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There are a variety of methods used for sharpening knives and, of course, each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we describe the most popular methods of sharpening knives that are in current use and outline both the advantages and disadvantages of these methods as clearly as we can.
At the bottom of the table, you will find more information about the various methods for sharpening knives and links to other articles and to products.
- Excellent results achieved with fine grit stones
|- Some skill required
- Requires a little more time than some other methods
- Very good results
- Not suitable for very dull knives
||- Simple to use
- Poor to moderate results
- Relatively simple to use
- Good results
|- Removes a lot of metal, shortening the life of your
- Not suitable for thinning out knives
|- Sharpens edges at a pre-set constant angle
- Achieves good results
- Not very flexible when sharpening rounded tips of knives because of pre-set angle
- Not very suitable for long knives
- Clip system could cause scratches
- Very few advantages
(Sharpening steels are no longer popular and have been replaced by extremely fine sharpening rods which are currently available)
|- Not suitable for hard knives
- Do not hone the blades
Sharpening stones are available in a wide range of grain sizes
and are ideal for sharpening dull blades and also maintaining the
sharpness of knives.
The fine-grit sharpening stones are ideal for creating an extremely fine finish to the edge of your blade ensuring that the sharpness is retained for a longer period of time.
One of the greatest advantages of using a sharpening stone to sharpen your knives is that you can use it to thin out the factory edge and keep the blade thin. This is really important if you want to experience the best cutting performance.
Using a sharpening stone to sharpen your knives does require a certain amount of skill. However, it does not take long to learn how to use it. Our videos provide you with a clear demonstration on how this is done.
Sharpening rods are rods usually made of ceramic material and
are used to ensure that your knives are sharp again after just a
few simple strokes.
Sharpening rods are more suitable for maintaining knives rather than for sharpening dull blades.
There are also sharpening rods which are thinly coated with diamond abrasives. These rods are very effective in sharpening blades but they do not last long because the diamond abrasives either break off or are rubbed off, making the rod very smooth and therefore no longer very effective.
Also, do not confuse sharpening rods with sharpening steels (manufactured from steel). These do not sharpen blades and are not suitable for many of the hard knives used today.
Pull-through knife sharpeners are an option for people who do not want to use stones for sharpening their knives. Although they are very easy to use, their results are far from satisfactory. The edge is usually so ragged that the knife loses its sharpness in a short space of time. Hard knives can even become badly damaged from such sharpeners.
There is a wide range of electric knife sharpeners available
today where you simply pull your knife through the appropriate
slot. These electric sharpeners are fairly simple to use and yield
good results, especially those from the Chef's Choice range.
The disadvantage of these electric sharpeners, however, is that they remove more metal than necessary, shortening the life of your knife. Another disadvantage is that these appliances can only sharpen blades at a pre-set angle and so they are unsuitable for thinning out blades.
There are various systems currently on the market that use a
sharpening stone with an adjustable angle for sharpening knives.
The advantage of using such a system is that it yields a fine
straight (V-shaped) edge. However, this is mainly an aestheric
One disadvantage of this method is that it requires more time than it does when using an ordinary sharpening stone. Another disadvantage is that the fixed pre-set angle does not allow you much flexibility.
Guided sharpening stones are ideal for sharpening expensive pocket knives to achieve a perfectly shaped cutting edge (remember to use tape to cover the blade to protect it from scratches). However, they are less suitable for kitchen knives.
Sharpening steels are used to align the edge of your knife. From
frequent use, the edge of a knife often rolls over on itself and
bends a little, making it less functional. A sharpening steel is
ideal for straightening out the metal on the edge of the blade,
making it effective again.
Sharpening steels are not suitable for honing blunt knives, since they do not actually remove any material. Sharpening steels are also primarily used for knives made of fairly soft steel and that have a thin edge.
Sharpening steels are not suitable for hard knives. A fine ceramic sharpening rod is a good alternative for maintaining the sharpness in hard knives.