How to Sharpen a Knife
One problem that most people face every once in a while in the kitchen is the resistance they feel while cutting through something with their knives. This can be a real pain since it slows down the work and increases the risk of hurting your fingers. However, it is never too late to learn how to sharpen your knives on your own since hiring a professional will just add on to your expenses. Here are three methods that you can use if you’re wondering how to sharpen a knife at home.
How to Sharpen a Knife with a Stone?
Choosing a Sharpening Stone
- Examining the knives
Before you head out to the store, take the time to bring out all the culinary knives that you own and examine them. It is important to see how much resistance you feel while cutting through a piece of apple or any other fruits and vegetables. The resistance that you feel is directly proportional to the bluntness of the knife.
This will also help you to determine the grit size that you need in order to sharpen them. If you have been using the knives in your kitchen on a regular basis, they’ll need more sharpening.
- Selecting the Style of the Stone
While looking for the perfect stone to get your job done, you’ll come across a lot of options. Usually synthetic or natural stones are more preferable since they can be used with oil, dry or with water. You’ll also come across diamond stones which have tiny pieces of diamonds stuck to the surface of the metal. These stones have don’t wear out that easily and last for a really long time compared to other stones. However, they are really expensive.
Other than diamond stones, you can also go for the stones which are wet and soft or immersed in water. They can be a really good option if you want to sharpen your knives quickly.
However, you should be aware that these stones will wear out quicker than the rest. Oil stones can be a great alternative in this case since they are made from tougher material. They are also cheap but they do, however, make a mess and it is no news that you will face difficulty while cleaning up. Anyhow, it will still last longer.
- Choosing the Grit of the Stone
Grit sizes matter a lot since it has got everything to do with the sharpness of your knives. You can find fine, medium and coarse stones at the stores. If you have extremely dull knives, you should go for the coarse stone with a fine grit. However, if you have sharpened your knives lately and they aren’t way too grey, you can go for the one with a medium grit. The levels have a range of 325 to 1200. 325 is for ‘coarse’ and 1200 for ‘extra fine.’ However, you can also find different grit levels in a particular stone on each side. Choose the one that you think will work best for your purpose.
Preparations Before Sharpening
- Reading the Manual
It is of utmost importance to read the manuals of the stone that you have bought. This is mainly because there are a variety of stones and you’ll need to know them before using it to sharpen your knives. Especially if you need to immerse them in water or oil while sharpening. However, diamond stones can be used wet or dry.
- Holding the Knife at an Angle of 20 degrees
The larger or thicker the blade, the greater the angle will be. However, most of the people hold the knife at an angle of 20 degrees from the stone while sharpening them. Keep in mind that if you’re using a coarse stone, you’ll need a shallower angle since you will probably not want to sharpen it way too much.
- Immersing the Water Stone
Soak your water stone in a tray full of water for about 45 minutes before you start working. If you have an extremely dry stone, immerse it longer since it can scrape on the surface of your knives. Also, make sure to refrain from immersing an oil stone in water as it can destroy the stone.
- Placing the Stone on a wet cloth
Take the time to dampen an old washcloth and squeeze it to get rid of all the water. Place it on the working area and put the stone above it. This will hold the stone in place. Do the same for any other kind of stones.
- Greasing an Oil Stone
While lubricating your oil stone with oil, make sure to buy the oils used for this specific purpose. They are widely available in the market. You will only need to pour in a small amount on the stone and you can spread it out evenly using your hands.
Sharpening the Knives
- Holding the Knife in Place
Hold the knife against the stone at an angle of about 20 degrees with the edge facing the other way. Use one finger to hold onto the flat surface, get a good grip of the handle and slide through the stone.
- Moving the Blade
Sweep the blade from one end of the stone to the other. This will sharpen it evenly. Make sure to do one side at first and then head for the opposite side. Make sure to lubricate the stone every time you feel like its dry.
- The Opposite side
Head for the opposite side once you can feel the sharpness with your fingertips (Be careful while doing this).
- Using a Finer Grit
Dull knives will require sharpening on a finer grit to be perfectly polished. Sharpen both the sides and keep the strokes equal on both sides.
Once sharpened, take a piece of paper and cut through it. If you feel like it has been sharpened perfectly, your job is done. If not, give it a few more strokes on each side on the stone. Do this until you stop feeling the extra resistance while cutting through the paper.
- Cleaning up
Once done with the work, cleanse the blades and clean up the stone as per the instructions in your manual.
How to Sharpen a Knife with a Sharpener?
- Same as before, test your knife to see how much sharpening it needs.
- Manual Sharpeners usually consist of two settings, namely, ‘coarse’ and ‘fine.’ ‘Coarse’ is used for sharpening the knife by scraping through the steel. While ‘fine’ is used for frequent sharpening. However, electrical sharpeners may have an extra setting included in it.
- Place the blade into the sharpener and pull through it beginning from its tip to the end. You’ll have to make an effort if you have a manual sharpener. The electrical ones usually do the work for you so you don’t have to apply pressure on it.
- While pulling out the knife, make sure to move it in sync to its curves. This will ensure that all the edges have been sharpened. If you can hear a grinding sound, you are doing the work perfectly. If not, you’re not following the outline.
- Once you have used the coarse setting, switch to the fine setting. If you have more settings, use all of them until you get a fine finish.
- Clean the knife using warm soapy water and wipe it off with a clean towel. Make it a habit to use sharpener to its fine setting on a daily basis to keep it in a good shape.
How to Sharpen a Knife with a File?
In order to work this out, you’ll only need a fine, small and flat file.
- Step one is to find the perfect stable position for you to get the work done smoothly. Make sure that you have enough space to sweep the file on each side.
- Hold the file at an angle of 30 degrees and begin from the hilt of the knife.
- While filing, make sure the strokes are even, long and steady.
- Once you are done with one side, flip the blade and start sharpening it. Keep on switching the sides until you feel like the blades are finally sharpened to perfection
- Test out the blade to see if it works properly. Make sure there are no bends on the blade. Use the file to make a slight stroke if there is a bend on the blade and it will be back to how it was in no time.
You can rest assured that these three methods will surely help you out. If not, you can still try other methods like using an electric sharpener, pull through or handheld sharpener or a honing rod. However, if you are terrified of sharpening knives and cannot get the job done on your own, just invest in a new set of knives or hire a professional because it is not worth taking the risk of hurting yourself.
- Take good care of your kitchen knives, and they will take good care of you – The Washington Post
- Sharpening Kitchen Knives – Martha Stewart