Knives are an essential part of any cooking process. Be it a simple dish or a full-course meal, having a sharp knife in your kitchen will make food preparation a lot easier—emphasis on “sharp.”
You don't have to get a new set of knives once your current ones get dull. You only need to keep them sharp with a home knife sharpener. This article talks about the different types of knife sharpeners and their uses, along with how to know when your knives already need sharpening.
If you're tired of using dull knives, read on to learn how you can make them sharp again!
Why Should I Keep Knives Sharp Using a Home Knife Sharpener?
Talk to any chef, and they'd tell you that one of the secrets to their delicious meal is their sharp knives. It doesn't directly add flavor to the food, but a sharpened knife enables them to cut the meat or fish properly for even heat dissipation when cooking.
Aside from this, a sharp knife is less likely to slip from your hand and cause injury. With a dull or blunt knife, you need to exert more pressure than needed compared to when you have a sharp one. Dull knives also slow down the process of chopping and slicing food, and you wouldn't want to exhaust yourself on that alone.
Thus, to enjoy preparing your meal, you need a sharp knife. You don't even have to be a pro to get your knives sharpened; just purchase the best home knife sharpener, and you're good to go. Just remember to sharpen them every 1 to 2 years with either a manual or electric knife sharpener.
Knowing the Different Knife Sharpener Types
You can choose from three types of home knife sharpeners. These are sharpening stones, electric sharpeners, and specialized knife sharpeners with rotating wheels.
Here's a quick breakdown of each type.
Electric knife sharpeners
Electric knife sharpeners are highly convenient to use at home, gaining popularity as the most frequently used knife sharpeners. You only have to insert the knife into the slot and keep pressing it down while the sharpening gears do their job. Then, you take the knife out once it's finished.
Its downside is it tends to be bulkier compared to other types of home knife sharpeners. You also have less control of the sharpening process because the machine does everything for you. Nevertheless, its size won't be much of a problem if you're going to use an electric knife sharpener at home since you can store it and take it out whenever you need it.
Compared to other knife sharpeners, sharpening stones are a lot more difficult to use. Aside from learning how to sharpen knives manually, you’d need to develop sharpening skills. If you are new to it, you won't immediately get the process, so you will have to practice.
Most professional cooks use sharpening stones to have full control over how they sharpen their knives. Although you can sharpen your knives the way you want them to, these stones cost a lot more than other knife sharpeners.
Its price will depend on the sharpening stone. You can choose from oil, Arkansas, diamond, and water sharpening stones. The cheapest ones are oil stones, and the most expensive ones are diamond and water stones.
Knife sharpeners with rotating wheels
These knife sharpeners resemble electric sharpeners in some ways. But this type has two hardened wheels that rotate whenever you slide a knife through it, creating an angle that helps in sharpening the knife’s edges.
These knife sharpeners fall under the manual method. They’re a lot easier to use compared to sharpening stones, but you still have control over sharpening your knives.
How to Sharpen a Knife
Now that you're familiar with the different types of knife sharpeners and the importance of doing so, you now have to learn how to sharpen one.
First, remove some metal from the blade when you’re sharpening a knife. Doing this enables the formation of a new sharp edge on the knife’s surface. Once you have evened out the metal on the blade, focus on polishing and honing the knife blade, giving it a shiny finish.
As mentioned earlier, you can use three different types of home knife sharpeners. These three vary in how you're going to use them.
Here's a breakdown of each type.
Using knife sharpening stones
This type is the hardest one to use. First, you need to be skilled with sharpening using whetstones. Close attention and a steady hand are required for this. The angle is usually at 20 degrees, and you must lubricate the stone first before sharpening.
Sharpening stones have two types: water and oil stones. Water is the lubricant for the former, and mineral oil is for the latter. You cannot use salad or olive oil as these oils can be rancid.
Since knowing the angle plays a crucial role in sharpening knives, here are some tips on how you can do this.
- When sharpening knives, you should angle them at 20 degrees. Pocket knives require sharpening at 25 to 30 degrees.
- After finding the right angle, sharpen one side of the blade first.
