A knife is useless if it doesn’t slice through your vegetables or fruits. Other than its functionality, a dull knife also is more dangerous. This is why it’s practical to sharpen your knives regularly. You can either go to a professional or do it yourself. But before making a choice, do take note that professionals have a reputation for grinding off too much metal, resulting in a shorter usage of your knife. But while this sounds unfavorable, sharpening a knife yourself isn’t an easy task either.

How Frequently Do I Sharpen?

The most common recommended frequency to sharpen their knives is about once or twice a year. However, the best way to know if your knife does need to be sharpened is by personally testing it. Most chefs suggest using a tomato. Without putting pressure on your blade, hold the edge against the tomato’s skin, and after pulling it back, see if it’s able to slice through the skin. If it doesn’t, then it needs sharpening.

But First, Know Your Knife

Before proceeding to the basics of the actual sharpening, you first need to learn more about your blade and possible types of machinery to use.

Every knife has an angle specific to where it was made. For instance, most European-style knives are sharpened at 15 to 20 degrees, while most Japanese-style are ground at 10 to 15 degrees. Knowing your knife’s angle can help you choose what type of sharpener fits your blade the best.

Pull-through sharpener

It’s one of the most popular and basic sharpeners amongst casual cooks, as it’s very simple and easy to use. This type of sharpener usually has two to three steps involving sharpening and polishing your blade. If you’re interested in purchasing a pull-through, you can opt for a manual or an electric one. While the latter is easier to use, the former allows better control when sharpening.

La Beau’s knife sharpener is an example of a pull-through or regular knife sharpener that helps you achieve sharp knife edges manually.

Sharpening Stones

There are different types of sharpening stones, such as oil stones, water stones, and diamond stones. These stones usually need to be soaked in oils or water before use. For instance, oil stones must be greased with oil beforehand. In contrast, water stones or whetstones should be soaked in water before use.

Further, compared to most pull-through sharpeners, where you simply need to place your knife in the slots and pull, a sharpening stone requires you to manually adjust your blade as you sharpen it.

If you’re still learning the ropes of manually sharpening, consider getting a combination whetstone. Not only is this relatively inexpensive, but this gives you enough opportunity to adjust your pressure when sharpening.

How to Achieve Sharp Knife Edges

First, place your stone on a flat surface, then hold the knife with the edge facing away. Sweep the knife across the stone in a semi-circle shape at a specific angle. Make sure you are consistent in your angle and pressure when grinding your blade to achieve an even edge.

Secondly, you need to be thorough on how many strokes you do. As sharpening is grinding off steel from your knife, too much of it can lead to thinning and chipping of your blade. Generally speaking, ten strokes should be sufficient if your knife isn’t too dull.

If you’re using a whetstone, it’s advisable to start with a coarser grit then finish it with a finer one. The coarser the stone, the faster it cuts into the knife. Finishing it with a finer stone polishes the edge, leaving a smoother result.

A knife is essential in every kitchen. This is why it’s essential to pay extra effort in taking care and making sure it stays in great, sharp shape.

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