How To Use A Knife Sharpener (and What One to use When)

Every cook needs a good knife

Even if you have a range of appliances, nothing can replace a good knife.

However, if they aren’t sharp, your knife will be useless.

So let’s find out how to look after your knifes and keep them sharp.

Looking to carve a turkey
? Here are my picks for the best carving knife.

How To Use A Knife Sharpener (and What One to use When)

Why You Should Keep Your Knife Sharp

It’s important to keep your knife in perfect shape for the following reasons.

  • A blunt knifecan be dangerous

  • A blunt knife CAN BE inaccurate.

  • Blunt knives may ruin clean cuts.

A Blunt Knife Can Be Revived!

A dull knife is a disaster waiting to strike. Most of us are guilty of using dull knives for fear of being injured by a sharp one.

Even though you may not need a razor-sharp knife to slice an onion or cut watermelons, the best cutting technique relies on precision and accuracy which can only be achieved with a sharp blade.

A Dull knife isn’t dead but rather deformed. 

It can be transformed to become razor-sharp through several knife sharpening method.

A Dull Knife Is Dangerous

A sharp knife is safer than a dull knife.

Ironic but very true. Using a dull knife, you’re forced to exert more pressure when cutting which results in uncontrollable movement and a path to wounds.

When cutting fruits like cucumber, it’s easier to get nice cuts with a sharp knife and the risk of cutting oneself is lower.

If you accidentally get cut by a sharp knife, the wound is just superficial and more like a razor cut that heals fast.

On the other hand, cuts by dull knives are deep as one exerts more force. To play safe, is better to get cut by a sharp knife than a dull one.

The 4 Main Types of Knife Sharpeners

1. Electric Knife Sharpeners

Using a blunt knife is frustrating and time-consuming. You do not need to be a professional chef to dice, slice, or chop veggies. Most knives are bought razor-sharp but become blunt depending on the intensity of use.

An electric knife sharpener saves you time and energy by allowing you to hone the blade of your utensil in seconds. No skill is required and neither do you need the service of a professional.

With an electric sharpener, all you have to do is plug the device into the power socket, place your knife blade on the slots and draw the knife out.

This sharpening method is suitable for all knives regardless of the blade material

2. Hand Held / Pull Through Sharpeners

A pull-through knife sharpener is similar to an electric sharpener except that you have to the sharpening yourself.

Pull through the slots repeatedly till is sharpened. This is best for touch-ups especially if your knife needs a new sharp edge.

Unfortunately, the pull-through knife sharpener isn’t the best fit for the one-sided blade.

It tends to damage one-sided knives by removing its metals which reduces their life span. These sharpeners are the cheapest around but not ideal for all knives.

3. Wheatstones / Sharpening Stones

Sharpening stones are a more traditional method used to sharpen the edge of tools made from steel.

These tools include knives, scissors, and chisels.

Sharpening stones comes in all sizes but the most suitable for knives are the flat types.

Using this sharpening method may require some skills and is bound to be time-consuming as well. It’s easy to cut yourself if you’re a newbie. As such, leave it to the experts or use an alternative method of sharpening.

Sharpening stones preserve the quality of tools since they’re less likely to remove the little surface of metals when sharpening

4. Knife Sharpening Systems / Guided Systems

A sharpening system combines both steel and stones to sharpen tools. 

All you have to do is find and hold the tools in the right angle when sharpening.

A sharpening system allows you to quickly give your blade a new outlook. However, it isn’t the safest option available if you do not have the required skill.

Unlike the pull-through method, a sharpening system doesn’t tamper with the life span of usage and is suitable for almost all blade type. But it doesn’t come cheap.

What Is The Difference Between Sharpening and Honing?

Honing and sharpening are two different thingand are both important in maintaining your kitchen knives.

Most often we hear both terms used interchangeably and may wonder if they’re the same.

If you’ve heard this a lot of times but aren’t sure what they are all about, continue reading below to find out.


The sharp end of a blade is referred to as the bevel.

Due to frequency of use, the bevel begins to bend slightly but the blade remains sharp. You may not notice this bend as long as the blade is still sharp and working perfectly.

To straighten the bevel, you need to use honing steel. Honing can be done regularly depending on the frequency of use.

Sharpening leads to frequent degradation of metal because every time you sharpen a small amount of metal is ripped from the surface. This decreases the lifespan of usage.


Sharpening is done on blunt blades. When your knife is no longer chopping, cutting or slicing like it ought to.

You have to exert force to get the right precision. Unlike honing, sharpening is done once in every two months depending on the frequency of use.

There are various sharpening methods available and they include electric, pull through and Whetstone sharpening.

How To Use A Knife Sharpening Steel

  1. Hold the sharpening steel Firmly in your hand with the tipping point down.

  2. Hold your knife by the handle with the tip of the blade pointed upward.

  3. Hold the knife crossway against the steel and ensure the back of your blade is placed against the steel.

  4. Pull the knife back and forth towards you.

  5. Tilt the knife to ensure the sharp razor-sharp edge meets the shaft of the sharpening steel at an angle between 20 degrees.You should have a perfectly sharpened edge after 10 to 20 strokes.

