How To: Sharpen a knife

Sharpen a knife

One of the best parts about cooking is feeling the cold, hard steel of your cooking knife in your hand. The sleek skillful edge doesn't stand a change against any delicacy, unless it's dull. A dull knife takes the fun out of cooking and is actually more dangerous than a sharp knife, so take a moment to sharpen and care for your tools.

Step 1: Prepare the whetstone
Prepare the whetstone by spreading a few drops of mineral oil across its surface. If you are using a water stone, soak it in water for 10 to 15 minutes. Place the stone on a non-slip surface for safety.

Mineral oil can be purchased at most drug and hardware stores. Do not substitute another oil, such as vegetable oil, because it will clog the pores on the stone.

Step 2: Position yourself
Stand directly in front of the stone and move about a half of a step to one side. This will allow your dominant hand more room to make safe and accurate sharpening movements. Hold the knife's handle in your dominant hand and gently place the fingers of your non-dominant hand on top of the knife's blade to maintain even weight distribution.

Step 3: Begin sharpening
Place the blade on the stone at a 20 degree angle with the heel of the blade touching the stone. In a curving arc, move the knife steadily across the stone 10 to 20 times. Only move in one direction, not back and forth.

Step 4: Sharpen the other side
Sharpen the other side by turning the stone 45 degrees and using a backhand motion across the stone.

Wipe the residual oil from the knife with a rag to prevent your fingers slipping while sharpening the other side.

Step 5: Use a honing steel
Use a honing steel to remove any small pieces of jagged metal left behind. Hold the knife at a 20 degree angle and sweep it across the steel five or six times in one direction.

Step 6: Sharpen regularly
Use a whetstone to sharpen your knives every two to three months. Your knives and your dinner will thank you for it.

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