How To Use A Knife Sharpener

How To Use A Knife Sharpener
The best pull-through, manual knife sharpeners feature a secure grip, a sturdy design, and solid construction for durability. A $20 investment ought to last you several years. (AccuSharp image)

The Knife Sharpener Is An Excellent Tool To Have In Your Kitchen. No Matter The Model, They Are Easy To Use And Can Help Revive Your Knives.

I cook daily. I enjoy it. It decompresses me, and I’m able to provide my wife and me with a lovely meal to end our day together. Nothing makes cooking harder than a dull knife.

Beyond increasing the difficulty of easy tasks, dull knives are incredibly unsafe and can cause serious injuries in the kitchen. Knowing how to use a kitchen sharpener can keep your knives like new and, best of all, take just a few minutes to use.

How To Use A Pull Through Knife Sharpener

Pull-Through kitchen knife sharpeners come in a variety of prices ranging from $10 all the way up to $100. Regardless of how expensive your sharpener is, they all work in similar ways by removing a small amount of material to renew a knife’s edge.

To show you how to sharpen your knives in numbered easy steps, I pulled out my small sharpener–a Goodcook–I picked up at my local supermarket.

Step 1: Safely Secure The Sharpener To The Surface

My trusty knife sharpener
My trusty knife sharpener

Yes, it seems straightforward, but always remember to safely secure your knife sharpener to the surface you plan to use. I did this on my dining room table, but a counter or stovetop works just as well.

Some higher-end models may come with a vise, but the majority, like mine, are secured by firmly holding the end of it down onto the surface. The underside of my sharpener came with a channel in it so you could secure it against the edge of a table. This is meant to keep the knife away from you when you pull it through the sharpening stones.

Channel underneath the sharpener for edge use.
Channel underneath the sharpener for edge use.

Step 2: Pull Your Knife Through The Coarse Side Of The Sharpener

Your sharpener will, at a minimum, have a coarse and fine setting. Start by pulling your blade through the coarse side first. This will remove more material from the edge and get rid of any bigger burrs or imperfections in the knife.

Put light pressure on the knife and gently pull it through. I chose to do three passes, but you can do however many you like. The little bump at the end of each pull is the knife tapping into the base of the sharpener.


Step 3: Do The Same On The Fine Side Of The Sharpener

The fine side is good for refining the edge of the blade and bringing it back to a razor’s edge. You’ll notice that it sounds different as you pull the knife through. I also pulled my paring knife through it three times.

And in three easy steps, in less than two minutes, you’ve sharpened a knife. I try to hone my knives multiple times a week and sharpen them monthly or every other month. By investing just a few minutes at a time into caring for your knives, you’ll extend their life and keep them cutting like new for years to come.

How To Use A Whetstone To Sharpen A Knife

Another, more traditional way of sharpening knives, is with a whetstone. These stones allow you to precisely control what part of your knife is being sharpened and how much material gets removed from your blade. Below are the steps to follow to successfully sharpen your knives on a whetstone.

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

This means getting your stone, a moderately deep container like a baking dish, deep bowl, or a bucket to soak the stone in water, your knives, a towel to dry them off, and a spoon or small cup to scoop water onto the stone.

Step 2: Soak The Stone

When you place your stone into your container it should be fully submerged under water. You’ll see bubbles start to come up. That’s air getting forced out of the stone. Let it soak for 10-15 minutes or until the bubbles disappear. That’s the sign that your stone is ready to use.

Step 3: Secure Your Stone

Most stones come with a holder. Always use that if available. If there is no holder, a towel wrapped around the base of the stone will work. You always want the stone secured. At best, it could scratch your tabletop if it slides, and at worst you could slice yourself from a knife coming off a sliding stone.

Step 4: Sharpen On The Course Side

The majority of whetstones you can buy online or in stores today will have two sides, one coarse and one fine. The lower the grit number, the more coarse. This means that more material will come off with each pass of the knife.

It’s best to start sharpening your knives on that side. Get your blade to an angle between 20-25 degrees and pass it back and forth against the stone 10-15 times on each side of the blade.

If a dry spot starts appearing on your stone, use your spoon or small cup to pour a little bit of extra water onto the spot to re-wet it.

Step 5: Sharpen On The Fine Side

Now that you’ve removed most of the egregious burrs and nicks from the edge turn your stone over and sharpen the blade against the fine side. This will finish and polish the edge back to razor quality and have your knife like new again.

Again, you’ll stroke the blade 10-15 times at 20-25 degrees, then check the blade for sharpness.

Popular Youtuber, and New York Times bestselling author, Joshua Weissman gives a simple but in-depth tutorial on how to use a whetstone to revive your knives and bring back a razor edge.

How To Use An Electric Sharpener

A more intense version of the handheld kitchen knife sharpener is the electric sharpener. More pricey than a handheld device, electric sharpeners use different types of grinding stones powered by a motor to grind away material and sharpen your knives.

Some models have a single slot where the user will need to toggle between fine and coarse grit stones. Others have multiple stages and multiple stones allowing for more precise sharpening. Regardless of the type of electric sharpener, they operate similarly.

Step 1: Place The Sharpener On A Solid Surface

Always make sure your sharpener is on a table or countertop. Never hold it in your hand while pulling your knives through. That’s a quick way to wind up on your local news for all the wrong reasons.

Step 2: Read Your Sharpener’s Directions

With so many varieties of sharpeners it’s important to know how to correctly use yours, and, just as importantly, what type of knives can be sharpened.

Some can handle serrated knives while others are just good for flat knives. Know this because pulling the wrong type of knife through the sharpener can damage the blade.

Step 3: Sharpen Your Knives As Desired

You gently place your knife into the slot and pull it through at a leisurely pace. Do this 10-15 times for each stage of the sharpener and your knives should be like new.

To get an idea of how easy it truly is to use an electric knife sharpener, the folks at Linkyo show you how to use one of their models. It’s not even two minutes so you can’t afford to miss it.

Editor’s Note: This article was written by Mike Ableson.

Editor’s Note: This article was written by Mike Ableson.

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