Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Best way to sharpen a knife


wigeon
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have been reading about Edge Pro. I just purchased a new WUSTHOF chefs knife. Should I sharpen it when it feels dull?

I had read to sharpen your knife after every use. What is the correct answer?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Start with this: Knife Maintenance and Sharpening.

Then move on to this: Q & A - Knife Maintenance and Sharpening

Buy Chad's book: An Edge in the Kitchen...

And then we can move on from there.

Welcome to the eGullet forums, too!

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I recently purchased the edge-pro apex with stones to 1000 g

once you study the material here and use your knives correctly you will get some sort of knife sharpening system that fits your bill.

for me, I have several henckels, many true Granton knives from GB and several Globals, the EP is the last sharpening system Ill ever own.

it has gone beyond all expectations Ive had for it and I have several other systems, water stones etc.

its not cheap, but well worth it if you want your knives 'perfect' and enjoy doing this yoursefl rather than sending them out.

there are edge-pro threads here and:

http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/showtopic.php?fid/48/tid/906606/pid/2361857/post/2361857/#2361857

good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Use of a steel helps keep Wusthof's sharp, but after a while they need more. I've used oil stones (aluminum oxide, India, and black Arkansas) to sharpen for forty years and while they work well for carbon steel knives and some (softer) stainless knives, they don't work well with Wusthof's.

A few months ago I purchased a set of DMT diamond stones and they work very well. Two double sided stones with four grits from 220 (extra coarse) to 1200 (extra fine) in a hardwood case with rubber grips so it doesn't slip on the table or bench. My Wusthof knives hadn't gotten dull, but they weren't sharp either and these stones brought the edges back fairly quickly. I'm completely satisfied.

In addition, sharpening devices such as the Edge Pro have limited uses, while stones can be used to sharpen chisels, plane blades, scissors, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

exactly right. I have an electric makita circular waterstone set that I use for my chisels and other stuff. I have stones with odd profiles for my carving sets etc

but the 1000 grit white stone went missing. thats why I got the EP for my knives

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As you can see from the variety of answers from the posters, sharpening is a very personal thing, with a huge variety of choices.

When to "sharpen"? For me, when I have to put pressure on a knife to cut a tomato, but everyone else has different ideas.

The "steel" is not really a sharpening tool--that is, it is not an abrasive. The job of a steel is to grab hold of the knife edge that has curled over, and to straighten it again. This works well for a few times, but the edge will eventually fatigue and break off, and this is where you need abrasives to re-define the edge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At last count, there are over 7 billion ways to skin a cat.

The EdgePro is a good gadget, as is the Spyderco Sharpmaker. Although the Sharpmaker is less flexible, setup is almost instant and there's no mess to clean up. Benchstones of any variety take a little longer to master but none of this is rocket science.

Sharpening every time you slice a lime might be going a bit overboard, but I keep the Sharpmaker set up on the kitchen counter to refresh the edge when I want it scalpel-sharp. Microbeveling (I believe you'll find an explanation in the thread linked by weinoo and Blether) helps quite a bit in making edge maintenance quick and painless.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A few years ago I bought a relatively inexpensive ($50) gyuto which I use as my main chef's knife. It had a tremendous edge when new and I steeled it regularly and it kept up pretty well but it's gotten past the point where steeling is enough.

Is there a simple, easy, inexpensive method that's adequate for upkeep of a non-premium knife? If somebody *gave* me the Edge Pro Apex, I doubt I'd use it. Same for traditional stones. I'm talking about one of those electric grinder type gadgets or something similarly easy to use.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

... something similarly easy to use.

I'd say you have that upside-down. If you're thinking about an electric grind wheel, say, then that's a sharpening tool that needs far more accumulated experience & touch than an Edgepro, for use with kitchen knives. The point, for me, about the Edgepro is that it makes fine sharpening accessible to metalworking/workshop novices.

Do you think maybe the ideal solution for you would be 50 bucks on a new knife every couple of years ? You'll get 20 years of cooking for the cost of a single fancy-schmancy knife, and yours'll always be new.

Edited by Blether (log)

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, a bench grinder would take much longer to master than an EdgePro but I suspect by "electric grinder type gadget" he means the Chef's Choice or similar (which IMO isn't a very good idea either, but, hey).

