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Are counter top knife sharpeners like the IQ knife sharpener good for sharpening knives (or cheap knives)? I have used the IQ sharpener and it is still hard to cut through big onions. I would like to know if it's problem with my technique or the product category itself just sucks.

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    I can't say for each and every sharpener, but I've found the sharpeners from Vulkanus to do a good job. I only use them for cheap knives, as they usually remove quite a lot of metal from the knife when sharpening. I use Japanese waterstones to sharpen the knives I actually care about. It gives results no counter top sharpener can give you, but you have to like to do that sort of thing, and be willing to spend time on it. – Willem van Rumpt Feb 22 '16 at 6:56
  • As @WillemvanRumpt indicated these can remove a lot of material at once. I only sharpen knives to repair knives that have been damaged. If you use a honing steel religiously, it will keep the knife sharp without needing a whetting stone or sharpener. – Escoce Feb 22 '16 at 14:33
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    Just to confirm: was it easy to cut through an onion when the knife was new? – derobert Feb 22 '16 at 19:40
  • What size knife are you using? Cutting through a 4-inch onion with a paring knife is never going to be easy... and, yes... I've seen people try it... If you're cutting onions, I hope you're using a chef's knife. – Catija Feb 23 '16 at 4:51
  • @derobert when it was new it was ok. Not as easy and effortless as the chefs do it (and yes I know the technique). I am using a Chef's knife to do everything chopping or dicing related. – Bar Akiva Feb 23 '16 at 7:43
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A pull-through sharpener will never do as thorough a job at sharpening your knife as a stone, and over time will lose its efficacy and actually dull your blade. In a pinch they can be useful, but be sure to give the knife a few passes on a good quality steel afterwards, as the pull-through sharpeners tend to remove metal quite coarsely.

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Using a sharpening steel from new is probably the best method - but it takes some practice. You can find plenty of how-to on YouTube but my word of caution would be to ensure that the back of the knife is towards the handle of the steel (and consequently your hand) not the edge.

Sharpen every time you pick up a knife to use it, and then every time you clean and put it down. Just a few strokes in this regime will keep even less expensive knives sharp. Don't forget to wash or wipe off the residue on the blade before you actually use it. The steel will leave micro-sized filings on the blade and probably some dirt from itself. Wipe the blade carefully on a piece of paper towel to see what I mean!

As an aside I have Polish colleagues who sharpen one knife on another - scary stuff.

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