A Quick Guide to Sharpening Kitchen Knives at Home

Keeping your kitchen knives nice and sharp is crucial making sure you slice your way through food without any mistakes.

This is important because, according to Kitchen Knives: “A dull blade needs more force to get the job done, which inevitably leads to more slippage, which as well as resulting in misshapen food, could also lead to nasty cuts.

A Quick Guide to Sharpening Kitchen Knives at Home

“Thankfully, sharpening your own kitchen knives is easier than it may seem.”

Sharpening Steel

When you think of knife sharpening, you probably think of one of these metal rods which you sometimes see chefs using.

However, while it’s called a sharpening steel, these actually technically don’t sharpen your knives, they merely ‘hone’ them.

What this means is that they realign the edges of the blade without actually making them sharper, which is fine if the knife isn’t that dull yet.

To use one, plant it firmly on the countertop and sweep the blade down it at about a 15-degree angle.

Knife Sharpeners

When the knife is a bit duller though, you’ll need to turn to a proper knife sharpener, which will actually reshape the edge of the blade and you’ll have a choice between an electric or manual sharpener.

Electric Sharpeners

Electric knife sharpeners are the easiest to use, with abrasives which are set on motorised wheels which will spin against the blade to sharpen it.

All sharpeners will be slightly different but essentially, once it’s turned on, you want to lightly pull the blade through the slots in a slow and smooth manner and alternating sides to ensure it sharpens evenly.

There’s no need to press down with any real force because the sharpener should do all of the work for you.

It’s super-easy to use and they can repair some pretty extensive damage, although they’re usually quite expensive too, and another downside is that you can’t use them with knives that have a full bolster as you won’t be able to drag the full blade through.

Manual Sharpeners

These sharpeners work like the electric versions, although wheels aren’t motorised, so you have to pull the knife through the V-shaped slots yourself.

The tall walls of the slots help you to maintain an even pressure as you take the knife through the sharpener and it’s a lot smaller and cheaper than an electric model.

For a quick overview or the pros and cons of electric and manual sharpeners, check out this blog post, but unless you feel like you’re going to be sharpening your knives regularly, or are worried about them being as sharp as possible, a manual sharpener is probably your best bet.


There is one other option, although it takes a lot of time and practice to perfect! Whetstones are great because they can be used for any type of knife, you just make sure to hold the knife at the specified angle, but this can be easier said than done.

If you do master the art of the whetstone though, not only is it one of the more effective methods, it also looks pretty impressive to your dinner guests!

Check out this article from Cook’s Illustrated for more information on how exactly to use a whetstone.

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