How to Sharpen A Knife

As a chef and for anyone that spends as much time in the kitchen as I do, there is no underestimating the importance of keeping your knives sharp.  Contrary to popular belief, a sharp knife is actually safer than a dull knife.  With a dull knife, you have to apply more pressure to cut whatever you’re trying to slice, which increases the chances that the blade will slip off the object and end up slicing your hand or fingers.  A sharp knife slices with ease and thus reduces your chance for injury.
A sharp knife is a safe knife..

A sharp knife is a safe knife..

Safety aside, a sharp knife makes work easier in the kitchen.  With a sharp knife you can chop and slice faster, thus minimizing prep time.  A sharp knife also makes it easier to cut food into equal size pieces, which promotes even cooking time.
Finally, sharpening your knives regularly extends their life.  If you are going to invest in knives, you might as well take proper care of them.
How to Sharpen A Knife
Now that you know the importance of keeping your knives sharp, let’s talk about how to sharpen them.
Using a sharpening stone (whetstone) is the single most effective and cost efficient way to sharpen your knives.  It will give you the best edge and also minimize the amount of the blade that is naturally whittled away through the sharpening process.  The stone I use is two sided, coarse and fine grit.  It is the type I have used since culinary school and it’s the one I always recommend.  A simple web search will help you come up with some options.
A whetstone with a rough and fine grit.  The grey side is the rough grit and the side you should start with.

A whetstone with a course and fine grit. The grey side is the course grit and the side you should start with.

Once you have your stone, follow these tips and check out the video that follows:
  • Place the whetstone on a counter-top or cutting board, with the coarse grit face up. A wet paper towel underneath the stone can help keep it from sliding.
  • Grasp the knife by handle and hold the edge against the stone, point-first, meeting the stone at approximately a 22 1/2 – degree angle.
  • Using moderate pressure and keeping the knife at a constant 22 1/2 – degree angle, slide the blade across the stone, approximately 10 times.

Flip the knife over and repeat this process.

  • Turn the stone over and repeat same process on the fine grit side.
  • Finish the sharpening by honing your blade using a sharpening steel.  Most knife sets come with a sharpening steel and you just want glide your knife away from your body, using the same 22 1/2 – degree angle, several times on both sides.
  • Before using your knife, rinse with soap and water to remove any remaining debris.

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