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How to Sharpen a Knife (with photos)

By Prof. Steve Holzinger

It has been my experience that brand new knives come factory sharp, which is not as sharp as I want them. Don't ever give your knives to a professional knife sharpener, as one grinding takes years of life off a knife. When I was working as a professional butcher, I rented my knives from the grinder, and they wore out fast...too fast, but time was money. You will do best and safest with what I have been using for twenty years. I use an Eze Lap Diamond Steel sharpener. You can get it from Lamalle. It is a cinch to use and very safe. They are made of DuPont polycrystalline diamonds, bonded to a steel rod. You can use it just like a butchers steel, and it will sharpen and hone the knife at the same time. A butchers steel does not sharpen, it only aligns the microscopic saw teeth of the edge. Using an EzeLap, you want to use a flatter angle than with a steel, 7-10 degrees instead of the conventional 20 degree angle. This will produce an edge that is more durable and quicker to restore. The long convex radius edge produced "just keeps on goin."

Here is an easy and safe way that I have taught my students. First, I use a felt tip magic marker with water soluble ink to mark the blade all along the edge, about 1/4 inch wide. Then, I hold the knife securely in my left hand, resting the tip of the knife firmly on a cutting board. at a 45 degree angle. The sharp edge of the knife is away from me. Then I hold the EzeLap Steel in my right hand at a 7-10 degree angle (that's fairly flat) and with a circular motion of the steel, work my way round and round, down the blade to the tip. As I work, I can see the ink vanishing right down to the cutting edge, which I want to be about 1/16th of an inch, evenly. If it is not, then it is a cinch to adjust your work by changing the angle of sharpening. Soon as all the ink is removed, lighten up on your circular stroke to smooth the cutting edge. Then, turn it over and do the other side. This works very well on brand new factory sharp blades as well as knives that are in continuous work. Then, as I work, I use the EzeLap as I would a steel, any time I feel the knife dragging the least little bit. This gives me smooth clean professional looking cuts with no laddering or tearing of the meat. What is more, EzeLap maintains a help line, 1-800 843-4815 where a friendly, knowledgeable person will answer your questions about sharpening your knives.

 

How to Sharpen a Knife: Steps

Step 1

1. Use a felt tip magic marker with water soluble ink to mark the blade all along the edge, about 1/4 inch wide.

Step 2

2. Hold the knife securely in your left hand, resting the tip of the knife firmly on a cutting board. at a 45 degree angle. The sharp edge of the knife is away from you.

Step 3

3. Then hold the EzeLap Steel in your right hand at a 7-10 degree angle (that's fairly flat) and with a circular motion of the steel, work your way round and round, down the blade to the tip. As you work, you can see the ink vanishing right down to the cutting edge, which you want to be about 1/16th of an inch, evenly. If it is not, then it is a cinch to adjust your work by changing the angle of sharpening.

Step 4

4. Soon as all the ink is removed, lighten up on your circular stroke to smooth the cutting edge.

Step 5

5. Then, turn it over and do the other side. This works very well on brand new factory sharp blades as well as knives that are in continuous work.

Step 6

6. Then, as you work, use the EzeLap as you would a steel, any time you feel the knife dragging the least little bit. This gives you smooth clean professional looking cuts with no laddering or tearing of the meat.

 

My Kingdom for a Knife: All About Knives

Shop for Sharpening Tools

Shop for Knives

All About Knives and Carving

 

©1996, Steve K. Holzinger. All rights reserved.

 
Kitchen Gypsy

 

This page modified February 2007


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