Work Sharp Ken Onion (WSKTS-KO)

A collaboration between Work Sharp and American knife-maker Ken Onion results in this versatile knife and tool sharpening system. This isn’t like any other electric sharpener and If there’s one thing this screams out, it’s pure innovation! Pros and cons below.


By now you’ve probably realized (from the picture above), that this has no resemblance whatsoever to the traditional 2 or 3 stage electric sharpeners. It uses a flexible belt instead of sharpening wheels as an abrasive to sharpen your knives and tools. If used correctly, the Work Sharp Ken Onion can produce some incredible results!  


Pros – First The Positives!

  • You Have The Ability To Control The Belt Speed, Never Seen This Before! – This is one of my favorite features by a mile! One thing I always stress about is the lack of control when using electric sharpeners. Typically, the most control you ever have are 3 stages ranging from coarse to fine sharpening wheels. You can’t control the speed of the wheels, as it’s preset to rotate at a fixed rpm right from the factory. This inability to alter sharpening speed simply means you have a lot less control on how much steel is taken off by the abrasive. The Work Sharp Ken Onion is very different from the rest in this regard. With this you can actually vary sharpening speed as there is an adjustable knob to increase/decrease the speed at which your belt runs. This is an important distinction that already makes the Ken Onion more superior than most other electrics.

    Control The Speed At Which You Sharpen By Simply Adjusting The Variable Speed Motor
    Control The Speed At Which You Sharpen By Simply Adjusting The Variable Speed Motor
  • By Far The Most Versatile Electric Sharpener Currently In The Market – The majority of electric sharpeners in the market today are limited in what they can do. The focus is mainly on being able to work on kitchen blades; hunting and pocket knives are in a somewhat grey area. Not to mention, you can’t work on any tools (scissors, axes etc.) with the conventional electrics. This, however is much more versatile than any conventional 2 or 3-stage electric. It has the ability to sharpen knives that are super thin, as well as those that are thick. Speaking about tools, It has a built in scissor guide to help put an edge on your scissors. And It doesn’t stop there! You have the flexibility of working on everything from shovels to axes and more, all by simply rotating the cassette and removing the guide. Again, this may or may not be important for you depending on what you need a sharpener for. If you’re looking to work on kitchen knives only, then this is nice to have but you wouldn’t care too much if you didn’t have the luxury. If you’re looking for a more complete system capable of working on both knives and tools, then this becomes hugely important.

    An Incredibly Versatile System Capable Of Sharpening Scissors!
    An Incredibly Versatile System Capable Of Sharpening Scissors!
  • Flexible Abrasive Belts Vs. Sharpening Wheels: Which Is Better? – I touched on this at the very beginning of the review. Flexible belts Vs sharpening wheels. Which is the better abrasive? This is the comparison I’d like to make. Let’s consider a couple of points to help us decide:
Abrasive Material – Diamond Vs Ceramic & Alumina Oxide. The sharpening wheels on the higher priced electric sharpeners are diamond abrasives (Chef’s Choice are known for this) where as the flexible belts on the Work Sharp Ken Onion vary from ceramic to alumina oxide. Diamond is a harder material and could potentially remove more steel than ceramic would, but it also depends on how it’s used. For example, using diamond stones to manually sharpen is quite different from sharpening on an electric sharpener with diamond wheels. Back to the point, this is a tough comparison and it’s hard to pick one abrasive over the other, as I think both are good. I am calling this one a tie.  


Ability To Replace Abrasive – You are unable to replace the sharpening wheels that come in the conventional electric sharpeners unless you send it back to the manufacturer for a fee. Considering this, most people are unlikely to ever replace the wheels, and as a result the diamond coated abrasive will eventually wear, albeit rather slowly. However, you are able to replace the belts in this device, and it’s pretty easy actually. Work Sharp Ken Onion wins in this case. 


Abrasive Customization – There is no option to customize the already preset sharpening wheels. The Work Sharp Ken Onion has the option of 5 different belts: Extra-coarse, coarse, medium, fine, and extra-fine. The best part: All 5 come included in the box with the sharpener! Another win.


Conclusion – I prefer belts over wheels if I my choice was the Work Sharp Ken Onion versus a conventional electric. The belts are easily accessible and available in different grits, which is not true for the fixed sharpening wheels.
  • For All That It Can Do, It’s Still Fairly Small – Measuring 5.5 x 10 x 6 inches and weighing 4 pounds, this is a fairly small device that makes storage pretty easy. It’s nice that I don’t have to leave this somewhere in my garage with the other power tools!   


Cons – Now For The Negatives!

  • A Little More Difficult To Use Than Others (Read The Instructions!) – With all the features and customization abilities, the Work Sharp Ken Onion can become a little overwhelming for some. Adjusting the angle knob for optimum sharpening will require some knowledge about what knife you’re sharpening, so make sure you understand this beforehand. The user manual provides some advice on setting the “right” angle. Also remember, you will be using both hands when sharpening (one hand to run the blade perpendicular to the belt, and the other to hold the trigger down), so it does take a little getting used to. However, it is not difficult to master, just give yourself enough time to learn!  
  • Well……It’s Not Cheap! – Click here to see pricing on amazon. Personally speaking, I think it’s worth the money considering that it comes with 5 belts and an instructional DVD to get you started. If you have the money and are able to afford it, you should look no further, seriously. And I mean this!


Some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: How long is the warranty coverage on this?
Answer: 1 year long covered by Work Sharp.


Question: How long do the belts last before they require to be replaced?
Answer: This will depend on how frequently you use the belts to sharpen. The belts will eventually wear and you’ll notice this when your results aren’t as good as they were before. It’s important to store the belts properly in a clean, dry environment. Replacements are readily available online should you need them.


Question: Is this something that can be used commercially to sharpen multiple knives a week?
Answer: This is meant for household use only. I would not recommend using it commercially as the belts would wear out pretty quickly.


Final Words

The Work Sharp Ken Onion is one step ahead of every other electric sharpener currently on the market. It does take some practice before you start seeing results, so make sure you read the instruction manual and watch as many videos as you can demonstrating how it works. And always practice with your cheap knives first! Finally, below is a YouTube video from KnifeCenter demonstrating the product in action. I highly recommend you watch it. If you wish to know more, go to Work Sharp’s site by clicking here. Let me know if you have any questions or comments!





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