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Beginners Guide To Real Knife Sharpening

Posted by Manuel Gonzalez on
Beginners Guide To Real Knife Sharpening

When it comes to cooking, nothing can be worse than working with a dull knife. Many also considered this dangerous because of how easy you can cut yourself with a dull knife. Imagine trying to cut a tomato (which I'd say is one of the hardest thing to cut with a dull knife) and your knife slips and slides over the tomato's skin and there goes part of your finger.

And let me explain this briefly, you don't have to go buy a new chef's knife, or any knife really, if you consider your dull knives to be useless. And it really doesn't matter how expensive your knife is. Yes, there are perks that come with having a knife that is a specific, more pricey metal, but at the end of the day, a knife is a knife. You really just need one thing, a knife sharpener. But now you go online, google knife sharpener, and you see all these different contraptions that will supposedly sharpen your knife, so which one do you buy?

There are a couple options which we'll leave links to buy them to make this as easy as possible for you.

Wet Stone

Sharpening a knife on a wetstone

The first one is a wet stone. This is the most complicated version but will also leave your knife with the sharpest, most finest edge.

Most wet stone have a coarse side and a fine side. Sharpening is based on getting a good shape on an edge and then refining it, and the coarse side or a separate coarse stone is the fastest way to get a good shape on an edge. Once you've finished shaping your edge, the fine side or a separate fine stone is used to further refine the edge, improving the quality of the cut it delivers. Therefore, you always want to start on the coarse side! And if you were wondering, you can solely use a fine stone, but sharpening your knife on a fine stone would be substantially longer than utilizing both because of how little metal it removes from your knife.

Now you may be wondering, what are these numbers associated with my wet stone?

Wetstone Grits

Whetstones come in a range of grits:

  • Less than 1000 grit is ideal for obtuse blades and typically used to repair knives with chipped edges. These however cannot be used for general sharpening because they leave a coarse finish.
  • 1000 to 3000 grit are used to sharpen dull knives and lead to finer edges than low grit stones. Perfect for normal sharpening and honing to straighten obtuse edges.
  • 4000 to 8000 grit are finishing stones and are used to refine your knife edge. These will give you an excellent cutting edge, perfect for meat and vegetable cutting. The high-grit will also restore the shine to your blade and are best for western knives.

Now how do you exactly use a wet stone? It is actually pretty simple but it may seem strange your first couple times. First, you want to make sure your stone is wet. Then, you want set you blade on your stone at a 20 degree angle, sharp end facing down, at the end of the the stone, ready to pull the blade towards you. Use one hand to hold your blade at that angle, and your other hand to apply pressure on the blade. You then want to move the blade over the stone in a curve like motion, applying pressure when you move it towards you and not as much pressure when you move it away from you. Don't forget to make sure your stone is always wet. If you hear a weird sound as you move your blade over the stone, it probably needs more water.

To make your life easier, we've picked out the best wet stones we could find so they're only one-click away!

Sharp Pebble Premium Whetstone Knife Sharpening Stone 2 Side Grit 1000/6000 Waterstone 

Knife Sharpening Stone Kit, Finew Professional Whetstone Sharpener Stone Set, Premium 4 Side Grit 400/1000 3000/8000 Water Stone 

Learning how to use a wet stone without any visuals can be really tough, so below you can find a video that will make learning how to use one a lot easier!

Basic Knife Sharpener

The second option is more basic but still gets the job done! Yes, this might be easier to use, but it will not leave your knife as sharp and fine as a wet stone would. And certain high-end knives can actually become damaged by a basic knife sharpener.

Basic Knife Sharpener

The best perk of a basic knife sharpener is how easy they are to use. All you have to do is place your knife in the coarser sharpener, and pull is towards you. You always want to start with the coarse sharpener and end with the finer one.

Below are the best basic knife sharpeners we could find, right at your disposal!

2-Stage Knife Sharpener, Black 

3-Stage Knife Sharpener Helps Repair, Restore and Polish Blades and Cut-Resistant Glove

Honing Steel

The third one is a honing steel, which many usually think of when they think of knife sharpening because we usually see chefs using this before they cut anything, but in reality, these do not sharpen your knife at all.

Chef using a honing steel

Honing steels are used to straighten your knife out. It is a great way for upkeep in between sharpening sessions!

These can be a little difficult to use for your first time, so I have included both analytical and visual instructions.

To safely use a honing rod, hold it vertically with the tip firmly planted on the counter. Place the heel of the blade against the top of the steel and point the knife tip slightly upward. Hold the blade at a 15‑degree angle away from the steel. Maintaining light pressure and slide the blade down the length of the steel in a sweeping motion, pulling the knife toward your body so that the middle of the blade is in contact with the middle of the steel. Finish the motion by passing the tip of the blade over the bottom of the steel. Repeat this motion on the other side of the blade. Four or five strokes on each side of the blade should realign the edge.

 Want your own honing steel? Check out our pick below!

10 Inches Honing Steel 

And if you still find it difficult understanding how to use a honing steel, check out the video below.

Tips for Maintaining Your Knife's Sharpness

First things first, don't put you knife in the dishwasher. Last thing you want is your knife to get chipped due to everything else in your dishwasher. Just wash and dry it by hand.

Secondly, knife storage is key. Nowadays, there are many options for storing your knives. You can either go with a knife sleeve, hang them on a knife magnet strip, or even get fancy with a knife block. Just remember, if you do go for a knife block, make sure you insert your knives into slots bigger than the knife itself, don't press the blade down on the wood, and carefully slide the back of the knife into the slot so you don't ware out the sharpness of it.

Thirdly, hone your knife before you use it every single time and sharpen it every few months. And it doesn't hurt to get your knives professionally sharpened once or twice a year.

Remember these tips and I guarantee your knives will stay sharper for a longer period of time!

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