“Your knives are spoons.” That’s the way Tiffany Vickers Davis, our Test Kitchen Manager, described the pitiful state of some neglected knives I brought to the kitchen for sharpening. They were beyond dull, and I begged Robin Bashinsky in our TK to revive them on the whetstone.
I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of sharpening on a stone, but it’s actually pretty easy. You can pick up a stone at your local hardware store for around $15 or $20—you don’t have to invest in the super-expensive ones sold at kitchen stores. Rub a little honing oil (or even olive or canola oil) over the stone, and set about to sharpening. Hold the knife at an angle of 17° to 20° and pull it across in even strokes; start on the coarse side and pull an even number of strokes on each side of the blade. Flip to the fine side of the stone and do the same thing. Test the sharpness of the knife by barely dragging it across a tomato; it should cut through with ease, without you putting any pressure on the blade. If it doesn’t, keep sharpening until it does. That’s all there is to it! Oh, and regularly hone the knife, before every use ideally, on a steel. Here’s a video of Robin showing exactly how it’s all done. I now know how to better maintain my knives! And I’ll tell you, cooking is much more enjoyable when you slice onions with a sharp knife … and not the equivalent of a spoon.