The Chef’s Choice Professional Sharpening Station is the ideal sharpener for all your knives. Read Foodal’s review, and get our take on this great machine.
Introduction to Sharpening Knives
Happily, keeping your kitchen knives in good working order is a straightforward process. They can be sharpened quickly with the aid of a power sharpener, or at a more leisurely pace with the use of sharpening stones, honing steels and strops.
Personally, I like the hands-on approach of stoning and honing – it’s meditative and rewarding, and allows me to contribute to the knife’s personality. Others prefer the dash and slash style – they want a sharp blade as quickly as possible.
Also important is knowing that not all knives cannot be sharpened in the same manner, as the wrong tool can actually cause damage – like using a steel on a Japanese Santoku.
To start, here’s a few notes to get you familiar with the different sharpening techniques.
Sharpening vs. Honing
Sharpening vs. Honing
Maintaining a keen edge involves two distinct but related tasks:
- Sharpening, which is the process of removing metal from the edge to make it thinner and sharper. And,
- Honing, which re-aligns the edge giving it a sharper feel.
To achieve either sharpening or honing, here are some of the more popular tools used.
These require a bit of practice to develop the proper technique for a good angle, but many professionals swear it’s the only sharpener that should touch a blade.
They come in a variety of natural and man-made materials and range in texture from fine to coarse – Arkansas stones, India stones, water stones and diamond stones are popular choices.
Honing Rods or Steels
Using a steel will straighten out an already sharp edge that has rolled or become rounded from hitting bone, a cutting board, or getting bashed about in a utensil drawer. Daily honing will also lengthen the time between sharpening.
- A diamond honing rod will sharpen all types of blades, but it’s actually sharpening the edge, not honing it. As such, they shouldn’t be used for daily maintenance.
- A ceramic honing rod is harder than steel but not as aggressive as a diamond rod, so they can be used on most blades without losing too much material. But, being ceramic, they can chip if dropped.
Using a strop serves the purpose of honing and polishing the edge of a blade. Usually made of a strip of canvas or leather, a strop can also be loaded with diamond paste for a very fine edge or jewellers’ rouge to buff up a lustrous finish.
Electric sharpeners are also popular for at home use. But care needs to be taken as they can remove a good amount of material resulting in a loss of width and an improperly balanced knife.
Also, a knife with a full bolster can be difficult to sharpen with an electric unit.
Which method is best for you? It’s a personal choice, so read up on our posts for each style to help with your decision.
Written by Lorna Kring