When you have something you love, like a well-made knife set, you want to keep it in good condition. You could always buy new knives, but it wouldn’t be the same.
Thankfully, there are any number of do it yourself products you can buy to keep those knives sharp.
But what is the right thing for you to buy? What should you watch out for when sharpening your knives, and how can you guarantee that you will be safe while doing it?
The following is a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to knife sharpening, to ensure that you are safe and your equipment lasts as long possible.
The proper tool
One way to sharpen knives is to have a sharpening stone. Used throughout time to sharpen blades, a modern sharpening stone may come in a pack, consisting of a holder, and numerous stones of various grades of coarseness.
The proper way to sharpen a knife with this kind of sharpening stone is to first examine the quality of the knife you are using.
Is the knife only a little bit away from being the sharpness you want? If so, then using the finest stone is the way to go.
If your knife is terribly dull, then begin with the coarsest stone, and slowly work your way through as you sharpen your knife, ending with the finest grain stone.
In this article, we have discussed in length the different types of sharpening stones. If you’re unsure on what sharpening stone to use in sharpening your knives, be sure to read that article and it will guide you in choosing the right stone.
The proper technique
When it comes to sharpening a knife using a sharpening stone, it is best to go very slowly, ensuring that all parts of the blade go across the stone as you stroke. If the knife is curved, then it may be a good idea to slowly rotate the blade as to allow all parts to come in contact with the stone.
What it all comes down to is the angle of the blade as you sharpen it. A frequent mistake for those unfamiliar with the process is to just hold the blade against the stone, stroking it at numerous angles without paying attention.
This decreases the edge over time, causing more damage in the process. Try starting on the shallow side, and carefully watching as it slides across the stone, if it displaces a tiny amount of water or oil, then you are good.
An additional thing to consider is using an oil while sharpening your knife on a stone sharpener. The oil acts to collect the particulates of stone and metal that are discarded during the process. What you use will depend on the kind of stone you have.
Instructions on the proper kind of oil are normally included with in a knife sharpening kit or stone.
A few additional facts
If the knife is being sharpened for the first time, then it would be best to start with the coarsest stone you have. If the knife has rust, then use sand paper to remove the rust, making sure to rub it out before starting to sharpen.
And just for the sake of including it, always make sure the knife is completely clean before sharpening, and that the handle is still firmly attached to the blade itself. There have been cases where blades have become detached during the sharpening process, causing them to fling across the room.
The right way to tell when your knife is sharp
The first thing you can do is to hold the knife straight up so that it reflects light. If there is a visible reflection, then you should probably continue sharpening.
Once you believe it is ready, try the newspaper trick. Here you hold up newspaper with one hand while using your knife to cut along it with the other. If it doesn’t have a problem slicing through, then you are good to go.
In addition, a sign that the blade is ready is whether or not it can remove hair from the body. If you can use it to shave, you can use it in the kitchen, just be careful with this last one!
So where does that leave us?
Sharpening knives is a great way to keep the edges useful and the knife operational. There are numerous ways to prepare a knife for sharpening, a few knife sharpening techniques for getting the perfect edge, and a couple of, perhaps questionable, ways of testing it’s sharpness. Either way, when it comes to knife sharpening, always be sure to keep safe.