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Staying Sharp

Posted on: January 5, 2016     |     0 comments

Top tips for keeping your blades tip top....


For something so mass produced, knives, to a chef, are something very personal. I must have heard the famous 'you can use them, but don't dare sharpen them' uttered hundreds of times. A set of well kept knives shows a dedication to your craft and to professionalism that is quite understated.


How many times have you seen a trialist show up for a job with knackered knives and it just sets off alarm bells. Another walks in with a set of well kept, planned and ready to use knives and it sets a far more pleasant tone. Someone walks in with a set of brand new blades....no comment.


So what is the secret to a good knife? Is buying a set of the same brand worthwhile? Just because the vegetable chopper does the trick doesn't mean a turning knife is going to do the same. It could be a nightmare to keep hold off or just not fit comfortably. Not to mention that switching brands can be a painful experience, speaking as someone who used a well known Japanese company's knives to another well known German brand after 9 years, they just don't handle the same and can take some getting used to.


So what's the best way to keep your knives in top shape?

Firstly, you need to choose a method that will be consistent.

Switching from machine to steel to stone constantly may produce an initial sharp edge but creates an uneven edge as the angles involved in sharpening means the point becomes staggered rather than straight.


When using a steel, the ideal sharpening angles are roughly 10• on one side and 15• on the other. This brings the knife to a point, but as they are slightly different angles, it helps to prevent the blade from sticking into chopping boards.


Using a steel to sharpen your knives keeps it sharp but it is something that needs to be done regularly, once a day if possible.

This means a sharp blade and steels don't take as much metal off your knife, increasing the amount of time between replacements.

It is also recommended to use a small amount of oil when sharpening for a smoother run and helps to keep shavings from the knife in one place.


When using a whetstone, always use the courser side first and use a small amount of oil to remove any previous build up of cuttings.

Sharpen your knives to the same angle as you would on a steel. As whetstones can be effectively used to put a brand new edge on a knife, they do not need to be used as often as steels, once a fortnight will do or whenever you feel the blade starting to dull. After using the course side, repeat the process on the fine side of the whetstone. 6-8 strokes on each side of the knife and each side of the stone should be enough.


Storing knives correctly is probably the best way to keep the edge sharp. Storing your knives in plenty of space, possibly using a form of padding, will help to prevent dulling. Leaving knives overnight in the sink will not only blunt them over time, but is unhygienic and dangerous. When deciding on a new knife of set of knives, it is best to avoid knifes with a stepped blade, which provides an inital cut, then a break in whatever is being cut, meaning the cut wont be clean.

Always exercise caution when working with knives and the adage "a blunt knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife" has some truth to it, but who wants a blunt knife anyway?


Have you got any tips on how to keep your knives sharp? Please leave your comments below.

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