For those that are new to the world of custom knives, here is a short introduction to knife sharpening. Unfortunately, it is quite common to see someone that has found a new passion for knives knows very little about how to take care of and maintain them. So what is the best way to sharpen a knife?
Maintaining The Blade
While a blade may seem like a very strong and solid piece of metal, in reality it is very delicate in nature. For Western style knives, the blade maker bevels each side of the edge down until a burr is created. Then the burr is smoothed out to create a very sharp edge. But because the metal is so thin at this edge, it can easily become damaged if used for things other than what it was intended.
Maintaining sharpness doesn’t only depend upon actually sharpening the blade. Taking care to keep the blade protected and dry is a great way to lengthen the life of your blade even when it isn’t in use. Keeping a blade properly oiled is a great way to do this. While a blade will be somewhat protected in a sheath, it is still subject to moisture due to humidity. Oiling the blade will ensure that humidity is unable to reach the fine edge.
Obviously, regular use of a blade, whether it be a hunting blade, utility knife, or a kitchen knife will require that it be sharpened on a regular basis as well. In this age of modern convenience, it can be tempting to go the route of the electric knife sharpener. Let’s take a look at why you should NOT do this with your custom blades.
Most knife sharpeners will only sharpen to two angles. The manufacturer of your knife sharpens the blade to a specific angle based on the steel they used in making the blade. Wusthof electric knife sharpeners are designed in this way.
No matter how expensive a knife sharpener you buy, you’ll only get at most 2 options for sharpening angles. What this means is that the first time you use it to sharpen a knife, it essentially grinds off part of the blade in order sharpen it to the specified angle of the sharpener. In some cases, this can be A LOT of material.
On top of that, because these sharpeners move so quickly, it is very easy to damage sensitive metals. Before you know it you can remove more material than you ever intended, and you might possibly irreversibly damage the blade.
For that reason, the sharpening stones are recommended for sharpening and maintaining custom knives. Or any knife that you care about for that matter. The best sharpening stones allow YOU set the angle. You work at your own pace allowing you to control how much material to remove from the blade in order to maintain it’s sharpness.
If you’re intimidated by the idea of using sharpening stones, this is OK. It takes a good bit of practice to get it just right. But there are tons of videos out there to help you learn. And it’s worth spending the time on it as it will extend the life of your knives immeasurably. Here’s another good resource to find the best kitchen knife sharpener reviews for your particular type of blade.
A good knife should last as long as it’s owner. With proper maintenance and care, you can insure that your custom knives are around as long as you are. You can find more information at make it sharp.