How To Sharpen Your Kitchen Knives At Home, A Complete Guide

Cooking is a beautiful and rewarding hobby, but it's also one that requires some level of skill and precision. One of the essential tools in any home cook's arsenal is a sharp kitchen knife. It's impossible to overstate the importance of having sharp knives when cooking. Not only do they make prep work faster and more efficient, but they also make your food taste better by allowing you to make precise cuts that retain the ingredients' flavour and texture.

Dull knives, on the other hand, are frustrating to use and can be dangerous. They require more force to cut through ingredients, which can lead to slipping and accidents. Dull knives also crush ingredients, releasing juices and changing the texture of the food. In short, sharp knives make cooking easier, faster, safer, and more enjoyable. In this guide, we'll show you how to sharpen your kitchen knives at home, so you can enjoy the benefits of sharp knives every time you cook.

Step 1: Gather Your Tools

Before you start sharpening your knives, you'll need to gather some tools. Here's what you'll need:

  • Sharpening stone: You can buy sharpening stones online or at your local kitchen supply store. Choose a stone that's the right size for your knives and has a coarse and fine-grit side.
  • Honing steel: A honing steel is a long, slender rod that's used to straighten and realign the edge of your knife between sharpening sessions. It doesn't sharpen the knife but helps maintain its sharpness.
  • Cutting board: Use a sturdy cutting board to sharpen your knives. Avoid using a glass or marble board, as they can damage your knives.
  • Towel: Keep a towel or rag handy to wipe your knives clean as you sharpen them.

Step 2: Understand Your Knives

Before you start sharpening your knives, it's essential to understand the type of knives you have. Different knives require different sharpening techniques. For example, a Japanese chef's knife has a thinner blade angle than a German chef's knife, so it requires a more delicate touch when sharpening.

Step 3: Choose the Right Angle

The angle at which you hold the knife against the sharpening stone is crucial to getting a sharp edge. A 20-degree angle is a good starting point for most kitchen knives, but you may need to adjust it depending on the type of knife you're sharpening. To find the right angle, hold the knife's blade against the stone, with the edge facing away from you, and raise the spine of the knife until it's at a 20-degree angle.

Step 4: Start Sharpening

Now it's time to start sharpening. Follow these steps:

  1. Wet the sharpening stone: Use water or oil to wet the coarse grit side of the sharpening stone. This lubricates the stone and prevents the knife from getting too hot while sharpening.
  2. Hold the knife: Hold the knife's handle with your dominant hand and the blade with your other hand. Hold the knife at a 20-degree angle against the stone, with the edge facing away from you.
  3. Move the knife: Starting at the base of the blade, use a sweeping motion to move the knife up and down the stone, maintaining a 20-degree angle. Apply light pressure, and be sure to maintain the angle throughout the sharpening process.
  4. Switch sides: After sharpening one side of the blade, switch to the other side and repeat the process.
  5. Use the fine grit side: Once you've sharpened both sides of the blade with the coarse grit side, repeat the process using the fine grit side of the sharpening stone. This will create a smoother edge and remove any burrs that may have formed during the coarse grit sharpening.
  6. Use the honing steel: After sharpening your knife, use the honing steel to maintain its edge. Hold the honing steel vertically with the tip resting on a flat surface, and hold the knife at a 20-degree angle against the steel. Starting at the base of the blade, swipe the knife down the honing steel while maintaining the angle. Repeat on the other side of the blade.
  7. Clean the knife: Once you've finished sharpening and honing your knife, use a towel to wipe it clean.

Sharpening your kitchen knives at home is an essential skill for any home cook. With the right tools, understanding your knives, and following the correct technique, you can keep your knives sharp and safe to use. A sharp knife not only makes cooking more efficient and enjoyable but also results in better-tasting food. By regularly sharpening and maintaining your knives, you'll be well on your way to becoming a master in the kitchen.