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of the reasons for the variety of responses is that people have different ideas of what sharp means. Very few western-trained chefs had any idea of what a sharp knife was before they started mingling with their Japanese-trained brethren. If you use a European style chef's knife and maintain it on a steel, you're accustomed to a very versatile and efficient tool that does a huge range of tasks reasonablly well—but it is not a sharp knife. Not by a long shot. It simply can't be.

Five minutes with Japanese knife that's been thinned to an accute bevel angle, and sharpened on water stones to high polish, will demonstrate the radical difference a sharp blade makes.

Like all good things, it comes with tradeoffs. Such a knife requires a much more delicate set of techniques, and a refined set of sharpening skills. And you gotta sharpen it fairly often. If you do prep at a restaurant, you'll be able to go a whole shift without touching it up, but you'll have to hit the stones for a few minutes each night. You'll also need a different knife for working around bones, chopping chocolate, rock-chopping woody herbs, hacking into hard cheese, etc. etc..

For serious sharpness, the only choices are waterstones, or other abrasives like wet/dry sandpaper mounted on glass or something similar (the sandpaper method is a pain). Waterstones can be used freehand, or with the assistance of a system like edge-pro. The edge pro takes the manual skill out of it, but gives less flexibility and is slower. No matter what you do, if you want a very sharp knife, it will require practice and maintenance.

Notes from the underbelly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you think maybe the ideal solution for you would be 50 bucks on a new knife every couple of years ? You'll get 20 years of cooking for the cost of a single fancy-schmancy knife, and yours'll always be new.

Knives don't stay sharp for 20 years; they stay sharp for 20 minutes.

A good knife will stay sharp enough for several hours of hard use.

Notes from the underbelly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Assuming the knife was sharp to start with.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is there a simple, easy, inexpensive method that's adequate for upkeep of a non-premium knife? If somebody *gave* me the Edge Pro Apex, I doubt I'd use it. Same for traditional stones. I'm talking about one of those electric grinder type gadgets or something similarly easy to use.

And back to this question: the answer is "get a cheap benchstone and learn to sharpen freehand." It's not rocket science and it's pretty hard to screw your knife up permanently as long as you stay away from power tools.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...

A good knife will stay sharp enough for several hours of hard use.

To paraphrase the original poster, "it's been a couple of years and I notice my knife's not sharp any more"

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sharpening stone and practice. It's the only way. Anything involving a motor or a wheel is suspect, in my opinion. It's hard to completely ruin a knife by hand with a stone. It's easy to do with a motor -- even a low-RPM motor.

Besides, learning to sharpen your own knives means you get the edge geometry that YOU want. All of my Japanese knives are single-bevel, left-handed. They didn't all start out that way. But that's how they are now. Because that's the way I've sharpened them. Best of all, the knives are as close as I'm going to get to using a lightsaber in the kitchen.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Best" means different things to different people.

Because its a compromise between price, performance, effort, time, skill (and thus skill-acquisition time) and maybe some personal factors.

There is no one right answer.

The original poster has just bought a first 'pro-quality' knife and is posting here to ask basic questions about sharpening.

- Welcome to the forum, BTW.

It seems reasonable to suppose that the poster is not working in a pro kitchen, and to respond accordingly.

1- Read Chad's excellent eGullet tutorial

2- Buy a very fine (grit) grade Ceramic hone (its a better-than-steel 'Steel'). EdgePro is one reasonable source. Use the hone anytime you like, but at home it shouldn't need it every single day. It doesn't sharpen your knife, it kinda polishes the cutting edge.

3- Be careful what you cut, and what you cut onto. Don't think of it as a cleaver for going through everything, including bone, crab shells, etc. Use a wooden (or possibly plastic) chopping board. NEVER cut onto a glass or stone surface.

4- Clean it quickly after use (and don't use abrasives, ScotchBrite, etc - at least near the cutting edge).

5- Store it so both the blade and all kitchen users are protected. That means NOT loose in a drawer without a blade guard! A magnetic knife-strip on the wall is cheap and popular with many. Knife blocks take up workspace and aren't easy to clean, but they are less hassle than a guard.

Looking after your knife properly (as above) will dramatically reduce the need for 'proper' sharpening. Down to maybe every few months for a Wusthof in home use. But sharpen it more often if you like, its your metal you are grinding away.

You might try to find find a pro recommended by a local chef or butcher's shop.

Or learn to do it yourself - which the EdgePro makes pretty easy.

I'd advise against using power tools on a 'good' knife. Apart from anything else, you'll remove much more of your metal than you strictly need to, shortening the life of your blade.

