Sharpening a knife is essential for any home cook or professional chef. A dull blade often makes food preparation more difficult and increases the risk of injury. So how to sharpen a knife correctly and safely?
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How To Sharpen A Knife With A Sharpener
Manual sharpeners usually offer better control. They’re best used with straight blades and don’t work on serrated knives. Below are the detailed steps to sharpen a manual sharpener:
- Step 1: At the “coarse” setting on your manual sharpener, pull the blade through the slot 3 to 6 times from the base to the tip.
Make sure to follow the curve of the knife and lift the handle slightly higher at the end when you pull it through the sharpener.
- Step 2: Once the blade has been reshaped, run it through the “fine” setting 1 to 2 times to refine its edge.
- Step 3: Rinse the knife with warm, soapy water and dry it thoroughly to prevent rusting.
Note: It’s best to run it through the “fine” setting of the manual sharpener once every two hours of use. To prevent damage to your knives, you should avoid putting them in the dishwasher.
Electric sharpeners can be used for various blades and can sharpen large knives quickly. Here are steps to use them:
- Step 1: Plug in the unit and select the appropriate knife style on the dial.
- Step 2: If your knife is dull, place the knife in the coarsest slot of the sharpener and push the blade’s heel down into the space.
- Step 3: Draw the knife blade from the slot along the blade’s curve. For knives with straight edges, repeat this motion 10 to 15 times. For serrated knives, do it 5 to 10 times.
- Step 4: Move to the delicate sharpening setting and repeat the same process, pulling and pushing the blade through the slot 10 to 15 times.
- Step 5: Turn off the electric sharpener, wash the knife to remove any metal debris, and dry it with a clean cloth.
How To Sharpen A Knife Without A Sharpener?
With A Whetstone
Whetstones are also recommended to sharpen knives because they offer control and precision. Compared to other tools, using a whetstone removes the least amount of material from the blade, leading to a longer lifespan for the knife. You can follow these steps to use it:
- Step 1: Wet the stone by fully immersing it in water until no more air bubbles come out (about 1 hour).
- Step 2: Find the angle by placing the blade perpendicular to the stone and rotate it at a 45-degree angle, then go halfway again to make a 22.5-degree angle.
Tip: Put the knife’s edge on the stone and ensure that the blade’s spine is aligned halfway up your horizontal thumb.
- Step 3: Gently draw the knife towards you while moving it smoothly across the stone’s surface. Flip the knife and place the heel at the top of the stone again, then repeat the process 10 to 50 times.
- Step 4: Apply water on the knife’s and the stone’s surface if the water turns cloudy when you work.
- Step 5: Wash the blade and sharpen the stone with clean water. Dry the knife and let your sharpener air dry for one day, then wrap in a towel and store it.
With A Rod
Honing rod, or sharpening steel, is often included with the purchase of a knife set. They are used to straighten the blade’s edge rather than sharpen it. Follow the below instructions to use it correctly:
- Step 1: Hold the honing rod vertically and plant the tip on a stable surface like a countertop. Put the heel of the blade at the top of the rod, with the blade’s tip slightly upward.
- Step 2: Keep the blade at a 15-degree angle from the steel. It will help to maintain the correct angle for sharpening.
- Step 3: Use even pressure to slide the blade down the honing rod, starting at the heel and moving toward the tip.
- Step 4: Pass the blade tip along the bottom of the rod. Repeat this process on the opposite side of the blade. (4-5 strokes on each blade’s side).
- Step 5: Rinse the knife, and the steel, then use a soft cloth to dry them.
With A Stone
- Step 1: Put the stone on a damp cloth. If you are using an oil stone, apply a layer of honing oil onto the stone’s surface. If you have diamond stones, you should use them when they’re dry.
- Step 2: Hold the knife handle and put the blade perpendicular to the table’s surface. Use one hand to put the knife at a 20-degree angle, with the cutting edge facing away from your body.
- Step 3: Slowly glide the blade in a sweeping arc along the stone’s surface while lowering it downward.
- Step 4: Slide the blade’s edge along the stone and sharpen it evenly from the base to the tip.
- Step 5: Moisten the stone or add extra oil if it feels dry. Repeat the process until one blade’s side is sharp.
- Step 6: Turn the knife over and repeat the same procedure as the first side.
- Step 7: Rinse the knife and the stone to prevent rust or corrosion. Wipe the blade clean and let the stone dry completely.
Tip And Tricks
Maintain a consistent angle throughout the sharpening process
Maintaining a steady angle while sharpening is essential to ensure that the blade edge is uniform.
- The most common angles for kitchen knives range from 15 to 20 degrees, which is ideal for everyday use.
- For heavier and sturdier knives like cleavers or hunting knives, angels closer to 30 degrees are best to withstand the rigors of heavy use.
Don’t overlook the belly
Remember to sharpen the curved section of the blade near the tip (belly) consistently with the rest of the blade. To do it, you can follow the below tricks:
- Keep the edge of the knife parallel to the bottom of the stone.
- Gradually align the knife’s handle with the bottom of the stone when you approach the straight part of the blade.
It will help maintain a consistent angle and sharpening pressure, resulting in a uniformly sharpened blade.
Practice sharpening with a cheap knife
You can try to sharpen a knife commonly found at gas stations or convenience stores, which is cheap and has a poor edge. It won’t be a significant loss if you accidentally scratch or damage the blade while practicing.
Don’t “roll” the knife
- One common mistake is twisting or rotating the blade at the end of a sharpening pass. You may change the angle, which can lead to an uneven edge.
- Instead, it’s recommended to keep the knife at the same angle and lift it straight up at the end of the pass without twisting or rolling it.
Test the blade
- After sharpening a blade, cut a sheet of paper. You can use the knife if the page does not tear or bend.
- Avoid testing the sharpness of the blade on oneself as it can be dangerous and lead to injury. Instead, you can use inanimate objects, like paper or cardboard.
FAQs About Topic Sharpen a Knife
Do Knife Sharpeners Ruin Knives?
Yes. If any type of sharpener is used carelessly, it can ruin a knife. For example, if you hold the knife at an incorrect angle or put too much pressure against the sharpener, your blade will become misaligned.
What Knives Cannot Be Sharpened?
You can sharpen any knife, but serrated and scalloped knives are more difficult to sharpen as they have a more complex blade structure. They have multiple teeth or serrations, which makes them more challenging to sharpen than straight-edged knives.
They require specialized sharpening tools and techniques to sharpen the individual serrations properly without damaging the blade.
What Is The Safest Way To Sharpen Knives?
The safest way to sharpen a knife is the bench method using a rod. It involves placing the tip of the rod on a stable surface to prevent it from sliding and sweeping the knife’s edge from the handle end down to the tip along the length of the rod.
What Is The Last Thing You Must Do After Sharpening A Knife?
The last thing you must do after sharpening a knife is to remove the burr. The burr is a thin strip of metal pushed out from the blade’s edge during the sharpening process. If not removed, it can affect the cutting ability of the knife. You can remove it by washing or wiping it off.
How to sharpen a knife? You can follow our above instructions about using a manual or electric sharpener, whetstone, rod, or stones to sharpen your knife.
By keeping your knives sharp, you can make your cutting tasks easier and ensure that your blades last longer and perform at their best!