How To Sharpen A Knife

How Do I Sharpen A Knife?

Years ago, everyone knew how to sharpen a knife. This skill that isn’t as commonplace as it used to be. Many people do not have the knowledge to sharpen a knife or they over complicate it.  So, they buy a whetstone, try to sharpen a knife and it either doesn’t work or they make it worse. The next thing you see is all the gadgets. There are all kinds of “knife sharpening grinders, sharpening jigs, etc.” on the market and there are several that work quite well and many that don’t. Many either just grind away your great knife, scratch the blade, are too complicated for your standard user, or do little or nothing at all. But not all gadgets are bad and there are several that do work.

The simplest method is to use a whetstone to sharpen your knife. This is a tried and true method that has been used for centuries and still works very well. There is a great book that explains all about sharpening, is easy to understand, and inexpensive.  It’s The Razor Edge Book of Sharpening by John Juranitch.

Now, if you do not want to learn how to sharpen using stones and the like there are several tools that can do the work for you. My personal favorite is the Work Sharp Ken Onion Knife and Tool Sharpener available on Amazon. It’s simple, easy, and fast. It puts a razor sharp edge on knives, tools, etc. There are several “versions” of this tool available. I cannot speak for the cheaper versions. One hint with the Ken Onion – Put a piece of tape lengthwise on the blade. Don’t cover the area that you are sharpening, just the top and middle areas. This will prevent a piece of grit from scratching your blade.

Angle of the Dangle

Knife edge angles are not overly complicated. For kitchen knives a 20 degree angle on the cutting edge is a good rule of thumb. While a hunting knife would generally benefit from a 25 degree angle. Can there be variations on this, of course, these are just guidelines.

Generally the larger the angle the “tougher” the edge. Your hunting knife edge is subject to more abuse than your kitchen knife. So a larger angle means it has a thicker edge and can withstand more “abuse”. With a larger angle you do lose the ability to have a super sharp edge, but don’t worry it is still plenty sharp. However, a kitchen knife with a 20 degree angle will be a sharper blade but its edge won’t be as tough. Make sense? 

I cannot stress enough to be careful when you are sharpening your knife. All it takes in one slip and you have scratched your blade. I have seen many blades where “my best buddy, nephew, whatever” who is supposedly a “sharpening expert” and proceeds to leave scratches all over the knife. Generally once you have scratched the blade, that scratch isn’t going to come out. 

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