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Knife Sharpening: How Much is Too Much?

I admit, I'm addicted. I get giddy when my just-sharpened Wusthofs whisper through a tomato without denting it first, when the herbs give way to ribbons without protest. I love me a super sharp blade -- but of course they never stay that way for long. I do hone them at home regularly, and that surely helps but even so the knives only keep that perfect edge for a few uses after they're back from the cutlery store. I tend to get them sharpened twice a year, but I'd love to do it more often. I know the consequences -- the more often they're sharpened, the faster they thin out. I'm curious to know how often you all get knives sharpened, and also how much shorter their lifespan will be if I give in to sharpening mine more. I do use them nearly every day, most days several times. Also, how much do you find that honing helps? It makes a bit of difference for me but not a ton -- maybe I'm doing it wrong?

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  1. If you are honing them every time you use them (just a quick couple of swipes on a steel) and are treating them well (hand washing, not using them to open beer bottles, using a good material for a cutting surface) then having them resharpened once or twice a year should be plenty.

    If your knives are dulling after only a few uses then either you aren't honing them correctly or something else is going on (see above about treating your knives well).

    1. <I tend to get them sharpened twice a year, but I'd love to do it more often>

      It is pretty good. Most people do not even sharpen their knives once a year.

      <the more often they're sharpened, the faster they thin out>

      Yes, the knives will get worn out, although I won't say they get thinned out. There is a better chance that the behind the edge will get thicken as shown here:

      http://www.egullet.com/imgs/egci/shar...

      If you sharpen your knives by yourself, then there should be less of an issue. This is because when you do it freehand by yourself, you are trying to sharpen just enough without take off unnecessary metal. For many professional sharpeners, speed is essence. They rather do it quickly, but also take off more metal.

      <I'm curious to know how often you all get knives sharpened>

      If you are sending out the knives for sharpening, then I think you are doing it right -- about 1-3 times a year. For a home cook, I think 1-2 times is more than enough. When I sharpen my own knives, I do it about once a week to about once a month. I used to do it about once a week to once every two weeks. Now, I have a few more knives, so I can rotate them in use, and can therefore wait a bit before sharpening them.

      <Also, how much do you find that honing helps?>

      I tend to use harder steel Japanese influenced knives, so I don't hone them at all.

      5 Replies
        1. re: Eiron

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            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              After some electric shock treatment,s I am much better. I won't say I am cured, but I am finally in control of my life.

              -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
              I bet if I poked ya with a Doi Yanagiba you'd fall right off the Wagon! :D

              1. re: TraderJoe

                I don't think it is very nice to taunt a recovered alcoholic with a bottle of liquor. :)

        2. Could be you are honing at too obtuse an angle but with heavy use twice a year you are probably OK.

          I tell folks that once the honing steel no longer restores the edge, it is time to bring it back.

          A good sharpener will use the least aggressive abrasive as possible for the condition of the blade.

          I use about 8 steps dropping in the aggressiveness at each stage. Some blades are sharp enough I may drop a few early ones out.

          Jim

          1. Hi, Becky:

            Sharpening 1-2 times a year is all Bob Kramer recommends, but he also recommends a crock stick about every month, along with the steel.

            You already realize that it's a tradeoff between sharpening more often and wearing down the blade. That's half the battle. Depending on your age, you might have to replace a few knives over your lifetime if you sharpen "too much".

            Aloha,
            Kaleo

            1 Reply
            1. re: kaleokahu

              Here's hoping I'm around long enough to need to replace a few more!! :)

            2. A coupla passes on the hone almost everytime I use a knife, maintains whatever edge is on the blade. Sharpening? Whenever I feel'em getting lazy....for me it's about every 3 months, depending on the type of steel. The german blades ("high carbon" stainless) hold an edge longer than my carbon steel knife