The Importance of a Sharp Knife: How to Sharpen Your Kitchen Knives

The Importance of a Sharp Knife: How to Sharpen Your Kitchen Knives

Have you ever struggled to cut through food because your knife isn't sharp enough? Dull knives are frustrating to use but also dangerous, causing slips and accidents. This article will discuss the best way to sharpen knives with a step-by-step guide. The difference between a dull and sharp knife is night and day - a sharp knife effortlessly glides through food, while a dull knife struggles to cut through even the softest ingredients. A sharp knife also boosts safety and efficiency in the kitchen, and it can save you time and effort while preparing your meals, making the process much more enjoyable. With this guide, you'll learn how to identify a dull knife and get guidance on what to do next. We'll also cover topics like 'how to use a whetstone' and 'how to sharpen a knife with a rod' to help you achieve that perfect edge on your blade. So, if you're ready to say goodbye to dull knives and hello to effortless and efficient food prep, let's dive into the world of knife sharpening together!

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Frequently Asked Questions

How to sharpen knives with a stone?

To sharpen knives with a stone, first, soak the stone in water for a few minutes, then hold the knife at the right angle, draw it along the stone, starting from the base to the tip, and repeat on the other side until the blade is sharp.

How to sharpen a bread knife?

To sharpen a bread knife, you can use a serrated knife sharpener or a round sharpening rod, gently drawing the blade back and forth through the sharpener or the rod until the serrations are sharpened.

How to sharpen a serrated knife?

Sharpening a serrated knife is easy to achieve with a serrated knife sharpener or a round sharpening rod. Gently draw the sharpener or the rod through the serrations at the same angle as the bevel on the serrated knife until they are sharpened.

Top 4 signs you're using a dull knife

Using a dull knife can be frustrating, even dangerous, in the kitchen. Here are some top signs that your blade needs sharpening.

Difficulty Cutting

A dull knife will struggle to cut through food, especially tougher ingredients like meat, root vegetables, or crusty bread. For example, if you're cutting a tomato, the knife will squish the fruit instead of slicing it cleanly.

Squished Food

It can cause soft or delicate food items to get squished or crushed, making it challenging to present them attractively. For example, when cutting herbs like basil or parsley, a dull knife will bruise and crush the leaves rather than cleanly slicing them, resulting in an unappetising appearance.

Uneven Slices

This can make it challenging to cook ingredients uniformly. For instance, if you're slicing meat for a stir-fry, a dull knife will make some pieces thicker than others, making the cooking process inconsistent and resulting in an unevenly cooked dish.

Jagged Edges

You'll see jagged edges on food items like fruits, vegetables, or cheese, making them look unsightly and unprofessional. For example, when cutting a block of cheese, a dull knife will make it difficult to achieve clean and even slices, resulting in jagged and uneven edges.

Knowing how to sharpen a knife is essential, ensuring your food prep is efficient and your presentation attractive.

5 Reasons your kitchen knives might be dull

Here are five common reasons why your kitchen knives might be dull:

  1. Poor Cutting Surface: A dull knife can result from using a cutting surface that is too hard or soft. Cutting on a hard surface like ceramic, glass, or metal can damage the knife's edge, while a smooth surface like a plastic or wooden board can dull the blade.
  2. Incorrect Storage: Storing your knives incorrectly can prevent them from becoming dull. Knives jumbled together in a drawer or left loose in a utensil holder can rub against each other, causing the blade's edge to get worn out. Scroll to our knife storage ideas section to learn the proper storage method.
  3. Lack of Maintenance: Remembering to maintain your knives can prevent them from becoming dull. Regular maintenance includes honing the blade with a honing rod or using a whetstone to keep the edge sharp.
  4. Using the Wrong Knife: Using the wrong knife for a task can cause the blade to become dull quickly. For example, using a serrated bread knife to chop vegetables will cause the edge to become dull quickly, as it is not designed for this type of task.
  5. Improper Use: Incorrect use of a knife can cause the blade to become dull quickly. For example, using a knife to scrape food off a cutting board or using it to cut through frozen food can cause the blade to become damaged and dull.

