Using a blunt knife is a minor kitchen annoyance that can turn into a nightmare quickly. You have to exert so much force to get anything cut, and it takes way too much time.
There’s a greater chance that you’ll cut yourself up when you try to slice with a dull blade, and the results with food are often poor because you cannot cut thin slices.
However, you can always sharpen your knives. Like any good tool, they can last decades with the proper maintenance on your part.
If you’re wondering just how to get started before you tackle your cutlery drawer, read on to learn the different methods of sharpening your knives.
This is, for the most part, the best method to use to sharpen your knives. You have the most control over the process, and it also gets your blades sharper than any other tool out there. A sharpening stone is exactly what its name implies—an actual piece of rock that you use to rub your blade into a sharp point.
Oil stones are made of aluminum oxide or Novaculite, and you cover them in oil before rubbing your blade on them. They provide a coarser edge and work faster.
Water stones are made of synthetic material that’s softer but also cuts smoother and faster.
Diamond stones have microscopic diamond chips attached to their surface. They sharpen faster, but are much costlier.
You’ll likely want a water stone when you’re first starting out.
Another thing that you need to consider is the angle at which you sharpen your knife. You’ll need to hold it at a different angle depending on the shape and thickness of the blade. To get the angle right you can use a sharpening angle guide. It is a small tool that you place under the knife to get an accurate angle.
You can sharpen the knife without this guide, but then there are higher chances of error. After determining this measurement, lubricate your stone with either mineral oil or water. There are two sides on a sharpening stone. One is the rough grit one and the other one has fine grit. The rough grit is made for grinding the knife and the fine grit is made to sharpen the knife.
First, grind the knife using the rough grit side. Grind one side of the knife until you have approximately done it halfway then flip the knife and grind the other side. You will see a new edge forming. You can stop grinding the blade when burrs start to form.
At this point, flip the stone and start using the fine grit side for sharpening. Do this until all the burrs are gone and the blade becomes smooth. Repeat this on the other side of the blade to finish.
There are two primary types of knife sharpeners: manual and the electric. They both have different procedures. The manual ones often have better results than the electric ones, but they take more time and strength. However, both of these knife sharpeners take less effort than sharpening stones. Knife sharpeners scrape a lot of metal off the knife blade, so you can’t use them regularly (and shouldn’t need to). Regular use will shorten your knife and also decrease the durability and the life of the knife.
Manual Knife Sharpener
To sharpen a knife with a manual tool, place the sharpener on your kitchen counter and hold it against the surface with your fingers through the guard. If you use it in air, then you can easily become injured if you happen to lose control of the knife. Next, put the knife in the slot of the tool. Pull the knife towards you.
Do not push it away in the opposite direction, because this can break or nick the edge of the blade and dull it further. Another thing that you should watch out for is that you should not exert too much pressure. Applying excess pressure can damage the blade; just apply enough so that you can feel the friction between the tool and the knife. A few strokes will do the trick for you to get a well-sharpened knife with a nice edge.
Electric Knife Sharpener
Typical electric knife sharpeners have up to four slots in them. Every slot has its own unique sharpening function that progressively refines the blade as you run it through each one. To use the tool, the first thing that you need to do is to turn the machine on and put the knife in the first slot. It will make a grinding sound, but don’t be afraid; that’s normal, and it’s just the noise that the roughest grade makes while sharpening.
Remember to insert the knife from its heel and then gradually slide towards the tip. Applying a lot of pressure can damage the blade in an electric sharpener too, so use light force. After you have put the knife through the first slot two or three times, pass it through the next slot, which has a finer grit for the blade (most electric sharpeners have their slots numbered so you know where to start).
Repeat this until the knife has been processed at every slot. In the end, your knife will have a sharp edge and you’ll be cutting through things easily and quickly.
The Process of Honing
A honing rod or honing steel is used every time before and after you use a knife to prepare food. It cannot be used to sharpen blunt knives; its purpose is actually to keep sharp knives sharpened and shaped properly to reduce your need to use a sharpening tool. The honing rod smoothes the knife by removing all the nicks. This practice increases the life of your knife and also saves you some time in the long run.
To use your honing steel, hold the rod in one hand and the knife in the other. Make an angle of about 20 degrees between the knife and the rod while you hold the blade to the rod. Push and pull the knife back and forth against the steel, flipping the sides of the knife and turning it upside down. Doing this about 20 times will do the job.
There are plenty of ways to sharpen your knives, but the most important thing is that you make it a lasting habit in your kitchen. Each way has its own benefits and drawbacks; some methods take a long time, and others aren’t as efficient. Remember that all of these sharpening skills apply to most knives in general.
There are a lot of knives available on the market with different shapes and different features, so sharpening methods for them may vary when you’re deciding on the best method. Purchase the proper tools and practice sharpening to find out what works best for you and your cutting utensils.