How to Sharpen Carving Knives The Right Way

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 07/08/18 •  6 min read

To effectively sharpen a carving knife, the best tool is a whetstone. Start by soaking the stone with the heaviest grit in water for five to ten minutes. After, hold your knife at the appropriate angle and begin sharpening. After a couple of passes, move on over to the next stone with a lighter grit until your knife is razor-sharp.

Carving knives are integral for slicing and cutting cooked meat efficiently.

But like any blade, after heavy or long-term use, it will eventually get dull.

Dull carving knives won’t slice through much, let alone cooked meat.

On top of that, it can also be dangerous to use a dull knife.

So, make sure to regularly sharpen your carving knife to keep it in tip-top condition.

In this article, we’ll be going through some of the different methods you can use to effectively sharpen your carving knife.

Read on to learn more.

What is it?

Before we go on and check how we can sharpen them, let us distinguish first what is a carving knife (if you honestly don’t know that you own one).

Carving knives are those with very long blades with thinner blade surfaces.

Probably you have used it to get a perfect slice of turkey, that’s why it is also quite thin.

Some call this a carver or slicer.

Some are confused with this knife with those that are used for garnishing.

The word ‘carving’ is commonly related to sculpture – but in garnishing, the art mostly requires those with smaller blade sizes like a bird’s beak knife.

how to sharpen carving knife

This should also not be confused with the bread knife, it may have a similar length but a carving knife usually have a straight blade.

Bread knives usually have a serrated one.

Carving knives today have ‘gratons’ or small holes, which some may feel is a different knife.

It helps in preventing the meat to stick with the knife, which assists in having better slices.

See more: Best carving knives for your money

Using a whetstone

Whetstone is the most popular tool in sharpening straight-edged knives.

In case you are not familiar with it, whetstone is a fine-grained stone with different ranges for sharpening.

It can also be used for other straight-edged sharp tools, such as scissors.

To understand the range of the stone, here is a simple explanation of them.

Chipped and very dull knives would need a smaller range such as 1000 and below, while those that just want to maintain the sharpness will need a higher one (around 5000 and above).

It is also important to note that some knives will prefer a specific range so it may differ from other knives.

The preferred range for use in a carving knife is around 3000, if not much dull.

First, soak the whetstone in water for some time to have a smoother glide with every use.

Then, hold the handle of the carving knife with your prominent hand.

Rest your thumb on the spine or on the top surface where it is not on the side of the stone.

Use your other hand to guide the knife while sharpening.

Place it on the topmost surface near the edge of the blade.

Begin by sliding the knife to the soaked whetstone from the heel of the knife up to the tip in a slightly curved position (near to lying flat, or follow the bevel angle of the knife).

Make sure that all the edges of the blade touch the whetstone.

You can start slowly, and once you get the hang of it you may go a bit faster.

Do the same on the other side by flipping the knife while still holding it using your prominent hand.

It is done when you feel that the knife is already sharp and it glides smoothly on the whetstone.

You can test the sharpness by having a paper test.

It is done by holding a piece of paper in the air then slicing a piece on the free side.

It should be able to cut it smoothly without having bumps.

If you see some dark spots, there is no need to worry.

It should disappear over time or when you wash the whetstone.

Using an electronic knife sharpener

Honestly, there is no recommended method on how to properly use an electronic knife sharpener.

Different models can have different ways to use it.

Refer to the instruction guide or manual to help you accordingly on its proper use.

Most likely, you will hold the knife and insert the blade on its opening.

If you will use it with a carving knife, look after the knife’s blade especially on the tip as it has a narrower surface.

It may not be visible while sharpening it on the machine.

For safety and protection, it is better to use electronic knife sharpeners in open or free spaces.

It will allow easier movement in case something wrong happened to the machine.

Using an electronic version of the whetstone makes sharpening easier than ever.

However, some knife models may not be fully sharpened.

The opening in the electronic sharpener may not be able to reach the end of the edge near the handle, as some carving knives have heels that prohibit the knife to go further.

Even if this is not an electronic item, some well-known knifemakers have a warranty to show their confidence that the knife will last the usual wear and tear.

Before sharpening them, it is preferable to check on the terms and conditions.

Manufacturers may list down what is allowed to be done with the knife.

Sharpening them on your own may null the warranty.

If you need clarifications, you can call their contact number or send them an email to clarify.

You may reach out through their official social media pages as well.


Whatever method you choose, it is important to proceed with caution.

Sharpening knives may look easy, but they can cause accidents and serious injuries if not done in the correct way.

Keep in mind the importance of having sharp knives too, as dull knives are dangerous to use.

Always make sure that your knife is always in good shape, especially those that deal with meats.

Ryan Leavitt

Hi my name is Ryan Leavitt a Marine Corps Veteran and currently an over the road trucker (Long Haul). I am no expert chef but am enjoying preparing my own meals on the road and testing all the different knives.

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