I once worked with a retired professional chef, who gave me the best cooking advice I’ve ever received; “Life is too short to cook with cheap knives.”
Until then, I’d been buying cheap knives, and getting cheap results. I then discovered the wonder that are Global knives. They’re professional-level knives that are sharp enough to shave with, but even with the best knives, they get dull over time. Rather than dropping $10-20 each time to sharpen them, I learned how to do it myself, and now sharpen all my knives once a year, all for the cost of a $20 whetstone. I use a 400/1000 stone (the number is the grit, like sandpaper), but you can get coarser or finer stones.
Keep in mind this technique will not work on serrated blades, or ones without a flat edge.
What you’ll need:
Step 1: Wet the whetstone
Take the whetstone, and drop it in a bowl of water big enough to completely submerge the stone in water. Leave it there at least 5 minutes, until the stone is full of water. Place the stone on your cutting board, and start with the coarsest grit up.
Step 2: Find the blade angle
Lay your knife flat against the stone, and then push down on the cutting edge of the blade to find out what the angle of the blade edge is. You want to hold the blade against the stone at that angle, so you sharpen the edge that already exists, rather than grinding a new edge. The dark grey you see on the stone in the Vine is part of the steel that’s being ground away, and the blue is the stone that’s being ground away. This is why you only sharpen when you need it – because you’re grinding off part of the blade.
Step 3: Sharpen away!
Holding the blade at the angle of the edge, push the blade across the stone, as if you were cutting a thin piece off the top of the stone. Make sure you run the blade from the handle to the tip so you get an even edge. Do 5 times on one side, toward you, then 5 times on the other side, away from you. Repeat until most of the notches on your blade are gone.
Step 4: Get finer
Move up in grit to the finer grit once you have a smooth angle. This will help hone the blade, and smooth out the edge.
“But I have one of those sharpening steels with my knife set, I don’t need this!”
Yeah, that’s what I thought too. Chef dude told me that sharpening steels do not actually sharpen the blade, they just make it straighter. As you use your knife, the blade gets knocked out of whack on a microscopic level, and a steel helps to straighten it between sharpenings, but won’t make it sharper.