Have you ever looked on with envy at how professional chefs sharpen their knives effortlessly on television? You might also have noticed that butchers and other people who use knives a lot can sharpen then in really cool and interesting ways?
The good news is that it is now possible to do the same sort of thing and sharpen your knives just like a professional. You can do this by choosing the perfect knife sharpener for your needs.
The Steel Rod Approach
There is no doubt that it is an impressive sight when a butcher gets out their steel sharpening rod and starts sliding a big knife along it. This is something that looks kind of dangerous and also makes an exciting noise as the steel clashes.
The first thing to know here is that is actually called a honing rod rather than a knife sharpening rod, with some people also calling it a sharpening steel instead. It works by putting the blade back into the right alignment rather than shaving off part of it to make it sharper. It also stops a sharp knife from losing its quality over time.
- To get started you need to hold the rod firmly. It usually has a plastic handle at the top for this reason. You might want to place the bottom against the counter for stability, rather than waving it in the air like some butchers do, at least until you are completely comfortable using it.
- You then need to rest the bottom of the knife’s blade against the steel rod at a 22 degree angle. This is the normal angle used, but varying it will give you a different kind of cutting edge for different situations and uses.
- You then slide the knife down the steel honing rod smoothly. You can imagine that you are whittling a piece of wood and keep the angle the same all the way down.
- Then turn the knife around and repeat on the opposite side, repeating the whole process up to 6 times on each side.
- As a final step you should wipe the blade clean to make sure that any tiny pieces of metal on it are removed.
The Knife Sharpening Stone Method
Another terrific way of sharpening a knife is by using a sharpening stone, which is also known as a whetstone. You will see model names as such as Japanese sharpening stone, oil stone, and water stone but they all do the same sort of job and are used in a similar way.
Whatever type of knife sharpening stone you use, the idea is to get started by putting it in top of a dampened towel or cloth. This has to be on a flat, stable surface so that it won’t slip.
The way that professional chefs use this is to put the coarsest side at the top when the knife needs a lot of sharpening work done on it. The different types of surface are often indicated by numbers written on the stone showing the different levels of coarseness.
The next step is to lubricate the stone. You will want to check what type of lubricating liquid is needed for your stone, as some use water and others need a certain type of oil put on them. Once you use the stone for the first time you should keep on using the same type of lubricant from then on.
The actual process of lubricating your sharpening stone is carried out in the following way:
- Pour a narrow line of either water or oil along the middle of it. You can then spread it across the stone with your hand until the top surface is fully covered.
- Next, up you need to find the perfect angle for sharpening a knife. A good chef will be experienced in finding the 22 degree angle this is widely recommended but it may take you a bit of time to do so. The easiest approach is to put it at a 90 degree angle and then slowly half the angle and then half it again.
- Start with the heel of the knife and slowly draw the knife across the stone smoothly, so that you finish at the tip. You need to remembered that the opposite side needs to be sharpened the same number of times as the initial side.
- Once it is nice and sharp you should turn the sharpening stone over and repeat the whole process on the less coarse surface. The time to flip over to the finer side is when you feel a distinct burr from both sides of the knife as you slide it over the coarser surface.
- This process will remove more fine pieces of metal than the sharpening steel will, so it is even more important to wipe the blade clean after you do it.
Find the Knife Sharpening Tool That Suits Your Style
As you will have noticed, sharpening your knife like a professional isn’t particularly difficult but it is fairly time-consuming and there are some techniques you need to know about.
However, what if you don’t have the time to do this or don’t want to put the effort into it that these methods need? The most sensible move in this case is to find the knife sharpening tool that works best for your lifestyle and needs.
Some of the most practical models around won’t give the thrill and the satisfaction of sharpening knives just like an experienced butcher or a quality chef. However, they will give you a similar type of result, with a much safer and easier approach.
Therefore, it makes sense to take some time to think about your priorities when buying a knife sharpening tool. Do you want a device that makes you feel good and that impresses guests or would you rather go for a sensible and practical sharpening tool that gets the job done without any fuss?
There is no right or wrong answer to this point, as each person is free to choose the model that they most like the look of. This is why there are so many varied knife sharpeners around for you to choose from.