- With a rough grit, rotate the knife back and forth to start honing the knife.
- Maintain this angle to achieve the best results.
- Stroke the knife from its heel to the tip at least ten times for each side.
- Form a burr over the knife’s tip.
If it's your first time sharpening a knife, you may have some trouble using a whetstone, which is understandable since sharpening stones are usually used by professionals. In that case, it’s best to use an electric knife sharpener instead.
Using a home electric knife sharpener
Compared to sharpening stones, electric knife sharpeners are relatively easier to use. Electric sharpeners are rectangular and have three slots for each blade. The first slot creates a fresh edge on the knife by shaving it. The other two are used to shape the knife. To use this, you will have to place the knife between these slots and turn on the knife sharpener.
If you're using other home knife sharpeners, you need to estimate the right angle. But one significant advantage of home electric sharpeners is that you don't have to worry about finding the right angle for sharpening. You also don't have to condition the machine. Instead, you only have to set it up and sharpen your knife.
These are favorable, especially to those who will sharpen their knives for the first time. These sharpeners are commercially available at your local stores or Amazon. You can also get a Home Depot knife sharpener or a Gourmet at Home knife sharpener.
Using a knife sharpener with rotating wheels
This type of sharpener has some similarities with an electric one. Both knife sharpeners are easy to use and are not as time-consuming as when using sharpening stones. Its advantage over an electric knife sharpener is you have complete control over how you sharpen the knife.
Here's how you can use this.
- Place a damp washcloth on where you’re going to set the knife sharpener to prevent the knife sharpener from sliding.
- Hold the sharpener at its edge.
- Run the knife slowly. Maintain a 90-degree angle when doing so.
- When sharpening the knife, run the blades at the end first. Specifically, pull the heel toward you and end with the tip. Repeat this step four to six times.
- Wipe the knife after sharpening to remove the excess knife shavings.
How to Know When Your Knife Needs Sharpening
Before you buy an electric knife sharpener from Home Depot, you should first recognize if your knife already needs sharpening. You can do this in three ways.
One of the easiest ways to tell if your knife needs sharpening is when it becomes evident enough for you to see.
Hold the knife straight first and then tilt it from left to right. Look for any areas where the edge catches the light. If you see any light reflected on the surface, this means the edge is dull. You might also occasionally see some chips and nicks on the edges.
Fingernail sharpness test
Visual inspection may not work for some. Sometimes, it doesn't catch early warning signs of knife dullness. Thus, one alternative way to know is through the fingernail sharpness test.
Here, you should touch the edge of the blade with your fingernail. If the blades bite in, the knife is sharp; if it deflects or slides, the knife is already dull. You can also test the whole edge of the knife by starting from the heel and moving to its tip.
Sharpie or marker test
You can do the Sharpie or marker test if you're hesitant to do the fingernail test. Its principle is just the same—you’re just using a marker instead of your fingernails.
Hold the marker at a 45-degree angle, and then act as if you’re cutting the marker with the knife’s edge only in contact with it. If the knife is sharp, the edge will stick to the marker.
The tomato test is, by far, the most popular way of knowing if your knife needs sharpening. You might have seen this method of checking for dull knives through cooking shows. Tomato and herbs are the most fragile ingredients in the kitchen. Thus, you can use a tomato to test a knife's sharpness.
Place the knife's edge lightly against the tomato. Then, pull the knife horizontally, putting very minimal pressure on it. If the knife cuts into the tomato, the knife is still sharp. But if you need added pressure to have the knife biting into the tomato, your knife is dull and needs sharpening.
Aside from tomatoes, you may use fresh herbs to do a similar test.
Preparing meals is best done with a sharp knife. It makes cooking more enjoyable and easier to do. With a sharp knife, you can slice fruits, vegetables, herbs, and cold cuts and be done with it in no time.
You don't have to get out to have your knife sharpened. Buying a home knife sharpener is the best way for you to solve this. Having a knife sharpener in the comfort of your own home means you can sharpen your knives any time you want to, and you’ll never have a dull knife ever again!
Whichever type of knife sharpener you choose, make sure to invest in the best home knife sharpener that suits your needs.