Everyone at one point or another has been there, trying to hack their way through a tomato with a knife better suited to be a spoon. Smooshing its insides to the outsides, ending with a tomato that looks like it came from a turn of the century pickling jar.
A dull knife is not only a downer, but it can also be dangerous. Having to put all that extra force into a cut can have dire consequences. Coupling that with poor cutting technique can make your thumb look like its been through a blender. Trust me.
You have spent a few bucks getting a middle of the line knife sharpener, but it just doesn’t seem to do the trick. How do those guys get knives so sharp they can shave with them? I mean, Vin Diesel shaved his head after sharpening his knife with a desert rock in “Pitch Black,” how hard can it be?
The answer? Not very. But it does have to be done correctly, and once you have it down, the world is your finely honed oyster.
First thing you are going to want to get is a whetstone. You can pick one up on Amazon for $24 — like the one I have — and it will work wonders. Don’t spend the money on an oil stone system. That would be like trading in your brand new Geo Metro and gunning down the interstate in that sexy red Ferrari only to end up in a ditch. They are much harder to handle and can ruin your cutlery.
The consensus is that a 1000/6000 grit combo whetstone is ideal for keeping your knives up to razor standard. If your knives have nicks in them and cry out in pain smooshing that tomato into oblivion, then you will need to start the process off with a 600 grit stone and work your way up.
To start, soak your stone in water three to 15 minutes depending on the instructions that come in the package. This loosens up the stone and allows the water and stone to work the blade.
Start on the 1000 grit side. Holding your knife on the handle and tip of the knife with two hands, put the blade at 30ish degrees perpendicular to the stone and on a 22 degree tilt, work the blade up and down in a sweeping motion 10 times each side.
“22 degrees seems super specific and I’m not a robot, Doug.”
I’m glad you’re not a robot, but imagine you have a matchbook resting under your knife, or better yet put one there to see how it feels. That’s about 22 degrees and the angle you are looking for. If you are still having a hard time, the best tip I have ever gotten is to imagine you are trying to take a fine layer off the top of a stick of butter.
After you feel the blade has a nice bite to it, flip the stone over to the 6000 grit side and repeat the process, this time slowly work your way down to one stroke per side ending on one and one. The edge should have an almost mirror finish.
To finish, run the knife over a honing rod a few times on each side at the same 22-degree angle.
Depending on how far gone your knife is, this process may only take 10 minutes or over an hour to get it back to peak slicing capacity. But once you’re done, you not only have a much safer cutting tool, but also pride knowing all your knives are shave ready.