Best Way to Sharpen a Kitchen Knife (Learn The Basics)

Having a great set of knives doesn’t just stop there you have to perform regular knife sharpening to keep them in tip-top-shape. Keeping your kitchen knives sharp isn’t just convenient but it having a dull knife is actually dangerous. Ask any professional chef and they will tell you that dull kitchen knives cause accidents. It’s not as strange as it sounds, by not regularly sharpening your kitchen knives your knife is more likely to slip because you have to apply more pressure to do a basic cut, If you knife is razor sharp slicing is a breeze and you are less likely to slip.

But how to keep your kitchen knife blades sharp at home without sending them off to a knife sharpening expert. Keep on reading and you’ll discover just how easy it is to sharpen a kitchen knife at home with two basic tools, which are cheap and can be found in any home department store.

Tools Needed To Sharpen a Knife At Home

For the best way to sharpen a knife at home you need only two sharpening tools, a whetstone and a honing steel (sharpening rod, honing rod), yes that’s all you need. Both of these are affordable and there is no need to spend money on expensive electric knife sharpening machines if you are on a tight budget. With a bit of elbow grease and a spare ten minutes you can have your dull kitchen knives brought back to life with a razor sharp edge.

The first sharpening tool you’ll need is a whetstone, yes you heard me correctly you will be sharpening your best kitchen knife set with a stone. A whetstone is basically a coarse stone and when you angle blade over it and run it back-and-forth tiny pieces of the blade are removed.


Using a whetstone does take some practice, but don’t worry as we will give you the basics in this article. Once you have mastered this knife sharpening technique you will be able to keep your entire set of kitchen knives razor sharp and by not sending them out to a professional you will save some money to.

Honing Steel

A honing steel has various names depending on what part of the world you are in and who you talk to some of the common terms are a knife steel, chef’s steel, sharpening rod, and a few more similar sounding names as well.

You probably have seen chefs using one of these each time they pick up their best chef’s knife. Basically a honing steel is used as a maintenance tool to keep your knife blade aligned, there is a misconception that a honing steel actually sharpens a knife but this is not the case.

When you use your knife the blade starts to get knocked and bet out of shape, this really goes unnoticeable by the human eye but it effects how the knife cuts. By using a honing steel you will straighten out the blade which in turn will improve the knifes cutting ability.

The trick to keep your kitchen knives in the best shape is to use a whetstone at least once a month to recondition the blade and to use the honing steel as an ongoing maintenance tool to keep your knife blades in top shape.

Best Way to Sharpen a Knife with a Stone

Best Way to Sharpen a Knife with a Stone

Don’t worry it is a lot easy than it looks and should really taker no more than ten minutes to bring life back into your dull kitchen knives.

  1. First pick up your whetstone and place a damp cloth underneath it to stop it from moving and sliding around (not a good idea when sharpening your knives).
  2. Make sure your whetstone has the coarse side of the stone facing up. Add a drop of water or cooking oil onto the surface of the stone.
  3. Pick up the knife you wish to sharpen (for this we used a chef’s knife) and gently rest the blade against the stone at roughly a 20-22° angle, different kitchen knives will have different angles so make sure you check the correct sharpening angle for your knife. Place your other free hand onto the blade to help stabilize the knife if needed.
  4. Gently slide the knife back-and-forth across the whetstone making sure to cover the full length of the knife blade using a moderate pressure and making sure to keep the blade at the correct angle. Repeat this ten times and then flip over your knife and continue on the others side.
  5. Now that you have finished both sides of the knife blade it’s time to turn over the whetstone to the fine grit side underneath and repeat the whole process again using the finer grit.

The coarse side of the whetstone removes more of the metal from the blade whilst the finer gritted side helps to form the perfect edge. Once you are happy take your knife a give it a good clean to remove any flecks of metal that may be stuck to the blade.

Using a whetstone is one of the best ways to sharpen a knife at home but all of that work on the stone can leave your blade slightly uneven so for best results use a honing steel to finish to job.

Best Way to Sharpen a Knife with a Steel

Best Way to Sharpen a Knife with a Steel

As we have already mentioned honing a kitchen knife isn’t actually sharpening it, this technique also takes a bit of practice so it’s best to start of slow until you feel comfortable or you might lose a few fingers.

  1. Pick up your honing steel in your left hand and rest the pointed end on your cutting board/chopping board again remembering to place a damp cloth underneath to stop it from slipping.
  2. Using your free hand pick up your kitchen knife and hold it crossways against the top of the with the back of the blade (heel) touching the steel.
  3. Depending on what knife you are going to hone hold the blade at the desired angle making sure that the cutting edge meets the shaft of the steel, for this tutorial we used a chef’s knife so a 20-22° angle is perfect.
  4. Making sure you have a firm grip on the knife gently pull the knife towards you whilst sliding it downward, all the time not forgetting to hold the knife at the correct angle. To make sure you run down the full length of the knife repeat this ten times. Once you are happy flip the knife over and repeat on the other side.

Depending if you are right handed or left handed make the necessary changes to best suit your needs.

Before you use the knife make sure you give it a good clean to remove any unwanted flecks of metal or debris.

kitchen knife king disclosure This article may contain affiliate links on products I recommend. Clicking on an affiliate link won’t increase the cost for you but makes it possible to identify the referral by this site. Simply put, when you click on one of my affiliate links I will get a small amount of commission, it's not going to make me an overnight millionaire, I'm not going to run off to the Bahamas and retire, but it might be enough to buy a coffee or a new set of knives. You can read my full affiliate disclosure here.
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