Why Are Pull-Through Sharpeners Bad?

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 04/21/21 •  5 min read

While pull-through sharpeners are a staple in a lot of households, they don’t exactly have a good reputation in the knife community.

But why are pull-through sharpeners bad?

While these tools make sharpening a quick and easy job that can be done in minutes, they also strip away a lot of the metal on your blade which greatly decreases the lifespan of a knife.

To use these sharpeners, all you have to do is wedge the knife in between the abrasive from heel to tip, which can give you a pretty serviceable edge in minutes.

However, this technique will strip away a lot of the blade’s metal, which doesn’t damage your knife too badly, but if you do it too much you could end up with a thin and weak blade that won’t last too long in the kitchen.

In this article, we take a closer look at pull-through sharpeners, their pros, cons, as well as some alternatives to using these tools.

Read on to learn more.

Are Pull-Through Sharpeners Really That Bad?

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to sharpen your blades at home, pull-through sharpeners may seem like a viable option.

After all, they are relatively inexpensive, easy to find, and don’t have a steep learning curve to use.

But that being said, the way these sharpeners work is by having an abrasive which you pull the blade through to sharpen it which takes out big chunks of your blade.

This will give you a decent edge that you can use in the kitchen in a matter of minutes, but in the long run, they can do some real damage to the blade and decrease the lifespan of your knife significantly.

So if you’re looking to take care of your blades and have them last you a long time in the kitchen, then these tools aren’t exactly recommended.



Alternatives To A Pull-Through Sharpener

If you’re a chef looking to take better care of your blades and you want to sharpen them on your own, here are some alternatives you can use.


This is the most popular way to sharpen premium knives.

It involves using a bench stone, whetstone, or water stone, which is basically a flat and dense block used to hone and sharpen blades.

These will take some time and effort to learn how to use, as using the wrong technique might result in your damaging the knife or even dulling it.

But once you get the hang of it, it is one of the best ways you can get a very sharp and functional edge on your knives.

If you can, try asking a professional how to teach you to do the job as that is the best way to learn, but you can also always learn the proper techniques online through videos and even well-written instructional articles.

Just keep in mind that this is a fairly tough technique to learn, but it also allows you to have the freedom to give your knives an edge that is perfect for your needs and meets your requirements just right.

Electric Sharpener

This is a quick alternative if you want to get a serviceable edge fast, but it isn’t exactly recommended, especially if you have expensive knives.

Electric sharpeners are very easy to use as all you have to do is put the blade inside the machine and it will do the rest for you.

That being said, these tools don’t take care of your knives too well and could end up thinning the blades too much and decreasing their lifespan just like a pull-through sharpener.

Sharpening Rods

This is an old-school method that has stood the test of time just like the whetstone.

Using sharpening rods requires some effort and it might take some time to get the hang of, but they are generally considered to be easier than whetstones.

They will also usually come with detailed instructions that are easy to follow and can give your knives a very sharp edge.

However, these tools have set angles that you can’t change, so you don’t have as much freedom and flexibility as with a whetstone.


At the end of the day, pull-through sharpeners are convenient and easy-to-use tools, but they are also detrimental to knives.

They take out significant chunks of metal every time they are used, which in the long run can reduce the lifespan of your blades, which is not something you want happening to your favorite kitchen tools.

So if you are looking to take good care of your blades, it might be best to consider using these sharpening alternatives instead!

Ryan Leavitt

Hi my name is Ryan Leavitt a Marine Corps Veteran and currently an over the road trucker (Long Haul). I am no expert chef but am enjoying preparing my own meals on the road and testing all the different knives.