The best way of sharpening a knife is with a whetstone. There are other knife sharpening devices available, but most of them tend to grind away too much of your knife's blade. Learning the right way to use a whetstone may take a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it you'll be able to keep knives razor sharp and save time and money.
Get yourself a two-sided whetstone, with a coarse grit on one side and a fine grit on the other.
Different knives require the edge of the knife to be applied to the stone at a different angle, depending on the manufacturing specs. But in general, it's somewhere around 22 degrees. To visualize this, picture 90 degrees, which is straight up and down. Then imagine half of that, which is 45 degrees. And then another half of that is 22½ degrees. Don't worry about the half degree. But do consult your knife's manufacturer to verify the correct angle.
Also, check out this video on how to sharpen a knife with a whetstone.
- Place the whetstone on a cutting board or countertop, with the coarse grit face up. A wet paper towel underneath the stone can help keep it from sliding.
- With one hand, grasp the knife by the handle and hold the edge against the stone, point-first, with the cutting edge meeting the stone at around a 22-degree angle. You can stabilize the blade with your other hand.
- With moderate pressure, slide the blade forward and across the whetstone, covering the entire length of the blade and keeping the blade flush against the stone at a constant 22-degree angle.
- Do this 10 times, then flip the knife over and give the other side of the blade 10 strokes on the whetstone.
- Now flip the whetstone over to the fine grit side and give each side of the blade 10 strokes.
- Finish by using a sharpening steel to hone the blade, then rinse and wipe the blade dry to remove any metal particles.
- Always sharpen in the same direction, whether it's front-to-back or back-to-front.
- Despite what its name might suggest, keep your whetstone dry. Using oil or water on a whetstone traps tiny metal particles in the liquid, which in turn produce a more ragged edge than when using a dry stone.
- Don't believe the hype about knives that supposedly "never need sharpening." Cutting produces friction, and friction causes a knife's edge to lose its sharpness. There's no avoiding the laws of physics.