How to Sharpen a Knife 101: Angles Matter

May 20, 2022

Knives are some of the most essential kitchen equipment. You can do everything from slicing meat to chopping vegetables and fruits with these kitchenware staples. So maintaining the sharpness of your blades is fundamental. A dull knife is more unsafe than a sharp one since it takes more effort to cut and can easily slip off the object you're cutting. 

Most people think all they need to do to sharpen their knives is run them across a whetstone a few times. However, the angle at which you hold the knife against the stone is also very important. In fact, the wrong angle can damage your knife or even injure you.

In this blog, we will show you how to sharpen a knife with stone like a pro! We'll cover the basics of angling and putting pressure to show you how to get the most out of your sharpening stone. Stay safe and keep your knives sharp by following these simple steps!

How to Sharpen Knife on Stone

The process is the same whether you use a sharpening stone made of aluminum oxide (also known as Crystolon, Arkansas, India stones), Novaculite, or silicon carbide. If there are any variations, consult your manufacturer's instructions.

knife and stone sharpener

The Right Angle

It's crucial to sharpen your knife’s edge at the right angle. The most common angle is 22°, which works for most kitchen knives. However, if you are sharpening a pocket knife or a hunting knife, you will need a steeper angle, around 30°. You will want to use a lower angle for serrated knives, around 15°, to achieve a finer grit.

Hold the blade up to the stone at the desired angle to find the correct angle. You can then use a Sharpie or similar marker to draw a line on the blade where it meets the stone. This line will be your guide for keeping a consistent angle as you sharpen your knife with your sharpening tool.

Once you have your guideline, it's time to start sharpening!

  1. Set up your workplace: Place the sharpening stone on a damp towel and a flat surface.
  2. Start with the coarse side up. Before you begin sharpening your tool, make sure the rough side of the stone is on top. This is the simplest method for restoring the knife blade to its natural shape.
  3. Proper Lubrication: Check the manufacturer's specifications for instructions on how to oil your sharpening stone properly. Some alternatives, including diamond stones, don't even need oil or any lubrication, so check for these instructions first before starting the process.
  4. Starting at the heel and ending at the tip, sharpen the knife by moving it smoothly down and over the stone at a 22.5-degree angle.
  5. Repeat this procedure five times after starting sharpening. Depending on how dull the knife is, you may repeat this process as needed.
  6. Flip the knife over and repeat the previous step to sharpen the other side. For uniformity, you should sharpen this side as many times as the other.
  7. Draw the knife back to its original side, but this time from tip to heel. You should do this action five times.
  8. Switch sides again: sharpen five times from tip to heel on the opposite side.
  9. Switch to the fine side of your sharpening stone and repeat steps 1-5 to sharpen the last side.

Note: When using a sharpening stone to sharpen blades, consistency is critical. As a result, make sure you use the same angle and sharpen both sides of your knife evenly.

Once your knife is already nice and sharp, it's time to go on to the next phase, which is honing. Honing is vital as it helps to realign the edge of your knife so that it is razor-sharp.

Honing Your Blade

It is a simple process that can be done with a honing rod or a leather strop. For starters, determine the angle at which you must hold the blade. For most kitchen knives, this will be around 20°-30°. Next, hold the blade at this angle and run it along the honing rod or strop, applying gentle pressure as you go.

Remember to maintain your strokes and keep them as consistent and even as possible so that you don't have a wavy edge. After a few strokes, check your knife's edge. If it looks shiny and smooth, you're doing it right!

If the edge looks jagged or damaged, you probably used too much pressure or did not hold the blade at a consistent angle. Before continuing, take a break and double-check your work.

Once you've honed your knife, it should be razor-sharp and ready to use! You can start chopping, slicing, dicing, gutting, skinning, or whatever you use your knife for. With a surgically precise knife, you can do your work skillfully and safely.

Caring for Your Knife

Now that you know how to sharpen and hone your knife using the correct angle, it's important to learn how to care for it so it lasts a lifetime. People frequently take this step for granted or are simply not aware of how to properly care for or maintain their blades. So if you want your knife to be in top condition, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  1. First and probably most important—always keep your blades in a secure location. A kitchen drawer is a great option, but you may also want to invest in a wooden knife block, sheath, or magnetic knife strip to store your knives when not in use. Never leave them lying around on the counter where they can get nicked or damaged. You also want to keep them in a secure place to avoid any kitchen accidents.
  2. Always clean and dry your knife after every use. A dirty knife is more likely to rust and dull sooner and will not perform as well as a clean one.
  3. Never put your cutlery in the dishwasher! Harsh chemicals and high temperatures might permanently harm your utensils or dull the blade. Even the handles can corrode and wear away if not properly cleaned. Instead, hand wash them in warm and mild soapy water.
  4. Dry your knife thoroughly after washing them to avoid the buildup of rust.
  5. Never put your knife in the freezer. This action can cause the blade to crack.
  6. Ensure that you oil your sharpening stone regularly to prevent it from drying out. This will also help your blades stay sharper for longer periods.
  7. If your knife starts to rust, you can remove the rust with a little bit of vinegar or lemon juice. Just be sure to rinse and dry the knife afterward so that it doesn't continue to rust.

Insider Thoughts

Following these how to sharpen a knife methods will yield a razor-sharp knife, so work sharp! We hope you keep your knife in the best shape, sharpening it when necessary, with these helpful tips in mind. Just be sure to take good care of your hands when handling these sharp tools.

Remember, the angle is everything! If you do not sharpen your blade at the correct angle, you will not get the desired results. And don't forget that with a little bit of care, your knife will last for years! 

If you are interested in reading posts like these, check out our website and learn more about knives!

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