How to keep your kitchen knives razor-sharp – CNET


Sharpen and maintain your kitchen knives for safer and faster cooking.

Chris Monroe / CNET

Congratulations on the purchase of your brand new kitchen knife! You have taken the first step to make cooking easier and more enjoyable. A real knife will help you chop and chop like a pro. But don’t stop here – a good knife deserves careful maintenance, such as sharpening and honing.

After a few weeks, new knives get boring and force you to apply more pressure to make cuts. This additional resistance doesn’t just shred meat and vegetables. It is a potential danger to your fingers.

Make sure your knives feel new and your fingers are safe – with this guide to sharpening and honing cutlery.

Disclaimer period: I’m saying the obvious, but knives can hurt you. Even if you don’t plan to maintain your own blades, be careful with them. The smallest paring knife can cause a big injury in a flash. Always be extremely careful and be careful when using these sharp tools – for you and for the people around you. I will also focus on steel knives as ceramic blades usually require professional maintenance.

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Keep your kitchen knives sharper and safer


Honing and sharpening: know the difference

These two terms are often used interchangeably, but they are actually different. Honing refers to straightening the existing edge of a blade. Over time and with normal use, the edge of a knife blade will bend slightly or bend out of its original position.


When sharpening a knife, bring its pointed surface back into position slightly. It’s a gentle solution, but can prevent more serious blade damage if done frequently.

The most common way to sharpen a knife is a honing steel. These inexpensive tools ($ 10 to $ 30) are essentially steel bars with a handle. The surface of the bar is coarse and scrapes a blade over the bar (at the right angle), pushing back (sharpening) its edge on both sides.


Sharpening is the practice of aggressively polishing a knife to reform its edge. You only need to do this for very blunt knives. Metal parts are actually shaved. That is why sharpening a metal blade requires a material that is harder than steel – stone or ceramic. It is also the reason why you should sharpen frequently but rarely sharpen.

A honing steel is a tool that many professional chefs use to realign knife blades.

Chris Monroe / CNET

Improve your knife

A honing steel that many professional chefs and chefs rely on is a common tool for honing kitchen leaves. However, the right use of steel requires practice to get the right results. So don’t be discouraged if your first results aren’t obvious. How to improve your knife:

First lay the end of the steel bar on a flat surface (table, counter, cutting board).

Next, hold the heel edge of your knife against the steel while holding the handle of the steel with your hand without a knife. Make sure the blade is tilted between 15 and 20 degrees (in relation to the steel rod). Also place your fingers (hold the knife) securely on the knife handle (behind the heel).

Now pull the blade down along the steel. At the same time, gently pull the knife towards you. The movement should move from the rear edge of the knife to its tip. Maintain the same angle throughout your stroke. Repeat this process three to four times. Next, do the same on the other side of the knife.

Sharpening knives with a whetstone is the old way.

Chris Monroe / CNET

Sharpen the blade


To reform the edge of your knife blade, you need a harder tool. The way of the old school is with a grindstone. The good news is that grindstones are relatively affordable. You can find them for $ 15 and $ 20.

First, place a square on a flat surface with a damp paper towel. Place the whetstone on it so that it does not slip. Moisten the knife blade with a little water. This reduces the friction. Now place the knife on the stone (its coarsest side) at an angle of 15 to 20 degrees. The tip of the knife should point away from you. Place your fingers on the flat side of the blade (except on your thumb). Your thumb remains on the handle.

Pull the knife in circular movements over the grindstone, taking care to keep the angle constant. Do this three to four times. Turn the knife over and repeat the process. Next, follow the same procedure, but on the smoother side of the grindstone. Your once boring kitchen knife should now have a sharpened edge.

Continue reading: The best knife sharpener of 2020

Electric sharpener

You can also use an electric sharpener. The process is similar, with the added benefit of speed. Instead of a grindstone, these products have both honing and sharpening slots. Pulling a knife through the slots does the same job.

Grinding wheels rotate in the slots and are spring-loaded. That means you should automatically polish the knife edges at the right angle. Follow the instructions in the manual carefully. Improper use of electric sharpeners can damage the knife edges. Common mistakes are turning, pushing down or stopping the knife stroke when you pull them through the slit slot. This can result in excessive sharpening (loss of too much metal) or an uneven edge.

Expect a little more for a motorized sharpener in the $ 30-40 range (through Amazon). The company also sells a range of kitchen knives under the same EdgeKeeper brand with sleeves that can be used to “sharpen” the blades each time they are used. Most likely they sharpen, don’t sharpen their knives, but it’s still helpful.

Surprisingly, the bottom of a ceramic cup acts as a blade sharpener if necessary.

Taylor Martin / CNET

Ceramic mug

It sounds crazy, however We tried it ourselves. Turn over a ceramic cup so that its bottom is facing up. Place it on a flat surface. There should be a ring that is raised and unglazed. The surface of the ring is rough and harder than steel. Use it like a whetstone. However, be aware that if things go badly, you can scratch and mangle the edge of the blade uselessly. Try this with a cheap knife, not with fancy cutlery.

Call the professionals

For some, sharpening cutlery is too tedious. Many premium knife brands such as Mac offer sharpening services (Mac brand only). With fees between $ 5 and $ 14 per item, this is also appropriate. Nevertheless, you have to send the knives back to their facility. That means you have to do without it for seven working days.

Some local grocery stores and supermarkets also sharpen your knives – often free of charge. You can usually ask at the butcher’s counter, preferably outside of rush hours. Try it like any untested sharpening method with a knife, without which you could not live first.