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Sharpening 101: the basics

There is nothing more frustrating than blunt knives. However, very few people sharpen their own knives. It doesn’t have to be that way. A little bit of maintenance won’t take you a lot of time and you can easily do it yourself. Saves you a whole lot of frustration. You can have someone sharpen your knives for you, but you could definitely also do it yourself. At home, on your countertop. We will give you five reasons why you should sharpen your knives yourself.

Why sharpen your knives?

The answer to the question ‘why sharpen your knives’ is simple: a razor-sharp knife is so much nicer to use. But there is more. By sharpening your knives yourself you extend the life of your knife. And did you know that blunt knives could do you more harm than sharp knives? Because you will apply more pressure to the knife you can also more easily lose control of it.

In addition, a blunt knife will not make your food taste better. Why? A blunt knife will push the juices from a product. And in exactly those juices does the flavour reside.

And, let’s face it, it is great fun to sharpen your own knives. You will experience step by step what happens to your knife when you sharpen it. As such you will really start to appreciate the knife to the fullest. Sharpening your own knives is fun, useful and not difficult at all!

What is sharp/blunt?

A sharp blade is very thin. Each knife will become blunter when you use it. Small burrs appear on the surface of the blade making the blade a little broader. This, unfortunately, is not something you can fix. The burrs cannot be seen, we are therefore not talking about ‘holes’ in your knife.

Don’t move your fingers alongside the blade to see if it is still sharp. By holding the blade up to the light you can check to see if your knife is still sharp. After all, a razor-sharp blade will not have any sparkling parts when you hold it up against the light.

Not convinced? A simple check to see if your knife is sharp is the tomato test. The knife should be able to cut through the tomato without making dents in it. If the tomato does not lose its shape your knife is still sharp. If it does, sharpen it!

What is sharpening?

When you sharpen your knife you, with the help of tools, remove material until the blade has gotten the right shape. A knife can be maintained and sharpened in many different ways. Each method knows its own techniques, depending on the desired result. Perhaps you just started sharpening your knives, perhaps you have been doing it for years. One thing is clear: there is a perfect sharpening method for everyone. We will list them for you.

Honing steel

You cannot sharpen your knives with a regular honing steel. When you are dealing with a blunt steel knife, it means that the burr on the blade is starting to curl. A honing steel will straighten out the bur and put it back on the blade. A really blunt knife will not become sharper when you use a honing steel. You will need a different method to achieve that. A honing steel can be used for the light maintenance of a sharp knife. Want to learn more about honing steels and how to use them? Check out our page with all our honing steels.

Sharpening steels

Sharpening and honing steels are often confused, but there is a very important difference between the two. Unlike a honing steel a sharpening steel does remove material. Sharpening steels made from ceramic material or with a diamond coating are great for sharpening your knife on a daily basis. The sharpening steel removes very little material making the blade sharper. When you frequently use your knife you can definitely use a sharpening steel on a regular basis as well. Your knife will remain sharp for quite some time enabling you to postpone sharpening your knife with a sharpening stone or machine. Check out all our sharpening steels

Knife sharpeners

For anyone who owns a knife but doesn’t have a clue how to sharpen it, a knife sharpener might be a solution. A knife sharpener is comprised of one or two slots. To sharpen a knife you run it through the slots a number of times. With a knife sharpener you will always sharpen your knife in the right angle. As such you will never have to worry about the angle again.

A knife sharpener is quick and easy to use. However, the results are usually not as good as when you use a sharpening steel or stone. For razor-sharp knives we recommend using a more refined sharpening method such as a sharpening stone. Want to learn more about knife sharpeners? Check out our page with knife sharpeners.

Electric knife sharpeners

Electric knife sharpeners work with multiple stages during which a knife is sharpened. However, there are many differences between the electric knife sharpeners on the market today. Some use sharpening belts while others use sharpening steels or stones. Often the machines start with a coarse grain after which ceramic or diamond-coated steels, belts or stones take care of the finish. With an electric sharpening machine you will give your knives a sharp edge in a relatively short amount of time. Check out our extensive range of electric knife sharpeners.

Sharpening systems

When you dread using a sharpening stone a sharpening system might be the answer. With a sharpening system professional sharpening results will become available to anyone. With a sharpening system you will be able to quickly and easily sharpen your knives. Sharpening systems use conductors. This makes it easier to find the right sharpening angle. As such you will no longer have to dread sharpening your knives! Suddenly sharpening isn’t that difficult or complicated anymore: you can do it too! Want to learn more about sharpening systems? Check out our sharpening systems page.

Sharpening stones

Sharpening stones, also called whetstones, are great when you want to sharpen your blunt knife or take care of your sharp knife. The grainsize of the sharpening stone influences the finish of the sharpened blade. The finer the grain, the better the blade will be polished and the sharper the knife will become. Sharpening on a sharpening stone might take some practice but in the end the rewards are amazing: razor-sharp knives. Check out our complete range of sharpening stones.

Want to learn more about sharpening on sharpening stones? We will help you practice, tell you what stone to begin with, find the right angle and much more! At our Sharpening University you will find all the information you need.

Stropping

Stropping means polishing the edge of a sharp blade. Usually this is done using a leather belt. By polishing the cutting edge any burrs and other imperfections will be removed leaving you with an even sharper blade. The main advantage of stropping is that you do not remove any metal particles but simply ‘realign’ the metal. It might be difficult to imagine, but moving a sharp knife over a leather belt truly does make the knife sharper. Curious? Check out our complete stropping range.


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