Is there anything more frustrating than a dull blade when you’re trying to cook? Sharpening your knives can greatly improve your effectiveness and speed in the kitchen.
Depending on how much you cook, you should sharpen your knife every couple of months, or at the very least every year. But no matter how much you love cooking and preparing meals, is one of those chores that always seems to be put off.
To restore a dull knife, you have four choices: You can send it to a professional, you can use a whetstone, a manual sharpener, or the most convenient option is an electric sharpener.
Sending it to a professional may seem like a great option but it can get expensive and it isn’t hard to sharpen your knives with a little practice.
Each option has its pros and cons but thankfully, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to see you through the entire process.
How to Sharpen With a Whetstone
One of the best ways, but also most difficult for the laymen, is to sharpen a blade using a whetstone. Despite what some may think, whetstone is not named because you use them when wet, but ‘whet’ is actually an old English word for sharpen.
At first glance, a whetstone just looks like a regular block or scrub brush. It is a rectangular block that works almost like sandpaper. A whetstone helps to sharpen and refine the cutting edge on the blade as you slide the knife across it.
Most whetstones are designed to be soaked in water before every use. If your whetstone needs to be soaked, submerge it in your sink until no bubbles are coming out of it. This should take anywhere between five and ten minutes.
To use it, hold the knife at a 20-degree angle against the whetstone, and gently drag each side of the knife against it a few times. Most whetstones have a coarse side” and a fine side.
You should start with the coarse side if your knife is especially dull, then repeat the process on the fine-grind side. However, if you maintain your knife regularly, you can go straight to the fine-grind side. If the whetstone seems to be drying out as you use it, just rub some more water on it and continue on.
How to Sharpen with a Metal Knife Sharpener
If you don’t have a whetstone, this tool is a quick-fix solution for a dull knife. A metal knife sharpener comes with many knife sets. Just like with a whetstone, you have to press the blade of the knife into the coarse side; pull it in towards your body a few times so that the middle of the blade is in contact with the middle of the metal. You should maintain light pressure and a 15-degree angle between the blade and the sharpener.
Finish the motion by passing the tip of the blade over the bottom of the steel then repeat this motion on the other side of the blade. Four or five strokes on each side of the blade should be enough then move onto the finer side.
Learning how to use a knife sharpener is definitely helpful, but it’s not the best way to sharpen your knife. A metal sharpener will wear down your knife after a period. You should consider this method for sharpening inexpensive knives and stick to using a whetstone when sharpening your fancy chef’s knife.
How To Maintain A Knife Edge With Honing
Now that you’ve sharpened your knife, use a honing steel weekly to keep the knife’s edge sharp. Don’t worry about damaging your blade with frequent honing. The process doesn’t wear down your knife like sharpening does.
Instead of holding the steel in the air and dramatically sliding the knife against it, hold the honing steel vertically, with the tip resting on a surface and the handle gripped firmly in one hand.
Press the thickest part of the knife’s blade against the honing steel at a 15-20 degree angle, pull the knife down and towards you. Follow through to the tip of the blade. Keeping the knife in the same hand, repeat the motion on the other side of the steel, reversing the angle of the blade against the honing steel.
Store Your Blade Correctly To Keep Them Sharp
Many people don’t pay attention to how they store their knives. Once you’ve gone through the trouble to sharpen your knives, make sure you keep them in a place so that they stay sharp for longer.
Your knives should be safe and secure and out of harm’s reach, especially if you have small children in your household. We also don’t recommend storing knives in a drawer as knives are moved about they can nick each other which can dull them.
Knife Sharpening Takeaways
We recommend you sharpen your knives regularly, at the very least once every couple of months. Make it a part of your routine so you don’t forget. Even the most expensive knives will dull over time with regular use.
You may think a sharp knife is more dangerous than a dull one, but when you’re cooking with a well-sharpened knife, you’re in more control and less likely to slip and cut a finger.
In addition, using a sharp knife will make your food taste better. Get the thin slices or a fine dice you’re looking for, not large or ragged hunks. Precisely cut food will cook at an even rate and produce a professional, tastier dish.