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Keeping Knives Sharp

Posted by in Kitchen Talk

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Kitchen Talk (Keeping Knives Sharp)

Food processor. Mandoline. Mini chopper. Julienne peeler. Zester. Pizza wheel. Many kitchen countertops and drawers are studded with various little specialty items to make work in the kitchen easier and quicker. But strip those counters clean and whittle down the list of essentials to just a few basics, and one thing can replace a handful of other gadgets and tools: a sharp knife. Few things give me as much joy working in the kitchen as a properly sharpened knife. And few things have caused me as much frustration (and painful injuries) as a dull knife.

So tell us:

How do you keep your knives sharp?

Do you have any knife sharpening suggestions? Things to avoid? Knife storage tips? Or even favorite knives that have served you well throughout the years?

I have a small manual knife sharpener with multiple options for sharpening angles: one for Asian knives and one for European-style knives. It also has a honer, and so far that’s been working well for me.

Now let’s hear from you! Tell us about keeping knives sharp and working the way they were meant to work. We need to do all we can to save our fingers, man!



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Kristin on 6.6.2014

You should find a good sharpener, someone who knows their stuff and have you blades sharpened twice a year. And store them properly. Like out away the heavy winter knives during summer after they’ve been sharpened. And use the lighter Asian knives for the summer. And swap again in the winter.

Janice on 5.17.2014

I have a knife sharpener in my knife block…although I never use it..maybe I should!

KrissyC EsMommy on 5.17.2014

I use a honing blade to keep my knives in line, and have them professionally sharpened once every two years or so. I don’t dip them in water, just wash the blades and wipe off the handles and dry them immediately. Helps the wood on the handles not get all brittle and warped. I also store them in the wood block they came in. I avoid the drawer because they bang up with other things and it dulls and chips the blade that way. I’ve actually had the same set of knives for the last 13 years and they are still sharp, and still in excellent condition. I don’t recall the brand name, but I love them.

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peej2 on 5.17.2014

I have an electric knife sharpener. 7 strokes in each of the 4 slots and they are good to go. I would love to invest in a good set of knives, but until my sons stop being dumb…not happening.
I got a nice Cutco knife for myself and the first day one son cut through an aluminum can like the demonstrator had done, and the other one flipped the child lock off a lighter and broke the tip off. So much for that, although I just need to send it with $5 and they’ll sharpen it for me.

Lauralee on 5.17.2014

Never put them in the dishwasher. My son is a professional chef and takes care of them when he comes to visit.

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shari on 5.16.2014

I have a steel that came with my set of Wusthof knives that is working well for me. I give my knives a few swipes with the steel after each use so they never get dull. However, the steel worked really well on a dull Henkels santoku knife also. Actually I was surprised at how well it worked on the dull knife. It hadn’t been that sharp for ages.

Nancy Peterman on 5.16.2014

No dishwasher. When you need to scrape something off the cutting board, use the back edge, not the cutting edge (both of these are regularly stated in the earlier comments). My husband will sharpen them for me, but the BEST sharpening my knives ever got was from a friend who had been a butcher. They were wonderful! BTW, I almost got thrown out of my sisters house because every time I visited I would ask when she was going to get her knives sharpened! Finally her son started selling Cutco and got a new set of sharp knives! Gotta say that send knives in to Cutco to be sharpened sounds terribly inconvenient.

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Terri @ that's some good cookin' on 5.16.2014

I have my knives professionally sharpened at least once a year. I also use a honing steel to hone the knives prior to each use. My cutting boards are knife friendly, made either of wood or a good quality plastic. The knives are washed by hand, wiped dry and stored individually either in a wood block or on a wall mounted magnetized strip. (yes, yes, I’m a knife Nazi)

FYI: When my daughter was in culinary school she taught me the difference between sharpening and honing. Sharpening removes material from the knife blade to form a super sharp edge. Honing, on the other hand, is simply “straightening” that sharp edge–with use, a knife’s fine edge gets out of alignment. Honing does not remove material from the blade, it realigns the edge.

jp on 5.16.2014

Gosh, ya’ll are making me feel bad – hate to think how long it’s been since we’ve sharpened knives. If my Boy Scout was home, I’d have him take care of it!

Martha on 5.15.2014

I use a sharpening steel to keep my knives sharp and ready for slicing and dicing.

LauraZ in CO on 5.15.2014

Never put them in the Dishwasher and sharpen them every once-in-while.

[email protected] on 5.15.2014

I use the Wustof sharpener. Easy and it works great! I’ve used the Chef’s Choice sharpener (manual) and I like the Wustof much better. My knives have become one of my most treasured kitchen tools. I even take them on vacation when renting a home…Even take them when I need a decent knife at a potluck/bbq.

jeannette on 5.15.2014

for pete’s sake don’t put your knives in the dishwasher . . . .

