Posted by: SWGK Admin on Jun 24, 2011
Whether you’re a knife collector, or just someone who uses knives for personal or even business use, knowing how to properly sharpen a knife can help you save your investment and make your blades last as long as possible while still keeping an edge that cuts what you need it to cut.
Learning how to properly sharpen a knife can make easier work of this task, that many people consider the hardest part of caring for a knife. But it’s so important to making your knife last longer, not to mention easing the frustration of a knife that "won’t cut butter" as my mother used to say.
Various Knives Various Sharpeners
Various knives require different sharpeners. In fact, while many people think that one knife sharpener is good for every knife they own, that’s really not the best way to go. When learning how to properly sharpen a knife, you’ll discover that each different sharpener is known for specific properties and functions and using different one for different jobs only makes sense.
Many Gerber knives feature stainless steel blades in varying thickness and strengths. Because stainless steel is so hard, it can hold a sharp edge for a long time, even under heavy use if you know how to properly sharpen a knife. Always use the best quality sharpener you can afford for your knives. One that features two sides or two surfaces is ideal. The rougher side removes stock and the smoother side finishes the edge. A diamond abrasive for the rough side and a ceramic or other hard stone abrasive for the smooth side are ideal.
As you learn how to properly sharpen a knife, you may wonder how a diamond or ceramic surface could hone a steel blade. It’s because those materials are harder than the steel and actually cut away the imperfections. Other hard stones can also sharpen your knives, but if the stone is barely harder than the blade, you’ll have to work much harder to achieve the same results.
Learning What Not to Do
Learning how to properly sharpen a knife also means learning what not to do. For instance, never use a diamond coated or "pull through" sharpener for keeping a sharp edge on high carbon, molybdenum, or vanadium alloy knives as it’s too strong and can damage the edge. You can use a diamond material for occasional sharpening, not continual maintenance.
The best way to learn how to properly sharpen a knife is to place your blade against the very tip of the sharpener at about a 20 degree angle. Creating a slight arc, pull the blade down and across the sharpener. Repeat for the other side of the blade using the other side of the sharpener. Do this at least five to ten times, sharpening first one side of the blade and then the other. Be sure to keep the angle at 20 degrees and take the entire cutting edge of the blade along the sharpener. Take it slow. The speed doesn’t matter, so opt for accuracy instead.
If your knife blade has become dull from continual use or too much sharpening, a stone will work okay. But you’ll need to learn how to properly sharpen a knife with the stone. The best type grinding stone is a three-way oil stone that offers fine, medium and coarse sharpening edges.
Be sure to keep the angle for 30 or 40 strokes, and more if you need them to form a new edge on the blade. The angle will vary depending on how sharp a blade you want. A smaller angle will produce a sharper blade. Just realize that a sharper edge doesn’t last as long so you’ll have to sharpen your knife more often, especially as you’re just learning how to properly sharpen a knife. But keep at it and you’ll become more adept.