How to Manually Sharpen a Kitchen Knife Like a Pro

Dull knives are a pain to work with and are more dangerous considering the fact that they tend to skim off whatever you intend to cut. They might end up cutting what they aren’t intended to, such as hands and fingers. This is the reason you need to keep your knives as sharp as you can. Just like most of the kitchen expertise, this needs skill and some guideline as well. Today, we take the unknown out of getting a professional-looking cutting edge for your knives.

Understand the Knife You Want to Sharpen

All the methods of knife sharpening involve removing a small part of the blade material to end up with a sharp edge. There are three types of materials that form the blade – ceramic, stainless steel and high carbon. The ceramic blade isn’t your daily blade; you shouldn’t attempt sharpening it because it is highly brittle and the blade might break under inexperienced hands. This blade can only be sharpened using diamond sharpening tools.

How Do You Know Your Knife Needs Sharpening?

You might have to sharpen your kitchen knife once every one or two years. However, you need to know when the right time to sharpen it comes. The first and most obvious sign that your knife needs to be sharpened is the failure to cut perfectly as it used to. You realize you are exerting extra force and tact to perform cutting tasks than before.

You can confirm the need for sharpening by checking the blade under a bright light source. With the light falling on the knife, check if you can see any shiny spots along the cutting edge. A perfectly sharp cutting edge is devoid of the shiny spots.

Selecting the sharpening Tool for Manual Sharpening

To perform manual sharpening, you need to use sharpening stone or sharpening steel. If you don’t have one, you can navigate here and read reviews on the available types and select an appropriate one.

Using a Sharpening Stone

Sharpening stones come with two sides – a fine surface for securing the blade’s edge and a rough surface intended for fast cutting. You need to have water at hand because most of the stones use a “wet” method for sharpening. Why is this so? Well, as the stone grinds away the excess material from the blade, some of the stone materials become dislodged. These dislodged particles subsequently clog the pores of the sharpening stone, rendering it ineffective.

The water is intended to wash away these miniscule stones so that the sharpening surface remains in good working order.


Find a flat surface to place the sharpening stone upon, preferably a surface where the stone doesn’t shift position. Stroke the knife blade from the heel to the tip, taking care to maintain the bevel angle. There are two suggestions as to which direction you should stroke the blade depending on which side you wish the material to flow towards. You can stroke the knife away from you so that the chippings flow across the blade, or you can stroke it towards you so that the material flows off the edge.

Either way, you need to keep changing your hands so that each alternate stroke sharpens either side of the blade to achieve an even finish.

Using a Sharpening Steel

These have been around for ages because you can use them on other blades apart from knives. They are usually tougher than the blade; therefore they sharpen your blade faster. They are denser than the stone hence don’t hold water very well. However, they hold oil perfectly, which is why it is a good idea to use oil when sharpening.


Grip the handle of the steel in your left hand (if you are right handed) and place the tip on a rag. Grab the knife handle with your right hand and start at the point nearest to the handle and draw the knife away right down to the tip of the steel as you draw the blade back away.

If you execute this properly, you will notice that the blade will draw back from the blade just near the bottom of the steel. Make sure the angle of the knife blade to the steel is similar to the angle of the thin bevel. This is because the aim is to only remove metal from the thin bevel edge, not the entire width of the blade.


These are manual ways to sharpen your kitchen knife. Using the two methods requires you to have the right skills and position the knife correctly. Failure to do this results in a blunt edge. Always go for a blade that is forged because such a blade holds up better during sharpening and the results last longer. The blades are also stronger, tougher and denser. Whether you have a kitchen knife with a blade made from stainless steel or high carbon, you need to use the proper sharpening tools and the right procedure.