What is the deal with roller knife sharpeners? Are they as easy to use as they look? And are they worth the high price?
In this review, I break down the pros and cons of the Horl 2 roller knife sharpener.
I’ve used it to sharpen over 15 knives, including large butcher knives, small steak and paring knives, and everything in between.
I’ll show you how it works, how effective it is, and some issues and limitations you need to know before buying it.
So, if you’re looking for a simple and easy way to sharpen your kitchen knives and are thinking about buying the Horl 2, keep reading.
Use the links below to navigate the review:
- Horl 2 Knife Sharpener Review: Key Takeaways
- What Is Included
- Ease of Use
- Quality and Durability
- Bottom Line: Is the Horl 2 Knife Sharpener Worth Buying?
Horl 2 Knife Sharpener Review: Key Takeaways
If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick overview of the pros and cons of the Horl 2. Read the full review for detailed analysis, before-and-after test results, and up-close pictures.
Pros of the Horl 2
- Easy to Use: Sharpening knives with the Horl 2 is simple and easy. Choose an angle (15 or 20 degrees), attach the knife to the magnetic angle support, grind the edge with the 420-grit diamond disc, and then hone it with the 1000-grit ceramic disc.
- Highly Effective: I tested the Horl 2 on over a dozen knives with dull, damaged edges, and it effectively removed nicks, fixed microchips, and made the knives incredibly sharp. It’s notably more effective than a manual pull-through sharpener and much easier to use than a whetstone.
- Durable: You can feel the sturdiness and overall durability of the Horl 2 as soon as you pick it up. The monocrystalline industrial diamonds on the diamond disc are harder than any knife steel, so you never have to replace the diamond disc. It spins more freely and has a stronger magnet than the Tumbler roller sharpener. Plus, it’s made in Germany (Tumbler is made in China).
Cons of the Horl 2
- Limited Sharpening Angles: The Horl 2 Knife Sharpener offers fixed angles of 15 and 20 degrees, which may not align with the finer edges of some high-end Japanese knives.
- Limited Grit Options: The Horl 2 only comes with a 420-grit diamond disc and a 1000-grit ceramic honing disc. Buying the Premium Sharpness Set gives you access to 3000- and 6000-grit discs for a finer polished edge, but you have to buy that separately, and it’s relatively expensive.
- Not Ideal for Long or Narrow Blades: It works well for most standard-sized knives but struggles with long blades that bend and narrow blades that need to be positioned higher up the magnet. Blades that don’t make complete contact with the magnet are less stable and more likely to move as you roll the sharpener, which is a safety risk and results in an uneven bevel.
- Safety: As you use the Horl 2, the knife’s edge faces up towards your hand. You must keep your hand away from the edge and firmly grasp the roller to avoid slipping, especially if your hand is wet or greasy. The sleek wood finish, while attractive, can become slippery.
- Expensive: The Horl 2 costs significantly more than whetstones, manual pull-through sharpeners, and its main competitor in the roller sharpening category, Tumbler. While it’s less expensive than high-end electric sharpeners, the price is still relatively high compared to the broader knife sharpener market.
Is the Horl 2 Worth Buying?
If you’re a knife enthusiast who loves learning about and practicing sharpening, the Horl 2 is not for you. A whetstone is less expensive and allows you to sharpen knives to any angle. But if you’re a typical home cook seeking a simple, easy way to keep knives sharp, the Horl 2 is definitely worth the investment. Based on my rigorous testing, it delivers on its promise of making dull knives incredibly sharp within minutes without hassle or guesswork.
Read more reviews, check the current price, and learn more about the Horl 2 on Amazon.
What Is Included
The Horl 2 comes with a 420 grit diamond disc for removing nicks and sharpening and a 1000-grit ceramic honing disc for refining and finishing the edge.
The body of the sharpener is available in two wood finishes: a lighter Oak (pictured below) or a darker Walnut.
It also comes with a wooden magnetic angle support that attaches to the side of the knife. It has two angle options: 20 degrees and 15 degrees. These fixed angles ensure a consistent bevel on both sides of the blade every time.
Horl also sells a Premium Sharpness Set with a leather strop for cleaning the edge and 3000-grit and 6000-grit discs for an even smoother bevel.
For most home cooks, these additional discs aren’t necessary, but if you decide to get them, you can easily change the discs by screwing them on and off.
Ease of Use
One of the most significant benefits of the Horl 2 is its ease of use.
You don’t need to take a class, watch a bunch of videos, or practice for hours. And you don’t need to soak it in water or guess the correct angle like you do with a whetstone.
There is virtually no learning curve — you can get started right away. Here’s how it works.
First, choose an angle, either 15 or 20 degrees. As a rule of thumb, pick the angle closest to the knife’s factory angle.
For example, this Wusthof Classic knife is manufactured with a 14-degree angle per side, so it’s best to use the 15-degree side of the magnetic angle support. If the factory edge angle was 18 or 19, I’d use the 20-degree side.
Once you pick the angle, attach the knife to the magnetic angle support with the edge facing up.
