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Spotlight: Work Sharp Ken Onion electric sharpening machine

The Work Sharp Ken Onion Knife & Tool Sharpener was designed in collaboration with American knife maker and designer Ken Onion. It is one of the most popular and efficient sharpeners right now. Why? Let's find out in this Work Sharp Ken Onion Review by Knivesandtools.

Who is Ken Onion?

Ken Onion is an award-winning American knife maker. He is known for his collaborations with knife brands like CRKT, Zero Tolerance and Kershaw. But also for his special innovations that have shaped the world of knives as we know it today, such as the Field Strip Technology mechanism. With this mechanism, you can take a pocket knife apart in mere seconds to clean it. Without using tools. But his most important invention is the SpeedSafe-assisted opening. This is an opening mechanism featuring an integrated spring. When you think something has evolved as far as it can, Ken Onion always knows a way to give it a different spin.

The origin of the Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener Ken Onion Edition

This collaboration between Work Sharp and Ken Onion didn't come out of nowhere. One of the most important machines in a knife maker's workshop is the belt sander. And in fact: the Knife & Tool Sharpener Ken Onion Edition is a mini version of this. When you put a sharpening belt with a fine grit on a belt sander, you can sharpen knives with it. Many knife makers, such as Ken Onion, use this because it works faster and more efficiently than a sharpening stone. Ken Onion thought everyone should get a chance to enjoy this! That's why Ken Onion and Work Sharp teamed up to produce this electric sharpener.

“In my opinion: the Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener is the most universal, most versatile and best personal sharpening system out there.”

The most important parts of the Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener Ken Onion Edition?

The base

As we've already mentioned, this is in fact a professional, mini version of a belt sander. It consists of the handle and the head. There is a motor in the head of the sharpening machine that turns the central wheel on the right side of the head. You activate the motor (with adjustable speed) with the button below the handle. The handle has rubber-like material to ensure good grip while working. The rotating wheel turns the sharpening belt. Power is supplied via a power cable that you plug into the socket.

Guidance system and edge guide

Kitchen knives, pocket knives, chisels, axes, gut hooks, scissors and even serrated knives. You can sharpen all of them with this system. The guidance system has a rotary knob that gives you the option to choose the angle you want to sharpen at, between 15 and 30 degrees. In our opinion, 15 degrees is ideal for a Japanese chef's knife, 20 to 25 degrees for most pocket knives, and 30 degrees for an outdoor knife.

The guidance system can be removed so that you can also sharpen large tools such as axes and hedge trimmers. The edge guide, the rotating roller on the side of the machine, helps you get the knife through the machine.

Sharpening belts

Five sharpening belts are included. The grit sizes of these belts range from coarse (approximately 120 grit) to very fine (approximately 6000 grit). These belts are very easy to change by pushing the bottom wheel slightly upwards, causing the belt to lose its pressure. They are almost identical to the belts Ken Onion uses on his belt sander.

Why choose the Knife & Tool Sharpener Ken Onion Edition instead of a sharpening stone?

Yes, a sharpening stone is often cheaper. And yes, you can quickly give a knife a new edge with a sharpening stone. So why should you consider this electric sharpener? We'll list a few points so you can see why we think this machine is a worthwhile step up from a sharpening stone!


A sharpening stone generally requires quite a lot of experience. You need to constantly maintain the correct sharpening angle. Which is quite difficult for large kitchen knives and survival knives. With the Knife & Tool Sharpener Ken Onion Edition, this isn't a problem at all. The guidance system constantly gives you the right sharpening angle.


Sharpening on a sharpening stone takes some time. Especially when the stones, for each grit, first need to be flattened and immersed in water. If you're sharpening a blunt knife, it can take a long time before you've removed enough material. The Knife & Tool Sharpener Ken Onion Edition actually works super fast. You simply turn on the machine and you're ready to sharpen. And the sharpening happens quickly too! Changing the sharpening belts is also very easy.

It's also a godsend in professional kitchens where large numbers of chef's knives need to be sharpened.

Convex edge

The big advantage of sharpening on a sharpening belt is that you get a slightly convex edge because of the belt's flexibility. This type of edge has more of a U shape rather than a V shape. Convex edges are stronger than the straight V edges you get with a sharpening stone. You often see convex edges on outdoor knives that are made for heavy use.

Work Sharp Ken Onion Blade Grinding Attachment

And what do we see as the 'cherry on top' of the Work Sharp Ken Onion? The Work Sharp Blade Grinding Attachment! This accessory, available separately, makes this sharpener a lot more versatile. It is an extension that can turn the sharpener into a mini belt sander. You attach this attachment to the side of the sharpening machine, instead of the part with the guidance system. This option comes in handy when you need to repair the blade of your knife, for instance if the tip has broken off. The Blade Grinding Attachment is also fantastic for sharpening very long knives, such as machetes, or knives with a recurve. Separate sharpening belts are available for this attachment.


The Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener is an impressive machine. That should be obvious! It offers many advantages over a sharpening stone. However, that doesn't necessarily make it better than a sharpening stone. It should mainly be seen as a modern, alternative option if you don't like sharpening on sharpening stones. At Knivesandtools we also use this sharpening machine! Our warranty department and customer service in particular make good use of it. So the next time you see a kitchen knife on our Countdown Deals that we have restored the tip or edge of, there's a good chance it has been repaired with the Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener.