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How Do I Choose the Best Planer Knife Sharpener?

Alex Newth
Alex Newth

Planer knives, which are used in woodworking and many other applications, wear down after use. Sending a planer knife out for sharpening is expensive and may take several days before the knife is sharpened and ready for use again. Using a planer knife sharpener will keep blades sharp without having to waste time and money sending them out to a sharpening business. Choosing the right planer knife sharpener will be determined by the build of the sharpener, the size of blade it can accommodate, and the weight of the sharpener unit.

There are three planer knife sharpener builds: manual, semi-automatic and automatic. Manual sharpeners are just wooden brackets that have a gritty substance, such as sand paper, on the inside. Passing the planer blade through the inside several times will sharpen the blade. These units require no experience in sharpening and cost less to maintain, but it can take longer to sharpen the blade.


Manual sharpeners are often called pull-through knife sharpeners. Pull-through knife sharpeners are the best knife sharpeners for ordinary home cooks who have a relatively small knife collection and minimal knife sharpening needs. If you don’t need to constantly be sharpening knives, and you’re only cooking for your friends and family, a manual pull-through sharpener is affordable and easy to use. However, if you have bigger knife sharpening demands, you may want to consider a semi-automatic or automatic style.

The semi-automatic build has a sander disc, and the knife is passed along the disc as it spins. This unit requires some experience, and the disc will have to be changed after many passes. Automatic planer knife sharpener units just require that the user places the blade into the machine, and it takes care of the sharpening. These units are the quickest and most efficient, but also cost the most and need more frequent repairs. While both of these units are more expensive than the manual sharpener, it takes less time to sharpen the planer blade, and the blade will usually turn out sharper than when using a manual unit.

Each planer knife sharpener is able to accommodate a different blade size. Placing a shorter knife blade into a unit designed for a larger one will not be a problem, but larger blades may be. With manual units, larger blades can be sharpened on a smaller unit, though it may be awkward. The other two versions will typically be unable to sharpen a full blade if it is too large, leaving a section of the blade dull. It is best to measure the size of the most common blade being used and get a unit that fits that blade.

The weight of the planer knife sharpener is also important, especially if the user needs to move the unit around. Most units are made to be lightweight for easy movement, but some sharpeners are quite heavy. If the sharpener is not going to be moved around, then the weight will not matter. Manual sharpeners are light, but semi-automatic and automatic units may be very heavy, depending on the model.

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