Few things are more dangerous in the kitchen than a dull knife. (Yes. You read that right.) That’s because using a dull knife requires you to use more force to slice, cut, dice and mince ingredients than a sharp knife does. Plus, the danger of something slipping as you apply pressure is greater. So here’s how to sharpen your knife using one of two methods.
Step 1: Buy yourself a knife sharpener or a sharpening block (whet stone) and honing steel. Whichever method you choose, both will require a honing steel. (More on the honing steel in Step 5).
Step 2: If using a knife sharpener, hold it firmly on the kitchen counter. The sharpening slot where the grinding wheels are located should be facing up. (Use a rubber mat or your chopping board for a steadier base if it doesn’t come with a non-slip grip on its underside.) Starting at the base of the blade nearest the handle, insert the blade into the slot. Run the blade through the slot, exerting even pressure throughout the length of the blade as it passes the grinding wheels. Repeat the process, until the knife edge is sharp enough to easily slice through a tomato. Proceed to Step 4.
Step 3A: If using a sharpening stone, soak the sharpening stone in water for at least 30 minutes. Place a damp towel on the kitchen counter near the sink, and place the stone in the center parallel to you, with the coarser of the two sides facing up (if the stone is two sided).
Step 3B: Holding the knife in your right hand by the handle, place the knife blade flat on the right-hand side stone with the tip of the knife pointed away from you and the handle towards you. Place the fingers of your left hand on top of the blade to keep it steady and firmly on the stone. Keeping the knife edge on the stone, tilt the knife until it’s at a roughly 20-degree angle.
Step 3C: Starting at the knife edge nearest the base, pull the knife towards you and towards the left, applying even pressure as you glide the knife edge against the stone and using your fingers on the knife as a steady guide. Sharpen the knife edge until just the tip of the knife is on the stone. Repeat 10 times, wetting the stone with water as needed or every other pass to keep the stone well lubricated. Switch to the other side of the knife edge, starting from the left side this time going towards the right, repeating the same motion.
Step 4: Rinse the knife and the sharpening tool. Set the sharpener aside.
Step 5A: Time to use a honing steel. Hold the steel’s point straight down on the damp towel you just used with your non-dominant hand. Keep it steady.
Step 5B: Place the sharp edge of the knife closest to the handle against the ridged surface of the steel at a 20-degree angle, with the point of the knife pointed away from you. (Knife should be perpendicular to you.) Glide the knife down and towards you until the tip of the knife. The motion is similar to you slicing the tomato but against the ridges. Repeat the process 3 times. Switch hands and hone the other side of the knife edge.
Step 6: Rinse the knife and honing steel. Test the knife on a tomato. It should slice cleanly and easily through the tomato’s skin. Not easily enough? Repeat the sharpening process beginning at Step 3.
Things to keep in mind: Sharpen when the knife edge becomes dull, but always hone it before every use since each use can create microscopic dents on the knife edge. Honing straightens and maintains the sharp edge.
Congratulations for successfully sharpening your knife!