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How do you sharpen your knives?

j
jcattles Nov 28, 2008 06:53 AM

I've used an electric sharpener, a furi, & a professional sharpening service. While the knives are nice and sharp, the edges don't last very long. I use a steel to hone them before use, but the tips are really dull. I have a set off Wustoff's that I love, but I need to find a better way to maintain the edge. Once a year or so, I take them to get professionally sharpened. I'd like to do it more often, but I live in a small town and the nearest shapener is about 2 hours away.
I think I'm going to try a sharpening stone next. So how do you sharpen (& keep them sharpened) your knives?

  1. m
    mpalmer6c Nov 28, 2008 10:26 AM

    I've never taken knivesto a sharpening shop, and they all pass the paper test. I used to use a stone, but now am using an AccuSharp, a $12 device that rated highest in a Cook's Illustrated test. Works geat.

    Instead of a steel, I use the ceramic rods on one of those hand-held sharpening devices.from Wusthoff

    2 Replies
    1. re: mpalmer6c
      Robin Joy Nov 29, 2008 07:44 PM

      What's the approved way of conducting the paper test please? Voices are telling me this is how I should spend my Sunday.

      1. re: Robin Joy
        scubadoo97 Nov 29, 2008 07:59 PM

        Ok, for some Sunday fun....

        Computer paper works well. What ever type of paper you use should be consistent for routine testing. While pinching the top of the paper see how far down the paper your knife will push cut. The closer you are to where you pinch the paper the easier it is to cut. An incredibly sharp knife will push cut a few inches from where you pinch. As a rule my knives will push cut cleanly through a full sheet of paper. The sharper the edge the less noise is made. You can also have fun shaving the edge of the paper into curly threads. Who needs a paper shredder

    2. applehome Nov 28, 2008 10:41 AM

      A search for "sharpening knives" here comes up with over 500 threads. Surely a few of these might ft your needs. Here are some often referred to links:

      Korin sharpening page:
      http://www.korin.com/knives/knife_sharpening.php

      Order this DVD:
      http://www.cartercutlery.com/DVDs.cfm

      There really is nothing like being able to sharpen your own knives correctly, without gadgets and machines that limit the result. You will never achieve the sharpness you can after learning how. It does take some time and commitment - but it's not rocket science - anybody can do it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: applehome
        s
        sobriquet Nov 28, 2008 06:44 PM

        I'll second Applehome's post. I'd also add that instead of using a waterstone, a diamond stone from DMT is a lot faster and easier to clean up afterwards. I recommend the large DuoSharp fine/extra fine stone. Either buy the plastic base or just put a folded, damp kitchen towel under the stone.

        If it's a German knife, get yourself a quality ceramic honing steel. If it's Japanese steel, don't hone it and just put it back on the extra fine diamond stone every once in a while with a few light passes. It's far easier to keep a knife sharp than it is to restore a neglected blade.

        1. re: sobriquet
          t
          ThreeGigs Nov 28, 2008 11:31 PM

          I'll second the Duosharp recommendation.

      2. alanbarnes Nov 28, 2008 07:21 PM

        You can learn to sharpen your knives freehand, and will probably be a better person for it.

        But for ~$150, you can put a professional edge on your knives with no learning curve.

        http://www.edgeproinc.com/productsape...

        Seriously, you get a razor edge, every time, with no mistakes - what more could you want?

        3 Replies
        1. re: alanbarnes
          applehome Nov 28, 2008 09:16 PM

          AB - now that you've had this for a while, which set do you think a person ought to get? It seems to me that you really do want a finer grit than the 320 that comes with the $150 model - but the $205 may be overkill - on the other hand, you get the polishing stuff. I like to thin my blades, especially the Soligen steel, and don't really bother polishing the flat once it's thinned - but looks count for the more expensive blades. How about the pro series? Any advantage to those?

          1. re: applehome
            alanbarnes Nov 28, 2008 10:12 PM

            The 320 grit gets the job done. It doesn't polish the edge, but you can get a good shave from it. I have (and use) the 800 and 1200 grit stones, but I'm not sure they make a huge practical difference.

            On the other hand, if I had it to do over again I'd get the Pro series. The suction cups on the legs of the Apex work reasonably well, but the Pro seems less likely to dance around on the table. It's only a minor difference, but they're both lifetime tools. Amortized over forever, the incremental difference in cost is minimal.

            1. re: applehome
              scubadoo97 Nov 29, 2008 06:19 AM

              I got the higher end Apex but at the time the highest grit stone was the 600 followed by the polishing tapes. I would usually go up to 600 which is equivalent to around a 3000-4000 grit waterstone. The Pro model is really more solid but I just couldn't justify the difference in cost. I placed a spring between the stone holder and the ball handle so I can interchange stones like the Pro model without having to loosen and tighten the ball handle for quick stone change out. I place my Apex on an aluminum baking sheet. The suction cups hold well and all my mess stays in the pan for easy clean up. I do all of my sharpening now with Shapton glass stones and leather hone but the Apex was a great first step for me.

