So, I seem like the kind of guy that would love what these ‘self-sharpening knife blocks’ bring to the table.
But, as with every other thing that I am remotely interested in, I’ve had to ask:
Do self-sharpening blocks work at all or are they another gimmick to get me to spend some extra money on stuff I won’t need down the line?
Well-made self-sharpening knife blocks help to keep the knife sharp after each use. These knife blocks are designed with in-built sharpeners that work on the knife-edge whenever the knife is put back in or replaced.
That said, should you get one?
How do self-sharpening knife blocks work?
If you’re here, you already know what a knife block is, so I won’t get into that too much.
It is one of those amazing ways to store your kitchen knives properly if you care about them at all.
With the self-sharpening kinds, you get a knife block that is fitted with a sharpening surface within each slot. Each slot is tailored to the different knives in your set, considering the blade.
Sharpening motions require dragging the edge of the knife across the surface of a sharpening stone/ tool, usually at an angle. For self-sharpening blocks, there is usually a V-shaped mechanism that tackles both sides of the knife edges at the same time when you pull the blade out or replace it.
Genius, isn’t it?
Now, to the meat of the post…
Do sharpening blocks work?
Of course, they do.
The rate at which they work depends on the quality of the self-sharpening block that you get.
Some of these fancy knife blocks ship with your knife set from some manufacturers. That could come as a standard or add-on, depending on how you like it. I know that Shun knives offer such options with some of their line-ups, for example.
The issue, however, is that the majority of these knife blocks are ruining your knives more than they are helping you to keep things going well.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Just look at the next section.
Why you don’t need self-sharpening knife blocks
They sound all fancy and great till you consider the following reasons:
Constant knife chipping
When I discussed sharpening your knife on the whetstone, I mentioned that this is not something you should do every time.
A great knife has equally great edge retention and should not need to be sharpened more than 3-5 times per year. This range is dependent on how much you use your knives too, but it is a good range.
Now, using these blocks means every time you store your knives, you are chipping the metal away slowly. I don’t know how much you spent on that knife but I can tell you that you’re ruining your investment.
If you like to keep using a knife block set for storage but with knives that keep their edge for longer, look at these high-carbon steel knives. They will do wonders for you.
When you feel like the knife is out of shape, take it to a honing rod instead and you’ll see that it is ready to go again.
After sharpening your knives, I wrote a guide to stropping the knives effectively. That step helps you remove all the burrs and extra metal residue on the body of the knife.
While it doesn’t sound like that much of a big deal, rinsing the knife off every time you take it out so that you don’t get the metal residue in your food could fast become a hassle that you would rather not deal with.
Save yourself all that headache and choose a conventional knife block instead.
Why you should get a self-sharpening knife block
I was not about to go all negatives on this one. Cos, truth be told, there are some positives there.
The biggest positive for me has to be that not everyone knows how to sharpen their knives right. Get something as subtle as the sharpening angle wrong and you could ruin the knife.
These self-sharpening blocks come with the sharpener angled right for the specific knives that fit into their slots.
While they damage the knife in the long run, they can surely be useful for heavy knife users in a shorter timeframe.
However, you can easily solve that headache by picking up a pull-through knife sharpener instead. This quality WUSTHOF Stage 4 Pull-Through Sharpener comes with angle guides for different knives and you can keep it handy for when you need to sharpen the blade again.
Likewise, above other things, these blocks offer a fine way to store your kitchen knives after use. After all, they are knife blocks first before they are sharpeners.
If you will be getting a self-sharpening knife block, make sure to have weighed the pros and cons of the decision first.
Also, read up on how knife blocks might be an unsanitary storage method and be prepared to take care of the blocks right.
Once you make a decision, I’m sure it’s going to be the right one. Go for it and enjoy your purchase – or explore other forms of storage and knife sharpening instead.