Masterchef-level kitchen knives are often a significant investment, one that will keep paying dividends for years, if not decades. As with anything valuable, these beautifully crafted tools also require tender loving care in the form of knife sharpening. But did you know that there is a correct way to use a sharpener, ensuring countless days of effortless cutting, chopping, and slicing? We have put together the top 5 tips for sharpening your knife the right way. And we are so excited to share them with you as your Damas knife collection will, over time, require the occasional sharpening.
So let’s jump right in!
#1 Angle of Sharpening
If you are a new knife user, you may need a little guidance on the best angle for sharpening your knife. When sharpening your knife, there is a delicate balance between sharpness and the durability of an edge. How you use your knife also influences the best angle for sharpening. Are you filleting fish, chopping vegetables, or slicing meat?
Angles between 10 and 20 degrees will sharpen a knife enough to slice through meat and other soft materials easily. It works better for more delicate tools such as a filleting or boning knife. Your knife would not be ideal for chopping vegetables at this angle, but it will most certainly produce an excellent clean cut.
Sharpening between 20 and 30 degrees will result in a more durable blade, slightly less sharp but still great for slicing. The durability makes it possible to chop softer materials. This range is where you would typically find your chef’s knife.
When using a knife sharpening angle of 30 degrees or more, you will get a very durable blade, albeit with the cutting ability impaired. This kind of sharpening is suitable for cleavers and is ideal for chopping.
#2 Less is More
It may seem counterintuitive, but applying too much pressure will not lead to a sharper blade; conversely, it may have the opposite effect – a duller blade. Most professionals can tell by mere touch whether they are applying the right pressure, but the rest of us need a little more direction.
Although there are different schools of thought on the best pressure for knife sharpening, the consensus is that a lighter but firm grip and moderate pressure on the knife is required for optimal sharpening, between 2 and 4 pounds of force or approximately 1 to 2 kilograms.
#3 Sharpening Options
Once again, differing opinions on the best sharpening tool are – many prefer a more traditional Waterstone/whetstone, but others enjoy manual and electric knife sharpeners. Electric knife sharpeners are fast and consistent, not to mention easier to manage than a stone, but could prove too harsh for some blades.
Your skill level will also influence your choice – Waterstones/whetstones require more practice, but quite a few chefs and professionals believe it is worth the effort to learn how to use it properly.
#4 Know your Stone
If you decide to go ahead with stone sharpening, you need to know the five main types of sharpening stones and how they perform.
The oil stone is a human-made stone created with aluminum oxide or silicon carbide and must be lubricated with oil before sharpening. They are both very hard with a 9 – 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
Also known as Novaculite, these stones are versatile as they can be used with both oil and water. They occur naturally in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas, making them a little harder to come by outside of the US.
Can be human-made or natural and have been quarried in Belgium and Japan for centuries. There are two types of Belgian sharpening stones: the Coticule and the Belgian Blue Stone (BBW)
Synthetic water stones
Synthetic water stones are made from a synthetic material that wears down more quickly than other stones but is quite popular with chefs.
Diamond Sharpening Stones
Currently, the fastest-growing type of sharpening stone has become a favorite for many professionals and chefs. As the name suggests, they are manufactured from human-made diamonds electroplated onto a metal plate.
#5 Blade Test
Are you unsure whether your knife is sharp enough? Test the blade by cutting a sheet of paper. If it easily slices through without tearing the page, you know your edge is sharp.
Sharpening your knives every few months will ensure they are in tip-top shape and pleasant to work with. Hopefully, you now know everything you need to know to sharpen a knife by yourself. We have a fantastic selection of stones available in our online store, so you do not have to look very far.