Your chef’s knife is without a doubt the most important companion in your kitchen. With precision and patience, it’s always at your side to help you cut those vegetables into slices, cubes, or whatever shape you prefer.
But to get the most out of your knife, and to keep your fingers safe, you have to make sure to keep it in good shape. Sharpening your knife is essential to maintaining the quality and accuracy of your knife.
Not only that, it’s also crucial for ensuring your fingers are safe. A dull knife relies mostly applying force to cut anything. It’s therefore much more susceptible to slip off and by accident hurt your fingers.
Apart from the safety aspect, having a sharp knife greatly enhances the fun of cooking. Cooking is a task that should be enjoyed, and having well-functioning tools will ensure you’ll take pleasure in preparing a delicious lunch or dinner.
Why does a knife get dull?
A knife gets dull for two main reasons.
First, the edge of the cut loses its form of a straight line, and instead becomes somewhat curvy and uneven. So, when cutting, the blade itself creates more resistance making the process of sliding through a vegetable more difficult.
Second, the blade of the knife actually loses small bits and pieces of its material. This also results in a knife that does not have a sharp blade anymore, greatly affecting its cutting performance.
The difference between honing and sharpening
Thus, when you need to realign the edge of your knife without removing any material, we’re talking about honing the knife.
Honing should be done quite frequently, from every few weeks up to every single time you use your knife.
All you need is a honing steel. It is usually made of steel, ceramic, or diamond-coated steel.
To sharpen your knife, you’ll need a knife sharpener or a whet stone. In this article, we’re looking at a knife sharpener.
A knife sharpener allows you to remove metal bits from your blade in order to create a straight edge again.
How to hone a knife
To hone your knife, place your honing steel on your kitchen surface, either directly or on a kitchen towel.
Place the edge of your blade in a 20° angle to one side of the honing steel, facing downward. Slide the blade from its heel towards the tip along the honing steel, keeping the same angle and applying equal pressure throughout.
Switch sides, and repeat again. Continue to hone your knife for 10 to 15 times per side, or until it has reached the desired sharpness.
How to sharpen a knife
A sharpening tool has a coarse and a fine end. Place it on the table or kitchen surface, then place the heel of your knife on the coarse side. The blade is looking towards you, the tip points away from you.
Now slide the knife through the coarse sharpening end, moving your hand towards you, until the tip has also passed through the opening.
Repeat that for 10-15 times, then move to the fine end and repeat the sharpening process.
Again, depending on the state of your blade, you might need to do this process more often.
After having sharpened your knife, make sure to wipe the blade with a kitchen or paper towel to remove any remaining metal pieces.
You can also use a whet stone to sharpen your knife. We will look at sharpening with a whet stone in a separate blog article.