Food + Drink

The curious case of the knife sharpener.


I realize this post will probably be of interest to, uh, no one, but I’m having a moment here. Humor me. (What category should this even go in? I guess it’s kitchen-related, so…“food” it is!)

Okay. So. Here’s what you’re looking at:

A. ASPEKT Knife Sharpener // $6.99, IKEA
B. Ceramic Kitchen Knife Sharpener // $29.95, Muji
C. Fiskars 7861 Axe and Knife Sharpener // $9.36, Amazon

They’re all the same. Identical. Okay, almost. The only discernible differences are in the color/opacity of the plastic guide slot, and the addition of a stamped logo on item C. All three sharpeners have “FISKARS” embossed underneath, and all are made in Finland.

I was at Muji about a month ago and picked up item B, noticed the Fiskars stamp, and then put it back after seeing how pricey it was. A week or so later, we were at IKEA, and I saw what looked the exact same sharpener, item A. Sure enough, it was also stamped Fiskars underneath (I think this marked the first time I’ve seen a non-food item at IKEA with another company’s branding on it). But the price was so much lower.

Yeah, I bought it. We needed a compact, manual sharpener to keep at the apartment, and this fit the bill perfectly. (It works really well, by the way!)

Just for fun, I checked Amazon tonight to see if the Fiskars sharpener is available elsewhere, and sure enough, item C popped up. The price there isn’t much higher than IKEA (though the list price is $11.99), so it appears Muji is the odd man out here. It’s not like Muji is some tiny store, either—it’s a massive company that specializes in well-designed, low-cost goods. I’m kind of confused.

Anyway, if you need a little knife sharpener that’s well designed and made in Finland, IKEA is your place. Buy with confidence!

UPDATE: The fabulous food writer and critic Ruth Reichl just added this knife sharpener to her holiday gift guide. This time, it’s masquerading as something called the SR-2 Rollsharp, $16.50. IKEA still wins!

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  • Reply me @{life or something...} December 15, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    this might be wierd, but i’ve never sharpened my knives before. How often does one sharpen thier knives? All knives? how do you know it’s time to sharpen? I’ve been using the same knifes for over 5 years and they are still sharp – i think? now i’m not sure? I thought only big knives (like chef knives) need sharpening? am i the only one?

    • Tim Passey March 27, 2016 at 7:08 pm


  • Reply me @{life or something...} December 15, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    PS: maybe it’s time i head over to ikea!

  • Reply jeelago December 15, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    hmm, sounds about right?

    Finn-made product, well made and reasonably priced.

    Available worldwide for less, thanks to Swedish popularity.

    Costs three times more in/from Japan.

    ok maybe I’m reaching lol, but it’s a funny moment you’re having here, go Finland! :~j

    • Anna @ D16 December 15, 2010 at 11:28 pm

      This makes me wonder if Moomin stuff from Japan is more expensive, too. 😉

  • Reply Nicole December 15, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    I have the one from Ikea but I think I’m using it wrong since I don’t think it works very well. But I only spent a couple dollars on it so I didn’t have any expectations.

  • Reply Kate {domestikatedlife} December 15, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    You read my mind… I was just thinking that I needed a knife sharpener the other day. Glad you shared!

  • Reply Laywan December 15, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    I wish this post had come a month ago! we were desperate for a knife sharpener… broke down, and bought one at crate and barrel for $20. =(

  • Reply Heather Jo December 15, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Ha! I am, too, in need of a knife sharpener and had my eye on this inexpensive one from IKEA. I just figured if it was so cheap and from IKEA then it wouldn’t be great quality. Thanks for doing the research for me!!

    • Anna @ D16 December 15, 2010 at 11:26 pm

      You can read the reviews on Amazon (there are a bunch!) if you want a more comprehensive view of the pros and cons. 🙂

    • Heather Jo December 16, 2010 at 3:01 pm

      Thank you, thank you!

  • Reply jodie December 15, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    We recently bought a new knife sharpener for around $30, same kind of style as these, with ‘diamond’ wheels. I would have loved to have bought a sharpening steel but I’m so clumsy, I would have inevitably severed my hand.

