Different Methods of Knife Sharpening

dull knifeThere are many methods to sharpen your knife blades. Indeed, you can sharpen your knives on a whetstone or use a sharpening machine, a system or an electric machine. In addition, you can also entrust this task to a professional. The best method depends on the type of knife you want to sharpen, the steel blade, your sharpening experience and your own needs.

In this article, we present the most common methods for sharpening knives. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. We will describe them below.

Sharpening stones

Sharpening stones are available in different grain sizes and are ideal for restoring sharpness to your blunt blades and keeping the sharpness of your knives in good condition. The grain size of the stone affects the sharpness of the edge. The finer the grain is, the more polished the pleats of the blade are and the more the knife becomes sharp.

The number of grains is indicated by numbers, A high number indicates a fine grain, with which a blade can be more finely polished.

One of the major benefits of sharpening your knives on a whetstone is that you can refine your knife. When you sharpen your knife, you remove more material on the sides, which refines the blade. Sharpening a knife is useful for knives that are sharpened often, as the sharp edge becomes thicker with time (conical shape). Refine a knife is of great importance for the preservation of good cutting properties.

Sharpening knives on a whetstone require a little practice, but the reward is great: razor-sharp knives.

Sharpening rods

Sharpening rods are stems that are usually used to restore sharpness to your knife in a few strokes. There are different types of sharpening rods:

Ceramic Sharpening rods

Most sharpening rods are made of ceramic material. A ceramic sharpening rod is great for keeping your knife sharp. It’s fast and easy. It is important to regularly use a Ceramic Ceramic Sharpening rod to prevent your cutting tool from getting dull.

Diamond Sharpening rod

Beside a ceramic rod, there are also rods with a thin layer of diamond. The hard diamond grains make sure that you can quickly sharpen your knives. Compared to a ceramic sharpening rod, the result is a little worse. A disadvantage of a diamond sharpening rod is that, over time, the diamond grains break or crumble so that it loses its abrasive power.

Sharpening rods are therefore suitable for the (small) maintenance of your knives. For sharpening dull blades, it is advisable to use a sharpening stone or a sharpening machine. In addition to the sharpening rods mentioned above, there are steel rods: It is important not to confuse a steel rod with the ceramic ones. Steel rods are, as their name suggests, steel and designed to straighten the edge of your knife and repair any small damage.

Knife sharpeners

If you do not feel like sharpening whetstones, a knife sharpener may be the answer. The knife sharpener consists of one or more small discs with a finer or coarser grain. To sharpen the knife, you pass the knife several times along the sharpening discs without really exerting pressure. The result of sharpening is inferior in quality to that obtained with rods or stones. The result of sharp knives is rough and short-lived. For really sharp knives, it is, therefore, advisable to use one or more stones.

Electric Sharpeners

electric sharpeningFor cooking enthusiasts without the experience of sharpening, electric sharpeners can provide a solution. The electric machine has one or more slots with different types of abrasive discs. The slots already have a fixed angle that sharpens your knives at a given angle. This advantage can also be a disadvantage since European knives must be sharpened at a different angle than Japanese kitchen knives. You sharpen the knife by passing it through the different slots, one after the other.

The electric sharpeners are quite easy to use and offer a good result. However, you remove more material from the blade than when you use a whetstone. This shortens the life of the blade when using a sharpening machine frequently.

For pocket knives, it is not recommended to use an electric machine. This is because the machine removes a substantial amount of material and the pocket knives are already finely honed.

Sharpening systems with guides

Guide-based systems use a stand where you can slide your knife, one or more bars or guides. By using the stand, you can easily set the right angle for sharpening. When using a sharpening system, you can, according to the chosen system, sharpen your knife in two ways:

The sharpening bars are placed in the holder, you then pass your knife along the various bars for sharpening. You place your knife in the holder, then you pass different bars along the knife to sharpen it.

There are various commercially available systems where stone sharpens your knife at an adaptable angle. The advantage is that you get a nice straight edge. The disadvantage of this method is that it takes more time than on a normal stone. In addition, because of the fixed angle, you are less flexible when sharpening. If you do not want to sharpen with a fixed angle, you will need to go to sharpening ‘freehand’.

Sharpening systems with guides are highly recommended for the sharpening of your pocket knives of prices to which you wish to give a beautiful cutting edge. However, we advise you to cover the blade with tape to protect it from scratches, caused by the sharpening system. For kitchen knives, it is advisable to use a whetstone or an electric machine.