Monday, February 21, 2011

Sharpening basics!

Before you start sharpening your knives you should know a few basic things.

The Tools
  • whetstone (or something similar, I've heard of people using the rough part on the back of plates, and the flat bottom of terra cotta pots. Both I have not tried and don't recommend because if you want seriously sharp knives why not invest in a real whetstone?)
  • lubricant (water or oil, oil costs money and you will need to buy more every once in awhile, so I use water)
  • stand or wet towel (keeps the whetstone from slipping and helps prevent cutting yourself)

  • Soak your whetstone in water for at least 10 minutes before using it.
  • Keep your knife at a constant angle
  • Work in sections on the knife
  • Don't place pressure on the knife, let gravity do the work
  • The more you sharpen your knife the more metal you are taking off so eventually (after years and years of constant use) your knife will shrink

In my video you can see me working the knife in sections, the tip, the mid section, and the back. If you are already experienced in sharpening knives, then you don't have to work in sections and can sharpen the whole knife in the same motion. You may also be able to hear a lot of scraping noise, depending on the grit or roughness of the whetstone there will be more or less noise, but the reason there was so much noise in my video was because I did not let my whetstone soak in water long enough (you can tell by if there are still bubbles coming out of the whetstone while you are soaking it, it should be soaked more). After I worked on both sides equally to form a burr (which is the extra metal that is left over and bends preventing a sharp edge) I "cut into the whetstone" to remove the formed burr. Lastly, sharpening knives is not as quick as this video shows! Depending on how dull your knife is it will take longer to form a burr, I try to keep my knives relatively sharp so I sharpen them about twice a week (you would be surprised how much wear and tear happens to knives in a professional kitchen) and this keeps the sharpening time for my knives relatively low.

Well I hope this helps you get your knives sharp! As with any knife please be careful when working with them, in my video you see my fingers nearly right on the blades edge, so please use extra caution because the knife is slippery from the water. Remember that as long as you are careful a sharp knife is safer than a dull knife!


  1. "Don't place pressure on the knife, let gravity do the work"

    ah got it.


  2. This will be useful for when my knives go blunt from opening cans. I'm too lazy.

  3. i'd be interested to see how easily you could cut through some sort of animal (dead and ready for cooking, i mean) with a damascus steel blade honed to a perfect edge. I'd wager a single chop would do the trick! Ancient Japanese Katanas were forged using this method, and their edges were razor sharp. The blades were rated by how many bodies they could cut through in a single swipe. Some of the best blades were called "four body blades" which meant they could cut clean through four men in one well-aimed chop.

  4. Im getting my sharpening tools rather soon so this guide is extremely helpful

  5. good tips, i always fail when it comes to the kitchen.

  6. Very good tips for sharpening! Didn't know a lot of these.

  7. Another good tip man, thanks for sharing. very helpful

  8. Very useful, thanks for the tips and especially the video!

  9. Sharp knives are the best.

  10. Thanks! i tried sharpening my knife once and i cut myself lol.

  11. Good instructional! My knives are all pretty dull so maybe I should invest in a whetstone. It seems like a fairly simple process will make cooking much cleaner and quicker.
    Thanks chef!

  12. Those are some really helpful tips. My knives always go dull so fast.

  13. thanks for this info. a sharp knife is just so much better than dull ones.