  • Reply ava December 15, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    I like how the Fiskars version throws the word “Axe” into the mix. It’s like they’re trying to make this boring (and clearly widely available) knife sharpener all badass.

    • Anna @ D16 December 15, 2010 at 11:32 pm

      I know! I thought maybe it was a mistake until I read some of the reviews. Apparently it’s the perfect size for sharpening a Fiskars axe! Who knew!

  • Reply Jules December 16, 2010 at 12:42 am

    I heard (okay, Alton Brown said it on TV) that you should sharpen your knives professionally and that tools like this only do something…remove burrs? I’m still buying it because you know what? I’ve never had my knives professionally sharpened and I don’t see it happening anytime soon. I guess it’s a dying trade because no one seems to do it, at least in my area. There is one guy that wanders from craft store to craft store, but heck if I can find him.

    This is a long, convoluted way of saying I’m going to pick one up when I’m next at IKEA. 🙂

  • Reply thisismycat December 16, 2010 at 2:22 am

    I would like a knife sharpener but my father won’t let me buy one (no, I’m still not a grown-up). However, in Gothenburg, there’s a _awesome_ knife/axe/ice skates sharperner shop that’s been around for like a hundred years. I left all my chef knives there and a week later got them back. Slicing a tomato is like cutting through butter.

  • Reply Gali December 16, 2010 at 4:06 am

    I’m a fan of the good old sharpening stones to sharpen knives, at least they never break down. (apparently sharpening knives with stones is a lost art, my older sister had no idea what that stone in her kitchen drawer was for…)

    But it’s good to see some Finnish stuff of quality for good prices!

  • Reply mel December 16, 2010 at 4:18 am

    We have had this same sharpener for a year or so. It works great.

  • Reply Tuija December 16, 2010 at 5:48 am

    How odd. Ikea is too far from me but I’m willing to bet that the sharpener isn’t available here in Finland. Did some calculating and the retail price for the brand one is 16 dollars.

    I like mine, it does the job with Fiskars knives.

  • Reply Lisa December 16, 2010 at 6:38 am

    Isn’t all Muji overpriced? But that is ridiculous.
    I have that sharpener, it’s great and I even sharpened my lawnmower knifes with it by lifting the clear (In pic A&B) plastic lid.

    And Jules, when I grew up in the Swedish countryside in the 80’s there used to be a travelling knife sharpening guy who came every summer. Like all (?) travelling door-to-door salesmen, he is now only a nostalgic memory.

  • Reply Sarah December 16, 2010 at 10:15 am

    I actually need a knife sharpener, so I’m excited about your finding. I’m going to look for this the next time I’m in Ikea.

  • Reply julia wheeler December 16, 2010 at 10:22 am

    you are cracking me up with this post. super informative though! shame on muji… they’re supposed to supply, simple, quality, affordable products:(

  • Reply Amanda- Hip House Girl December 16, 2010 at 10:30 am

    First of all, I desperately need a knife sharpener so thanks for posting this. Second, has anyone read The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest? Remember the two companies that sold the same toilet that was manufactured in Thailand, but one of them tried to say they were “Genuine Swedish” and charged way more? I’m a total conspiracy theorist after reading those books- and now the knife sharpeners!!

  • Reply Pour Porter December 16, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Ok, so I read this somewhere recently (can’t remember where cause I read so much!) but it was an article discussing how Japanese retailers or retailers with locations in Japan traditionally have much higher mark-ups than American or European retailers. This being due to the fact that during the heady days of the 80s, retailers in Japanese market could get away with much higher mark-ups because the average Japanese customer was willing to pay more for an item because buying a certain item with a big price tag = status. However, now with the Japanese economy being so shaky for nearly two decades, it has been much harder to get away with higher mark-ups because the new generation is so reluctant to spend money on things. Anyways, I suspect that higher price for the same item is due to the traditional higher mark-up. Thanks for the recommendation-our one knife is in desperate need of sharpening and all the sharpeners we’ve seen have just been too cost prohibitive!

  • Reply Kim December 16, 2010 at 11:10 am

    I somehow just found out about your blog and it is fantastic! It has everything: book design, home design, musings… I love it!

