Knife sharpening 101

Sharpening kitchen knives is a valuable skill that can significantly enhance your culinary experience. Here are some tips to help you achieve sharp and precise blades:

Invest in a high-quality sharpening stone or honing rod: Choose a sharpening tool suitable for your knives. A sharpening stone offers more control and precision, while a honing rod is ideal for regular maintenance and alignment of the blade.

Understand the knife’s bevel: Determine the type of bevel your knife has, as this affects the sharpening technique. Most Western-style knives have a double bevel (V-shaped edge), while Japanese-style knives often feature a single bevel (one side flat, the other beveled).

Follow the proper technique: For double-beveled knives, place the blade against the sharpening stone at a 20-degree angle. Maintain consistent pressure and glide the knife across the stone in a sweeping motion, alternating sides after each stroke. Repeat this process until you achieve the desired sharpness. Single-beveled knives require a similar technique, but only sharpen the beveled side.

Maintain a steady angle: Consistency is key. Try using a sharpening guide or visual markers to ensure a consistent angle while sharpening. This helps maintain the blade’s original profile and prevents uneven sharpening.

Start with a coarse grit: If your knife is dull or has nicks, begin with a coarse grit sharpening stone to reshape the edge. Gradually progress to finer grits for a polished and razor-sharp finish.

Hone regularly: In addition to sharpening, use a honing rod to align the blade’s edge between sharpening sessions. Hold the rod vertically and swipe the knife blade against it at a consistent angle, applying gentle pressure. Repeat on both sides of the blade.

Safety first: Pay attention to safety measures. Keep your fingers away from the blade, and ensure a stable surface while sharpening. Use a damp cloth to secure the sharpening stone in place and prevent slipping.

Test the sharpness: After sharpening, test your knife’s sharpness by carefully slicing through a piece of paper or a ripe tomato. A properly sharpened knife should cut through with minimal effort and a clean, smooth motion.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Regularly sharpening your kitchen knives will enhance their performance and ensure safer and more efficient food preparation.

We asked five local chefs what their favorite knives are:

Palmetto Bay Sunrise Cafe

“The one on Friday the 13th. Seriously, the J.A. Henckels International Classic 10-inch Chef’s Knife. I got one as a gift when I first started out, liked it and never changed. They are guaranteed for life, and they’ve actually replaced one.” – Paul “Stew” Stuart 

Michael Anthony’s

“My favorite knives are Glestain. They are spectacularly sharp, with dimples on the blade’s surface that reduce surface tension between the blade and the food being cut, allowing for faster, easier and more efficient cutting. I have German and Swedish knives that I also love, but Glestain knives are my workhorse knives.” – Trey Place

The Salty Dog

“I have several sets of chef’s knives, but my favorite set is by Made-In. Very sharp and keeps a nice edge. Very good weight and feels good in your hand. I also have Global knives, which have a nice look and stay sharp. I have a special chef’s knife my wife and son got me by Michael Hemmer made from repurposed timber saws. Very sharp.”
– Herb Britton

The Golf Club at Indigo Run

“Wüsthof. My grandmother was German, and I grew up cooking in her kitchen. It was the brand she brought from Germany.” – Josh O’Neill

One Hot Mama’s

“From a personal perspective, my favorite is Middleton Made Knives. The craftsmanship from South Carolina by bladesmith Quintin Middleton is beautiful. My husband special-ordered one from him to match my uses at events – the color of the handle is a gorgeous deep orchid color. Quintin made that knife especially for me.” – Orchid Paulmeier

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