How To Sharpen Chef Knife

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The best way to maintain the sharpness of a chef knife is to keep it well-maintained and free from rust.To do so, you'll need a few basic tools that can be found in any kitchen – like steel wool, dish soap, and oil.

In this article, we'll go over the different steps you need to take when sharpening any chef knife so that they're always ready for use, no matter what – let's get started.

A dull knife is more likely to slip and cut you

To make sure your hands stay safe when working with knives, you'll need to keep them well-sharpened. Dull blades are more likely to slip and cut you than sharp blades because the blade doesn't have enough pressure pushing on it to slice through food. That said, dull blades can also cause other problems – like having to apply more force to slice through food, which can lead to hand fatigue.

Ways to prevent your knife from getting dull in the first place

While a chef's knife is made with quality steel that makes it resistant to rust or corrosion, there's no way around occasional maintenance. You can help keep your knives sharper for longer by using honing steel now and then. It's not enough that you sharpen your knives regularly – they'll still get dull if you don't hone them somewhat frequently as well.

How to Sharpen Kitchen Knives
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A honing steel will take out minor imperfections in the blade so that all of its edges are at an equal angle, making sure that they're all sharpened evenly. This keeps everything running smoothly as the knife will glide through food, slicing it without any effort from your end. A honing steel is also effective at taking out burrs that form on the blade after you sharpen it – so if that happens to you, don't throw away your knives just yet.

It's also simple to use. Simply run the knife down both sides of the steel a few times, then test by slicing it into an onion or something similar. If it doesn’t cut well, repeat and try again until everything is running smoothly again.

Things you'll need for the sharpening process:

  • Sharpening stone: This will be key when it comes time to sharpen your knife. Your best bet is a water-based stone, like one made with whetstone or diamond abrasives because they offer better consistency than oil or synthetic options.
  • Stone holder: This will help you keep your stone in the best position for effective sharpening of your knives.
  • Knife clamp: This is to hold your knife steady as you sharpen it, keeping it from slipping or sliding around while you work on getting rid of any imperfections in its edge.
stone holder to sharpen knife
Image Credit: Kitchen Infinity Photo

Make sure everything's ready before beginning

Before you begin sharpening, make sure that all your tools are within reach and that all the products you'll need are at hand – like oil and water. When they say “measure twice, cut once,” they mean it—don't rush through this process. If followed correctly, sharpening a knife shouldn't take more than 10 minutes or so – long enough to get done and move on to other things including cooking.

Steps to sharpen chef knife

The following steps will show you how to sharpen any chef knife.

Step 1: Check your stone for flaws and make sure it can support the weight of your knife

If you've never used a sharpening stone before, chances are that it's covered in imperfections and inconsistencies. It may even be chipped or cracked somewhere. Don't worry; these won't affect its performance so long as your knife isn't too heavy for the stone handle to hold up. If it is, you'll need to replace the defective part with another one – luckily, replacement parts are easy enough to get.

Step 2: Determine if you need coarse or fine abrasives. 

To determine this, you simply have to look at your blade. If it's badly chipped or has a lot of nicks and dents, you'll need to use a coarse abrasive. If not, opt for fine abrasives instead. You can also check if your knife is thick or thin – thicker knives will require coarse abrasives to sharpen properly while thinner knives are best suited for finer ones.

Step 3: Start sharpening with the coarser grit first. 

After choosing your stone and figuring out what kind of grit you need, start sharpening by holding the blade at its tip. Then, gently draw the blade along the surface of the stone at an angle that ranges from 12-20 degrees (the higher number is usually used when sharpening curved blades).

Finishing touches

Once you've sharpened the blade with coarse abrasives, wash it off and make sure that there are no bits of stone left on the knife. You'll also need to choose what kind of oil or liquid you'll use for this process—if your knife is made from quality steel, it probably requires a little bit of lubricant before being stored away – just make sure that everything's dry before storing.

Now that your knife is properly sharpened, store it in an easy-to-reach place so that you can quickly grab it whenever needed. Using a well-honed chef knife doesn't feel like work anymore, but more like a relaxing hobby.

Good Points To Know Related To Chef Knives

Sharpening a chef knife isn't that hard if you follow the right steps and have everything ready. That said, there are some precautions to take when sharpening knives that aren't as obvious – like avoiding handling them by their blades. Even though you may be wearing gloves, it's still possible for accidents to happen. Use safety razors in addition to gloves and protective eyewear if you need them.

It's also important not to overheat your stone by leaving it in direct contact with your stove or oven – while they technically only get up to 400 degrees F (204 C), they can easily reach between 100-300 degrees underneath, which means your stone will heat considerably hotter than expected. 

This is bad because it will wear out more quickly, but it's also bad because you might end up burning yourself by touching the stone too soon—which would certainly ruin your day.

Sharpening a chef knife doesn't have to be hard either. Just remember that a well-honed blade is your best friend in the kitchen and treat yours with care. You'll learn how to identify which kind of sharpener you need for your personal needs; how to tell if you're using too much or too little pressure while sharpening; and which materials work best when used in combination with one another – nothing beats experience.

Will the knife be sharp enough after using a stone?

In most cases, the answer is yes; however, some knives have been broken or somehow damaged beyond repair. If you're unsure whether your knife is like this or not, try sharpening it in stages: start with coarse grit to get rid of nicks and dents and move on to fine grit if you want finer edges.

How to Properly Sharpen Kitchen Knives Using a Sharpening Steel
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As a rule of thumb, ceramic stones tend to be better than diamond stones for fixing chips and cracks—but they can still work too. The key here is to just try out different types until you end up finding one that works best for your knife.

How do I know when my chef's knife needs sharpening or is damaged?

If you've ever used a dull knife on hard food, you'll know how frustrating it is not being able to cut properly. However, there are other ways that your chef's knife can indicate that its time for sharpening is near. When it comes to damage, the most obvious way to recognize damaged knives is by looking at their blades – while many nicks and dents aren't a problem (you can usually get rid of them with some rough-grit abrasives), chips and cracks are pretty much impossible to fix. 

Other things to look out for include rusting (if your blade is made from carbon steel), and dents if it's made from carbon-coated stainless steel or high-carbon stainless steel.

Final thoughts on how to sharpen chef knife

In conclusion, there are different ways to sharpen chef knives that can be done at home. However, it's important to remember to always use the right type of stone for your needs, and take the time to experiment with different materials until you find one that works best for you.

Kevin Farrugia

Kevin Farrugia

Kevin is a household and appliance enthusiast and loves to follow the latest trends in kitchen and house decoration. He also loves to walk the isles of Home Depot and Lowes to review products and materials in person. Before joining Kitchen Infinity, Kevin owned a handyman company.

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