Hone and Sharpen Your Knives Like an Expert

Hone and Sharpen Your Knives Like an Expert

For home cooking it’s best to properly sharpen your knives about twice a year (more often for more frequently used ones) and hone them every month at least. A dull knife means you are pushing harder and using more effort to get through whatever you’re cutting meaning it’s more easy to slip and cut yourself; a sharp blade goes much more easily through things. You’ll be able to feel as you use your knife when it’s starting to dull. Here are a few ways you can get back your edge! 

Honing vs Sharpening

You’ve probably watched Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and other cooking  TV and seen a chef drawing their knife along a short steel pole. A common misconception is that this is a way to sharpen the knife, but in actual fact, the honing rod is used for realignment. The very edge of the knife blade slowly gets bent and warped (at a microscopic level) as it gets used and this gradually decreases the precision which makes it feel duller and less balanced. The honing action is straightening all these tiny dings back into place and realigning the edge allowing for smoother, easier cutting. 

When you hone your knife and don’t really see any improvement, you know it’s time to give it a proper sharpening which will take some of the blade material right off to bring back the razor sharpness along the edge. 

3 ways to sharpen your knives are:

  • Electric/pull though sharpener
  • Taking it to a professional
  • Using a whetstone/sharpening stone.

We really really don’t recommend using an electric/pull through sharpener, especially on your expensive knives!!! They take A LOT of material off the edge of your blade meaning it will become extra thin and brittle much, much sooner than other methods and basically rendering any high quality blades useless. Even if you have a really good sharpener of this sort, it will only provide an adequate edge and you’ll still be replacing your knives a lot more often.

If you have access to a professional, this is a good option, especially if you feel nervous about doing a sharpen yourself. The con is that you pay to get it done, but it’s usually not expensive and worth it to keep your knives at their best. Here at the Norseman, this is a service we are happy to provide and Jamie will not let your knife leave again until it’s of a sharpness you can shave with!

The best option for convenience and effectiveness is definitely using a stone sharpener at home. With practice you can get a great edge back with minimal removal of material from the blade. Also, putting the work in to do it yourself will give you more appreciation for the quality of your knife and encourage the best care you can give it.

 

How to use a stone sharpener

  • First it’s best to give your knife a hone to lessen the risk of really misaligning the blade.
  • Second, soak your stone/s in water (most stones will need some moisture on them prior to using, make sure you check the correct way to use yours. Water stone is the most common.) until most of the bubbles have stopped.
  • While it’s soaking make sure you have secure base to do your sharpening. A damp tea towel underneath a chopping board makes for a good surface that shouldn’t move around on you.
  • Once your stone (start with the rougher grit side and place it sitting long ways) is in place, start with one side of the blade. Keep the edge facing away from you with the tip at the furthest point away and hold it at a 20 degree angle.
  • Keeping an even pressure, pull the knife away from you from base to tip.
  • Do this 5-10 times depending on how dull your blade is. Make sure you sprinkle more water on the stone as needed.
  • Swap to the other side of the blade and do repeat the process, making sure you pass along the stone the same number of times as the first side. YOU WILL FIND ONE SIDE FEELS MORE AWKWARD THAN THE OTHER but as you practice this will get more comfortable.
  • Flip to the finer grit side of the stone (or change stones if you have a completely separate one for this) and do the same process as you did with the rough grit.
  • Last thing is to wash your blade in soapy water (to clean off any filings), rinse and dry it off and you’re set!

The best way to test if you’ve sharpened you knife properly is to use it on something like a tomato (make sure you wash the blade first!) The whole process will take some practice to feel comfortable and get right so it’s a great idea to start with your cheaper knives. Once you’re confident you can apply the process to your good blades!

See our Sharpening Kit here.

Check out these videos to see a honing steel and whetstones in use.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBn1i9YqN1k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fv2kZUKRyJQ

 

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