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What Are the Best Tips for Knife Sharpening?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

Some of the best tips for knife sharpening involve safety tactics and longevity of the blade. The best tip for any type of knife sharpening is to keep the blade and the sharpening stone wet during the process. Lubrication can come in the form of water, oil or spit. The best results are commonly obtained by following another tip: to begin with a rough sharpening stone and progress to an increasingly smoother grit stone until finished. Perhaps the No. 1 tip to ensuring a razor-sharp knife when finished with a sharpening stone is to finish every knife-sharpening session with steel being run over the freshly sharpened edge.

There is an art to proper knife sharpening, and following a few tips will aid in the successful sharpening of any blade. Lubrication is the key to not only proper knife sharpening, but to the survival and longevity of the blade itself. Drawing the blade across a sharpening stone creates heat. Heat is the enemy of steel, so knife blades are damaged and ultimately destroyed when subjected to prolonged and continued heating sessions. By placing a drop or two of water or light oil onto the surface of the sharpening stone, the liquid not only provides the required cooling effect, it also carries small steel particles or filings away from the edge of the blade.

A sharpening rod is commonly used by chefs to quickly sharpen knives.
A sharpening rod is commonly used by chefs to quickly sharpen knives.

When there is no other option, a small amount of spit on the sharpening stone will suffice, however, spit contains salt, which can damage the fine edge of the blade over time. Another tip that will aid in knife sharpening is to use natural stone to sharpen the blade. The stone is often much better on the steel knife blade than sandpaper or files and will usually not remove as much material from the blade in a single pass. This results in a longer-lasting blade.

A freshly sharpened knife should always be placed against a quality piece of steel to finalize the knife-sharpening process. The fine edge of the knife blade will be curled over slightly after the final knife-sharpening session on a stone, regardless of the final grit used on the blade. Running the knife blade over a piece of steel, a few strokes on each side, will straighten the edge and result in a dangerously sharp blade that can be touched up a few times using the steel alone. The actual knife sharpening is not done by the steel, however, it perfects the edge after a proper sharpening.

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    • A sharpening rod is commonly used by chefs to quickly sharpen knives.
      By: Constantinos
      A sharpening rod is commonly used by chefs to quickly sharpen knives.