FAQ: Knife Sharpening

Sharpening vs Honing
  • Sharpening fixes any chips and wear on the blade by removing small amounts of metal from the edge of the blade to return its sharp edge. Depending on how often the knife is used, you should only need to sharpen once ever few weeks or less.
  • Honing on the other hand, realigns the blade to ensure you are cutting with a straight edge and should be done ideally once a week or more to extend the longevity of your knives.
Choosing a Sharpener
  • Is the best way to sharpen a knife, a whetstone acts like sand allowing more blade movement and sheds the least amount of metal.
  • Respects the shape of the blade, important for Japanese knives which have a tapered V-shaped edge. Whetstones which are freestanding allow you to use both hands to press the blade against the stone to determine the exact angle.
  • Keeps your knife in top condition, and ensure it lasts for the longest possible time.
  • Using a whetstone is a process. You’ll need to soak it in water for 10 minutes, then sharpen both sides (unless it is a single bevel), and then honing both sides of the blade can take 30 minutes.
Sharpening Steels
  • As it is much harder/inflexible than a stone, it sheds more metal when sharpening the blade. However, it is much less abrasive than a pull-through sharpener.
  • Quick and convenient to use. No preparation is required.
  • Use on Western knives, it is not recommended on Japanese knives which are typically made of harder steel and have a tapered V shape. The contact of a Japanese blade which is more brittle on a sharpening steel can cause it to chip.
  • It is difficult to get the angle correct when using a steel. One hand is required to hold the handle of the steel, while the other hand holds the knife compared to a whetstone which allows you more control.
Pull-Through Sharpeners
  • Quicker to use than whetstones and more precise than sharpening steels.
  • Sheds the most amount of metal, however, shortening the lifespan of the blade.
  • Pulling a knife through the sharpening slot, grinds the blade to a pre-set shape. This makes it super sharp instantly and re-aligns the blade to its original shape. That’s why it is important to use a pull-through sharpener that is compatible with your knife. Using a pull-through sharpener within the same brand as your knives are your safest bet.
  • For the most part, they cater to Western blades which have straight edges and a pointed tip. Not recommended to use on Japanese knives.
Choosing the right whetstone

Whetstones have been developed to cater for the needs of enthusiastic cooks to professional chefs and are available in a wide range of abrasive grades:

Guide to Whetstone Sharpening