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JWeaver on 5.15.2014

Oh I hate dull knives! Several years ago, we followed America’s Test Kitchen advice and got the Chef’s Choice knife sharpener. It’s AWESOME! In between sharpenings, we run the blade over the steel rod that came with our knife set (or through the #2 section of the Chef’s Choice.)

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kay43026 on 5.15.2014

I’ve got a full set of Cutco knives. A sharpening wheel came with it and I try to use it often on the straight blades.s

They also have a free (only cost me postage) sharpening service…including the serrated knives…and I send them in about once a year for a good once-over. They also replace (free) any knife that ‘needs it’. I seem to get at least a couple new knives every time!

I never ‘scrape’ the sharp side of the blade on the cutting board, which dulls them. Except for raw meat, I pretty much use a wooden cutting board. Even though my knives are ‘dishwasher safe’ I hand wash them.

You definitely ‘get what you pay for’ in the knife department!!

Marcia on 5.15.2014

I use the steel to keep them together but if they feel dull my husband sharpens them using the electric sharpener.

Casey Bahr on 5.15.2014

I’m careful about what I use the knives to cut; always hand wash them, and use the sharpener provided with my set.

OHSue on 5.14.2014

The number one rule I found for keeping my knives sharp is to never put them in the dishwasher, hand wash them, store them on a magnetic strip holder. I occasionally run them through a Henkels brand hand sharpener I bought and have them professionally sharpened a couple of times a year.

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marymc1952 on 5.14.2014

Just wondering how often one should use a three hole electric knife sharpener. I haven’t ordered one yet, but plan on it. Our knives tend to get dull from all the use they endure. My husband uses a manual one now, but it doesn’t seem to work all that well and I have noticed nicks.
As someone who sliced myself with a knife years ago and to endure 14 hour surgery to reattach my tendon in my thumb, I try to be very careful, but am clumsy being a leftie.

beth on 5.14.2014

my husband works in the meat dept at a natl grocery chain and the head meat cutter told me not to use my best knife when cutting potatoes; that it dulls them rapidly. so I keep a cheaper one for that task. and I take my knives to the local guy at the farmer’s market every few months to have them sharpened for like $2 each…

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Midwest Doug on 5.14.2014

I use two things. A true blue sharpening stone – the fine side not the course, for maintenance – and the method I learned when I was a 12 year old Boy Scout.

JoyK on 5.14.2014

Easy- I ask my husband how bad he wants sliced ham and – the knives get sharpened. It’s a modern day miracle! (Took me 34 years to figure this out.)

Patricia @ ButterYum on 5.14.2014

I store my knives on a magnetic knife strip mounted on the wall. I hone them often using a steel. If one of my knives is in need of a little sharpening, I pull out my manual AccuSharp thing (CI recommended), but once a year or so a more serious run through a Chef’s Choice electric sharpener is necessary. I also have a sharpening stone, but don’t really like to use it. I should mention that a Wusthof sales rep told me it’s important to dry knives quickly after washing them because water will actually dull the blade (not sure how accuarate that is, but he’s in the biz so I’ll take his advice).

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Jeanne Wilcox on 5.14.2014

When storing knives in a wooden block turn the knife over sharp side up . Then you don’t rub the knife on the wood each time you pull it out.

Sue In FLA on 5.14.2014

I use an electric sharpener about four times a year for my regular knives and hone them with a sharpening rod about two or three times a week, depending on how much I am preparing food. I sharpen my Japanese blade a little more often, but I use it all of the time (usually 2 or 3 times a day.) My favorite knives are Shuns, the three inch paring knife and the 7-inch oriental blade. My knives are stored in a knife holder in a drawer and are only used on food items. I hand wash them always. No one else wants to use them- everyone says I keep them too sharp.

Krislea on 5.14.2014

I usually just use the steel that came with my knife set and it does the trick, but my set is still pretty new so I guess time will tell.

Cheryl A. on 5.14.2014

I use a knife sharpener that my husband bought me from William Sonoma. I was attempting to cut open a squash one day and almost cut my arm off (yes, I said arm and not finger…). It slipped — it was so dull. I told my hubby that I wasn’t making squash ever again until we had sharp enough knives… :)

Leslie S. on 5.14.2014

Two things that will dull you kitchen knives are Granite and Marble. I have found the best way to get your knives sharp or to have them sharpened, is take them to a Butcher/Meat Processor. The Butchers that I have found are more than happy to sharpen your knives, for a fee. They come back so sharp, so be careful.

