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How to sharpen kitchen knives

Sharpening kitchen knives at home

Ever started prepping a meal only to discover you need to put your entire body weight behind your knife to chop carrots and there's no way you're getting through that butternut squash? Once you learn how to sharpen kitchen knives, you'll never need to deal with blunt knives again. 

You can use several methods to sharpen kitchen knives and you will need some equipment to do so, but it can be highly affordable, depending on the method you choose to use.

How to sharpen kitchen knives with knife sharpening steel

A knife sharpening steel, or honing steel, isn't for sharpening dull knives as it is for keeping the edge of sharpened knives for longer. If your knives are already sharp and want to keep them that way, you can simply use honing steel. Otherwise, you'll need to sharpen your knives using another method, then use a knife sharpening steel to keep them honed.

A honing steel is essentially a metal rod with a handle. To use it, hold in one hand, take your kitchen knife in the other and swipe it across the steel from base to tip, applying gentle and even pressure. Do this a few times on each side.

How to sharpen kitchen knives with a manual knife sharpener

Manual knife sharpeners are an excellent choice for most buyers as they're easy to use and affordable. They either feature two non-motorized wheels or a v-shaped recess with abrasive material on each side. Simply pull the knife through the wheels or chamber a few times to sharpen the blade. 

How to sharpen kitchen knives with an electric knife sharpener

Electric knife sharpeners are even quicker to use than manual knife sharpeners and are better at dealing with incredibly dull knives that need a new lease of life. However, they’re not always the best option for the casual cook because good models can be expensive. Electric knife sharpeners have motorized wheels inside that are spring-loaded to hone blades to the correct angle for optimum sharpness. Like manual knife sharpeners, you generally just pull the blade through the recess in the machine. That said, you should always consult the manual before use because different models have slightly different processes, and making a mistake could damage your knives or leave you with subpar results. 

How to sharpen kitchen knives with a whetstone

A whetstone is a textured block that you slide your knife against in one direction to sharpen the blade. It's an entirely manual process, which means you have total control over the angle. This is a selling point for some, but for those without experience using a whetstone, it's better to use a manual or electric knife sharpener as there's less room for error.

How to sharpen kitchen knives with a self-sharpening block

If you want to keep your knives sharp without thinking about it, a self-sharpening knife block is ideal. Every time you remove a knife from the block or replace it, you automatically pull it against a built-in knife sharpener, honing the blade, so it never goes dull. Self-sharpening knife blocks are generally sold with knives to go in them, so they're only suitable for people who want to replace their kitchen knives. 

Best knife sharpeners

Utopia Kitchen Knife Sharpening Honing Steel

A simple and inexpensive knife sharpening tool that gets the job done when your knives have dulled just slightly and need a boost.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Rada Cutlery Quick Edge Knife Sharpener

This manual knife sharpener does a great job with minimal effort. Simply pull the knife through the wheels a few times, and you're ready to dice.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Chef'sChoice Trizor XV EdgeSelect Professional Electric Knife Sharpener

The diamond abrasives in this electric sharpener are extremely effective at sharpening even very dull knives and can reduce the angles of essential kitchen knives to make them perform exceptionally.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Sharp Pebble Premium Sharpening Whetstone

If you prefer to do things the old-fashioned way, this whetstone will do a solid job of sharpening kitchen knives and gives you closer control over the results. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Calphalon Classic Self-Sharpening Knife Block Set

Buyers in the market for a new set of knives should consider simply buying a self-sharpening knife block like this option from Calphalon. It contains all the essential knives needed for food preparation.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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