How to Sharpen a Knife
Most people stray away from sharpening a knife because they believe that it is a difficult task. They are probably right. Sharpening a knife is not an easy task. Stainless steel is a hard steel. People like it because stainless is rust resistant. Carbon steel is not as hard but holds an edge longer than stainless and performs better than stainless.
Before I start, there are dozens of different ways to sharpen a knife. Everyone has a way they think is best, and have all sorts of techniques and tools that they feel are essential in getting a sharp blade. In the end, much of it comes down to personal preference. In this article I present a couple easy, practical ways. With practice you to will develop your own style.
You want to keep your knives sharp. Two things. If a knife looses it's edge you have a much bigger job than just sharpening your knife. The second thing a dull blade proves to be more dangerous than a sharp blade. The chances of accidents are much greater with a dull blades. The message: Keep your blades sharp.
When you get started you will want a rough stock sharpener , the best is diamond, and a finishing sharpener like a Arkansas stone or a ceramic abrasive. These materials are harder than the steel and will cut away the steel on the surface of the blade easily.
When using your knife to cut if it turns to the right or to the left you know that it is time sharpen.
Ceramic and stone/oil
If you are using a steel or ceramic place your knife blade against the tip at a 20 degree angle. Pull the knife down and across the steel with a slight arc. Take the other side of the blade and repeat this action on the back of the steel . Repeat 10 times or until the blades sharpness is sharp.
The important things to remember is keep your 20 degree angle and run the full length of the steel with the full length of the knife. You will see guys do this very quickly. That comes with practice. Speed movement plays no part at all. Slow or fast, you get the same results. With a little practice you will get the hang of it. Don't give up. You will get it.
If the steel does not work you will need to re-align the blade. The edge has dulled from constant using. Now you will need a stone. When using a stone, get a fine medium and coarse stone. You can find stones that have all three grades. A little honing oil will help. If you don't have honing oil a 3 in 1 type oil works in a pinch.
The angle you use on a stones determines that sharpness of the edge. The smaller the angle means the sharper the edge. The shaper the edge the faster a blade needs to be re-sharpened.
Place a little oil on your stone. Pick you angle. Here is the hard part: keeping the angle for 30 to 40 strokes before the new edge is formed. Do this with both sides of your blade. Start with your coarse stone and end with your fine stone. With a little practice you will be pleased with your edge. Don't stroke towards your self, Stroke away and you will never get cut.
If you find this procedure to difficult you may want to try sharpening with a knife sharpening system like a Lansky system. A good knife sharpening system comes with several stones and steels to sharpen. There will be some type of clamping system that will hold the knife at the same angle at all times. This makes sharpening your knife fool proof. Of course the systems are much more expensive than a steel or a stone but they give you a perfect edge.
You can learn to sharpen serrations with a steel. My experience has been a chainsaw sharpener works best. A proper angle for a serrated blade is 20 to 25 degrees.
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