Anyone who likes to cook on a regular basis likely feels very partial to their knives. After all, a chef’s knife is an extension of one’s hand when used correctly. Those who care about their steel know that a dull knife is far more dangerous than a properly sharpened knife, and take care to have their knives sharpened on a regular basis either by their own hands or those of a professional. Sharpening knives is actually quite easy once one learns the initial process, and can be a relaxing, meditative experience for those who take care in such actions.

There are many ways to sharpen a knife, and the way you choose to use will likely be a result of both personal preference and the type of knives you use. For instance, Japanese steel is almost always better sharpened by making use of a wet stone. Since most people use European steel, it is not necessary to purchase a wet stone. Perhaps the easiest and most intuitive ways to sharpen a steel knife is to use a ceramic honing rod.

Honing rods that are made out of ceramic are actually strong enough to shave steel off of a blade. Most ceramic rods have two sides; one for honing and one for sharpening. While the honing side should be used before and after every large kitchen job, the sharpening side should only be used occasionally, so as to keep the blade in good shape. A word of warning: using a sharpening rod can be dangerous, and should only be done when employing a strong sense of focus, as injury can result otherwise.

Using a rod is actually quite easy. While holding the rod vertically, plan the tip on a flat surface so as to stabilize it. Taking the knife in your dominant hand, you will want to slice towards your body while swiping the knife downwards against the rod. The general idea is to keep approximately a matchbook’s size between the blade and the rod, which will give the blade a perfect edge. Alternative slice on each side of the rod so as to even out the blade’s edge. After you have attained a perfect edge, wipe the blade down with a cloth dipped in hot water to remove any steel burrs that may be stuck to the blade.

Sharpening a blade should only be done as often as necessary so as to preserve the knife’s integrity. For a chef’s knife that is used on a regular basis, sharpening should be performed every three weeks, with consistent honing done in the meantime. Lesser used blades need only to be sharpened once every two months. Keeping a strong edge on all of your blades will lead to a consistent feel between knives.

Related Video:

How To Sharpen a Knife With a Stone


Additional Resources:

Knife Art: Ceramic Sharpening Rods Knife Sharpener


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