How to Keep Your Knives in Cutting Shape

Knives dull through use. It is an unfortunate constant in the kitchen, and blades will always need to be honed or sharpened. Thankfully, some methods make sharpening your knife at home a breeze.

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Check Your Knife’s Sharpness with the Paper Test

Even the best knives will eventually dull. For example, chef knives, the workhorse of the kitchen, need to be kept sharp. Given how often they are used they are likely to dull more quickly than other, specialized blades. How do you tell when a knife is no longer as sharp as it should be?

Try the paper test. Take a piece of printer or copy paper and hold it at one end. Holding the blade at an angle to the top edge, slice downward. If the knife does not make a clean cut, it’s time to hone or sharpen.

Use a Sharpening Steel to Hone

Despite the name sharpening steel, the metal rod with a handle that comes with many knife sets does not sharpen; it hones. Honing realigns the metal of the knife, ideal for slightly dulled blades. Sweep the edge at a 15-degree angle along the rod to hone the knife.

Sharpen Your Knife with an Electric Sharpener

If the blade is more than slightly dull, it’s time to move on to sharpeners. The easiest method for the home cook is the electric sharpener. Spring-loaded guides ensure steady contact with abrasives spinning on motorized wheels.

Depending on the model, there might be multiple slots with differing coarseness, allowing you to control the amount of sharpening. Pull the blade slowly and smoothly through the slot, letting the machine do the work for you. Repeat until the edge reaches the desired sharpness.

Manual sharpeners are similar. They are handheld and without motors. Because of this, they cannot repair the same extent of damage an electric sharpener can.

Using a Whetstone

Whetstones are the most versatile knife-sharpening option, but they take practice to master. There are generally two sides to a whetstone, coarse and fine. However, unlike electric or manual sharpeners, there is no angle guide.

Western knives are typically 20 degrees, while Asian-style knives are commonly 15 degrees. Some whetstones require submerging in water before use. Draw the blade across the whetstone in a wide, circular motion while keeping the desired angle until the tip of the knife goes off the opposite edge. Particularly dull knives should start on the course side. Repeat the process on the fine-grind side.

Storing Sharp Knives

Storing sharp knives in a drawer will quickly lead to storing dull knives in a drawer, as they knock around and against each other. Instead, use a knife block on your counter to hold knives in place. If you need to save space in your kitchen, consider a magnetic knife strip to hang on a wall, which can store nearly any size of knife. If you absolutely must store knives in a drawer, use individual knife guards, usually made of polypropylene.

Blades should only need an occasional honing or fine-grit sharpening, but don’t leave it too long. Regular care will extend the life of the knife significantly.

About CHEFS Catalog

Since 1979, CHEFS Catalog has offered the highest quality equipment to the culinary world, from professional chefs to home cooks. CHEFS Catalog’s collections provide practical kitchen solution, from a beautiful copper cookware set to the sharpest cutlery, plus recipes, advice, and more. With a passion for all things culinary, they understand the need for durable, reliable kitchenware. They started out as a premier commercial catalog, featuring Julia Child on an early cover. In 2017, CHEFS Catalog transformed into the go-to online source for quality cookware, bakeware, and accessories.

To browse a wide array of cutlery, visit Chefscatalog.com

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