There are various tools available for maintaining and creating a sharp edge on your blades. We offer electric grinders, portable grinders, grindstones and grinding steel. The first three are all used to apply a new edge to a knife, while the sharpening of steel is mainly used to sharpen the sharpness of a knife. With our wide range of Damascus kitchen knife sharpeners it can be difficult to find the right tool that suits your situation and level of experience. This guide will help you make the right decision so that you can keep your knives sharp and your kitchen running efficiently and safely without wasting money.
When sharpening knives, it is important to be familiar with the following terms:
- Command – also known as sharpening, is the shape of the knife edge.
- Edge – the sharpened or lower part of the knife.
- Grain – how small or large the abrasive material on a grindstone is; the lower the grain number, the coarser the stone and vice versa.
- Honey – maintaining the sharpness of an already sharp knife.
- Sharpening – physically removing metal from the knife to create a new edge.
- Spine – the upper part of the knife
- Scarf – the fine metal particles that remain after sharpening a knife.
Types of Knife Sharpeners
Many electric sharpeners use a 2 or 3 step process for making, sharpening and sharpening the edge of a knife. The first step uses a coarse grain to sharpen extremely blunt knives and the last step uses a fine grain to sharpen sharp knives. When switched on, a sharpener will rotate the sharpening stones which, when a knife is pulled through the slots, sharpen knives to the desired sharpness. Most electric sharpeners have conductors that give the user the perfect angle, making them popular because they greatly simplify the precise task of sharpening knives.
As with electric sharpeners, portable knife sharpeners simplify the sharpening process, although they are generally limited by having fewer slots for sharpening. An advantage of handheld sharpeners is their portability. Due to their small size and manual operating method, they are perfect for cooking professionals who often travel. Depending on how the portable sharpener is designed, pull the blade through the slots while the sharpener is placed on a flat surface, or the sharpener is pulled along the length of the blade while the blade is gently lowered onto a table held or countertop. Both types of portable sharpeners easily sharpen a blunt knife into a perfect cutting shape.
The three most common sharpening materials are made from Novaculite, alumina and silicon carbide and they are commonly known as Arkansas and Cry stolon stones respectively. Arkansas stones are natural stones, while Crystolon are man-made. Arkansas stones range from fine to coarse grit type, where stones are better suited for fine grinding and Crystolon better for initially coarse grinding. Some stones have diamond abrasives mixed to get the optimum cutting edge.
View our handy article about sharpening stones for more information about the use of sharpening stones.
Grinding / Honing Samples
In contrast to the name, most sharpening steel blades do not really sharpen. The primary task of a sharpening steel is sharpening a knife, although certain cuts or posts are capable of a small sharpening; steel that sharpen knives should not be used instead of the above mentioned sharpeners. The four most common cuts are normal, diamond, combination and ceramic. The differences between cuts are quite minimal, and the choice between them mainly depends on whether you want to have the ability to sharpen and how much you are willing to spend. It is also recommended to use sharpening steel with a matching knife brand because manufacturers specifically design their steel to sharpen their knives.
- Regularly cut steels are the most common and well-known because they are made of steel.
- Diamond steel has a coating of diamond abrasives similar to what can be found on some grinding stones.
- Combination cutting combines a smooth surface for honing and a rough surface for less sharp grinding.
- Ceramic cut, as the name implies, is made of ceramic and can be used for small sharpening work to align the knife.
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