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Adam Pash

Keeping your knives sharp isn't just convenient; it's safe. Any chef will tell you that dull knives cause accidents. But how to keep your blades sharp without calling in the neighborhood knife sharpener or taking them into the local butcher (which is a perfectly good place to start, by the way)? The DIY experts at Stack Exchange have your answer(s).

Photo by Stack Exchange .


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I have a sharpening stone like the one seen to the right, but I'm not certain how to use it. A few questions:

- What is the proper way to sharpen a knife with a stone like this?

- Do I need any other tools?

- Do I need any protective equipment?

- Do I have to use some type of oil?

- Is it better to go fast, or slow?

- Is the procedure different with a knife that has never been sharpened before?

- Do I have to do anything different if the blade has rust on it?

- How do I know when the knife is sharp?

Tester101 (originally asked )

It is very hard to describe knife sharpening via text. I'd recommend searching out a few YouTube videos for tips on technique. That said, here's my two cents:

What is the proper way to sharpen a knife with a stone like this?

If the knife is already sharp and you're just touching up, start with one of the fine stones. If not, start with the coarsest. Work your way from coarser to finer. Put some oil on the stone, put the edge of the knife on the stone at the angle you want (try to match the existing angle), then stroke the knife along the stone as if you're trying to remove a fine shaving of stone. Pull the knife as you do it to sharpen the entire edge.

Do I need any other tools?

No. A jig for keeping the sharpening angle can help, but most likely wouldn't be usable with a stone like this.

Do I need any protective equipment?

No, but be very wary of where your fingers are, and where the edge can go if you slip. Keep your fingers out of that area.

Do I have to use some type of oil?

With most stones, yes, lubricant must be used to carry away the swarf, or metal particles. Diamond and Japanese-style waterstones should generally be used with water. But with the stone shown above, I would use vegetable oil. Veggie oil can go rancid, but cooking knives are used and washed often enough that this shouldn't be an issue.

Is it better to go fast, or slow?

Slow. I like to take long strokes along the whole edge, concentrating on keeping my angle consistent. I use about a 20 degree angle on kitchen knives.

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