There are just as many knives available as there is a knife sharpening system to go with each one. Some people recommend putting your kitchen knives in the dishwasher because of the high temperatures, other say don’t put them in the dishwasher because of the high temperatures and the chance of them being knocked around. Which answer is right? What ever you feel comfortable with is the right answer.
What is a Knife Sharpening System?
Some people just clean their kitchen knives with hot, soapy water; however, you must be very careful not to cut yourself with this method. Never drop your knives into a sink of soapy water, take them one at a time and wash them before rinsing them the same way. You can really cut yourself if you have to dig into a tub of soapy water looking for a kitchen knife to wash.
To protect your knives, it is best to keep them in a block holder or some type of holder rather than just thrown in a kitchen drawer. This is for the same reason; it is easy to be cut by your kitchen knives if you are reaching into a pile of knives that are not secured by something or if your knives are not placed in something. Manufacturers of knives make sleeves to cover the sharp part of the knife or there are special boxes that you can put in the drawers to protect you and your knives.
Most knife sharpening system kits come with honing ‘sticks’ which are basically long, round pieces of stainless steal and you take the knife you want sharpened and run it up and down the rod of stainless steal at an angle until you get just the right sharpness to your knife. This is one of the fastest and simplest ways to sharpen a knife.
Advantages of Sharpening Stones
Other knife sharpening system kits include whetstones in which you can rub the knife across the surface and get a sharper knife in minutes. Some of these whetstones need lubrication such as water or oil, depending on the brand of whetstone you are using. Arkansas is a popular brand and style of whetstone used around the country for its fine, abrasive properties on the stone. And yes, they come from Arkansas.
There is also a diamond whetstone which contains small amounts of glass or diamond abrasives however this is an expensive way to sharpen your knives or tools. To care for your whetstone, take some granules of sand and put them on a piece of glass, add a little water and rub the whetstone in a circular motion until the granules are ground down. This will help to maintain the abrasiveness of the whetstone.
Consistent Sharpening Angle is Key
There is a leather strap method of knife sharpening in which you gently take the knife back and forth across a thick, leather strap to gently make the blade’s edge sharper. This is usually reserved for barbers and hairdressers who have straight edged blades; however it works for all types of knives from kitchen knives and small pocket knives to long, sword type knives.
Some kitchen knives come with their own sharpening device built into the block holder and every time you place the knives into the slots and then pull them out for use, they sharpen themselves; you don’t need to do a thing except take them out of the holder and use them, then put them back into the holder after cleaning them and they will remain sharp for as long as you have your knives.
There is a knife sharpening system that is made of two blades of stainless steal that is shaped into a V and it is contained in a piece of plastic or wood to hold it into place and you drag the blade across this to sharpen the edges. This can be done several times to gain the sharpness on the blades.
What’s Best for Your Knives?
For utility and other specialty knives such as filleting knives, boning knives and small paring knives which are thinner and require a more delicate knife sharpening system, use the honing stones and a little light pressure to get the sharpened edge. There are special systems for serrated knives so you can get each little ‘saw blade’ or ‘tooth’ sharpened without wearing down the ‘teeth.’
Caring for your knife collection, whether its kitchen knives or a collection of vintage knives, should be done carefully and with attention to detail. You want to be careful not to cut yourself or nick the knives in any way.