Avoiding these common mistakes can help keep your kitchen knives sharp and efficient. Over the following few sections of our sharpening guide, we'll discuss the best ways to sharpen your knives, including how to use a whetstone, honing rod, and knife sharpener.

How to sharpen knives and hone them the right way?

Many assume that sharpening a kitchen knife involves expensive equipment and professional skills. In reality, anyone can use simple techniques to sharpen and maintain their kitchen knives.

Sharpening vs honing

Sharpening vs Honing Knives

While sharpening and honing are often used interchangeably, they refer to two different processes of maintaining a knife's edge. Here are the critical differences between sharpening and honing:


  • Removes metal from the blade to create a new edge or restore a damaged edge
  • Uses tools such as a whetstone, electric sharpener, or manual sharpener to grind away the dull edge
  • Requires a more significant amount of metal to be removed, making it a less frequent process than honing
  • Should be done only when the knife's edge is dull or damaged beyond honing
  • Creates a sharper, more aggressive edge that is ideal for tasks such as slicing or chopping


  • Straightens the blade's edge without removing any metal
  • Uses honing steel or rod to realign the edge and improve its sharpness
  • Can be done more frequently than sharpening to maintain the edge's sharpness
  • Should be done regularly to keep the knife's edge in good condition
  • Creates a smoother edge that is ideal for tasks such as filleting or delicate slicing.

Sharpening guide - how to use a whetstone

Sharpening Knives With A Whetstone

Sharpening a knife with a whetstone can seem intimidating. We'll break down the steps so it becomes an easy and effective way for you to maintain your kitchen knives. Let's start with the main materials you need to get started.

  • Whetstone: A sharpening stone made from natural or synthetic materials.
  • A container of water: Used to soak the whetstone and keep it moist while sharpening.
  • A towel or cloth: Wipe down the blade and whetstone after sharpening.
  • Your dull knife: That needs sharpening.

Step 1

Soak the whetstone in water for about 10-15 minutes, or follow the manufacturer's instructions for your particular stone. This allows the stone to absorb moisture and prevent the blade from overheating during sharpening.

Step 2

Place the whetstone on a non-slip surface, such as a damp towel or a whetstone holder, to prevent it from moving while sharpening the knife.

Step 3

Hold the knife's handle firmly with your dominant hand and place the blade's edge against the whetstone at a 20-degree angle. Be sure to position the blade so that the entire edge makes contact with the stone.

Step 4

Using light pressure, slide the blade down the whetstone from the base of the blade to the tip. Remember to maintain a consistent angle throughout the sharpening process. A sharpening guide can be helpful for beginners who still need to become familiar with the correct angle.

Step 5

Repeat this process several times, alternating sides of the blade. Be sure to apply equal pressure to both sides of the blade to maintain its symmetry.

Step 6

After a few passes, turn the whetstone over to the finer grit side and repeat the same process on both sides of the blade. The finer grit side will help to refine the edge and remove any remaining burrs. The coarse grit side of the whetstone works for dull or damaged blades, and the finer grit side works for regular maintenance and touch-ups.

Step 7

Wondering how to hone a knife once you've finished sharpening the blade? Use honing steel or strop to remove any remaining burrs or imperfections from the edge. This step helps create a sharp, polished edge ready for use.

Step 8

Wipe the blade with a damp cloth or towel to remove any metal shavings after sharpening. This will prevent them from contaminating your food or getting embedded in your cutting board.

Step 9

Test the blade's sharpness by cutting through a piece of paper or slicing a tomato. If the knife is still dull, repeat the sharpening process.

With a bit of practice, you can sharpen your knife using a whetstone and maintain its edge for all your kitchen tasks. With time, you'll be able to do this quickly and easily and enjoy the benefits of a sharp blade every time you cook. Now that we've explored the technique of sharpening knives with a stone, let's explore using other sharpening methods.