Here are few things to consider when sharpening with a steel

  • Always Choose a sharpening blade that’s equal in length to the blade you’re honing. For instance, if your knife is 7 inches, your steel should not be any shorter.

  • Wipe the surface of your blade to get rid of tiny metals fillings left on the edge of your knife to prevent metal poisoning.

    Keep your knife sharpening steel out of reach of children. When your blade feels blunt, just run a few strokes over the steel to get a sharp edge.

How To Use an Electric Knife Sharpener

Electric sharpeners are the fastest means of getting a razor-sharp surface.

Unlike when sharpening with a Whetstone which normally leaves the edge rough, an electric

Sharpener sharpens, polishes, and reshapes by providing up to three wheels.

  1. Plug your electric sharpener to your kitchen socket.

  2. Place your knife on the slot and ensure the heel of your knife is pressed down to connect with the grinding stone.

  3. Slide your blade through the slot while maintaining an angle between 15 – 20 degrees.

  4. Your Sharpener will automatically set the angle of your knife handle and connect it to the grinding stone.

  5. Pass the blade through each side twice to re-shapen and sharpen. Repeat the same process on the cornerstone to smoothen the edges as well.

    – A lot of metal chips will be shaved off when using this method. All metal piece is collected by a magnet but ensure you rinse your blade before using in the kitchen again.

    – Due to the size of the slots, knives with large metal blades may not work well on an electric sharpener. Before sharpening, test your knife blade on the slots to see if it fits in else you risk having your knife edge ruined.

    – Electric sharpeners reduce the life of your blade and in some cases damage the blade. Be careful not to over-sharpen. Do so less frequently.

How To Use a Handheld / Pull-Through Knife Sharpener

In case you aren’t sure if your knife is dull, pass it through a piece of paper.

Hold it up and bring it down to cut through, if your knife can’t do that. Then this is a sign that your knife needs to be sharpened.

If you happen to have a handheld sharpener lying around, then put it into use. If you don’t know how to follow the steps below.

  1. Most handheld Sharpeners have two slots, one is coarse and the other is smooth. The coarse surface helps remove the metal surface by sharpening it while the smooth slot is for honing.

  2. Insert the blade into the base of your manual Sharpener.

  3. Gently push the blade down as you tilt it through the slot with the handle moving towards your body.

  4. Stroke across the slot at least 4 to 6 times. Stroke the blade on the slot an average of 3 times for a mildly- blunt blades and more for Dead blades.

  5. After Sharpening the blade through the coarse slot, Re-sharpen and polish by running your blade through the fine Smooth slot.

How to use Sharpening Stones / Whetstones

Mastering the art of using a Whetstone isn’t the easiest task. It will take a bit of practice to learn how to use it the right way. Sharpening with a Whetstone saves you both money and time.

A Whetstone isn’t the same as a water stone. Therefore, It’s important to keep your Sharpening stone dry before running your blade on it.

Follow the steps below to do so the right way.

  1. Place the whetstone on a Cutting board or any flat wood in your kitchen.

  2. Keep the coarse face-up and remember to place the stone on a wet paper towel to reduce sliding.

  3. Firmly grip the handle of your knife and hold the edge against the stone and ensure the stone is projected at 22 degrees from the blade.

  4. Slide the blade back and forth against the whetstone.

  5. Repeat this 10 times and flip the knife over and repeat the same process on the other edge of the knife.

  6. Hone the edge with a sharpening steel and clean off any pieces of metals on the surface.

The whetstone method preserves the life of the usage of your blade. Fewer metals are likely to be ripped off thereby preventing damage.

A Whetstone is used for sharpening tools made from metal and steel. Never attempt to sharpen Ceramics Knives on a Whetstone.

How to use a Knife Sharpening System

There are various types of knife sharpening systems available in the market.

No matter the type of sharpening system you have in your kitchen, all use the same technique and Sharpening method. However, there may be slight differences in the size of the blade it accommodates.

The steps listed below work best for blades above 7 inches.

Steps in Sharpening a Blade.

  1. Choose the end of the blade you want to sharpen and pin your clamp two fingers away from the end of the blade.

  2. After pinning your clamp on the blade, measure two fingers width away from both sides of the knife clamp. This distance covered by your fingers is the Sharpening zone. Ensure your system do not sharpen outside these zones or risk having a poorly sharpened blade.

  3. With the knife still secured in the clamp, sharpen your targeted zone.

  4. Flip the knife and the clamp and repeat the same process on the other edge of your blade.

  5. The first sharpening zone will likely cover half the length of your blade. Once you’re done with the first zone, measure another two fingers width from the end of your first sharpened zone and fasten your clamp there.

  6. Sharpen the new zone just as you did to the first. Use the same number of stroking, flip the clamp and the knife to the other side once the first edge is done.

  7. Remove the clamp when the blade is perfectly sharpened and clean up the surface to get rid of metal chips.

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