Use a Handheld Sharpener On Kitchen Knives
Most of the time you don’t need a power tool or an expensive knife-sharpening system to keep a workable edge on your kitchen knives. Regular use of a handheld sharpener is fine. This Wusthof sharpener costs $20 and works great. Other brands may work equally well, but we haven’t tried them. This sharpener has carbide steel rods to shape the blade, and diamond rods to finish the edge. Follow the instructions to quickly sharpen kitchen knives that have standard beveled edges. You’ll have to use another sharpening tool if your knives have unusual or asymmetrical angles.
Sharpen Serrated Knives With a Diamond Sharpening Steel
When using a diamond steel to sharpen a serrated knife, the curve of the steel has to fit the scallops on the knife. Take your knife to a cookware store and find a diamond-coated steel (about $30) that matches the scallop size on your knife. If you’re shopping online, you can find the diameter you need by holding drill bits against the scallops. Then use this dimension to order the right diameter sharpener. Another option is to buy a tapered, pocket-size diamond steel that accommodates a variety of different scallop sizes.
Notice that one side of the blade is flat and the other tapered. Sharpen only the tapered side. Starting at one end, sharpen each scallop with two or three strokes, matching the original angle. When you’re done, run the knife through corrugated cardboard to remove metal filings.
Touch Up a Knive With a Honing Steel
You’ve probably seen chefs on cooking shows brandishing a knife and a steel like a samurai swordsman and thought it was just for pros. But a honing steel isn’t hard to use and is perfect for restoring a sharp cutting edge to your knives. You can’t fully restore a dull blade with a steel, but you’ll be surprised how quickly you can take a slightly dulled edge to almost razor-sharpness with just a few strokes.
The safest method for using a steel is to rest the tip on a surface that’s not too slippery, like a wooden cutting board. Then pull the knife down and across, alternating sides. Keep the knife at about a 25-degree angle so you’re just tuning up the edge. The steel doesn’t actually sharpen. It simply straightens out the wavy edge so the knife slices through material better. Eventually you’ll have to resharpen the knife, but for between-sharpening tune-ups, you can’t beat a steel. You can buy a steel wherever good knives are sold.