Technique: How to Sharpen Knives

Use an inexpensive sharpening stone to sharpen your knife

Knives get dull. It's a fact of life. Most non-serrated steel knives can be sharpened using inexpensive sharpening stones that can be found at most hardware stores.

Edit Step 1 How to Sharpen Knives  ¶ 

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Edit Step 1 How to Sharpen Knives  ¶ 

  • Most knives work great out of the box, but gradually dull and get chipped over time. A close-up of the blade we'll be sharpening shows what can happen after several years of abuse.

  • The strange looking surface near the blade is caused by rough-sharpening the blade using a steel sharpening stick. In this guide, we'll completely remove all the nicks and dull portions of the blade to make it uniformly sharp.

Edit Step 2  ¶ 

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Edit Step 2  ¶ 

  • If you want to avoid some of the scratches seen on the sharpened blade (see below), use pieces of tape to cover the side of your knife during the sharpening process.

  • The sharpening stone I'm using is dual grit. The first picture is a side view of the stone. The coarse grit is on the left, and the fine grit is on the right.

  • During sharpening, you can get better results if you use a bit of oil on the stone. Oil helps keep metal powder and excess grit out of the way of the blade as you push it across the stone. Oil is not strictly required.

Edit Step 3  ¶ 

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Edit Step 3  ¶ 

  • To get rid of the nicks and rough areas on the blade, I'll be using the coarse grit side of the stone first. If the edge of your blade needs a light sharpening, you can use just the fine grit side of the stone for the sharpening process.

  • With the edge of the blade in contact with the large, flat side of the stone, angle the blade about 20-25 degrees from the flat face of the stone.

  • While applying light pressure, push the blade forward along the face of the stone.

  • To help sharpen the blade uniformly, you may wish to push the blade both forward and to the side to cover more of the blade with one pass.

  • Continue to sharpen the length of the blade until the cutting edge has a uniform bevel along its length. If there are chips, continue to sharpen that area until they are gone. The key is to keep the knife angled consistently away from the stone while uniformly sharpening the length of its blade.

Edit Step 4  ¶ 

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Edit Step 4  ¶ 

  • Once one side of the blade has been uniformly sharpened with the coarse grit, repeat the process to uniformly bevel the length of the cutting edge on the other side of the knife.

  • Be sure to apply pressure to the portion of the blade in contact with the flat plane of the stone. Pressing more on the knife closest to the edges of the stone will cause the knife to dig into the edge of the stone, causing the edge to be non-uniform. Pressing against the flattest portion of the stone will feel very smooth when you glide your knife across its surface.

Edit Step 5  ¶ 

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Edit Step 5  ¶ 

  • Once you have removed the nicks and you've uniformly beveled both sides of the knife's edge, flip the stone over to use the fine grit side.

  • Repeat the process which is detailed in the previous steps to uniformly sharpen both sides of the blade with the fine grit stone.

Edit Step 6  ¶ 

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Edit Step 6  ¶ 

  • Again, the key is to apply uniform pressure while pushing the knife both forward and to the side while holding the knife at a consistent 20-25 degree angle from the stone.

  • Once the knife has been uniformly sharpened on both sides of the blade, wipe it with a towel (without slicing yourself) and inspect its edge.

Edit Step 7  ¶ 

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Edit Step 7  ¶ 

  • When finished, the blade's edge should look like the blade in the first picture. It should be beveled at a constant angle and generally will look uniform when viewed from different angles in the same light.

  • As a comparison, the blade before being sharpened can be seen in the second picture.

    • This is actually the same exact portion of the blade.

  • Be sure to wash your knife before you cut up any food, and watch your fingers! A freshly sharpened knife will be extremely sharp if you've done the process right.

To reassemble your device, follow these instructions in reverse order.

For more information, check out the Steel Knife device page.

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