How Often Should I Sharpen My Knives? The Ultimate Guide

by Véronique Raymond
kitchen knives

There’s nothing as gratifying as effortlessly cutting stubborn foods such as collard greens, spinach, and other stubborn foods. However, when a good knife becomes blunt, it can be overly frustrating, to say the least. When you’re in this predicament, you might be wondering, ‘how often should I sharpen my knives?’ After all, it’s essential in keeping your utensils functioning as they should.

Although the answer to this question is straightforward, there are instances where your knife care varies, which we’ll discuss in this guide. Nevertheless, a standard chef’s knife should be sharpened a few times annually with honing steel in between.

With that being said, it’s useful to comprehend the best practices and have a fundamental understanding of the various methods involved.

Why Is it Essential to Sharpen Your Kitchen Knife?

Besides safety reasons, keeping your knives sharp ushers in a thrill that comes from clean slices. A dull blade can result in slippage, which becomes a hazard when you use additional force.

While the blade might be overly blunt to cut through fruits, meats, and veggies, you can still sustain injuries. From a technical perspective, using a sharp knife allows you to cut your ingredients uniformly. Resultantly, the ingredients cook at an even rate.

How Often Should I Sharpen My Knives?

It’s worth keeping in mind the difference between sharpening your knife and honing it. The latter defines the act of pushing the knife edge back to the center and straightening the blade. Contrarily, sharpening refers to the process of shaving and grinding the blade to generate a sharp edge.

Honing should be done after every two to four uses or before and after each heavy use, for instance, cutting joints and bones. The frequent practice of honing will keep your knife in tiptop condition.

As a rule of thumb, your knife should undergo professional sharpening every 6 to 12 months. That’s based on whether you frequently hone your knife coupled with proper maintenance and care.

If you want a razor-sharp blade, you have free rein to strop daily. It’s an optional step that entails polishing the cutting edge of a knife blade. Nevertheless, not all users gravitate towards a polished edge. In some instances, a ‘toothy’ edge of the blade can get the job done better, for instance, if you’re cutting a zip tie.

The Sharpness Test

There are different ways to know if your knife is due for sharpening. One of the most straightforward ways to check is by putting the knife on paper. To begin:

  • Fold a piece of paper in half
  • Lay the blade against the top edge of the knife (titled at an angle)
  • Gently slice in an outward direction

A sharp knife will cleanly slice through, and if not, that’s your cue to hone it. If your efforts prove futile, it’s time to sharpen the knife

Different Types of Blades

It’s important to remember that various knives are made of different materials that call for varying treatment. Although hard steel maintains its sturdy edge longer than softer steel, these knives are more tedious to sharpen.

Stainless Steel

Also referred to as carbon steel, knives made from stainless steel are the most affordable and maintain their shape.

Damascus Steel

These knives are sturdy with pattern-welded blades.

Ceramic

These blades are hard and can maintain their sharp ceramic edge for a while.

Titanium Nitride

These knives have a gold blade made from sturdy ceramic material and layered with titanium nitride.

set of kitchen knives

Source: Unsplash

Can You Sharpen Your Blade Too Much?

While you might not realize it, each time you sharpen your kitchen knife, you get rid of bits of steel to create a new edge. Although no risk comes with overly sharpening your knife, you’re essentially diminishing the size of the blade. Therefore, the abrasive process should only be done when necessary.

Tips for Sharpening Your Knives

Any professional chef will tell you that sharpening your knife is a form of art. Although it’s not rocket science to sharpen your knives, there’s a skill to doing it to perfection. With that being said, let’s discuss 6 pointers to help you sharpen your knives carefully and professionally.

  • Maintain a consistent angle. Although a 20-degree angle to the blade’s surface is most ideal, it boils down to consistency
  • Don’t apply too much pressure. Maintain gentle pressure and a light grip on the knife. That will also make it a breeze to maintain a constant angle
  • Be selective when it comes to choosing a knife sharpening tool. Sharpening stones get the job done and are an ideal choice. If you don’t prefer a sharpening stone, you can opt for electronic and manual sharpening tools
  • Once you sharpen your knife as per the instructions, test it. Conduct the paper test mentioned earlier to confirm that the job is done. For safety concerns, never test the sharpness on your hand

How Often Should You Sharpen Your Knife with a Whetstone?

Sharpening your knives with a whetstone twice or thrice per year based on the frequency of use is recommended. As a type of blade sharpening tool, it’s also known as a water stone.

Sharpen your chef knife on a whetstone 2-3 times per year, depending on the frequency that you use your knife. A whetstone is a form of sharpening stone, sometimes called a water stone.

Despite the name, this tool is more effective when used dry, whereas a water stone is at times doused in oil or water before sharpening. That’s because it holds the grit of the stone, allowing the knife to be sharpened quicker. Sometimes, only a spritz of water is enough to get the job done.

Can You Sharpen a Weaker Steel Knife?

It’s worth keeping in mind that knives made of weaker steel will lose their edge quicker and may require sharpening weekly or every three days, depending on the frequency of use.

Tips for Maintaining the Sharpness of Your Knives

Whether you take pride in collecting kitchen knives or have a drawer of blades to get the job done, it’s essential to keep them sharp. A dull blade is dangerous, and sharpening your knife is a process that can’t be rushed.

With that being said, here are some pointers that will keep your blade in tiptop shape while maintaining its sharpness.

  • Carefully select the backgrounds on which you slice. Therefore, steer clear of slicing or chopping on metal, stone, or glass as these materials damage the knife’s blade. Always use a wooden cutting board
  • Ensure you frequently hone your knife. That bends the blade back into place while preventing the knife from prematurely becoming blunt
  • Always hand-wash the blade. Although using a dishwasher can be the epitome of convenience, it causes your knives to become significantly blunt after a while. That’s because the detergent in a dishwasher is overly strong on the blade, making it a dull knife after a while
  • Dry and store the knife immediately after you clean it. Ensure you carefully tuck it away in a magnetic knife strip or a knife block

The Verdict: How Often Should I Sharpen My Knives?

You don’t need to sharpen your knives more than thrice per year if they are of great quality. However, maintenance of your blades is necessary, which includes investing in a quality knife sharpening tool. After all, your time in the kitchen should bring you joy, and a dull blade can quickly snuff out the fun. Make sure to keep your knife sharp and invest in solid knife sets for your kitchen – our recommendation is a Japanese knife brand.

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