Sharpening Knives

I'm doing some research on sharpening knives and wanted to get the input of fellow Food52ers. We're currently using an Arkansas Stone, which we like very much and have been using for a few years. However, I know that every knife-lover has his or her favorite method and tool. Some argue that Japanese water stones are best, while others swear by a sharpening steel. What are your opinions on the best way to sharpen knives?



PazzoNico August 1, 2013
For the record, steels are NOT meant to sharpen knives; they hone/align the blade. It removes no metal and therefore can (and should) be used before and after using your knife on a daily basis; it keeps the edge "straight". But a honing steel is of no use whatsoever to a dull knife. A whetstone is my preferred sharpening method. I sharpen my knives bi-weekly because I use them so much at work. But for home use only, knives should only need to sharpened maybe once a month and (again) honed daily.
ChefOno August 1, 2013

This piece should answer most if not all of your questions including what a steel is properly used for:

bigpan August 1, 2013
If this is all too frightening to you, take your knives to your local butcher. Have him sharpen them for you and teach you how to use a knife steel to keep the edge.
Declan August 1, 2013
Stone is a great tool, but only required after neglecting to use a steel periodically. The real trick is to NEVER allow someone else to sharpen your knife. Their "tilt" on either a steel or a stone will inevitably differ from yours, and thus, dull your blade. Every time!
petitbleu August 1, 2013
Thanks for the responses. As I noted, I'm partial to the stone, but I keep seeing things like "Steels are the best things for sharpening knives" with no explanation as to why they're better. I was just hoping for some reasoned opinions on why you use what you use to sharpen knives. And thanks for the book recommendation, Pierino. I'll definitely check that out.
JanetFL July 31, 2013
I hit enter too quickly- he prefers to use a sharpening steel.
JanetFL July 31, 2013
I use my husband - #1 knife sharpener!
pierino July 31, 2013
This question came up quite recently on Hotline so you might want to look that up. Because I own a lot of knives I use a number of tools primarily now an electric three stage sharpener similar to this one Check out the video.
I also use a whetstone for smaller knives. Whatever method you use, to actually sharpen knives you are removing metal from the blade. That's just a fact of life.
To Sam's point, the bevel on Asian knives is different hence the right hand, left hand thing. You can still sharpen them with a pro-level electric machine, you just use one side of the slot.
Worth reading; THE PROFESSIONAL CHEF'S KNIFE KIT from CIA, published by Wiley.
Sam1148 July 31, 2013
Check your local cookware stores. Some have classes or offer sharpening services. As much as I'd love to really get into all the type of knives and blade edges available today...Go to a class or have them professtionally sharpened. All the Issues you mentioned would be covered in a lecture at a local store...My issue is that I really don't know how to manually sharpen my 'so called' santoku they're American made and seem to refer to style of the knife than the blade side sharpness (which are usually left or right handed...which complicates things even further) while the american santoku are ground to 'either hand' left or right.
See; it's confusing. I need to go one of the classes.
AniQuadros July 31, 2013
The sharpening stone, is the best way.
Recommended by Food52