Ye olde tomato test - After you have sharpened using one of the above sharpeners grab a firm tomato and try to slice it. If the blade is properly sharpened it will slice through the skin with virtually no effort and without pushing the skin inward first. If the skin is able to fight back against the blade then your knives are not properly sharpened yet.
A: That depends almost entirely on how often you use them. If you are a professional chef who uses his or her knives every day then you should hone them every time you use your knives. But honing has its limits and over time your edge is going to become dull no matter what. Therefore your knives will need to be sharpened at least several times a year. Some chefs, in fact, will use a whetstone on an almost daily basis in order to ensure their knives are always razor sharp. Most of us, however, are not professional chefs and may not even touch our kitchen knives for days at a time. In that case, it’s probably a good idea to hone the edge after every couple of uses and have your knives sharpened once a year.
The humble sharpener tends to elicit more divergent opinions than just about any other type of kitchen tech. Everyone, it turns out, has their own take on which type of sharpener works best and why and most serious chefs aren’t shy about voicing their opinion. As you can imagine then there are a number of things most chefs – both professional and amateur – look for in a sharpener in order to ensure they get the one that’s right for them. These considerations include:
Your immediate goal is to raise a burr on the side of knife opposite to the side you are sharpening and depending on the steel, the grit of stone and how you are doing, it will be either a very quick process or it will seem like it takes an eternity. Patience here will reward you, believe me. The sharpening process is incomplete with no burr creation on your first stone. (Yes, it is possible to stop at that magic moment without the burr forming but we are not there yet, we don’t even need to go there, ever, I am just mentioning it so those gifted sharpeners will be happy) . Think of the burr as the debris that is making the knife dull being forced down the blade towards the edge and over to the other side of the by your sharpening prowess. You form the burr, that knife will get sharp, no burr, you just need to look at your work. A Loupe is handy here, an inexpensive magnifying device with a light that allows you to see the edge very well, if you are not forming a burr, you are not reaching the edge. (Having a loupe also makes you look cool and scientific, like a Sharpologist).
Over the course of two days I re-sharpened nearly a dozen old blades, including removing the secondary bevel on an old stainless Ontario saber-grind Navy diver's knife, convexing the edge on flat ground 1095 Schrade 55 that also came with a secondary bevel, and fixing a broken tip on an old Kershaw folder. These stones made quick work of the Schrade and Kershaw. Both had completely new edge geometry within 30 minutes apiece. The Kershaw looked like-new, as if the tip had never broken. And the Schrade cut much better than it's secondary bevel would previously allow, regardless of how sharp I got it with a ceramic rod and strops. The Ontario took a little more work, as it had been abused a little the last time I'd held it, over 25 years ago and was as dull as a case knife - one of the reasons I decided to go ahead and do a full saber grind - well, a slightly convexed saber, I suppose would be more accurate. But within under an hour of using the two stones and a couple leather strops (one with black compound, another with green), the Ontario was shaving sharp again too.
There are no lengthy explanations needed to describe the Lansky 8” Ceramic Sharp Stick sharpener. It’s an old-fashioned device comprised of a hardwood handle and ceramic sharpening rod. That’s it. Sure it’s not going to create an absolutely picture perfect edge down to the last micron but it will keep your knives really sharp and do so for next to nothing.
Honing steels are another story altogether. Honing steels are those instruments that look light a saber (light or otherwise) which you use to gussy up the edge of the blade periodically before using it. These do wear out every few years or less, depending on how often you use them. If you are unsure whether your honing steel is worn out run your finger around it. If it feels smooth all the way around then it’s time for a replacement. Not to worry though, they’re really affordable. One thing you may want to keep in mind about honing steels is that they typically won’t do much to hone the edge of some super hard knives, such as Japanese Global brand knives.

If no metal is being removed from the edge of the blade, it’s considered honing. Whereas if metal is being removed from the blade edge this is considered sharpening. Certainly, even honing will result in some microscopic amounts of metal being removed from the blade edge but not enough to be visible to the human eye, so the above definition is basically a solid one.
One thing about this stone is that it is very "thirsty." I had a cup of water close by just to add a little water periodically when it felt like it was scraping a little too aggressively. Also, be sure to do as the instructions say and use different parts of the sharpening surface. I wasn't paying attention the first few minutes, and apparently I would end each sharpening pass in the exact same spot, creating a very very small notch on the edge of the stone. So I turned the stone around and made sure to vary the ending spot, and it seemed to buff out that little notch very quickly. My knife is now incredibly sharp--it seems to glide through material rather than "cut" it. I know some people would continue to go even higher with the grit, but for my purposes this whetstone is just perfect. I'll be tackling the kitchen knives next!
Over the course of two days I re-sharpened nearly a dozen old blades, including removing the secondary bevel on an old stainless Ontario saber-grind Navy diver's knife, convexing the edge on flat ground 1095 Schrade 55 that also came with a secondary bevel, and fixing a broken tip on an old Kershaw folder. These stones made quick work of the Schrade and Kershaw. Both had completely new edge geometry within 30 minutes apiece. The Kershaw looked like-new, as if the tip had never broken. And the Schrade cut much better than it's secondary bevel would previously allow, regardless of how sharp I got it with a ceramic rod and strops. The Ontario took a little more work, as it had been abused a little the last time I'd held it, over 25 years ago and was as dull as a case knife - one of the reasons I decided to go ahead and do a full saber grind - well, a slightly convexed saber, I suppose would be more accurate. But within under an hour of using the two stones and a couple leather strops (one with black compound, another with green), the Ontario was shaving sharp again too.
But it's a different type of sharp, according to Joe Authbert, product development manager at ProCook. "What it does is add tiny little micro-serrations onto the edge of the blade." But fear not - your smart knife won't end up looking like a bread knife, as you'll be hard-pressed to spot the serrations. "If you looked at it under a microscope, on the cutting edge, there are these little lines that generate the sharpness, rather than a waterstone which is a smooth sharp edge," says Authbert. 
My first set of sharpening stones so I have nothing to compare them to. For $50, though, great price to get into the world of sharpening. Stones are great and easy to use. Was able to put hair shaving edges on knives. Took a couple of knives to feel comfortable and better with the process and how to sharpen, but the stones you get work great. Here's the secret though. Get the green leather stoping block as well. As great as the stone are, I have found that stroping the knife after the fact is what really brings out that razor edge. And after using the knife, stroping it again, will restore and keep it razor sharp. Hope you enjoy it as much as I am.
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