How to maintain a sharp knife
The sharpness of the cutting edge of the blade will inevitably decrease while in use. This is due to the contact with hard materials. That is why it is necessary to maintain the sharpness of the knife at all times. This applies to kitchen, hunting, all-purpose and any other knife models. A sharp knife is a key to efficient and safe work.
Honing or sharpening?
Knife care involves honing as well as sharpening the cutting edge of the knife blade. Both methods are used to make the blade sharp. But honing is not the same as sharpening. This is something to keep in mind when choosing a method.
Honing the knife blade cutting edge
Sometimes the cutting edge is exposed to high loads. This causes the thin edge to bend and roll. Honing involves pushing the edge back in alignment and increasing the sharpness of the blade. To fix the damage of the cutting tool you can use:
- A metal or ceramic sharpening rod. To use it, you need to run it along both sides of the blade. After a few push and pull movements the sharpness of the cutting edge will increase.
- A second knife. In this case, the knife blade spine will act as a sharpening steel rod. You have to take both knives in your hands and use sharp push and pull movements to hone the edge.
- Ceramic. To restore some sharpness to the knife blade edge, you can even use cups or dishes. Running the blade along the rough spots at the bottom of a ceramic cup or a dish will help you push the edge back in alignment.
The method of honing with a second knife is often used at professional kitchens. This is due to the lack of the need to use special devices. However, one should keep in mind that honing of the edge allows you to get the sharpness back only for some time. If the knife is too dull or damaged, you will need to do a full sharpening. This will ensure that the tool is sharp again.
A complete sharpening of the knife is required when it is too dull. Sharpening helps to fix serious damage to the cutting edge. As a result, you get a sharp knife with a properly shaped cutting edge.
You can use stones or special devices for sharpening. They allow you to set the best angle and quickly make the knife sharp. During the process, small metal particles are removed from the surface of the edge. This makes it possible to form a proper shape of the cutting edge.
A good sharpening without the use of special tools requires a certain amount of experience. One needs to hold the proper and consistent angle. It is difficult for a beginner to do without a special sharpening jig.
A tool for honing and sharpening
You can make a knife sharp with a sharpening stone, special tools, sharpening steel rods, etc. When you choose a tool, you have to take the sharpening features into account. This way one can choose the model that meets the specific requirements.
A sharpening whetstone remains popular among professionals and beginners alike. Different grit sizes provide coarse, medium and finish processing of the knife. The abrasive elements remove metal particles from the surface. Therefore, with a sharpening whetstone you can carry out a complete sharpening. Follow each step to do this:
- Secure the whetstone in place. You can place it on a soft cloth or towel. For safe use, the stone should not move.
- Moisten the stone. You can put it under water for a few minutes.
- Place the blade on the stone. You have to keep the right angle at the same time.
- Push and pull the knife across the stone in the direction from the knife spine to the cutting edge.
You should repeat each step for each side until you get the proper cutting edge shape. After that, you need to use a whetstone with a finer grit size. This way you can get a straight edge. After these actions it is necessary to wash the blade with water and wipe it dry.
The disadvantage of this method is the challenge of setting the required angle. It will be difficult for beginners to keep the blade in the right position. That is why you can use additional tools.
Unlike the sharpening stone, it is not possible to sharpen a knife with a honing steel rod. This tool is suitable for aligning the curved line of the cutting edge of the knife blade. You should keep this in mind when choosing a tool.
The sharpening steel rod has become common in the kitchen. With the help of a sharpening steel rod you can quickly get a sharp knife without any special skills. It is enough to make several sharp reciprocating motions and the cutting edge of the blade will be straight.
You can find steel and ceramic sharpening rods available on the market. This allows you to choose a tool according to the operating conditions and the wishes of the user. Yet it is important to bear in mind that a sharpening rod can bring the sharpness back only for a short period of time.
How to do honing? Follow each step:
- Place the sharpening steel rod perpendicular to a table or other stationary surface.
- Place the edge of the rod against a wooden board or a cloth. Use this to prevent the rod from slipping in the process.
- Place the cutting edge of the knife against the working surface of the tool at the desired sharpening angle.
- Slide the blade along the surface of the sharpening rod with a slight pressure. It is necessary to include all areas of the blade up to the edge.
- Repeat each step on the back side of the blade.
It is recommended to perform honing several times on each side. After that you will need to check the sharpness of the knife. If needed, you can repeat each step to achieve the maximum effect.
After honing, the blade should be washed with water and wiped dry. This removes the smallest metal particles from the surface.
Mechanical knife sharpener
This type of device provides a high-precision sharpening. The possibility of setting the angle, as well as interchangeable abrasive stones with different grit sizes make it possible to make the knife sharp in a relatively short period of time.
