The most frequently asked question regarding the knife is how often it should be sharpened? It is difficult to give an exact answer as everyone has their own way of using a knife. Also, the factor depends on a variety of things like the cutting board that you are using, how aggressive you use your knife, what things you are chopping, and most importantly, how often you are using your knife.
There is no specific rule to sharpen the knife in a particular period. You can test the knife’s sharpness using tomato or paper, or whenever you feel that it is not cutting well, you can immediately sharpen your knife.
To retain the sharpness of your knife for a longer duration, use it with care and do not use it on hard surfaces. Also, store the knives in a secure place so that they do not get damaged.
Honing Your Knife
Honing your knife is the process of realigning an existing edge. Over time, as we chop with our knife, its edges fold over from one to the other, making the knife feel not so great and not so sharp. So, what we need to do is run it along a honing rod or very high grit whetstone in the range of about 3000 or above to realign its edges and make it feel sharp again.
If your knife’s edge is rounded, no amount of honing will bring your knife back to life. So, you have to remove the material from the sides of the knife to create a new edge which you will then refine using progressively finer whetstones. Sharpening is the process of removing steel from your knife and creating a new edge. This is essential as the edges of your knife become rounded over time.
How to Use a Honing Rod
Many knife sets come with honing steel, but you can get a professional honing rod if yours doesn’t. Contrary to popular belief, a honing rod is not a sharpening tool; instead, it is used to re-align its blade. All you have to do is move the knife up and down the honing rod to restore its teeth.
Do not overdo it, or the knife’s teeth may get damaged. You can follow this technique to hone your kitchen knife:
- Place your honing rod on your kitchens’ countertop and put a towel at the tip for more stability.
- It should be 90° to the countertop and held stable.
- Start honing your knife slowly at around a 20° to 30° angle to the rod. For the best results, be as gentle as you can when honing the knife.
The Disadvantage of Sharpening
Sharpening your knife has only one downside: it will shorten the height of the knife since the steel will be removed during the process. If you continue to do this, you will wear down your knife soon. It is inevitable for any knife, as commonly knives do not typically last more than 20 years. As you sharpen them all the time, the knife gets smaller and smaller. If you continue to use it, it will not remain the same over time.
It is very important to keep your knife sharp by removing as little material as possible. For that purpose, most experts recommend honing your knife every day on a high grit whetstone in the range of about 5000 to 8000. After that, rub it on the leather strop. This will not only save your time but also remove very little material, and the knobs of your knife will be razor-sharp all the time.
Home Knives Often Require Less Sharpening
If you are a home cook, you might not need to frequently hone your knife. If you are using your knife for 20 or 30 minutes a day, then honing your knife once a week and sharpening it every two months will be sufficient. However, if you are a professional cook and use your knife for 4 to 5 hours a day and do continuous chopping every day, which is equal to one-week usage of a home cook, then regular honing of your knife is required.
Honing Rods Are the Time Saver Compared to Whetstones
For most people, it is much easier to be inconsistent on the honing rods. That’s why it is better to use a whetstone for honing and sharpening. But always using a whetstone is not easy because getting the whetstone out and soaking it before using it needs time and space.
If you are in the middle of the service or prep day and need to quickly bring the edge of your knife back to life, a honing rod is an excellent tool. Ceramic honing rods are much better for honing knives, especially those with finer edges like Japanese knives.
Tips to Keep Your Knife Sharpened For a Longer Duration
The most important tip is honing your knives as frequently as possible. Make sure to avoid scrapping the knife across the board with the cutting edge. Of course, if you are scraping the knife’s edges across the board, it will cause the edges to roll over, and it is not good for the knife. You should flip the knife over and use the spines to scrape the ingredients across the cutting board. It will do the same thing but does not dull the edges of your knife.
It is important to keep your knife away from the bones, frozen food items, hard candies, shells, and anything that you think will damage the knife. The general rule of thumb is that if you would not bite it through with your teeth, you should cut it with your knife. If you only cut vegetables, fruits, and meat, you will be totally fine.
Cutting Board Has Also a Part in Keeping Your Knife Sharpened
A high-quality, end-grain cutting board made from hardwood or semi-hardwood is also a must. The knife will fit right in between the grain of the wood on these cutting boards, keeping it sharp for much longer.
Store Your Knife at a Safer Place
It is also crucial to store your knife correctly, so it does not get damaged. You should make sure to store them in a way that the edges are not banged into other things. Your knife should not be rummaging around in a drawer, getting banged up or nicked, and hitting into other things, which may, of course, damage it.
For a home chef, sharpening the knife every two months is sufficient, but between these two months, it is necessary to maintain the knives properly. In case you have more cooking work to do in the kitchen, which requires lots of cutting, the knife’s edges may not remain sharp. Therefore, it will require to be sharpened more frequently. Otherwise, you should check your knife’s blade and get it at least after every two months.