How To: Sharpen a Steel-Bladed Knife
Chefs never work with blunt knives and neither should you. A keen blade is crucial for precise, easy cutting.
Ignore gadgets, and equip yourself with the proper kit: a whetstone to grind a fine edge periodically and a steel to maintain it regularly.
Opt for the same brand as your knives, or the brand recommended by the manufacturer.
Sharpen with a Whetstone
Whetstones come in different levels of abrasion, generally divided between rough, medium and ﬁnishing. Good results can usually be achieved with just a medium stone, although a ﬁnishing stone will elevate the sharpness noticeably.
- Rough stones should be used before medium stones, for sharpening blades that are chipped or in bad condition.
- To use, leave the stone to soak in water for a few minutes (not required for ceramic varieties).
- Put on a flat surface then place the heel (handle) end of the blade on the stone at an angle of 20 degrees, facing away from you.
- Push away in a long, sweeping arc across the stone and up to the tip of the blade, ensuring you keep a consistent angle.
- Repeat evenly and equally on both sides of the knife until the blade is really sharp.
Sharpen with a Steel
Steels won't sharpen a blunt blade, but they will maintain a sharp blade on a home cook's knife for several months, if used regularly (ideally before each use of the knife).
- Hold the steel vertically with the tip placed on a surface.
- Place the heel of the blade at a 30-degree angle against the top of the steel and sweep the blade downwards.
- Maintain the same angle and apply light pressure in a smooth arc. Repeat several times on each side of the blade.
Why Use a Steel-Bladed Knife?
Ceramic blades may stay sharper than those made of steel, but they can be brittle and may chip, crack or even shatter. Specialist expertise and equipment are also required for sharpening. For general home use, it is advisable to opt for steel blades.