This Foolproof Knife Sharpener Is My Favorite Way to Sharpen Knives

Culinary pros tend to shun gadgets like this — but I'm a convert.

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February 18, 2021

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Finely diced red onion on a cutting board with kitchen knife.


Finely diced red onion on a cutting board with kitchen knife.

Photo by: Nicholas Kostin

Nicholas Kostin

When I was in culinary school, having a sharp knife was pretty much the sign of being a good cook. My chef instructors would walk around the kitchen and occasionally feel how sharp our knives were. If one of these sneak attacks came and yours was deemed dull, you’d be ridiculed in front of the whole class. Needless to say, I quickly learned how to keep my knives razor-sharp.

In fact, knife sharpening became the before- and after-class equivalent of the water cooler. Someone always had a whetstone on them, which they’d soak in water and lay out on side towels. We’d take turns gliding our knives across it, trading gossiping about who did what the night before.

Although I held onto my whetstone when I left professional kitchens, using it seemed like a lot of planning ahead. The necessity to soak the stone made me feel like I should, for efficiency’s sake, sharpen every single one of my knives in one go – and that prospect felt overwhelming. Instead, I’d end up giving my knives a quick brush-up with my steel, which straightens their edges, but doesn’t actually sharpen them.

That all changed when my dad gave me a Brod & Taylor Professional Knife Sharpener, a gadget he’d raved about for years (and with good reason). Now, if I’m mid-slice and think my knife could use a tune-up, it’s no sweat to run the blade through the spring-loaded “v”-shaped gadget a couple times. I keep it next to my cutting board on the counter so it’s easy to access — and feel comfortable doing so because it’s compact and attractive.

Plus, all the other knife sharpeners I’ve used dull in comparison (har-har-har). Truly though: the other "v"-shaped sharpeners I’ve tried are tippy and don’t sharpen as powerfully. The Brod & Taylor sharpener has a neat function to restore a dull blade to it’s factory bevel (or, in other words, make it as sharp as brand-new). All you do is pull your knife through tip-side down. Pull it through tip-side up for minor sharpening. It's simple compared to electric sharpeners, which are large, complicated and mess up your blade if you go wrong.

Since using the Brod & Taylor sharpener, I’ve had chef friends over to cook. And as chefs are wont to do, they inspected my knives and pronounced them very sharp. Did I 'fess up my secret? Let’s just say they were none the wiser. But I’m telling you, dear reader, because the gift of sharp knives forever is a very great one — whether it’s for your dad, your best friend or yourself.

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