How to sharpen a knife

How to sharpen a knife

Cooking is not just about mixing ingredients in a pot. In fact, it is a complete process: from going to buy the ingredients at the market to cleaning up what gets dirty in the kitchen. Cutting ingredients is an essential part of the process, and having sharp knives can make your life easier and safer (dull knives can be very dangerous). That is why in  Ideas in 5 minutes , we have prepared a tutorial that will help you sharpen your kitchen knives at home.

  • There are many techniques to do it. We picked one that doesn’t require too much special equipment and left some tips along the way in case you want to go pro.
  • Using electric knife sharpeners or  sharpeners is really not recommended , because they can damage your knives.

1. Gather everything you need

In summary, these are the items you will need:

  1. A sharpening stone (possibly more than one)
  2. Water
  3. a sharpening rod

You should keep in mind that there are many types of sharpening stones. Professional chefs use kits with several sharpening stones, each with a different grit expressed in numbers. The lower the number, the coarser the sharpening stone.

  • Typically, less than 1000 grit is used to repair knives with chipped edges.
  • 1000 to 3000 grit is used to sharpen blunt knives.
  • A grit of 4,000 to 8,000 is used to polish the edges of knives.

For beginners , stones with a grit between 3,000 and 6,000 will produce acceptable results . Some sharpening stones are double-sided and have a “coarse grind side” and a “fine grind side.”

2. Wet the whetstone

Water is the main lubricant in this process. Some stones need to be soaked in water, while others don’t. Read the instructions for your sharpening stone carefully to find out which type you have. If you must soak yours, submerge it in water and wait until no bubbles come out. Then wait  again for 5-10 minutes.

  • Tip : Never use oil or any other lubricant with a sharpening stone. If your stone seems to dry out as you sharpen a knife, rub more water on it.

3. Place your knife at a 20 degree angle on the whetstone

Before using the whetstone, you need to find the angle at which you will sharpen the knife. Normally you want to leave about 20 degrees between the top of the knife blade and the stone.

  • Tip : The 20 degree angle is just an approximation that works well for most knives. Depending on the type of knife you are working with, the angle may vary. You want to find the exact angle for the bevel of your knife by moving the blade up and down until you feel the edge is even with the whetstone.

4. Gently place the knife on the coarse-grained side of the stone

To maintain this angle, you should try to lock your wrists, elbows, and shoulders. Then move the blade across the stone. Be sure to move in only one direction, moving the knife away in your direction. The most important thing is to make an equal number of even strokes on each side of the blade.


  • It is possible to sharpen a knife by going back and forth along the whetstone, but it is more difficult to maintain the angle that way. If you’re a beginner, you may end up scratching your knife with the stone , which means you’ll have to start the process all over again.
  • Apply between 3 and 3.5 kg of pressure. You can use a scale to press your knife if you are not sure of your support position.

5. When a burr appears on the edge, you can move on to a finer grit

To know if your knife is ready, you need to check if the entire edge of the knife has a thinner, finer end, called a burr. A burr is a bit of scrap metal that forms on the edge. When this is present, you will feel a slight grip as you move your thumb perpendicularly over the edge. Continue working with the coarse grit if you still see any inconsistencies along the edge of the blade or any chips instead of a uniform shape.

You are now ready to move on to a finer grit . Keep the same angle and perform the same movement as you did in the previous step. Do reps of 10 on each side 3 times.

6. You can do a test with a magazine

To check if you’ve managed to sharpen your knife, you can try cutting a folded magazine page . A sharp blade will easily cut through the paper, while a dull knife will simply tear through the paper. Another way to check is to try cutting up a tomato or onion. If the blade does not slide off the edge and pressure is not required to cut, you will know that you have reached the correct point.

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