Knife sharpening is essential for pro and amateur cooks alike. Keeping your kitchen knives sharp will allow you to cut through food more easily, which also decreases your chance of cutting your fingers on a knife that catches or slips off of food (instead of slicing through evenly). However, sharpening can be dangerous, so be sure to follow safety precautions:
1: Use a Steel or a Sharpening Stone
There are multiple knife sharpening methods, but some of the more intricate methods are aimed at hunters, professional chefs and butchers, and are more complicated and potentially more dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. The easiest and most effective for way for home chefs to sharpen their knives is with a sharpening tool called a steel, which is a long metal rod inserted into a handle, or with a sharpening stone. Never attempt to sharpen knives with regular stones.
2: Wear Protective Gloves
Although not completely necessary, you can reduce your risk of injuring yourself by practicing knife sharpening while wearing a pair of protective gloves. Rubber, vinyl and winter gloves are typically not enough. You will want to wear thicker gloves, particularly those even aimed at keeping yourself from getting cut, such as Kevlar and steel mesh gloves.
3: Hold a Steel and Knife Away from Your Body
It can be tempting to hold anything you’re working on near your body, but the proper way to sharpen knives is to hold the steel and knife at a distance away from your body and away from other people, animals and anything that can get in your way. Hold both arms out in front of you when using a steel. Grip the steel tightly in your non-dominant hand and hold the knife in your dominant hand at an angle somewhere between 10 and 25 degrees. Slowly run the blade along the steel toward you.
4: Place a Stone a Safe Distance Away
If using a stone to sharpen your knives, place the stone on a hard, stable countertop. The stone should be at least a foot in front of you so that the blade won’t slip off of the stone and injure your body. Hold the knife at an angle between 10 and 25 degrees and slowly run the blade toward your body.
5: Make Slow Movements
One of the biggest knife sharpening mistakes you can make is to run the blade of a knife against the stone or steel too quickly. Not only does this result in a less smooth sharpening that can potentially render the knife useless, but it also opens you up to a likelier injury. You want to retain control of the blade as you sharpen, ensuring that it won’t slip and that you’ll get a smooth surface on the blade.
You’ll reduce your risk of cutting yourself when knife sharpening if you’re aware of basic tips that can help you sharpen your knives safely. Having sharp kitchen knives will make cooking both easier and safer, so going through the effort will definitely prove worthwhile.