Knife Sharpening 101

How to Sharpen Your Knives Safely

Knives need to be handled with care and well maintained for safety purposes. A dull knife can cause dangerous slips that can lead to cuts, gashes and more serious injuries. It is important to hone your knives regularly and sharpen them when they start to become worn. Follow these simple steps to safely hone or sharpen your knives manually.

Using a Honing Steel

Honing steel will refine an already sharp blade. These steps will smooth and straighten the edges that may have been bent or nicked during use. This process will not make a dull knife sharp. See the steps for sharpening stones below for dull knives.

Step 1
Hold your honing tool firmly with the point securely against a cutting board or countertop.

Step 2
Take the knife that you wish to sharpen and hold the bottom of the blade against the steel sharpener.

Step 3
Hold the knife at an angle, about 20 degrees or a bit less for a sharper edge.

Step 4
Pull the knife downwards against the steel until the tip of the knife has reached the tool.

Step 5
Repeat steps 3 and 4 on the other side if the blade.

Step 6
Repeat steps 3 through 5 several times ( about 4 to 5 times) to hone the knife adequately.

Step 7
Wash your knife. First, clean it with a dry towel to remove shavings. Then rinse clean.

Step 8
Use your knife to ensure that it has been sharpened adequately. Repeat the honing process if necessary.

Here is a good video demonstration of using a steel.

Using Sharpening Stones

Step 1
Place the sharpening stone on a stable, flat surface.

Step 2
Lubricate the stone. If you are using an oil stone, you will need to lubricate it with oil. Other stones can be lubricated with water. A very light coating will suffice.

Step 3
Hold the bottom of the knife blade at a 30 degree angle against the stone.

Step 4
Run the knife away from you until it has reached the tip.

Step 5
Turn the knife on the other side of the blade and repeat steps 3 and 4.

Step 6
Repeat steps 3 to 5 several times.

Step 7
Wash the knife. Wipe it with a dry towel and then rinse clean.

Step 8
Test the knife and repeat the sharpening if necessary.

Safety Tips for Honing and Sharpening

  • When using a honing steel, make sure that the tool is as long or longer than the blade your are honing.
  • Stand clear of the knife and make sure that your fingers are out of the way.
  • It is best to draw the knife in the direction away from you, rather than pull the knife towards you.
  • Make sure that the honing steel and the blade are dry when you begin so they do not slip.
  • Do not over-lubricate the sharpening stone, as it can create a slippery surface.
  • Hone your knives after each use to keep them working optimally. Dull knives are dangerous.
  • If you do not have a good eye for the proper angle or feel that you do not have a steady hand, consider using an electric sharpener. The edge of your knives may grind away faster, however it may be easier and safer for you. Be sure to select an electric knife sharpener that has a protective guard that keeps your hands and fingers safe from cuts and slices.