Updated on 16 October, 2021
We learned how to sharpen knives in culinary school. It was embarrassing for us all to run our razor-sharp knives along the whetstones granulated edge. It was a valuable lesson to learn how to keep knives sharp. A dull knife can be dangerous! These are some ways that you might be using your kitchen knives in a way that is not obvious.
There are many different types of sharpeners on the market. All of them can sharpen knives, but some will do it faster and more efficiently than others. Which one is right for you? Our knife sharpener buying guide will help you choose the right one for your kitchen.
Whetstones are often called Japanese Waterstones or oilstones. They are rectangular, gritty stones that can be activated with water or oil. Some prefer the Japanese Waterstones' synthetic surface (me included), while others prefer the oilstones' natural stone. Both work by sharpening your knife's edge rather than carving a new one. These stones require that your knife be held at the right angle while you run it along with the stone. Before your knife becomes sharp, it may take several passes across the stone.
Manual and Electric Sharpeners
These sharpeners, unlike the stones, use a V-shaped cut notch to carve a new edge in your steel. There are also table-top electric sharpeners, which use a rotating wheel to make the new edge. These sharpeners are extremely efficient and quick because they only require a few passes through them. You don't have to worry about how the knife is held because it has an angle set.
This is not a sharpener. A honing iron is a long rod with a ceramic coating. A knife can be passed on either end of the rod to straighten bent blades without damaging the metal. A straighter blade is better for slicing! Steel is a must if you own expensive knives. It will keep your blade straight between sharpenings. The rod can be run along with the knife in a matter of seconds. Professional chefs use their honing iron every day.
What You Need to Know Before You Buy a Knife Sharpener
All knife sharpeners can be used in a variety of grit levels, regardless of their type. The majority of stones are dual-sided. Both electric and manual sharpeners have at least two settings. The amount of metal removed from the knife during sharpening determines the level of grit. For Japanese Waterstones, coarse grit should be used to sharpen knives with nicks and chips. For dull knives that have not been damaged, medium grit (labeled 1000-3000 grit) is used. Fine grit (from 4000 to 8000) can be used to sharpen dull knives that have not been damaged.
When buying a knife sharpener, size is an important factor. The sharpener's size doesn't impact its ability to sharpen, but it does affect how it is stored. Are you able to store a large electric razor? Are you already short on space in your kitchen? Many of the stones and manual Sharpeners can be kept in a drawer. Before you make your purchase, take a look at the dimensions and think about how you will store them.
While most knife sharpeners can do the job, some are faster than others. Professional chef, I don't mind spending five minutes running the knife up and down a whetstone. If this sounds like too much work, you can look for an electric or manual sharpener that requires only a few passes. They will do the same job, but much quicker.
Sharpeners for knives can cost anywhere from $10 to $150. You should consider your budget before you buy the highest-rated sharpener within your price range. You might want to invest in a more durable model if you intend to use it every week or month. You don't necessarily need a high-end model if you only use it to sharpen your knives just before the holidays to prepare them for carving your Christmas Roast or Thanksgiving Turkey.