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Sharpen Your Knife to a Razor Sharp Edge

Aug 18, 2007
Can you grip your knife slightly and cut through a fruit while using very little pressure? Even better, can you shave the hair on your arm, provided there is hair to shave, by scraping slightly against the growth? These are tests of sharpness when it comes to your knife. If you are like me, you will want your knife collection to stay as sharp as possible.

Keeping a knife blade sharp is very important in regards to safety. A dull knife used when cutting can slip and cut you. A sharp knife simply glides through whatever it is you are cutting posing no danger to you if done correctly.

There are two goals that you should assess when it comes to sharpening your knife. The first goal is to create a sharp edge. The second; maintain a sharp edge. Obviously, creating the sharp edge is the more difficult task. Maintaining your sharp knife is easier if done on a regular basis. Do not let it get extremely dull or you will be back at square one.

A very good sharpening device is the ceramic stick. This requires a manual process but does not take much effort. The ceramic sticks are perfect for good blade maintenance. The ceramic sticks come in two colors; blue for course and white for fine. The sticks come in a variety of links. The best bet is to find one that is most comfortable for you. This may take some trial and error to determine. I find that the longer sticks, such as the twelve inch, are much easier for me to control.

To sharpen your knife with a ceramic stick, you will need to brace the handle on a table top extending off of the edge so that it is parallel to the floor. You can push down on the stick with one hand and grip your knife to sharpen with the other.

The movement consists of making a slice with the knife beginning at the heel and sliding the knife to the tip down the length of the ceramic stick. You will copy this movement on the opposite side of the knife.

You should apply about five pounds of pressure to the knife as you slice it down the ceramic stick. This is not a lot of pressure but it would be enough to slice through just about any soft material. You should also ensure that the knife is at a ten to fifteen degree angle. This can be determined by placing two stacked quarters between the blade and the ceramic stick.

Another sharpening device that is very similar to the ceramic stick is the butcher's steel. The butcher's steel actually predates the ceramic stick but is a perfectly good sharpening device. One good thing about the steel is that it will not shatter if dropped unlike a ceramic stick.

The most popular sharpening device is, of course, the sharpening stone. There are a huge variety of these on the market today, but they all work basically the same.

The biggest error that I see, even by professionals, is the manner in which the knife is sharpened. You will want to slice the stone as if you were cutting a slice of cheese from a large block. This angle is slight, but makes the blade much sharper than slicing at a greater angle.

The best method for sharpening with a stone is to do one side of the blade at a time. Once you have finished with one side, move to the other side. You can always go back and finish up both sides with a finer grit stone should you choose to do so.

When using a sharpening stone, you should find the longest one that you can. The longer stones allow you to run the blade consistently down the stone from heel to tip gaining a much steadier blade. It is best to actually mount the stone to a stable surface so that you can use both hands to work the blade. Using one hand to hold the stone and the other to work the blade will cause your knife blade to be uneven.

Practice sharpening your knife with a stone very slowly. The idea is to keep the blade from wavering at all. Maintain the angle of the blade against the stone and stroke down the stone from heel to tip very slowly allowing the blade to grind. You will also want to focus on maintaining a consistent pressure. This pressure should be about five pounds or so.

Pay attention to the material that your stone is made from and lubricate it accordingly. You should put water on a water stone and mineral oil on an oil stone.

To finish your blade, you should use a white ceramic stick. This will give your edge a polish and a refined sharpness.

Remember to keep your knife collection sharp. You do not have to do this daily, but will want to use a ceramic stick or a butcher's steel every now and then when you feel a bit of dullness on the blade edge.
About the Author
William "Cole" Doggett is an expert in knives and owns a successful Internet based website, Knife & Supply Company, LLC at www.KnifeSupplyCompany.com. His website is devoted to all things knives. You will find knives, swords, kitchen cutlery, sharpeners and a wealth of information.
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