Apartment Kitchen Maintentance: 4 Tools to Sharpen KnivesJuly 15th, 2010 by Staff Writer
Kitchen safety includes using the right tools to sharpen knives when they get dull. You can injure yourself with a dull knife, and you’ll slow down your cooking time if you don’t have properly sharpened knives to work with. There’s an entire industry built around knife supplies, and new and old sharpening tools are available for you to choose from. Your decision will boil down to what you can afford, how often you cook and how you use your knives.
1 - Electric Knife Sharpeners
Sharpen knives with serrated or straight blades using an electric knife sharpener. A quality one will sharpen knives and polish them. They are built with angle guides so that you don’t have to worry about placing the knife just right, the way you would with free hand sharpening. When you place the knife in the machine, it does the work for you.
2 - Diamond Sharpening Steel
These are handy tools to have in your apartment kitchen to sharpen knives. They are a round piece of steel made of monocrystalline diamonds, with a handle for you to grip and use it easily. Chefs recommend diamond steel because of its durability, and because it sharpens knives fast. Be sure to buy one with a non-slip grip, because it’s frustrating to drop the steel in the middle of sharpening. A steel with a ring attached to the handle will also make storage easy. Buy one that measures from 10 to 14 inches in length, which is suitable for most (if not all) of your kitchen knives.
3 - Ceramic Sharpening Steel
If you want to sharpen knives with fine blades, then go ceramic. Like the diamond sharpening steel, a ceramic sharpening steel is round with a handle for gripping. You don’t have to worry about these breaking on you, because they won’t. Weight is not an issue either, even though it’s ceramic. The kind that you’ll use in in the kitchen are lightweight. It’s also a smooth steel, which is easier to use than diamond steels, because those have grooves.
4 - Sharpening Stones
Knife sharpening stones are an alternative to sharpening steels. Three kinds most often used to sharpen knives in the kitchen are water stones, diamond stones and bench stones. When you’re working with these, you should by a coarse stone and a fine stone, to cover the different types of kitchen knives you own. A size that’s at least 6 inches long and 2 inches wide should meet your needs. You will be doing free hand sharpening when using stones to sharpen knives. Acquire the skills to do it by watching a friend, watching a video or taking a basic cooking class before attempting it. You can also buy a knife guide to help angle the blade on the stone, and hold it in place a little, as you sharpen.
Remember to stay safe while you sharpen knives. Focus on the job at hand, and keep your hands and feet out of the way. If a knife does slip as you sharpen it, it should fall to the floor or counter top without hurting you.