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How to Sharpen Knives

Knife Steel



Knife Sharpening
Made Easy

Caring For Knives

Our company has been Selling, Designing, Manufacturing and Sharpening knives since the early '80s and the following comes from that background.

NB: Sharp knives work far better than blunt ones, but always remember a sharp knife should be handled with care and respect at all times. All sharpening is inherently dangerous. BE ALERT and never attempt to sharpen if you do not have full command of your mental and physical faculties

Rule 1

    Start with a good quality knife

No matter how good you are at sharpening, a poor quality steel blade will never take or keep a good edge.

Eventually all knives go blunt and you will have to remove metal to bring the edge back to peak sharpness.

    We recommend diamond coated steels, plates & hones

Diamond sharpening equipment is relatively new to the market and works incredibly well. It is produced by bonding industrial diamonds to a metal back. The diamonds are very hard and give many years service with normal use.

Compared to traditional sharpening stones they are around 5 times faster in similar sharpening operations. This means that it takes a fraction of the time to sharpen a knife compared to getting out the old oil stone. Diamonds, unlike oil stones, do not hollow with use.

NOTE: Diamond sharpening equipment can be used dry or with a little water. Regular washing in warm soapy water will unclog the sharpener.

Diamond Hones, The simple and Effective Way to Sharpen

Diamond Hone

The grey section on the end of a hone is a precision ground steel plate which is covered with industrial diamonds. This "pad" is rubbed along the blade edge in a similar way to how you may use a tooth brush to clean the edge. To get a keen edge, use the following system.

  1. Hold the knife firmly by its handle, rest its blade on the edge of a desk or table if this is of assistance.
  2. Lay the hone flat on the side of the knife, over hanging the edge.
  3. Raise the handle so that the hone is no longer lying on the blade.
      An angle of around 8 degrees between the blade and hone is usual (does not need to be exact).
      The flatter the angle, the sharper the knife.
  4. Rub the hone along the blade (straight or in circles)
  5. The greater the pressure, the faster the knife will sharpen
  6. Frequently change sides to ensure the knife is sharpened equally
  7. Continue until the knife is sharpened to your satisfaction
  8. Finish with a few very light strokes to polish the edge and remove any "feather".

NOTE: To do a quick check on how well you are sharpening, try this;

    Get a marker pen (any colour)
    Colour in along the edge of the blade (careful of your fingers)
    The colour should go from the cutting edge back around 5mm
    Now use the hone
    You should be removing marker right from the edge back around 1/2 mm
    Any less and your angle is too high
    Any more and your angle is too flat
USING DIAMOND STEELS

Diamond stick

Use a diamond steel in the same way as you may have been taught to use a "butchers" or "normal" steel, only remember that you are removing steel with each stroke.
To use a steel, 3 points apply

  1. Make sure you run the whole knife down the steel, some people only run the middle of the knife on the steel thus creating a hollow in the centre.
  2. Maintain firm, even pressure between the knife and the steel (speed does not help).
  3. Make sure you are actually working on the sharp edge of the knife; Get a felt tip pen and colour in the edge of the knife, right from the edge, back about 5mm. When you stroke the steel with the knife, you should be removing pen right from the edge back about 1/2 to 1 millimetre.

Demo

OR

Demo

Use a diamond plate in the same way people use a sharpening or oil stone;

Diamond Plate

    Place the plate somewhere where it won't move around - in a vice, on a rubber mat, etc.
    Lay your knife flat on the pad then raise the back a little.
    Rub the knife on the pad in either stroking or circular motion.
    As with the steel, use a marking pen to ensure you are working on the edge.
    Frequently change sides so that both sides are sharpened evenly.
    Remember it is firm even pressure that does the trick, not speed.

Diamond pads come in various grits, what do I need ?

    For normal use on knives, 600 grit is ideal, however, the following table may be of interest;
      1200 grit - Superfine For professional finishing of cutting edges
      600 grit - Fine For normal use on kitchen and working knives
      400 grit - Medium For major reshaping or equipment such a lawnmower blades
      250 grit - Coarse For filing and other engineering applications
      150 grit - Extra Coarse
    To assist in keeping a good edge on a knife you can regularly use a normal or butchers steel
      Note, I have not said TO SHARPEN a knife, a steel only re-aligns an edge (it is not abrasive)

    A steel is simply a very hard rod of metal, much harder than your knives. When you run your knife across it, it straightens out all the little dings, scratches and nicks that form in the blade with normal use.

    Back to Sharpening

    Some FAQs

    Do steels wear out ?

    Answer
    Normally when people say that their "steel is blunt", what they are actually seeing is that they can no longer bring their knife back to its former razor sharpness.
    Steels do not "sharpen" in that they do not remove metal and so when you can no longer bring back that razor edge, it is time to get out the diamond sharpening gear.
    Steels do not wear out in the way most people think they do. A steel does not need to be rough to do its job, just hard. Most often when people say that their steel is not working, they are really saying that the knife is now blunt and needs to be sharpened.
    Many users notice that as the steel becomes smooth it works better. Quality steels work well after 100 or more years of work.

    How often should I use a steel ?

    Answer
    The more often you use a steel, the sharper your knife will stay, so we recommend that you use it each time you use your knives. Just 6 to 12 strokes either side will do the job nicely.

    Now to sharpening

    Caring For Knives

    Start with Quality

    You will never get good service out of a poor quality knife, no matter how well you maintain it. The most important thing to start with is good quality steel. This costs money, but soft and poor quality steel will not keep a good edge.

    Use Your Knife as the Maker Intended

    Knives are not meant to be used as axes, choppers, levers or screwdrivers. Knives are for cutting.

    Always keep your knife clean

    Creating a steel that will cut well over a long period of time without rusting is a very unique challenge. A knife without a sharp edge has little value and yet the very component that allows a knife blade to be hard (so that it will maintain an edge) makes it more susceptible to rust or corrosion.

    The component that allows steel to be hardened is carbon - the same carbon as in your lead pencil.

    The carbon in the steel reduces some resistance to corrosion as well as providing a tough cutting edge.

    A dirty or wet knife encourages rust to form and so it is important to keep your knife clean and dry especially when storing it for any period of time.

    Store knives in a way that protects the blade

    Knives are made for cutting, so keep them in a way that protects the blade

    Store knives in a wooden block or on a magnetic rack or in some other way so that the blades are protected from other knives or metal utensils. If you wish to store knives in a drawer, leave them in a plastic or cardboard sleeve to protect both your hands from the blade and the blade from other pieces of steel.

    Do not use marble, glass or other stone or hard chopping boards. If the board is not marking when you cut on it, the knife blade is probably being damaged. You would never rub your knives straight across a sharpening stone, it would very quickly damage the blade. Well a marble, glass or similar chopping board is just as bad for your knives

    We recommend wood or polypropylene chopping boards.

    Always keep your knife sharp

    The longer a knife goes without edge maintenance, the more difficult resharpening becomes. Regular use of a steel maintains a good edge, use of diamond sharpening equipment will bring back the edge when it gets blunt.