Sharpening a knife is sometimes perceived as the most difficult knife care task; and it probably is. Modern stainless steel is very hard and, when sharpened properly, will hold a good edge for a very long time. When sharpening a knife you must have a high quality sharpener that features a rough stock removal surface (preferably diamond abrasive) and a finishing surface of hard stone or ceramic abrasive. The diamond and ceramic materials will cut away the steel on the blade's cutting surface easily as these materials are harder than steel. A hard stone will also perform this task, but the stone is only slightly harder than the steel and so this requires more effort on your part.
Most times, simply using a kitchen steel on your cutlery will be sufficient. See instructions below.
Remember, Keep your knife sharpened -- a dull blade can be more dangerous than a properly maintained one.
For some more general information on Sharpening click one of the links below:
Knife Center's General Knife Care Tips
Sharpening FAQ from rec.knives
Some Personal Sharpening Techniques
Sharpening with a Steel
When a knife is used, the edge eventually becomes dull. The edge will turn either to the left or right side depending on how you hold your knife when cutting. Quality knives with high carbon/molybdenum/vanadium alloy have elasticity and can easily be re-aligned by a sharpening steel. Do not use a diamond-coated steel or a pull-through manual or electric sharpening device for maintaining the edge. These devices will destroy your turned edge. They can be used to sharpen, but not for maintanance.
Place the knife blade against the tip of the sharpening steel at an angle of approximately 20 degrees. Pull the knife down and across the steel, describing a slight arc. Repeat this action on the back of the steel to sharpen the other side of the blade. Repeat steps 2 and 3 five to ten times, alternating the left and right side of the blade. It is very important to maintain the angle of 20 degrees and to run the full length of the cutting edge along the steel from the hilt to the tip of the knife. Speed of movement plays no part in this process.
Sharpening with a Stone
When grinding your knife on a stone, it may be useful to use a three-way oil stone, Fine-Medium-Coarse. Use the stone only when your edge does not re-align with a steel. That means your edge has dulled from constant use or steeling. Make sure you use the exact angle at 30 to 40 strokes before your new edge is formed. Use more strokes if needed. The angle used it determined by how sharp you want the knife. The smaller the angle the sharper the edge. However be aware that the sharper the edge the sooner it will fade, and need to be re-sharpened. If it is too difficult for you to maintain the correct angle, throughout your re-grinding procedure, take your knife to a reputable knife grinding service in your area.
For more information on stone sharpening click the links below:
Sharpening Instructions from Norton Industrial
Sharpening Instructions with a DMT®
Sharpening a Straight Razor
You can learn to sharpen any razor on a stone, and if you have experience, or use the right sharpening system you will get very good results. The principle of grinding any knife is restoring the gross shape of a blade according to it's grind-type ; this is mostly done with machines such as grinding wheels. Grinding does not sharpen a knife. The principle of honing is to create a good cutting edge angle and the blade part directly adjacent to it, the relief. The relief is created by honing with a secondary angle on a stone until a burr appears, and subsequently create the primary angle (this is the cutting angle, which is somewhat greater than the secondary angle, but both under 25 degrees) to remove the burr. The relief/secondary/primary angle principle makes the blade more resistant for less than delicate use.
For More Information on Sharpening a Straight Razor click the link below:
Sharpening a Straight Razor
Sharpening Serrated Blades
First, obtain the correct sharpening tools to perform the task. Many of the sharpening kits on the market offer serration hones as options. Second, have the proper technique to use.
Most factory ground serrations will have the same angle as the plain edge portion (assuming the blade is partially serrated), which means in the neighborhood of 20 to 25 degrees.
Once everything is set up, you can begin the process. Using firm pressure, work the hone in a back-and-forth motion, perpendicular to the cutting edge. Every so often, stop and feel for a raised burr on the backside of the blade. Only move on to the next tooth when you see or feel a raised burr. Once you have completed sharpening the ground side of the blade, flip the knife over.
For More Information on Sharpening Serrated Blades click the link below:
Dexter Ewing's Class for sharpening serrated blades
Types of Sharpeners
There are many good sharpeners on the market today. The main factor in sharpening is the device you use to remove the material from the blade must maintain a uniform angle for you and not allow your efforts from stroke to stroke to change the angle of pressure you are putting on the cutting surface of the blade. If this angle relationship is changing from stroke to stroke, you will end up with a rounded edge that will feel sharp for a short period of time and dull rapidly.
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