Expert Tips

How To Sharpen A Knife

The Best Way to Sharpen a Knife

Ready to carve that gorgeous steak, but wondering if you need to sharpen your knife? A sharp knife is the key to properly carving a steak, roast or any cut of meat. It's also critical to your safety. A knife with a dull edge slips against any surface more easily, inviting unpleasant accidents and perhaps a trip to the emergency room.

Everyday use can dull a knife quickly, but it is easy to maintain a good sharp edge by "steeling" — also called "honing" — the blade with a sharpening steel.

Contrary to popular belief, the purpose of steeling your knife is not to sharpen it. Sharpening a knife actually removes metal from the blade to create an entirely new edge and is best done by a skilled professional

Steeling a knife restores its edge by getting it to "stand up straight" again. Every time you use a knife the sharp edge of the blade gets bent a little bit to the left or right. After just a few uses the sharp edge of your knife is completely curled over and your knife will seem very dull. Steeling a knife is a fast, easy way to get that sharp edge back to work.

To steel a knife simply follow these tips and follow the illustrations below. You'll be amazed at the difference it makes when you cut into that beautiful steak.

Steel A Knife - Step 1
  • 1

    Make sure your knife, the sharpening steel and your hands are dry; any dampness can make it easier for the blade to slip.

    Relax; you want to maintain a firm - but not too tight - grip on both the sharpening steel and the handle of your knife.

    Take your time! Hurrying only invites accidents.

Steel A Knife - Step 2
  • 2

    Hold the sharpening steel with a firm grip at arms' length in front of you.

    Hold your knife firmly by the handle with the edge of the blade facing away from you and the tip pointing upward.

Steel A Knife - Step 3
  • 3

    Hold your knife IN FRONT of the steel. Lay the sharp edge of the blade against the sharpening steel, then lift the back edge of the blade upward away from the steel, creating a 20° angle between the edge of the blade and the steel.

  • 4

    Slide the edge of the blade against the steel, moving from the widest end of the blade to the point; be sure to move your arm from the shoulder, not your elbow or wrist.

    Now, to hone the other side of the edge of the blade, hold your knife BEHIND the steel, recreate that 20° angle between the edge of the blade and the steel and slide your knife against the steel as before.

  • 5

    Repeat this process 10-20 times. Test the edge of your knife against the edge of a piece of paper. If your knife easily cuts thin ribbons, it's good to go.

    Be sure to steel your knives regularly. Many cooks steel their knives before every use.

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