Hello Ladies & Gentleman. Thanks For Stopping By Chef’s Corner!
Our discussion today revolves around a seemingly intuitive task: How to use an electric knife sharpener. Using an electric knife sharpener is by no means rocket science, but doing it incorrectly could potentially ruin your expensive set of knives!
The purpose of this post is to simplify the process into 3 digestible steps that could serve to act as your road map if you’re new to using an electric knife sharpener. For those of you who are great at achieving a blazing edge, enjoy the read and leave a comment.
Step 1: Know Your Blade!
I can’t overstate the importance of this first step. When I say know your blade, what I really mean is know your grind! According to Wikipedia: The grind of a blade refers to the shape of the cross-section of the blade. Try to visualize in your mind taking your knife and cutting it right down from the spine (this is the opposite side of the cutting edge) all the way down to the cutting edge. Now, look at the shape of the cross-section and voila you have your grind! The image to the right (courtesy of Wikipedia) shows some of the common knife grinds.
I will not go into further detail of what each grind is (the purpose of this post is how to use an electric knife sharpener), but if you’d like to see the details of each, please click on the Wikipedia link above. The reason this first step is so important is because a better understanding of how your knife is ground will provide some insight as to how you could sharpen it. For example, flat ground knives (number 2 in the picture) are easy to maintain and sharpen. On the other hand you should avoid using an electric knife sharpener to sharpen a serrated knife. To drill the idea home, the video below (courtesy of EarthWalkerPrimitive) explains knife grinds so that it’s easy to understand for all. Check it out!
Step 2: Choosing And Understanding Your Electric Knife Sharpener!
Choosing an electric knife sharpener should not be difficult once you are passed step 1. At this point you have some knowledge about your knife, and are ready to start considering some options for electric knife sharpeners. A good place to start would be here. This is where I list the pros & cons of each sharpener, so that you are able to make a more informed decision.
Understanding your electric knife sharpener is very important. This may sound cliched, but read the user manual before you turn the damn thing on! Understand how many stages it has, what abrasives it uses to sharpen/remove material, and if your knife grind can be used with the specific sharpener (read the manufacturer recommendations). An important point: Be sure that the voltage rating matches where you live! If you live in Europe, understand this before you buy the sharpener!
Once you have a good understanding of your electric knife sharpener, and have read operating and user manuals, proceed to the next step.
Step 3: Sharpening Technique!
Now that you have a good understanding of your sharpener, it’s time to start sharpening those knives! To better explain this, let’s break things down into smaller bite sized steps.
Step 3.1 Preparation
Plug and power the unit ON. Ensure the unit is placed on a flat surface! Clean your knife thoroughly well at this point while the unit sits powered ON for some minutes. Use warm water to get rid of any dirt or debris, and dry the knife using a kitchen towel.
Step 3.2 Sharpening
When you were searching for how to use an electric knife sharpener, this was probably exactly what you were wanting to know! I will try to elaborate on this as much as I can, but understand that while this step is definitely important, do not underrate the importance of the previous steps! Most electric knife sharpeners will have different stages of sharpening: typically a coarse stage for dull blades, a finer stage for blades that are neither too dull nor too sharp, and a stropping stage for polishing. You should gauge which stage you are to use based on the condition of your knife. Once you have this down, follow the mini steps below:
- Run your knife through the sharpening slot/stage. You will want to ensure you pass the heel of your knife first and slowly end at the tip. Hold your blade firmly down so that the sharpening wheels (abrasives) are able to fully contact and sharpen your knife. Make sure you take your time to do this! You need to really allow the abrasive to do its job. Form trumps speed in this case.
- Complete a total of 2 runs on either side of the blade i.e. you will have run the blade a total of 4 times, 2 on each side.
- At this point it is important to look at your knife and see if you have achieved your desired sharpness. I usually have a tomato handy which I can test my sharpness on. If your knife is still dull, run 2 more passes on either side and check again. This method will ensure you control the amount of material you take off your knife when sharpening.
- A side note about blade angles when sharpening: I would not be too concerned with what angle you run your knife through the sharpener. Most sharpeners come with spring and angle guides to ensure sharpening is always at the optimum angle.
- You will want to rinse your knife with water and towel dry. Prior to this, an optional step would be to run your knife through a stropping leather. I will be writing a post dedicated to stropping.
That’s it! How to use an electric knife sharpener in 3 easy steps! Leave your comments!