the main advantage is that there are different sharpening stones available for this sharpener!

    Results:

    After sharpening, the knife had an average result of 280 BESS.

    €33.95
    In stock

Conclusion

A pull-through knife sharpener is easy to use and definitely a good option for those who want sharp knives, if convenience and speed are a high priority with sharpening. The true ‘razor edge freaks’ will have to take a look Japanese water stones. These give you the ultimate razor-sharp edge on any blade. The pull-through sharpeners we tested all sharpen your knives and offer good results. The speed, ease-of-use and feel do differ per product. Each sharpener has its own pros and cons that you can consider before making your choice.