  • Like 1

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://www.cadenceinc.com/services/electro-chemical-edge-enhancement/

I worked with Grieshaber engineers to develop retinal surgical instruments, and we used this process to sharpen trocar and MVR eye surgery blades.

If you are comfortable working with acids and low voltage electrochemistry, you could do this at home - a mix of battery acid(sulfuric), naval jelly rust remover(phosphoric acid), laxative (polyethylene glycol viscosity enhancer), with a DC power supply(battery charger), a pyrex tray and some heavy solder wire(electrochemical cell and negative electrode) can give a smooth, polished, molecularly sharp edge on stainless steel. I'm just crazy enough to try it - if anybody is interested, I can share my results.

Seriously, a diamond "stone" and a ceramic "steel",(what Dougal & Country said) and a little practice will suffice for most applications.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For serious sharpness, the only choices are waterstones, or other abrasives like wet/dry sandpaper mounted on glass or something similar (the sandpaper method is a pain). Waterstones can be used freehand, or with the assistance of a system like edge-pro. .

Oh there are other types of abrasives out there, and each type has it's pros an cons.

While waterstones cut quickly, they dish out vry fast too and wear much faster than oil stones.

Oilstones, on the other hand don't wear very fast, and don't dish much, but are slow cutting--especially on harder steels. Not such a big deal with softer steels though.

Sandpaper is messy, and it can get very expensive when you start to add up the individual sheets over a year or two period.

Diamond stones are nice, but very pricey.

With motorized equipment, remember this fact:

Abrasives remove metal--fast. Motorized abrasives even faster, and your knives will "shrink".

Also to remember with motorized abrasives: You must keep the "belly" of the knife convex, or you won't be able to cut anything properly, as well as to respect and maintain the bevels of your edge.

Motorized equipment will still take a bit of a learning curve in ordr to keep your convex shape.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://www.cadenceinc.com/services/electro-chemical-edge-enhancement/

I worked with Grieshaber engineers to develop retinal surgical instruments, and we used this process to sharpen trocar and MVR eye surgery blades.

If you are comfortable working with acids and low voltage electrochemistry, you could do this at home - a mix of battery acid(sulfuric), naval jelly rust remover(phosphoric acid), laxative (polyethylene glycol viscosity enhancer), with a DC power supply(battery charger), a pyrex tray and some heavy solder wire(electrochemical cell and negative electrode) can give a smooth, polished, molecularly sharp edge on stainless steel. I'm just crazy enough to try it - if anybody is interested, I can share my results.

Seriously, a diamond "stone" and a ceramic "steel",(what Dougal & Country said) and a little practice will suffice for most applications.

I for one would love to hear about it... although we might be getting a bit overly technical on this thread already.

(To the OP and other beginners: Sharpening really, really is not complicated at all. We're just being nerds here.)

From the opposite side of the sharpening technology field: Although I've changed my priority from "having a perfect edge on the day I sharpen" to "having a good edge all of the time" for my everyday knives, I've been experimenting with the "One Stone Honing" method developed or rediscovered by the straight razor community on my babies. Overkill on kitchen knives but very interesting stuff if you're into sharpening for the sake of sharpening.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

interesting topic

there is no "best way"

there is a way for those who begin to get "good knives" and then learn how to take care of them.

over time they get more "good knives" and take care of them "better"

how many "good" "better" "most excellent" "To die for Japanese" knives does one "need"

well they need the one in there hand for the job at hand.

Ive had many sharpening systems.

if you have one good knive, consider the ceramic pull though systems for a good start. do not get an electric system if you goal over time is to move one to a few more really good knives and a system that fits the knives you are getting.

consider this:

http://www.jewelstik.com/

get the 10" with the three grits:

http://secure.mycart.net/catalogs/catalog.asp?prodid=3370434&showprevnext=1

this is a family business you want the 10 " that has three grits to fine.

I have these and have used them for some time along with other systems.

then its up to you. these will not last for ever. but you will learn a lot from them and save a few bucks for that next knife!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The only way to reliably determine that your knife is sharp is to cut something with it, immediately sharpen it and then resume cutting. If you can't tell the difference in performance, your knife was sharp. I've had many instances of using a knife for a few months and swearing it was still "sharp", only to sharpen it and discover that I was cutting with a dull blade the entire time. Because dulling happens so gradually, it's often hard to detect it until you resharpen the knife.

PS: I am a guy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...