Anyone who likes cooking knows that you need more than just one kind of knife in your kitchen.
However, if you can only get one right now, it will probably be the chef’s knife.
Since you’d be using a chef’s knife more than the others, you must sharpen it regularly.
That said, how often should you sharpen a chef’s knife? Is it possible to over-sharpen one?
These are just some of the questions we’ll answer today.
- What’s the Difference Between Honing and Sharpening?
- Which Tools Are Used to Sharpen and Hone Knives?
- How Often Should You Sharpen a Chef’s Knife?
- How Do You Hone a Chef’s Knife?
- What Is the Best Sharpening Method for a Chef’s Knife?
- Honing + Sharpening!
What’s the Difference Between Honing and Sharpening?
There are two techniques to create an edge on your knives: honing and sharpening.
These terms are often interchanged, but they are not the same.
Honing is when you realign the blade of your knife and straighten its edge.
What honing does is remove burrs and shape the dull edge to create a beveled tip.
In comparison, sharpening a knife means creating a new edge by grinding down the blade’s metal.
As such, you will find that frequent sharpening will wear your knives faster.
That said, a chef’s knife only needs regular honing and not sharpening.
Which Tools Are Used to Sharpen and Hone Knives?
If you’re new to taking care of knives, you probably don’t know that there are different tools you can use to sharpen them.
More often than not, your choice of tool will depend on your preference and the kind of knife you’re working on.
To give you an idea, here are the four most common knife sharpeners:
Sharpening steels are technically honing rods. You will see chefs using this tool before and after using their knives.
They vary on the blade shape, the cut type, and materials.
If you want a lighter hone on your blade, choose a rod with a fine, smooth, or spiral cut.
Look for regular, diamond, or combination cut types for a heavier hone.
The most common sharpening steel you will find has a round blade or rods. It is also the easiest and the fastest type to use.
Sharpening steels with oval blades provide more honing surface area but are a little complicated to use, slowing down the process for newbies.
A steel honing rod is easier to handle, making it ideal for daily use.
It only removes a small amount of material but is not suitable for very blunt knives.
In comparison, ceramic sharpening steel offers speed and efficiency by removing a significant amount of material.
However, the rough blade, combined with the wrong honing technique, will only harm your knife’s edge.
Lastly, the diamond-coated sharpening rod has the same effect as ceramic types, but its coating wears down quickly.
Sharpening stones or whetstones are ideal for very dull knives.
To use it, you simply slide your knife’s edge at different angles against it to expose a new layer of the blade.
You can also use sharpening stones to bring out an edge to odd blades, like scissors and razors.
On a side note, fine grit sandpapers are also ideal for sharpening scissors using the same technique as you would with whetstones.
Manual Knife Sharpeners
Manual knife sharpeners are more affordable than their electric counterparts.
The best thing about them is that they provide you with an easy option to sharpen your knives.
Electric Knife Sharpeners
Electric sharpeners offer you the convenience of sharpening your knives quicker.
However, some say you won’t have much control when using one, especially when compared to manual sharpening.
How Often Should You Sharpen a Chef’s Knife?
Working with a blunt knife is more dangerous than using a cutting tool with a razor-sharp blade.
You can prevent this from happening by sharpening it regularly.
Generally, a chef’s knife must undergo professional sharpening one to two times a year.
Still, there are other factors that you need to consider to determine if this frequency is enough.
How do you know if you have a dull knife?
Try slicing a tomato if you are unsure if it’s time to sharpen your chef’s knife.
Yes, you read that right. That is how most cooks test their knives.
If you can’t break the skin of a tomato without a struggle, you better head off to a professional and hand over your chef’s knife.
You can also try the paper test, which is done by slicing the paper in a downward motion.
If the knife glides down smoothly, then it is sharp.
On the other hand, how often you hone your chef’s knife is entirely different from sharpening.
In a regular home setting, try honing your knives once or twice weekly to align the edge of your sharpened blades.
How Do You Hone a Chef’s Knife?
Some knife sets come with sharpening steels, though they are not sharpeners but honing tools that align your knife’s blade.
It is inevitable for your knife’s edge to dull through constant use. That’s where the honing steel comes in.
Here are practical steps to follow when honing knives:
Step 1: Stabilize the honing rod by placing its tip on a towel on the countertop.
Step 2: Ensure that the honing rod is steady and positioned at 90 degrees from the countertop.
Step 3: Angle the knife’s edge to the rod at around 20 to 30 degrees, widening out as you proceed.
Step 4: Make a slow and gentle pressure on the rod to check the edge and see results.
What Is the Best Sharpening Method for a Chef’s Knife?
Most professional chefs suggest two different whetstones when sharpening a chef’s knife.
You will want to use one with a heavy grit and another with a light grit.
Start with the whetstone with heavy grit if you have a dull knife. Then, move on to the lighter grit when the edge starts to feel sharp.
The whetstone with the finer grit will help polish the edge of your knife.
Once you have achieved your desired sharpness, wash the knife to remove the dirt from the whetstone.
Honing + Sharpening!
How often should you sharpen a chef’s knife? As mentioned, a regular frequency would be once or twice a year.
However, you need to regularly hone the blades with a sharpening rod, at least every two weeks, depending on your knife’s usage.
Doing the tomato or paper test will let you know if it’s time to sharpen the knife or a few passes on a sharpening rod will do.