How often do you sharpen your kitchen knives?

I’ve been cooking a ton lately. My chef’s knife is getting dull (last had it sharpened professionally a ways back).

I know that I’m *supposed *to hit it with the steel before any knife action, though I never do. Also, I believe the steel only maintains the edge and removes “blemishes” on the cutting edge, but does not do anything to actually “sharpen” the knife, correct?

So now I’m thinking of getting a sharpening stone. It appears that the hardest part is maintaining the correct angle while sharpening.

Let’s say I do a good job sharpening it, then always hit the steel before a cutting session, how often would I need to sharpen it?

I’m mostly using it on vegetables (onions, peppers, potatoes and carrots), basically never on meat or bone.

Depends on how often you use it, of course. I sharpen mine maybe once a month or so on a Chef’s Choice machine. I sharpen my two Asian knives by hand on a hand sharpener (they have a shallower angle and the Chef’s Choice is angled for European knives).

The steel does not remove any metal. It aligns the edge to keep a sharp knife sharp, but it can’t make it sharper than it already is.

But I don’t use my knives each day. If I did I would probably be sharpening them much more often.

A lot it depends on how good the knife is, better steel just holds the edge better. What kind of cutting board you use, Glass or marble take it down much faster then wood, and just how often and how much you cook.
Personally I use mine on the stone every two-three weeks which is serious overkill for how much I cook I’ just have always found it relaxing to work on a bench stone while I watch TV. Doing it that often does make it fairly quick, no need to use anything but a finishing stone for 3-4 minutes to get it back to razor sharp.

I steel mine before every use, and have them professionally sharpened once a year or so.

Wow. If I’m not mistaken, you cook a ton, correct?

I don’t worry about it unless I experience a problem. If a knife is shredding meat, instead of cutting it, or having trouble cutting a fresh tomato . . . then it gets sharpened. Otherwise, I have more important things to worry about.

I’ve always wondered what cutting with a professionally maintained knife would be like.

Mine cuts well, but not great.

I keep wondering if I’m going too long between sharpening, or if I really should steel it more often.

Using a steel doesn’t technically “sharpen” in that it doesn’t remove any material, but in practice (by aligning a “turned over” edge) it absolutely makes your knife feel sharper and perform better…I’m also in the steel regularly, professionally sharpen occasionally camp.

Harbor Freight sells a diamond hone block as seen here:

http://www.harborfreight.com/catalogsearch/result?q=knife+sharpener

It’s awesome. With a bit of practice and patience, you can put an edge on a knife that you can shave with and is long-lasting.

Correct. There is nothing in the kitchen more dangerous than a dull knife, so we keep them sharp.

I think there was a Good Eats show about sharpening knives vs. honing them regularly. I just had three knives sharpened today at the farmer’s market of all places, and it’s the first time I’ve had these particular ones professionally sharpened. Honing them regularly seems to have worked for quite a long time. If I recall the episode correctly, professional sharpening is only needed occasionally, as it’s the very sharp (and so, thin) edge that basically rolls over a little and honing regularly keeps it straight. Actual sharpening removes a little steel each time, so it shouldn’t be done that often, nor should it need to, or you will eventually run out of blade! BTW, two of the knives I’ve had for about 20 years (don’t use often) and the newer one I use every day is over a year old.

Same here, mine go to Northwest Cutlery twice a year and I use a steel every time they come off the magnetic rack.

I have a Tormek wet wheel I use for my woodworking tools and on my good pocket knives. I occasionally use it on my good kitchen cutlery, but most of the time I use my Chefs Choice unit. Two diamond wheels and one honing wheel. It’s convenient to use, so knives get at least honed after every few uses.

Ditto. I cook a ton, and once a year is usually fine. Twice a year at the most. I just hone them in between sharpenings and then I get them professionally sharpened when I need to, because it’s pretty cheap (just a few bucks a blade) and they know what they’re doing better than I do. I generally judge a knife’s sharpness based on its ability to cleanly cut through a tomato. It should be able to slice through without any downward pressure, except for the weight of the blade itself. If it doesn’t, then it’s time to get the knife sharpened.

Oh, I see zoid goes to the same place I do. :slight_smile:

You really don’t need to and don’t want to sharpen too often. Once or twice per year should be enough for most people.

GATOC has a series of knife sharpening systems that incorporates a blade clamp which provides several easily repeatable angles.

http://www.gatcosharpeners.com/video/default.mgi?mgiToken=2MP8FI62764SAD2PB73

I make a few passes on a steel before each session I use my knive because I’m not the only one using my knives. It is what it is. :cool:

I sharpen my knives with a stone, usually GATCO I but have several others, whenever the blades are slow to cut.

My knives aren’t heirlooms. They were meant to be used and sharpening them removes metal. When they’re too small to be of any use as intended, I may turn a worn carving knife into a pairing knife.

I sharpen my knives when they get dull, or as part of the prep for major cooking. I don’t bother with a steel. I have a few stones around for the periodic sharpening, and maybe every other year I do some on the bench grinder. I have several carbon steel knives, and those need an occasional pass with the hone while working to keep the very best edge. But I’d guess that almost 90% of my knife work is slicing, dicing, and chopping vegetables. I do that with a stainless chopping knife, and as long as it has an edge it’ll do for everything but tomatoes.

Related question, does using the steel regularly allow the edge to remain sharp longer, or is it just a function of how often you use the knife?

I’ve found that if you get them professionally sharpened and ALWAYS use a steel before using the knife, they’ll stay sharp an incredibly long time - several months for an everyday-used blade, and up to a year for the ones I don’t use that often.

Steeling is the key. It definitely makes the blade stay sharp longer.

When I sharpen at home, which is most of the time because there’s no professional service I trust in this town, it takes forrreeeevveer with my little Chef’s Choice electric sharpener, so I don’t get them as sharp as when I bite the bullet and send them away for sharpening. Ideally I should sharpen once a month or so when I do it that way. But (hangs my head in shame) I hate doing it, and thus my knives are usually not as sharp as I’d like.

That said, “not as sharp as I’d like” is still sharper than 90% of people’s knives, if my friends/relatives are any indication. Sharp knives seem to be very rare in most kitchens.

Whenever I finish cleaning one.

Cooking in a foreign kitchen is always an adventure. I’m surprised at how many people don’t even have what I consider the most basic of knives: the chef’s knife. Hell, my mom’s kitchen doesn’t even have a chef’s knife, and I made do with something more like a long-bladed carving knife that has no “rock” to it (ability to pivot on the blade while chopping). My mother cooks well and obviously has made do with it, so it’s not like a chef’s knife (or similar, like santoku) is absolutely required in a kitchen, but I’m just so used to working with certain tools. At my then-girlfriend/now-wife’s apartment, the best knife I had for cutting was a dull 5 inch utility knife, which drove me nuts when I was trying to hack a large roast into cubes. Eventually, I just bought an extra chef’s knife to keep at her place.