So you’ve got your nice new set of shiny Chefs Knives and have being using them for a while now and you start to notice that they are not as sharp as they used to be – it’s time to sharpen your knives! So just what is the best way to sharpen a knife?
As all good Chefs will tell you “dull knives cause accidents” that’s because when you’re using a dull knife you will have to apply more pressure when using the knife for simple prepping tasks in the kitchen, which makes the knife more likely to slip. Keeping your best kitchen knives sharp is a must if not just for the safety aspect but for the ease of prepping food in the kitchen.
Sharpening knives need not be a chore you can quite easily sharpen your knives at home without having to send them out to a professional knife sharpener. It really isn’t hard to sharpen a knife at home.
Below I will break down how to sharpen knives, the best tools for sharpening kitchen knives, and will tell you the best knife sharpening tools that will make sharpening your kitchen knives at breeze.
Knife Sharpening Tools
For the everyday kitchen there are 2 basic tools needed to sharpen your kitchen knives and keep your kitchen knives in tip top condition; a Whetstone and a Honing Steel. These knife sharpening tools are affordable and won’t break the bank but will ensure your knives are razor sharp at all times.
What is a Whetstone?
A Whetstone is basically a course stone for sharpening your knife blades and can also be used on other cutting tools. Getting the hang of using a Whetstone correctly takes a little practice, but once you have mastered this technique of sharpening your kitchen knives you’ll be able to keep knives razor sharp, and save time and money.
What is a Honing Steel?
A Honing Steel is often referred to as a Chefs Steel, Knife Steel, or sometimes a Sharpening Steel and is basically a long rod that is made of steel, ceramic or even diamond coated steel. The Honing Steel is really used to hone the knife blade and in essence doesn’t really sharpen the knife. It makes good practice to Hone your knife before each use, if you are doing a lot of a slicing, a couple of strokes on the knife steel every few minutes will make cutting a breeze.
How to Sharpen Knives
Sharpening your kitchen knives really only involves two tasks, let’s start with sharpening your knife with a Whetstone.
How to Sharpen a Knife with a Whetstone
This is a lot easier than it sounds and should take no more than 2 minutes to give you kitchen knife a nice new edge.
- Take your Whetstone and place it on your cutting board, placing a damp kitchen cloth under the cutting board will stop your cutting board from slipping and sliding (not a good idea when sharpening your knife). Make sure the coarse side of the whetstone is facing upwards. Ideally you should keep your Whetstone wet, water is fine or even a drop of cooking oil.
- Now hold your kitchen knife by the handle and gently place the knife edge against the Whetstone at roughly a 22 degree angle, place your free hand on the blade to help stabilize the knife.
- Using moderate pressure gently slide the knife blade forward across the Whetstone making sure to cover the full length of the knife blade and not forgetting to keep the blade flush against the Whetstone at a constant angle of 22 degrees.
- Repeat the above knife sharpening technique about 10 times, then flip over your knife and continue with another 10 strokes on the Whetstone.
- Now that you’ve completed both sides of your kitchen knife on the Whetstone, flip over the stone to the fine grit side and repeat the whole process again for both sides of your knife.
- That’s it! Now to finish off give your kitchen knife a few strokes with a Honing Steel and wipe with a damp cloth to make sure there’s no metals flecks stuck to the blade.
Using a Whetstone is by far the cheapest and best way to sharpen a kitchen knife at home. By using a Whetstone you are actually grinding away tiny amounts of the blade and you can see the dark grey color left on the Whetstone once you have finished grinding your knife. While using a Whetstone is the best way to sharpen a knife, all that grinding can leave the knife’s edge rough and uneven so you now need to grab your Honing Steel!
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How to Sharpen a Knife with a Steel
Now that the Whetstone has done its job you will need to use your Honing Steel (also sometimes called a Sharpening Steel, or Knife Steel) to help smooth out any roughness, leaving your kitchen knife with a nice, straight edge and ready to use.
- Hold your Honing Steel in your left hand and point the Honing Steel down, pushing it firmly on your dry chopping board (make sure to place a damp cloth under your chopping board so it doesn’t slip).
- Now with your spare hand hold the kitchen knife crossways against the steel with the back of the blade touching the Knife Steel. You will be pulling the knife backwards towards you so ideally you want to start with most of the knife blade in the front of the Knife Steel.
- You now need to tilt your kitchen knife at roughly a 22 degree angle making sure that the cutting edge meets the shaft of the Honing Steel.
- Keeping a firm grip on your kitchen knife gently pull the knife blade towards you whilst gliding it downward along the shaft, not forgetting to keep the 22 degree angle. You need to make sure you cover the entire length of the knife blade and repeat this knife sharpening process 10 times.
- You’re done! Now shift over to the other side of the knife blade and repeat the whole knife sharpening process again.
Make sure that your Honing Steel is as long as the knife blade you are Honing, make sure to clean your knife with a damp cloth once finished. Honing you kitchen knife can be done before each use so keep it close by to help keep your kitchen knife sharp.
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In closing, if you have invested a lot of money on a good set of kitchen knives you should make sure you take care of them, if you do your kitchen knives will last you a lifetime. I hope the above helps to show you the best way to sharpen a knife but remember sharpen your kitchen knives on the Whetstone monthly and use the Honing Steel before each use – Simple!