What Is The Proper Way To Sharpen A Knife?

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 04/16/21 •  5 min read

There are different proper ways of sharpening a knife, depending on the type you own. Straight-edged ones are best sharpened using a whetstone, although those pull-throughs and electric sharpeners will give you decent results. Serrated blades are best sharpened using those pointy rods. But the best way to sharpen knives is to let the pros do it, especially if you have no idea how to go about this chore.

A dull blade can do more harm than a sharp one ever will.
This is something master chefs and knife connoisseurs will tell home cooks every single chance that they get.

The blunting of a knife is a common occurrence, especially when it is getting used often in the kitchen, that is why sharpening is a must.

We will take a look at the right way to sharpen those kitchen workhorses you’ve got and touch a bit on how to maintain that incisive edge.

How Often Should I Sharpen My Knife?

Before we get started, it’s important to know the difference between honing and sharpening.

Honing a knife is done using a honing rod or knife steel, and it has to be done before every use, especially if you use the knives regularly.

Honing doesn’t exactly sharpen the edge, instead, it straightens and aligns it because using the blade regularly misaligns the edge, and the steel corrects that.

Now when it comes to sharpening, that’s a completely different story.

This needs to be done whenever you feel the blade has gotten dull, you can test this by slicing through a piece of paper, which is usually called the paper test.

If it fails to neatly slice through paper, try using the honing steel, and if it still doesn’t slice through after that, you need to sharpen it.

If a blade is used regularly, this will have to be done one to two times a year, and there a couple of ways to do it, which we’ll check out in the next section.

What Is The Proper Way To Sharpen A Knife?

Using A Whetstone

This is one of the best ways that you can sharpen your knife, but be wary, this requires a lot of technique and practice.

On top of that, it will take a lot of time, but it will be very worth it.

To do this, you will need to securely place the whetstone coarse side up on top of a rubber shelf liner or wet paper towels.

From there, face the knife away from you and place the handle end on the stone at the appropriate range (15 degrees for Asian knives and 20 degrees for German ones).

Place your hand in the middle of the flat side of the blade then draw the blade down the stone in a wide and circular manner.

You will have to do this a couple of times, depending on how dull your knife is.

Once you have the appropriate edge on the first side (you can test this by running your thumb perpendicular to the blade and if you feel the burr throughout the entire blade, it’s sharp enough), you’ll have to repeat the process on the other side until the knife is sharp.

While this may sound simple, if you do it wrong, you might risk damaging the blade, which is why this isn’t recommended if you aren’t properly trained.

Using An Electric Sharpener

Next up is probably the easiest way for you.

While these electric sharpeners may cost some money, they are very much worth it.

To use them, simply put your dull knives into the machine and it will do all the work for you.

All you have to do is slowly pull your blade through the sharpener while it’s on, and repeat it on both sides of the knife until you have the desired edge.

Different manufacturers will also have different instructions, so you might want to read the manual first before trying the machine out.

That being said, keep in mind these tools can’t be used on knives with a full bolster as the full blade won’t run through the sharpener, which results in an uneven blade.

Using A Manual Sharpener

This is the second-best option in the kitchen, and it can also be used to sharpen serrated knives.

These tools contain a chamber with abrasives that are either non-motorized wheels or an abrasive fashioned into a V-shape to accommodate the blade.

To use this tool, simply run your blades through the sharpener with even pressure a couple of times until the desired edge is reached.

Most of these tools will come with instructions, and every model will have its own unique way of being used, so make sure to read the manual before using the sharpener.


These are the quickest and easiest ways to sharpen a dull knife.

This will need to be done regularly, so it’s best to choose the method that fits in the best in your kitchen, so you won’t be hassled every time your tools need sharpening.

Regardless of the method you choose, however, knife sharpening is a craft that takes a lot of patience and practice to get right, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it right the first try.

But once you get the hang of things, it will be very easy, and all your knives and kitchen tools will surely be sharp enough to perform, every single time!

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.