Electric Sharpener vs. Whetstone: Pros and Cons
Pros and Cons of Electric Sharpeners
- Easy to use
- Get you a very sharp edge without any skills
- Require almost no maintenance
- Won’t get you as sharp of an edge as a whetstone
- Can scratch your blades
- Not suitable for restoring chips in blades
- Not a great option for knives with a hardness of 60+ HRC
- More expensive (compared to a single stone option)
Pros and Cons of Whetstones
- Deliver a significantly sharper and cleaner edge (with proper training)
- Can be used to restore chips and dents in blades
- Better option for expensive knives
- Better option for knives with a hardness of 60+ HRC
- More control over the sharpening process
- Cheaper option for those who can get by with one stone
- Better value for money
- Requires prior training to avoid damaging your knives (rather steep learning curve)
- Takes time and effort to get good results
- Not as convenient as electric sharpeners
- More time-demanding (preparation, sharpening, cleaning, flattening)
- Require maintenance (cleaning, flattening)
- More expensive than electric sharpeners (if you buy a set of stones + accessories)
- Inexperienced person can easily cause sharpening scratches to the blade
Ease of Use
When it comes to electric sharpeners, the main advantage is that they are very easy to use. You don’t need any special skills or knowledge to use them – all you need to do is follow the instructions in the manual, and you will be able to sharpen your blades with ease. This means that electric sharpeners are a great option for people who are new to sharpening their knives or simply don’t have the time to learn a new skill.
On the other hand, whetstones can have a rather steep learning curve. The first thing you should know is the type of stone and grit level you need for the job you’re trying to do. For example, fixing a chip in a blade requires a different type of stone than if you’re trying to get a razor-sharp edge. Whetstones also require quite a bit of practice in order to use them properly. Depending on the time you spent honing your skills, it might take you weeks or even months to get good at using a whetstone. So, if you’re looking for a sharpening method that will deliver results quickly and with little effort, then electric sharpeners are the way to go.
One of the benefits of electric sharpeners is that they require very little maintenance. Aside from removing metal dust and filings from the electric sharpener, there is basically no maintenance required.
On the other hand, most whetstones need to be soaked in water for a few minutes before use and cleaned after every use. Additionally, you will need to flatten the stone from time to time to keep it usable. This is a rather simple process, but it will require some extra time and effort on your part. For this purpose, you will also need to purchase a dedicated flattening stone which can cost anywhere from $20 to $100. So, if you’re looking for a sharpening method that is low maintenance, electric sharpeners are definitely the way to go.
Electric sharpeners can quickly and easily sharpen your blades with very little effort on your part. They are great for quickly sharpening a dull blade, but they will not be able to give you the same level of sharpness that you can get from using a set of whetstones.
Whetstones require more time and effort to get good results, but once you get the hang of it, they will reward you with the sharpest and cleanest edge possible. Additionally, whetstones can be used to fix chips and other damage on your blades that electric sharpeners simply cannot do. Also, if you own high-quality knives with a hardness on the Rockwell scale over 60, a whetstone will be a better choice since most electric sharpeners are not designed for such a hard steel. Therefore, if you’re looking for a complete solution for all your sharpening needs with the best possible sharpening performance, then whetstones are the way to go.
Time is another important factor to consider when choosing between electric sharpeners and whetstones. As you might expect, electric sharpeners are, without a doubt, the faster option. You can sharpen your blades in a matter of seconds or minutes, depending on how dull or damaged they are. Sharpening with whetstones will take anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour, depending on the level of wear of your knives.
It is also important to be aware of the time required for the preparation before sharpening. Electric sharpeners do not require any preparation. You can simply start sharpening your blades right away. On the other hand, whetstones need to be soaked in water for a few minutes before use. Also, keep in mind that cleaning after the sharpening session and occasional flattening of your whetstone will take additional time.
Control Over the Sharpening Process
As you can tell from the previous paragraphs, electric sharpeners have a lot of advantages over whetstones. However, one significant disadvantage that electric sharpeners have is the lack of control over the sharpening process. For example, different styles of knives, such as German or Japanese, require different sharpening angles. Furthermore, there are times when you might want to focus on a specific area of a blade, such as a chipped tip or a dent. In these scenarios, electric sharpeners simply fall short. Also, if you are an owner of an expensive collection of knives, you might want to take extra care of them and use a whetstone instead. It is not uncommon to get scratches on your blades from electric sharpeners, especially if you are a first-time user trying to figure out how to use the sharpener properly.
Both options have a rather broad and surprisingly similar price range. You can find whetstones for as little as $10 and electric sharpeners for around $20. However, in this price range, there are a lot of sub-par products that you want to avoid. If you are on a budget, whetstone will certainly give you a lot more bang for your buck. A great option can be Suehiro Cerax #1000 (Amazon link), which will cover most of your sharpening needs and, with a $40 price tag, will give you incredible value for the money. You can also find electric sharpeners in this price range, such as the Presto Eversharp, but we would consider it only as an option for cheap knives.
The Sweet Spot
For those who want an electric sharpener, a better choice is one of the tried and tested sharpeners, such as the Chef’s Choice 15XV (Amazon link) or a similar model, as these provide the best value for your money. With a price tag of around $130, these are not cheap, but thanks to their quality and durability, they will give you a great sharpening performance for many years to come.
If you are considering getting a whetstone, we would recommend getting a quality set of stones such as the Suehiro Cerax #320, the #1000, and the #5000 (Amazon link), which are among the best stones in terms of value for money. The cost of a single stone is around $40, so a set of three stones will cost you around $120. Add a silicone mat to keep the stones in place while you’re using them, and you’re on par with the electric sharpener in terms of price. With this set of stones, you will be able to revive very dull knives, fix chips, and get a razor-sharp edge on all your kitchen knives.
So, which one should you choose? This largely depends on your specific needs. If you are looking for a fast, easy, and convenient way to sharpen your knives, then an electric sharpener is the way to go. However, if you are looking for the best possible sharpening results and have the time to learn how to use a whetstone, then we recommend going with the whetstone. After all, this is the gold standard for sharpening knives and the truly complete solution for all your sharpening needs.
We hope that this comparison has helped you decide which sharpening option is best for you!