A dull knife is a pain to use. You have to work harder than necessary and you make a bigger mess than you have to. Fortunately, there are countless knife-sharpening options on the market. But before you settle on a tool, ask yourself a few questions. Are you willing to learn the proper way to use a traditional sharpening stone, which puts a wicked edge on a blade but needs care and a bit of skill? Do you want the easiest, fastest way possible of walking away with a sharp-enough edge? Finally, do you want a device specifically for kitchen knives and other small tools, or a handy machine that can sharpen everything from a paring knife to long-handled pruners? There’s a lot to be said for the satisfaction of hand-sharpening a knife on a traditional whetstone. But there’s a lot of convenience in simply whipping out a paring knife, pulling it through an electric sharpener, and going to town on that pile of veggies on the counter. Here’s how to hone in on the perfect solution for you.

This product holds blades at the perfect angle. Chef’sChoice

Your first decision point is whether to go with a manual sharpener, like a traditional whetstone, more modern sharpening sticks, or a model powered by an electric motor that drives grinding wheels or a belt for super-quick sharpening. While many chefs and avid cooks prefer sharpening blades on stones and sticks if you have no experience in hand-sharpening a knife (and little desire to learn) you’re better off with an electric model.

This model comes with a handle guide for the blade. Sharp Pebble

Holding a knife blade at the correct angle for sharpening is a critical part of the routine, and one of the most difficult to master. With a whetstone, you’ll have to set and hold a knife at the correct angle through the entire sharpening process. But many sharpeners, including non-electric pass-through models, have fixed blade guides that automatically set the blade at the correct angle for the sharpest edge possible.

You can use this electric device for a wide variety of kitchen, shop, and garden implements. Work Sharp

A big consideration for home cooks and outdoor chefs alike is storage. If you have plenty of room, an electric sharpener can make quick work of honing an edge. But these motorized wonders tend to be large and bulky. It’s a great idea to have at least one small, manual sharpener stashed in a drawer to touch up knife edges as you work through a recipe.