          2. Robin Joy Nov 28, 2008 08:56 PM

            Agree totally with mpalmer6c about the AccuSharp (mine in the UK is called a Jiff-V-Sharp) for dull/inherited/yard sale knives. However, for new or sharp knives, this is all you will ever need to do:

            Hold a steel, tip down, firmly on to a chopping board. Stripe the knife over the steel as though you are trying to take slices off the steel. About 6 or 7 strokes per side. This method is pretty safe and the viewpoint makes it quite easy to judge a constant edge angle. A good steel is obviously needed.

            All my knives are razor sharp, some after 25 years of doing this.

            1. swiss_chef Nov 29, 2008 05:08 AM

              I have just used the steel and nothing else in the last 25 years. I have a combination of various knives, some German hard steel like Wüsthoff and F. Dick, others soft carbon Sabatiers and Nogents.
              Carbon sharpens faster than the German blades but sooner or later (if you don't give up) they will all easly cut paper.

              I frequently buy antique or vintage knives that are in poor condition and I can always revive the blade as long as there isnt any serious damage.

              Also one more note. I sharpen the blades backwards. Point the blade at the bolster of the steel and pull the steel and the knife away from each other. No one suggest this method but it works very well for me.

              4 Replies
              1. re: swiss_chef
                Caroline1 Nov 29, 2008 05:55 AM

                When I told people I had never had my knives sharpened and used a steel before every use, with the end result that even my 47 year old Sabatier 8" chef's knife will shave the fuzz off a peach, someone popped up and said I was a liar! LOL!

                My steel is well over a hundred years old, with a natural horn handle and a sterling silver guard. I tried a ceramic "steel" but gave to my daughter. Didn't work very well, but she has/had a ceramic knife and I thought it might work on it if it ever turns dull.

                Do you know how old your steel is? So many people have said they don't get good results with their new steel, it leaves me wondering if the problem is with today's steels or today's users? '-)

                1. re: Caroline1
                  swiss_chef Nov 29, 2008 06:41 AM

                  Hi Caroline,
                  You are not a liar! I can probably shave with my antique Sabatier carbon-steel knives if necessary and they have not touched a stone or any other kind of sharpener in the 20 years that they have belonged to me.

                  I have several steels.

                  The oldest is a medium coarse Wüsthof about 25 years old. See here: http://www.wuesthof.de/en/database3.asp?id=581

                  I have another, rather coarse french steel about 5 years old. Sorry no picture but it is similar to the steel above.

                  I also have a short, rather cheap, Henckels of unknown age. See here: http://usa.jahenckels.com/270henckels

                  Finally I have a short ceramic Ikea steel which is rather useless and I only keep it around because I have the space.

                  I suppose I like the coarse French version best but the Wüsthof is a very very close second. When I get an old knife that needs reviving I start with the french steel then go to the Wüsthof.

                  I have a small confession, I am dying to try out one of the diamond steels but they are out of my budget.

                  1. re: swiss_chef
                    Caroline1 Nov 29, 2008 07:25 AM

                    Here's a place with some pretty good discount prices on diamond steels. They do ship to 'Switzerland, but apparently not to Italy.
                    http://tinyurl.com/5ec2nf
                    I've bought some things from them and been extremely pleased. Of course, there are all qualities of diamond steels, but I didn't see anything here that seems too far out of budget. Meanwhile window shopping is free! '-)

                    1. re: Caroline1
                      swiss_chef Nov 29, 2008 10:23 AM

                      Wow those are good prices! Thank you Caroline.

                      BTW for all you first time steel buyers... buy one that is at least 12 inches.

              2. Soop Dec 5, 2008 12:56 AM

                Everything you need to know

                http://users.ameritech.net/knives/war...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Soop
                  applehome Dec 5, 2008 12:49 PM

                  But I don't agree with Ward or with Talmedge. These guys are famous and their writings got me started - 15 years ago - lots of good info there, especially about steels - but I don't agree that it's "everything you need to know". For example, there's a lot of controversy surrounding the development of a burr or wire - you'll find many great knife people on both sides of the debate.

                  Carter's 3-finger approach to sharpness is more accurate than paper, hair or any other test. There's nothing like your own touch sensitivity to act as a gauge - it's just a matter of developing and calibrating it. Once you know how to do this, (it has taken me years) or otherwise figure out how well developed your edge is, you don't need to grind your edge to a burr or wire to know that "you're there".

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