The Best Knife Sharpening Serves to Get Your Blades in Tip-Top Shape

a knife being sharpened on a lower grit whetstone
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Growing up in a Chinese American home, we had exactly two knives: a paring knife and a cleaver. My dad used the cleaver for nearly every cutting task: breaking down poultry, fileting fish, mincing garlic, julienning carrots, and so on. The knife saw a lot of daily wear and tear—I can still recall the loud thud of the cleaver hitting the wooden cutting board as he split apart a whole poached soy sauce chicken and the constant scraping to bring aromatics from prep surface to bowl.

As a professional cook, my dad knew that a dull knife is a dangerous one and was meticulous about keeping ours sharp. Every so often, he’d reach for the dark gray whetstone tucked underneath the sink and sharpen the cleaver, holding it at an angle while gently gliding its edge over the water-soaked stone.

I didn’t know it then, but I do know now that using a whetstone is by far the best way to keep knives sharp. It’s also a process that many home cooks find intimidating, which is why, if you don’t want to do it yourself, it’s best to seek out a trusted professional. (We also don’t recommend most electric and certainly not manual knife sharpeners, which shave off a lot of material and only provide a so-so edge.)

“Properly sharpening knives requires skill and attention to detail that is only gained through experience,” says fourth-generation knife grinder Michael Maestri, who runs both Carisolo Grinding Co., a Wisconsin-based sharpening company, and Post Knife, a knife subscription service. “It can be difficult to find a qualified knife sharpener and, on top of that, it can be difficult to find the time to drop off knives at a store and then pick them up.”

Thanks to the internet, professional sharpeners like Maestri now take orders online and knives by mail. If your knives are due for their biannual sharpening, you may want to consider trying a mail-in knife sharpening service—here’s how they work.

a knife next to a whetstone on a towel
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

When Mikael Soderlindh and Marc Lickfett started Knife Aid, their goal was simple—to make knife sharpening hassle free—and the company’s process is just that. Customers select one of Knife Aid’s preset packages—which start at four knives and go all the way up to 14—and they’ll get a specially-designed, insured envelope in the mail, along with protective knife sleeves. Once received, knives are hand-sharpened and air-cooled at a workshop led by knifesmith Magnus Pettersson. They handle knife repairs in addition to sharpening and accept a wide variety of cutting instruments, including scissors and serrated knives.

 Knife Aid is also the recommended mail-in sharpening service of choice for German knife maker Zwilling J.A. Henckels. “We wanted to provide our customers with an easy-to-use full service knife sharpening option, including knife repair. Knife Aid’s innovative service and high quality made it a perfect complement to our brands,” says CEO Guido Weishaupt.

Good to Know

  • Types of knives serviced: Both Western and Japanese-style kitchen knives (including single bevel ones), serrated knives, ceramic knives, and scissors
  • Price range: Starts at $49 for 4 knives; additional charges for extra services
  • Turnaround time: 4 to 7 days, depending on your location

Carisolo Grinding Service has been in the knife business for four generations. Named after the Italian town where the founding family came from, Carisolo is currently run by Michael and Peter Alex Maestri, who learned the craft of knife grinding from their father (who learned it from his father, you get the idea) and continue to do things the traditional way.

Life Knife Aid, Carisolo also operates on a package model, with rates starting at $72 for up to five kitchen knives and a maximum of 20. The price also covers packaging materials, which will arrive at your home, plus all shipping costs. Once received, the Maestris will look at each knife and repair any chips or broken tips. Knives are then hand-edged over a wet grindstone, before they’re honed and buffed.

Good to Know

  • Types of knives serviced: All kitchen knives
  • Price: Starts at $72 for up to 5 knives
  • Turnaround time: 10 days

Founded in 1982 by Saori Kawano, New York City specialty shop Korin has long been a favorite amongst chefs for its extensive collection of Japanese cutlery. Knife enthusiasts from around the world travel here, not just to shop, but also to get their knives serviced by Vincent Kazuhito Lau, Korin’s resident sharpener. 

For those who aren’t able to make the trek to Manhattan, Korin does accept knives via mail for sharpening. It handles both Western and Japanese-style knives, along with chip repair and rust cleaning for Western-style knives only. Unlike some other mail-in services, however, packaging isn’t provided, so customers are responsible for shipping costs and for taking extra precautions of their own when packing. To send a knife in for sharpening, print and fill out the form on Korin’s website, pack it up per its online instructions, and wait about a week for it to return sharper than ever.

Good to Know

  • Types of knives serviced: Both Western and Japanese-style kitchen knives
  • Price range: $25 per Western-style knife, $65 per Japanese-style knife
  • Turnaround time: 1 week

The idea for Knife Flight came to Jess and Kyle Miller at the start of the pandemic. The former restaurant owners saw that people were cooking more and, therefore, wearing down their knives more quickly. Everyone was stepping out less, which meant they were most definitely not bringing their knives to a local store for sharpening. 

Rates for Knife Flight start at $57 for four or fewer knives and go up to $157 for 15. They send out a shipping kit within 24 hours of your order time that includes a mailing envelope and adhesive sheaths. Once knives reach them, they’re photographed, sharpened, and mailed out again within a 24-hour time frame.

Unlike other mail-in knife sharpening services, Knife Flight offers loaner knives (for an additional charge), which is a reason why Sandy Liebowitz, a CIA-trained cooking instructor who runs an online knife skills course, recommends it to her students. “They are a family business and get the knives nice and sharp, but the best part is that they send you loaner knives while you wait. I thought that part was genius.”

Good to Know

  • Type of knives serviced: Both Western and Japanese-style kitchen knives, bread knives, ceramic knives, mandoline blades, scissors, garden shears
  • Price range: Starting at $57 for 4 knives
  • Turnaround time: 1 week


Testing the sharpness of a knife by thinly slicing a tomato
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

How much do knife sharpening services cost? 

Knife sharpening costs will vary, especially when using a mail-in service. From what we found, most companies have a starting rate that covers up to a handful of knives, so it’s most worth it to send in that many rather than just one piece. Generally, the more you sharpen at a time, the lower the cost per knife will be.

Do any brands have their own knife sharpening service? 

Yes! Several cutlery brands provide knife sharpening services for their knives, including the following:

  • Shun offers a free lifetime sharpening service for its Kai knives (you’ll have to handle shipping and packaging costs).
  • Misen has a lifetime sharpening program—simply pay a $14 postage free and they’ll send your knife to a sharpening facility. 
  • MAC, the Japanese knife maker, provides mail-in sharpening for a fee and uses the same equipment and technique as its Seki City factory. They’ll also take non-MAC knives (for a higher fee), which is a bonus for home cooks who have several brands in their collection.