A knife sharpener is an apparatus that is used for the sharpening of knives. It usually consists of a small metal rod that is attached to a handle with which you can grind or hone the blade on either side. The sharpener works by removing some of the metal of the blade so that it is again sharp.
Knife sharpeners are used to sharpen blunt knives, but can also be used on serrated blades and even scissors if you so desire. There are various types of knife sharpeners available in the market, some may not work on serrated blades, while some may not work on ceramic blades. There are brands that make knife sharpeners for specific types of knives. The least expensive type is the hand-held manual sharpener and the most expensive one is the electric knife sharpener.
But what is the best knife sharpener to use? And what kind of knife sharpeners do chefs and culinary professionals use?
Get to know more as we go through this topic in today’s article
Types Of Knife Sharpeners
The choice of knife sharpeners is many and there are at least 6 factors that you have to keep in mind before investing in one. These are the sharpening angle, the shape of the blade, the material used for making the sharpener, whether it can be mounted or not, whether it works on serrated blades or not, and ease of cleaning.
And there are different types of Knife Sharpeners available in the market today:
Manual Knife Sharpener: A manual knife sharpener (or a manual sharpening tool) is the simplest type of knife sharpener. It consists of two flat metal plates with one plate fixed and the other plate moving. As you move the sharpener towards the blade, the movable plate will pull the metal off from the stationary plate which results in making a new edge on your blade.
Manual Knife Sharpeners are cheap and affordable. In terms of performance, they work best for soft steel blades which have a very small amount of alloy in them. But, this is not the case if you have a hard steel blade then it may take a long time to hone the new edge on your knife.
Electric Knife Sharpener: Electric knife sharpeners usually consist of one or two stages, the first stage is used for sharpening and the second stage (or an additional third stage) is used for polishing.
Electric Knife Sharpeners are more expensive than manual knife sharpeners depending on the brand and type of sharpener you are going to purchase.
Serrated Knife Sharpener: A serrated knife sharpener is a manual knife sharpening tool that has very small teeth on one side which is used to sharpen serrations on a blade. Serrated knife sharpeners are only available in manual knife sharpening tools and not available as electric knife sharpeners.
Pocket Knife Sharpener: A pocket knife sharpener is a small and portable device that can be carried in your pocket or purse. It is made up of two plates which are covered with diamond dust, ceramic rods, etc. Pocket Knife Sharpeners are only available as manual knife sharpeners.
Tabletop Knife Sharpener: A tabletop knife sharpener is a stationary device that has slots to insert knives of different sizes for honing or grinding them to create new edges. Tabletop Knife Sharpeners are only available as electric knife sharpeners.
Sharpening Stone Sharpener: A sharpening stone is a stone that is used to sharpen the blade of knives, scissors or any other sharp object. It makes use of water or oil in which you have to keep your knife.
Knife sharpeners are usually made up of high-grade steels and carbides with diamond. Diamond is available in various forms such as diamond powder, diamond grit, and diamond wheels.
You can find different types of knife sharpeners online as well as offline. You can also shop for the best knife sharpener by researching thoroughly and finding out what you need.
What Professionals Use To Sharpen Knives
Professionals and culinary experts will recommend using a knife sharpener but not just any kind of knife sharpener. They would recommend types such as diamond, ceramic, water stones or whetstones. These are all used to sharpen different materials.
These are a few rules that professionals follow when it comes to knife sharpening:
- They use coarse-grained sharpeners for rough edges
- The second stage is used for polishing off the burrs
- The angles should be set at 20-degree increments for best results.
You can also use the following techniques to make your knife sharp:
Using sharpening steel (or honing rod): A honing steel is used for grinding away small chips and straightening out the blade. It is very similar to using a knife sharpener but it is done manually. This process realigns the edge of the blade and removes burrs or any other materials stuck at the edge of the blade.
Sharpening steels should be used every day by professionals to keep their knives sharp for regular use. They are also great for straight razors which need to be honed frequently.
Other than that, ceramic plates can be used in the kitchen to hone a blade however they will not sharpen a dull knife. Ceramic plates can be used a couple of times to keep the edge of the blade sharp. It doesn’t remove anything from the blade; it only straightens out the edge and keeps it in shape.
Likewise, using stones is probably one of the oldest techniques for sharpening a blade. You can use either water or oil to keep the stone wet while grinding away at a blade. Stones are available in various shapes and sizes, usually, a combination of multiple stones is used to properly sharpen a knife that has been dulled due to too much use.
Sharpening steels should be practiced every day by professionals to keep their knives sharp for regular use. They are also great for straight razors which need to be honed frequently.
Tips For Sharpening Kitchen Knives And Keep It Razor Sharp
Follow these 8 tips to ensure your kitchen knife is sharp and ready for your next use:
- The first thing you should do before sharpening your knife is to maintain it properly. This means that before each use, always wash the blade with hot water and soap. Hot water will help dissolve any material that may have gotten onto the blade while being used or washed. Soap neutralizes any food particles that may be on the knife which would otherwise cause corrosion.
- Always dry your knife after washing it, simply by wiping it off with a towel or cloth. It’s not necessary to put the knife in the dishwasher since it does nothing but turn knives into dull knives by scraping them against other dishes inside of it while rotating under running water. If properly dried after each wash, a sharp knife should never rust and will remain sharper than most other knives.
- It is very important to maintain the blade before attempting to sharpen it with any tool or device. Using a blade that has lost its original edge is dangerous and also leads to more frequent repairs of your knife by a professional who specializes in sharpening knives or by you if you decide to purchase or use a manual sharpener.
- Never put the knife in the dishwasher since it turns knives into dull knives by scraping them against other dishes inside of it while rotating under running water. If your knife is washed properly, then always dry it after washing it, simply by wiping it off with a towel or cloth. If properly dried after each wash, a sharp knife should never rust and will remain sharper than most other knives.
- Corrosion can be prevented by applying a very thin coat of mineral oil to the blade once a day for a week or two before storing it. Mineral oil is available in many forms at any pharmacy or grocery store. Make sure you apply it with a cloth or cotton ball to avoid getting any on the handle of the knife, but this should not cause problems. Excessive amounts of mineral oil should be avoided, since it can reduce the effectiveness of glues used to secure handles and sheaths.
- If you decide on using a manual sharpener, use one that is designed for your type of blade. A manual whetstone or water stone or ceramic plate can be used on kitchen or household knives. Do not use an electric sharpener on some types of knives because it can cause damage and shorten the lifespan of your knife.
- Although beginners usually start with whetstones to sharpen a dull blade, these stones require patience and practice to properly learn how to use them or else you will wear out the stone before long and have to buy a replacement. Since ceramic stones are a bit softer, they require even more patience and practice to learn how to use them. If the blade is not held at the proper angle it can be difficult or impossible to sharpen correctly, making this method dangerous for beginners and frustrating for experienced users.
- The best way to maintain your knife after using a manual sharpener is to use a honing steel or ceramic rod. These are meant for the final touch up before using the knife and should only be used after using any other type of sharpening device. Remember to never put your hand on top of the blade while doing this since it can cause accidents that could cause serious injury or even death.