Paula on 5.14.2014

I typically use a mail order professional knife sharpening service once a year. The most current one I’ve found is called Edge Masters out of Colorado. I just pack them up in newspaper, fill out the form, include a return shipping label and then send them off. I know it’s difficult to not have my knives for a week, but they return beautifully sharpened and I’ve hand my Henckels for 17 years. I also never put them in the dishwasher and use a wood cutting board. Plastic boards tend to dull them faster.

There is also mobile knife sharpening companies that will come out to your work/home. If you get a bunch of people who commit to doing it at one time, this is great. They will also sharpen your tools. In Houston, TX –

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Becky on 5.14.2014

I have my knives sharpened once a year at the local Farmers Market, then I spend about a month slicing my fingertips on the super sharp edges!

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C. L. ( Cheryl ) "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser on 5.14.2014

Greetings to All,
I have a neighbor who is retired and he sharpens all my kitchen utensils, knives, etc. So, I am fortunate to have him or else I would have bandages all over myself!!Happy Cooking Everyone! CLW

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Shawna C on 5.14.2014

We got a Henckels knives and knife sharpener for our wedding. The knives are great, but sadly the sharpener (the kind you’re just supposed to pull it through) left nicks (I want to write “knicks” because I’m writing about knives) in the edge of my largest knife.

One of these days I’ll have to get them professionally sharpened!

DebbieK on 5.14.2014

The few knives I use most often I wash, dry and store in a plastic or cardboard sheath in my knife drawer – it isn’t perfect so my husband will also sharpen these favorite knives for me about every other month.

NancyB on 5.14.2014

For touching up a blade that’s just lost that extra sharp edge, I use the (cheap!) AccuSharp that Cooks Illustrated rated their top manual sharpener. I’ve got an electric sharpener for working on a blade in worse condition, but the last time my best knives really needed work I took them to a pro. A local barbecue restaurant has a pro come in weekly to do their knives, and will let you drop off knives to be done at the same time. That wasn’t very expensive either, and I feel like the knives got a better job than I could have done.

Elizabeth on 5.14.2014

I use my husband’s little Benchmade sharpener on all my kitchen knives – best tool ever!

KathyO on 5.14.2014

My husband used to be a journeyman meat cutter and he always uses a steel (that pole looking thingy) or a grinding block. I’m accident prone and there’s a knack to it, so I just leave the sharpening to him.

Vicky C. on 5.14.2014

We’ve actually never sharpened our knives (several of our old ones desperately need it, we’ve just gravitated to using our better quality ones that haven’t dulled yet), but one tip we learned (a little too late) was if you’re using a block to store the knives, store them with the sharp edge of the blade up.

Gidget on 5.14.2014

My husband is the knife sharpener of our house…. he uses a ceramic type sharpener.

Brenda S 'Okie in Colorado' on 5.14.2014

I use a honer mostly, but I also use a manual knife sharpener. I use a knife block for the majority of my knives. I also have an incredible wooden magnetic knife holder. I take great care in my knives and will never wash in the dishwasher! Hand wash and dry, only. I love this knife giveaway.

Carol on 5.14.2014

I use the pole looking thingy, the real name left my head. My son used to work in a restaurant, cooking. He said the chef told him not to sharpen to often, it breaks down the blade.

Kathy F on 5.14.2014

My husband takes care of this for me :)

slammie on 5.14.2014

When we were in Seattle we used to take our knives, axes, etc. to a mobile sharpening service that would post various locations around the city and their times. At home I have a manual dual sharpener (coarse and fine sharpening). I only use a Chinese cleaver. My parents use a dual stone for theirs but I can’t get the hang of it and make it duller than when I started. LOL! I need to find a service again.

Kim on 5.14.2014

I have just a few knives that I would call “good” knives: A big old chef’s knife, a long slicer and a good paring knife. I use a honing steel every time I use these knives, and while I’m sure they’d benefit from a real sharpening, they still cut well after many years of use.

I store my knifes in a narrow drawer, so I slip them into cardboard paper towel rolls to keep them – and my fingers – safe.

ChrisofDan on 5.14.2014

I have a manual sharpener and an 3-stage electric one. I use the manual often and it does a super job keeping my knives sharp for everyday use and then at least twice a year use the electric one. I also sharpen the blade on my food processor. Keep your knives in a block, not in a drawer and don’t let anyone use them for opening boxes (we know you’re out there). Don’t forget to get your kitchen shears sharpened too!

Darlene Brown on 5.14.2014

I have an electric knife sharpener that works very well. I try to link the approximate time I should sharpen my knives to a holiday. For example, just prior to Thanksgiving and Memorial Day, I’ll sharpen my knives. That ensures they will be sharp and safe for winter holiday carving and summer barbecues.