Knife Sharpening 101
When using or owning a knife, the most common question asked is, "How do I sharpen a knife". Simply put, you need to know how to sharpen a knife, and do it easily and cheaply. Even the best knives most their edge with use. Also, a sharp knife cuts better than a blunt one, and reduces the risk of you cutting yourself when using pressure to cut using a blunt knife. There are many different ways to sharpen a knife, some easy and cheap, yet others more expensive but longer lasting.
The basic principle of sharpening knives is removing metal from the body to the edge of the blade for both sides to create a fine and sharp edge. This can be done by dragging the blade across a rough surface (ie sharpening stone) at a 30 degree angle.
Methods to sharpen knives:
- Stone sharpening (Wet/Dry/Oil)
- Sharpening Systems
- Convex sharpening/Stropping
- Paper wheels
- Stone grinders
There are different methods used to sharpen knives with different edge, so pick one that suits your knife, your sharpening ability and your budget. Be it a dedicated sharpening system, a simple strop for a convex edge, or good old diamond stone sharpening, be sure to check out knife forums and in depth user reviews before committing your money to one.
Almost all sharpening methods rely on "grit". A coarse grit stone is useful for fixing chips on the blade, or to repair a damaged edge. Finer grits are used for polishing and touching up already-sharp edges. Note that if you start to sharpen a knife with a fine grit (instead of progressive grits) it will get the job done, just that a longer time will be spent. Start with coarse grits and work your way up to finer ones to get a nice polished and scary sharp edge.