Then hold the magnetic angle support with one hand and use the roller to gently grind the edge back and forth with the diamond disc.
After you grind the edge on both sides, use the ceramic honing disc to finish each side.
Finally, remove any remaining particles with a leather strop or cloth.
The time required to sharpen a knife depends on the angle, steel type, and edge condition. For example, harder carbon steel takes longer to sharpen than softer stainless steel. Also, sharpening a dull knife to a 15-degree edge takes more time than grinding it to a 20-degree edge. Additionally, chipped edges take longer to sharpen than undamaged, smooth edges.
Regardless of those factors, the first sharpening always takes the longest because you need to set the edge. Expect to spend about two and a half minutes or about 100 passes on each side with the diamond disc the first time you sharpen a knife. But after that first session, future sharpenings only require a handful of passes per side.
For most kitchen knives, like a Western chef’s knife or Japanese Nakiri, you want the blade’s spine flat on the cutting board.
But for steak, paring, and other smaller knives where the blade is shorter than the height of the magnetic angle support, you need to position the knife higher on the magnet so the edge is sticking out. Otherwise, the roller will grind the magnetic angle support, not the knife’s edge.
For wide blades that are taller than the grinding disc, place the knife and magnetic angle support next to a thick cutting board. Then, roll the sharpener on the cutting board to sharpen the blade. Propping the roller on a separate cutting board allows the edge to contact the grinding disc.
My one complaint is that the magnetic angle support is only two and a quarter inches wide. Therefore, when sharpening longer chef’s knives that get thinner and more flexible toward the tip, the end of the knife can bend away from the grinding disc as you roll it forward.
When the blade bends, it becomes tricky to sharpen the tip since it moves out of contact with the disc.
There are two solutions, but neither is ideal. One is to apply less pressure so the blade doesn’t bend as much. However, this can result in slower, less effective sharpening.
The second solution is a two-step process. First sharpen the first two-thirds of the blade with the magnetic support attached to the middle. Then, reposition the magnetic angle support closer to the tip and sharpen the tip section.
The Horl 2 is easy to use, but how effective is it?
I’ve used it to sharpen over a dozen knives and could not be happier with the results. Not only does it make dull knives ultra-sharp, but it also fixes microchips and slightly damaged edges.
I use this Oishya petty knife daily and haven’t sharpened it in over a year. The edge is dull and, as you can see, there are several tiny chips.
After sharpening it with the Horl 2 for about five minutes using the 15-degree angle almost all the chips are gone, and the edge is smooth.
Before sharpening this knife, I needed to press firmly to cut through a tomato. After sharpening, it slices through easily in one smooth motion.
As you can see, the edge is so fine it can make paper-thin grape slices.
The edge of my Wusthof Santoku was incredibly dull. I use it often and haven’t sharpened it in months. After sharpening it with the Horl 2 for about 3 minutes, it effortlessly slices through ingredients.
This Wusthof Classic chef’s knife has relatively soft steel (58 Rockwell), so it dulls fast and requires frequent sharpening. Before sharpening it with the Horl 2, I had to use a sawing motion to cut through a tomato. But after grinding the edge, it glides through with little effort.
The point is that this sharpener is not only easy to use but also incredibly effective, and the results speak for themselves.
One warning when sharpening knives with a full bolster (the thick part of the blade near the handle) — be careful when rolling back towards the handle. If the diamond disc contacts the bolster, it can leave behind markings or damage.
To prevent this, go slowly and stop rolling right before reaching the bolster. As long as you are deliberate, there should be no issues. However, expect to spend more time on these knives since you can’t roll the sharpener as fast as you can with knives with no bolster or a half bolster.
Quality and Durability
Another positive worth mentioning about the Horl 2 is the quality of its construction and overall durability. Cheaper roller sharpeners are available, but Horl is the original.
It was first developed in 1993 by Otmar Horl, a mechanical engineer. He created the device to sharpen his own knives with no intention of bringing it to market. It took until 2016 for Otmar and his son Timo to launch the first generation of Horl sharpeners.
They released the second generation sharpeners, the Horl 2, in 2020, which featured enhanced magnet strength and offered both 15 and 20-degree angles, an upgrade from the single 15-degree angle of the original Horl. Today, Horl is a thriving business with over 20 employees and 1,000 retail partners.
Unlike most competitors that manufacture their sharpeners in China, the Horl 2 is made in Germany. You can feel the quality right when you pick it up. It weighs just over one pound and feels solid in your hand.
It spins fast and smooth and the rubber rings ensure it rolls straight and doesn’t slip.
The monocrystalline industrial diamonds on the diamond disc are harder than any knife steel, which allows it to reshape and grind blades without the disc wearing down. Because of that, you never have to replace the diamond disc.
The magnetic angle support has a powerful magnet, so you don’t have to worry about the blade unintentionally detaching. In fact, according to this test, Horl’s magnet is significantly stronger than Tumbler’s magnet (Tumbler is Horl’s biggest competitor).