    Regarding all of these knife sharpeners, I find this to be particularly crazy. I saw the Muji sharpener just yesterday and this is the first time that I too have ever known Ikea to carry anything other than Ikea brand in their stores (other than appliances and food items). Thanks for bringing this to light. I’m curious what else is to be found if one looks.

    Thanks for your great blog!

  • Reply emily @ thirtyeight20 December 16, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    When I was in college, during the summers I worked on the production floor at a factory that made notebooks, envelopes and other paper products. (They paid college students well, and I needed money for tuition!) We made both the well-known brand-name products and the store brand products on the same machines using the exact same materials.

    The brand name notebooks cost $1.20 each, and the store brand notebooks were 5 for $1 — same product, same store. Only the design of the cover changed.

    I’m not advocating buying the generic or knockoff version of every single item in your home — most of us are aware of the ethical (and quality) issues behind that. BUT certain generic products really are made by the same people who make the brand-name products. I know this isn’t news to everyone, but still. It’s the same exact product, and the workers get paid the same — it pays to comparison shop and save yourself some money!!!

  • Reply read me... December 16, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Brilliant post Anna… not surprised the Muji price is high with the Japanese importing then exporting a Finnish product.

  • Reply alis December 16, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    I like Muji but they carry a lot of ridiculously overpriced products. Like those tiny travel containers made of clear plastic. I can’t even imagine how low their per unit cost must be.

  • Reply Merissa December 16, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Thank you!! I’ve been needing a knife sharpener for months, but I didn’t know where to buy one, what kind to buy, etc. It was easier to complain about it and risk chopping my fingers off. Not anymore!

  • Reply darrel December 17, 2010 at 1:48 am

    i use the ikea brand daily at work (chef), there is actually no working difference between the fiskars (my first one) and the ikea. for $6 you can’t beat it.

    • Anna @ D16 December 17, 2010 at 7:14 am

      Actually, the one from IKEA is not IKEA-branded. It’s marked FIskars underneath, just like the other two. 🙂

    • darrel December 19, 2010 at 11:47 pm

      that’s weird, none of mine have been labeled with any branding. hmmm…

    • Anna @ D16 December 20, 2010 at 7:28 am

      Look underneath. It’s blind-stamped (no color) into the plastic.

  • Reply Shelley Clarke December 17, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Love this sharpener. Use it all the time on my ikea knife (which is great) as well as all my other older knives.

  • Reply sol December 17, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    I want an IKEA in Argentina!!! I´m so jelous of all the stuff you can get there. For sure I would be broke in a month with an IKEA nearby :p

  • Reply jja December 17, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    I have that one from amazon and am happy with it, white would be nicer for my home, but it is not displayed so no problem.

  • Reply Juli December 17, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    Haha, this IS interesting! Fiskars is doing the rounds (makes me nervous actually, that a company can rebrand the same product for different segments of the market…at different price points!).

  • Reply Claiborne @ Buttered Bread December 18, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    Love this as a gift idea–and thanks for breaking it down! Will be heading to IKEA soon.

  • Reply Livi December 20, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    Have you tried the Ikea one? I am always afraid to sharpen my knives for fear of ruining them!

    • Anna @ D16 December 20, 2010 at 7:03 pm

      That’s where I bought mine, Livi, and I love it!

      Just so it’s clear, ALL of these sharpeners are EXACTLY the same — they’re all made my Fiskars, even the one from IKEA. If you want to read reviews from other people, you can check the link to Amazon.

  • Reply peppa May 11, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    I heard you have to sharpen the knives with water when using the IKEA knife sharpener?

  • Reply Peter Kozlowski May 12, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    I just bought one of these at Ikea and went online to look for instructions. I’m glad I found your blog since you confirm that I made a good choice.
    But here’s what I don’t get – Ikea on their website say “The knife sharpener’s container should be filled with water the whole time the sharpener is being used.” Really? But it has holes in it! You would have to submerge it in a bucket or a bathtub.
    Also noted: you can order these online at

  • Reply Anna @ D16 May 12, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Peppa & Peter: This post is over five years old, and my knife sharpener is still working great and I’ve never used it with water. If you have any questions or concerns, I’d suggest asking on the product page at Amazon (as noted in the post, the knife sharpener sold at IKEA is made by Fiskars):

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