How To Sharpen And Hone Kitchen Knives
Sharpening a knife is one of the most important skills you learn as a chef. A cook worth his salt sharpens and hones their knife regularly, because a sharp knife doesn’t just make slicing, chopping or dicing easier – it’s safer. Sounds strange, I know, but blunt knives can slip, causing more accidents, so the sharper your kitchen knife is, the less likely you are to cut yourself.
Sharpening and honing
There are two skills every cook should know: How to sharpen a knife, and how to hone a knife.
Sharpening takes off an entire edge of the knife, and only needs to be done every couple of months.
Honing should be done every time you cook. Before you start cutting or slicing, honing gives you a really sharp edge. This goes blunt fairly quickly, which is why we hone our knives so often.
You have a number of options when it comes to sharpening a kitchen knife. My favourite way is the whetstone, otherwise known as a sharpening stone.
Why use a whetstone?
Sharpening with a whetstone take a little more effort, but they give you a much sharper edge than other methods, and with just a bit of practice you’ll totally nail the technique.
For an easier option, you could use a handheld knife sharpener instead, but you won’t get as sharp a result.
How to sharpen kitchen knives with a whetstone
Whetstones will come with two different edges, each with a different grit level. These are usually 1000 and 6000, with 1000 being coarse and 6000 being much finer to give your knife a sharp finish.
Step 1: Soak your whetstone in water (until fully submerged) for 15 mins before you sharpen
Step 2: Once soaked, drain the whetstone and place it on some damp paper towels. This will stop it slipping around while you sharpen your knife.
Step 3: Face your knife away from you and place the blade on the stone at approximately a 15º angle. Draw the blade up the stone approximately 10 times, and then repeat on the other side.
Top tip! Make sure all of the blade has contact with the stone as you slide it up.
Step 4: Turn the stone over and repeat on the finer edge.
Step 5: Test the sharpness of a knife by trying to cut through a sheet of paper. If it’s not cutting easily, re-start step 3 again until your blade is sharp.
Step 6: Wash your blade to remove any metal residue and you’re ready to chop!
How to hone your kitchen knife
Once you’ve mastered sharpening your blade, you’ll want to regularly keep on top of it with a honing steel.
All you need is 20 seconds before you start prepping your dinner to see amazing results.
Step 1: To safely use a steel, hold it vertically with the tip planted on your work surface. Place the heel of the blade against the tip of the steel at a 15 degree angle.
Step 2: Slide the blade down the length of the steel in a sweeping motion approximate 5-6 times, and then repeat on the other side of the blade.
Step 3: Wash your blade to remove any metal residue and you’re ready to chop!