The magnetic angle support also has rubber feet underneath to prevent sliding and a silicone pad on each side to prevent slipping and protect the blade.
During my testing, I accidentally nicked the silicone pad with a knife. The slight damage doesn’t impact anything, but it’s worth noting that these pads are not indestructible, so be careful.
As much as I appreciate the ease of use and effectiveness of the Horl 2, it has some limitations.
The most notable limitation of the Horl 2 is its fixed edge angle options of only 15 and 20 degrees. Many knives, especially Japanese brands, come with finer factory edges closer to 10-12 degrees. And thicker Western knives sometimes require wider 25+ degree bevels.
For example, this Made In Chef’s knife has a precise 12.5-degree factory edge on each side. So with the Horl 2, I’ll never quite replicate its out-of-box sharpness.
Other specialized Japanese knives have hand-ground 10-degree single bevels for extreme sharpness. Again, achieving the same fine edge with the Horl 2 is impossible.
Similarly, it comes with only two grit options: the 420-grit diamond disc and the 1000-grit ceramic honing disc. Finer or more coarse grit discs are available, but you have to buy them separately, and they are relatively expensive.
Additionally, the Horl 2 works great on most standard-sized knives, but it’s not ideal for long blades with deep curves like this 14-inch cimeter.
The prominent curve prevents the blade from making complete contact with the magnet (it only contacts the top half), which is necessary for safety and control.
Also, you must reposition long, curved knives like this a few times to ensure an even bevel. First, prop the roller up on a thick cutting board to sharpen the first two-thirds of the blade. Then, place the knife and roller on the same surface and attach the magnet to the tip to sharpen that area.
Another thing to consider with the Horl 2 is safety. In some ways, it’s safer than using a whetstone or manual pull-through sharpener because you’re moving the sharpener, not the knife. But in other ways, it’s more dangerous.
The main issue is that the edge is facing up. As you roll the sharpener, you need to pay attention and make sure your hand doesn’t get too close to the edge.
The smooth surface of the wood barrel, while aesthetically pleasing, can be slippery, especially if your hands are wet or greasy.
There is also a danger of leaving an upside-down knife unattended if you get interrupted or can’t finish sharpening in one session. Always secure your knives in a sheath, knife block, or magnetic strip if you need to step away.
If you’re sharpening several knives at once, you need to clear your workspace and keep the ones you’re not sharpening away from the magnetic angle support. The magnets are strong and can unexpectedly attract and pull nearby knives.
That said, I haven’t had any safety issues during my testing, and I haven’t read any reports of problems, but these are some risks to keep in mind.
Another major factor to consider is price. The Horl 2 is relatively expensive compared to the broader knife sharpener market. It’s much more costly than many whetstones and manual pull-through sharpeners but less expensive than high-end electric sharpeners.
Horl’s number one competitor in the roller sharpener category, Tumbler, is much more affordable. However, as I mentioned, the Tumbler doesn’t roll as smoothly as the Horl 2 and the magnet is significantly weaker.
The table below shows the current prices of the Horl 2 along with other popular knife sharpeners for comparison. Click or tap the prices to learn more about each product on Amazon.
|HORL 2 Walnut Rolling Knife Sharpener
|HORL 2 Cruise Rolling Knife Sharpener
|HORL 2 Oak Rolling Knife Sharpener and Premium Stone Set
|HORL Premium Sharpness Set
|Tumbler Rolling Knife Sharpener
|KING Whetstone Starter Set
|Smith's Manual Sharpener
|Work Sharp Pull Through Kitchen Knife Sharpener
|Presto Professional Electric Knife Sharpener
|Chef'sChoice EdgeSelect Professional Electric Knife Sharpener
|Work Sharp Professional Precision Adjust Knife Sharpener
Bottom Line: Is the Horl 2 Knife Sharpener Worth Buying?
Now that you understand its pros and cons, the questions is:
Is the Horl 2 worth buying?
If you’re a knife enthusiast who enjoys learning about sharpening and is willing to spend time practicing and perfecting the process, the Horl 2 is NOT for you. A whetstone is more versatile, precise, and, in most cases, cheaper.
But if you’re the typical home cook looking for a simple and effective way to keep your knives sharp, the Horl 2 is absolutely worth it.
Despite its limitations, it does a much better job than a manual pull-through sharpener, is less expensive than many electric sharpeners, and doesn’t have the learning curve of a whetstone.
Most importantly, it eliminates the guesswork of maintaining the proper angle during sharpening.
Lastly, most Horl 2 reviews fail to mention that using the device is genuinely fun and satisfying. It rolls with smooth, fluid motions across the blade, accompanied by an audibly loud grinding sound so you know it’s actively sharpening.
The experience of using a freshly honed knife is incredible, especially if you’re used to dull edges. No more sliced peppers sticking together, squashed tomatoes, or bruised herbs — just smooth, clean cuts.
Bottom line — the Horl 2 is not perfect, but it’s a unique invention that solves the common problem of dull knives without fuss. Read more reviews and check the current price of the Horl 2 on Amazon.
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