We all know that you need to exercise caution when handling and using a very sharp knife in the kitchen but many of us would probably be less wary when handling a dull knife because we think it is less likely to cause us harm.
Keeping your kitchen knives nicely sharpened and ready for action is going to make food preparation and other tasks a whole lot easier and keep you safer, but that is not the only reason why a dull knife is best avoided.
If you work on the basis that using a dull knife requires you to exert more pressure to cut through a food item, it is easy to see why it could become more dangerous than you think, as you are more likely to lose control of the knife, which is when accidents tend to happen.
The best advice of all when it comes to knives is to try and source the best quality knife you can afford from a site like Benchmade Knives and others like it, but in the meantime, there is a simple sharpness test that you can carry out on your existing kitchen knives.
The paper test will you determine whether your knife needs sharpening before being used again on food preparation and is something you should consider doing on a regular basis with any kitchen knives you are using.
Even top quality knives will still need sharpening periodically to keep them in good shape so try to ensure that you don’t get yourself in a position where you are trying to uses a dull knife, which can actually be more dangerous than a sharp one.
Having established that a dull knife is a potential accident waiting to happen because of the loss of control and extra force you might need to use, the question that many will ask is how sharp does the knife have to be?
Although it is often the case that you should work on the basis of the sharper the better for your knife, there are some exceptions to the rule, such as having a knife with a coarser edge and tooth pattern, which makes cutting soft food items like tomatoes much easier.
The sharpness of your edge is dictated by the bevel, with a lower angle producing a sharper edge. Using a fine stone to sharpen your blade will generally give you the best possible edge and many consider this a more preferable option to a desktop knife sharpener.
Using a Bench Stone
You will need to select the right coarseness for your bench stone in order to get the best results when sharpening your knives.
Not every knife in your set needs to be sharpened with the coarsest stone you have although if a knife has become very dull, it is best to try and get it back to its best by using the coarsest stone you have available.
A coarse stone will work to refine a poor edge as quickly as possible but if your starting point is a knife which is only slightly duller than you want it to be, start with a medium or fine stone and see if that works first of all.
Sharpening the Knife
Having the right stone for the task is just one part of the knife-sharpening equation.
Start by resting your knife on the selected stone at the chosen bevel angle. If you are unsure how to determine the correct angle, try to visualize a 45 degree angle and then take half of that amount to give you a suitable starting point.
Using a slicing action, bring the entire length of the blade across the stone with a sweeping motion that starts at the heel of the knife on the stone and terminates at the point of the knife. Be sure to try and maintain the angle of the knife on the stone throughout the movement and repeat the process until you have achieved the desired level of sharpness.
The stones will need replacing over time once they have given you good service. It is normally time to change the stone when you notice a burr forming on the opposite side of the edge. Exercise caution when carrying out this check and don’t run your finger along the knife edge itself, as this will normally have only one unfortunate outcome and is best avoided!
Keeping your knives in good shape is important and using stones to keep them sharp is easy once you get used to it.
KnivesShipFree is a family business run by Derrick and Wendy Bohn. Since 2006, KnivesShipFree has become one of the foremost internet knife retailers in the world. They are among the top distributors of Bark River Knives, Great Eastern Cutlery, Zero Tolerance and Benchmade Knives.The company began and has continued to this day to have the best customer service, selection and shipping of any knife website.