HOW TO SHARPEN A KNIFE WITH A WHETSTONE (& WHY YOU SHOULD)
Posted on December 07 2023
Whether you're an at-home cooking fanatic or a professional chef, keeping your knives razor sharp is a must. Here we explain why this is so important, and how to sharpen kitchen knives at home.
HOW DOES KNIFE SHARPENING WORK?
The sharpness of a knife depends on the quality and precision of the blade edge. Over time, using your knife will undergo abrasion whereby the edge is slowly eroded, resulting in a blunt knife. In other words, the knife edge goes from looking like a V to looking more like a U. This makes it harder for the blade to pierce and slice through foods.
When we sharpen a knife, we erode the steel which creates the U shape, to create a new, fine edge. You can achieve this using a variety of methods and tools including ceramic stones, metal honing rods and even sandpaper (although we don’t recommend this).
How often you should sharpen a knife depends on a whole host of different factors including your chopping board material, how often you use the knife and even how you wash it. A good rule of thumb is to give your knife a quick honing every couple of weeks, and a more fundamental sharpening with a whetstone every few months.
WHY SHOULD YOU SHARPEN KNIVES?
SHARPER KNIVES ARE EASIER TO USE
It seems an awful truism, but the primary reason for sharpening knives is to make them easier to use. Whether you’re preparing tough root vegetables, filleting a fish or finely slicing herbs - everything is faster and easier with a sharp knife.
SHARP KNIVES LEAD TO TASTIER FOOD
There’s no point purchasing high-quality, expensive ingredients only to then ruin their beauty by hacking at them with a blunt knife. This is particularly true of fish and delicate meats; but also fine herbs which can easily be turned to a flavourless mush by a blunt knife.
When slicing more delicate produce, a sharp knife can also mean that your food stays fresher for longer. As a sharp blade is more likely to make an accurate cut, it ensures that the physical integrity of your food remains. This means that the cells of your food are left less damaged, and will stay crisp for a much longer duration of time.
SHARPER KNIVES ARE MUCH SAFER
One of the primary reasons that professional chefs keep their knives so sharp is because doing so is much safer. Sharp knives bite into ingredients and glide through them with accuracy, consistency and predictability. Whereas blunt knives glance and slide which can often result in kitchen accidents. You see this particularly with tough to chop ingredients such as squashes and pumpkins; but it also happens when slicing skinned vegetables like tomatoes.
SHARPER KNIVES LAST LONGER
Provided you take care of them, even more inexpensive kitchen knives can offer durability for a number of years. Maintaining the upkeep of your knives and sharpening them a few times a year can provide years of dependability and pleasure in using them.
If you have invested in specialty kitchen knives or professional chef’s knives, then taking these to a knife sharpening service can often be the best way to sharpen kitchen knives to ensure they are available for use at any time.
SHARPER KNIVES ARE MORE ENJOYABLE
There really is nothing quite like the feeling of cooking with an ultra-sharp knife. You work faster, cleaner and more efficiently; and the pride you feel in producing food to the best of your ability really cannot be bettered. Like all the best things in life, keeping your knives sharp may require some time and effort; but it really is worth it.
HOW TO SHARPEN A KNIFE WITH A WHETSTONE
Sharpening stones are unquestionably the best way to sharpen knives at home, and with our double-sided combination whetstone, it couldn’t be easier. Each one of our stones features two sharpening surfaces. One side has a fast cutting 1000 grit, and the other, a finer 6000 grit. This will give an amazing silky polish to your sharpened knife.
1. Soak Your Stone
Soak your whetstone for about 5-10 minutes in a bowl of water before use. It's ready to go when it stops emitting air bubbles.
2. Start Coarse (1,000 Grit)
Place your whetstone with the coarser (lower grit number) side facing up, and ensure it's stable. Our whetstones come with a slip-proof silicone mat and wooden base to ensure stability.
Place your knife edge against the stone at around a 10-15 degree angle, with the edge facing away from you. Slowly push the knife away from you, as if trying to slice a thin layer from the top of the block - ensure you're maintaining the correct angle. Katto's whetstones come with an angle guide to help with this.
Repeat this motion around 10 times before repeating on the other side of the blade.
3. Finish Fine (6,000 Grit)
Flip your stone over to the finer (higher grit number) side, and repeat this process again. This is to refine and polish the knife blade.
4. Rinse Your Tools
Once complete, rinse your knife and whetstone to remove any metal filings before use. Then go ahead and enjoy your new, super sharp knife. Or, for further guidance check out our video below.
FREE KNIFE SHARPENING
If you don't yet feel confident sharpening your own knives and would prefer to use a professional knife sharpening service, we offer free knife sharpening for all customers. Simply package up your Katto knife and send it back to us, and it'll be back with you in no time.