Well-made knives are designed to last a lifetime of regular use, providing the perfect cut time after time without fail.
This high level expectation can only be met, however, when the knives are properly maintained.
One of the principle tasks required for such proper knife maintenance is regular sharpening.
While there are a few knife sharpening tools available, a sharpening stone is perhaps one of the cheapest and easiest to use.
This article will provide 4 easy steps on how to properly sharpen your knives using a sharpening stone, thus giving you the ‘edge’ on getting the most from your knives.
Step 1: Determine which sharpening stone to use
There are two main levels of sharpening that your knives may require. The first level of sharpening is to hone the blade.
This is the most basic of sharpening processes, and is used when the knife is in good condition, but the edge is not cutting to its full potential.
In this case, a fine grit sharpening stone is the proper stone to use, as this is the stone designed to simply add sharpness to a blade in good condition.
The usual coarseness of a fine stone is 1000 grit and above.
The second sharpening method is to repair a blade.
This process is more intensive, and is required for knives that are chipped or that have been unused or unsharpened for a long period of time.
In this case the blades will be considerably dull, and thus will require a reforming of the cutting edge.
A coarse sharpening stone is needed for this type of operation, one that will remove metal to create a new blade edge.
The usual coarseness of this stone is 300-500 grit.
Step 2: Determine which angle to use
Different knives are designed with cutting edges of various angles.
The most common angle of the cutting edge of a knife is between 20-25 degrees.
However, some knives use an angle as low as 10 degrees, which means that to sharpen your knife effectively you must know the angle of the blade.
Step 3: Prepare the sharpening stone for use
To properly use a sharpening stone, and thus to get the best results, you need to first moisten the stone.
Water is the most commonly used lubricant, but certain stones will specify oil in their instructions.
For regular stones, simply fill a spray bottle with water and spray the stone until the stone looks evenly wet, with no apparent dry spots.
For oil, a few drops rubbed into the stone will evenly moisten the stone sufficiently.
Step 4: Sharpen your knife
Hold your knife as if you were about to use it in a regular fashion.
Place the blade straight up and down on the sharpening stone, as though you were going to cut the stone in half.
Next, lean the blade half way over.
Then, lean the blade half way over again.
This is done to achieve a 20-25 degree angle. Next, drag the blade toward you from the base of the stone, moving from the handle to the point as you bring it back, with the blade facing away from you.
Essentially, you are making a reverse cutting motion- beginning with the blade at the end of the stone and the handle against the stone, and then moving back to where the blade is at the top of the stone with the point resting on the stone.
Repeat this process several times, being sure to do the same for both sides of the blade.
After sharpening, be sure to wash the knife and sharpening stone to remove any debris.
Also, thoroughly dry the sharpening stone and store it in a cloth to keep it dry.
This will keep the stone in perfect condition.
Maintaining the sharpening stone will enable it to better sharpen your knives, which in turn, will ensure a lifetime of top performance.