TSPROF models are common among beginners and professionals. A TSPROF knife sharpener is the best for knives designed for different purposes. Adjustable sharpening angle, guide rod and easy change of an abrasive whetstone allow you to get a sharp knife with the proper shape of the knife blade cutting edge.
Electric knife sharpener
Electric knife sharpener is sometimes used to speed up the sharpening process. The abrasive element of these devices is driven via an electric motor.
Despite the high speed, an electric knife sharpener has one significant disadvantage. During the sharpening process, the knife sharpener removes quite a lot of metal from the surface. This leads to quick wear of the blade and its end of life.
How often should you sharpen your knife
In most cases, straightening (honing) is enough to restore the sharpness of the knife. However, this method does not always help to make the blade sharp. Unlike honing, sharpening involves removing some of the metal. Therefore, you should not perform honing too often. You need to use sharpeners when honing does not provide the desired result. Besides, knife sharpening will be required if:
- The cutting edge is chipped, uneven or otherwise damaged. In this situation, a honing rod will not help.
- You need to change the sharpening angle. The sharpening angle differs depending on the purpose of the cutting tool. For example, an angle of 40 degrees is best for a hunting knife.
- After contact with hard surfaces, the knife became dull.
To test the sharpness of the blade, you can try cutting vegetables or bakery products. The blade should cut the object, but not crush.
How to keep a knife sharp for a long time
Over time, any knife (actively used) loses its sharpness. This is due to continuous contact with soft and hard surfaces. Decrease in the sharpness of the blade also happens due to improper use. You should follow a few simple rules to avoid frequent sharpening:
- Use the blade for its intended purpose. Manufacturers select the best sharpening angle depending on the purpose of the product. Using a kitchen knife for other needs will lead to rapid wear of the kitchen knife blade cutting edge.
- Do not wash your kitchen knife in the dishwasher. The contact of the steel with moisture as well as temperature fluctuations leads to rusting. This leads to a loss of sharpness of the cutting edge.
- Hone the cutting edge on a regular basis. If there is a slight sharpness decrease, you will need to quickly get the tool back up and running. Honing does not involve removing large particles of metal. This is why you can hone the blade much more often than you can sharpen it.
- Do not use hunting, kitchen or other knife models for throwing. There are specialized knives for this purpose. Breaking this rule can lead to chipping and other blade damage.
- Do not cut on hard surfaces. Using a granite surface as a board for cutting something with a kitchen knife will make it dull, or in the worst case scenario - the knife will be damaged. It is better to use a wooden cutting board.
- Do not store the knife together with other kitchen utensils. Continuous contact with metal products leads to a decrease in sharpness. Place the knife in a special stand or store it in a separate kitchen drawer.
If you follow a few simple rules, you can avoid early wear of the cutting edge. This way, you will have to sharpen your knives less often, which will increase the service life of your knives.
How to keep ceramic knives sharp
Ceramic knives are designed to work with soft materials. They can be used to cut vegetables and fruits, bakery products, etc. For hard objects, it is better to use steel blades. This will help avoid damage to the ceramic blade.
When sharpening such cutting tools, please keep in mind that ceramic is not good at bending loads. Therefore, you should not set a small angle. Failure to do so may result in chipping and other damage.
Special diamond-coated stones are used to sharpen ceramic knives. Besides, the strict rule of maintaining the angle makes it essential to use special jigs.
A mechanical knife sharpener is the best way to restore the sharpness of ceramic knives. It allows you to control the sharpening angle. You need to maintain the pressure when clamping the blade. Too much pressure will cause damage to the blade. You also need to control the pressure when you run the diamond sharpening stone over the blade. Following this helps to avoid damage to ceramic knives.
How to keep knives sharp in the outdoor conditions
Sometimes there are no sharpeners and no special sharpening tools at hand. In this case, you will need to hone the edge with whatever is at hand. Note that this will only temporarily restore the sharpness of the blade. Honing the cutting edge at fishing, hunting or any other outdoor activities is possible in a number of ways:
- With other knives. This method allows you to restore the blade sharpness in a very short time. Running the blade edge over the spine pushes the edge back in alignment, which increases its sharpness. After honing with another knife, the blade should be washed with water. This will prevent small metal particles from getting into the food. You will also need to wipe the blade dry. This is essential to avoid corrosion.
- With a natural stone. Any object with a smooth, clean and rough surface will do. It is necessary to put the blade at the right angle and run it several times in the direction from the spine to the edge. After that you need to repeat these steps on the other side.
Be aware that using improvised means can damage the edge. You may find small chips and burrs on the blade. Therefore it is crucial to sharpen and polish the blade with sharpeners after returning from the outdoors. With this approach it will be possible to remove all the damages and restore the sharpness of the cutting tool.
For keeping your knives sharp, you need to sharpen and hone them at the right time and follow a few simple rules of use and storage. Thanks to this you can avoid early blade wear and increase service life.