How to sharpen a knife with a sharpener?

Sharpening a knife is an essential skill for any home cook, and using a knife sharpener is yet another way to achieve it. There are two types of knife sharpeners available - manual and electric. Manual sharpeners, like sharpening steels, require you to run the knife through the sharpening slots. In contrast, electric sharpeners operate on their own. Here are the steps on how to sharpen your knife:

  • Read the instructions: Always read the manual carefully before using a manual or electric knife sharpener.
  • Prepare the sharpener: Place it on a stable surface and hold it with your non-dominant hand.
  • Select the correct slot: Most manual and electric sharpeners have two or three slots with varying levels of abrasiveness. Please select the right slot for your knife based on its level of dullness.
  • Run the knife through the slot: Hold the knife handle with your dominant hand, and using a 20-degree angle, run the blade through the slot, pulling towards yourself. Repeat this step several times on each side of the edge.
  • Test the sharpness: Check the sharpness of your knife by slicing through a piece of paper or a tomato.

Note: While using an electric knife sharpener, maintain a steady grip on the knife and do not apply too much pressure, as it can damage the blade.

How to hone a knife

Maintaining a knife edge is essential to keep your knives performing optimally. Honing is an effective technique to keep your blades holding their edge. A honing rod, or honing steel, is the popular tool of choice. It's a long, slender steel rod with a handle at one end. Here's how to use it:

  • Hold the honing rod vertically with the tip on a stable surface and the handle pointing upward.
  • Then grab the knife handle with your dominant hand and place the blade at the base of the honing rod.
  • At a 20-degree angle, draw the blade down the honing rod in a sweeping motion, starting from the base to the tip.
  • Repeat the process on the other side of the blade.
  • Honing does not sharpen the knife but realigns the blade's edge, straightening out any tiny bends or deformations.
  • A honing rod is made of ceramic, diamond, or steel. Choose one that matches the hardness of your knife's blade.
  • Always clean and dry your honing rod after use, and store it safely to prevent it from getting damaged.

10 Knife storage ideas

Proper storage is essential to maintaining the quality of your kitchen knives. Here are ten tips to keep in mind for the best ways to store your knives:

  • Choose a dedicated knife block or magnetic strip. This will keep your knives organised and within easy reach while protecting their blades.
  • Avoid storing your knives loose in a drawer. This can lead to blade damage and can also be dangerous.
  • Keep your knives dry to prevent rust and other forms of corrosion. Dry them with a cloth after use and before storing them.
  • Store knives in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Exposure to heat and light can damage the blade and handle materials.
  • Keep your knives in a safe place out of the reach of children. Store them high up or in a locked cabinet.
  • Use blade guards or sheaths to protect the blade from scratches and other forms of damage.
  • Avoid storing your knives in a damp or humid environment. This can lead to rust and corrosion.
  • Do not place your knives in a dishwasher. The harsh detergents and high water pressure can damage the blade and handle materials.
  • Store your knives with the blade facing downward. It will prevent the blade from coming into contact with other objects and help maintain its edge.
  • Do not overcrowd your knife block or magnetic strip. It can lead to the blades rubbing against each other, causing damage.

These tips will help keep your kitchen knives in top condition. A well-maintained set not only makes meal preparation more efficient but also makes cooking an enjoyable experience.

The best way to sharpen knives

Maintaining your kitchen knives is essential to their longevity and ensuring they work efficiently in the kitchen. Regularly sharpening and honing your knives and storing them properly can help prevent damage, rust, and dullness. A well-maintained knife will make meal preparation easier and safer. To learn more about kitchen essentials and organisation tips, refer to our Hub. And if you're looking for the best tools for your kitchen, browse our complete range of knives on Harris Scarfe to find the perfect fit for your home. Keep your blades sharp and your meals delicious!