How to Fix a Dull Knife

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Your expensive chef's knife isn't worth much with a dull blade. Sharpening a knife yourself will create a better edge.

Things You'll Need

  • Clean Rags
  • Mineral Oil
  • Standard Honing Steel
  • Fine-grit Flat Sharpening Stone
  • Medium-grit Flat Sharpening Stone

Sharpening your knife

  • Place a medium-grit flat sharpening stone on a table. Lay a damp rag beneath the stone to prevent it from slipping. Position the stone either parallel or perpendicular to the table's edge.

  • If your stone is natural, apply a thin layer of mineral oil to it. If your stone is diamond-coated, sprinkle water on it.

  • Hold the blade at a 20-degree angle to the stone's surface. Place the heel (the part closest to the handle) at one end of the stone. Apply pressure on the top of the blade with the fingers of your other hand. Draw the blade slowly over the stone's surface, sweeping in an arc and pulling the blade entirely from heel to tip through one stroke (see illustrations). Press evenly on the blade throughout the stroke. Press more heavily for a duller knife.

  • Repeat five or six times on each side of the blade. Sweep in one direction only. Alternate sides and flip the blade after each stroke. If needed, wipe the stone clean and apply new oil or water.

  • Repeat steps 1 through 4 with a fine-grit flat stone.

Steeling your knife

  • Use a standard honing steel--a metal rod coated with fine grit and magnetized--to finish the blade's edge and smooth out irregularities. Hold the steel vertically, with its tip pointing straight down and resting on a table's surface. Keep your thumb behind the handle guard.

  • Hold the knife at a 20-degree angle against the steel. Make light, even strokes along the blade's entire length. Alternate sides of the blade for an even edge, stroking five or six times on each side.

Tips & Warnings

  • Depending on how much you use it, a knife requires sharpening only once or twice a year. Steel it frequently to maintain its sharp edge.
  • Stainless-steel knives are too hard to be sharpened, while serrated knives require professional equipment.

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