You need to adjust your fingers as you move the knife back and forth. Because sharpening takes place under your fingers, start with them at the tip and, as you pull the knife back toward you, release pressure completely and pause. Then, shift your fingers just a little down the blade toward the heel. This finger dance is critical and takes time getting used to.
using an appropriate blade for the task – a thinner blade for more delicate work, and a thicker blade whenever a thinner blade is not required (e.g. a thinner blade might be used to cut fillets, butterfly steak or roast for stuffing, or perform Mukimono, while a thicker one might be used to slice or chop repeatedly, separate primal cuts of poultry or small game, or scrape and trim fat from meat or hide, as these actions would be more likely to cause unnecessary wear on a thinner blade.)
Different knives are sharpened differently according to grind (edge geometry) and application. For example, surgical scalpels are extremely sharp but fragile, and are generally disposed of, rather than sharpened, after use. Straight razors used for shaving must cut with minimal pressure, and thus must be very sharp with a small angle and often a hollow grind. Typically these are stropped daily or more often. Kitchen knives are less sharp, and generally cut by slicing rather than just pressing, and are steeled daily. At the other extreme, an axe for chopping wood will be less sharp still, and is primarily used to split wood by chopping, not by slicing, and may be reground but will not be sharpened daily. In general, but not always, the harder the material to be cut, the higher (duller) the angle of the edge.
Select the grit of the stone. Sharpening stones are available with different grit sizes. For example, you can choose fine, medium and coarse stones. You should use a coarse stone followed by a fine grit if your knives are dull. If your knives have been sharpened recently or they aren't too dull, consider using a medium grit. Try to use a grit level ranging from 325 (for coarse) to 1200 (for extra fine).
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To use Al's method, take a black felt pen and shade in the bevel of the knife. Then take two strokes on the stone and examine the edge. If you have maintained the proper angle then all the black will be gone. If you see black on the top of the edge it means you are holding the back of the knife too far from the stone. If there is black on the bottom of the edge but the top is clean then you are laying the knife too flat on the stone and you need to raise it a bit. Repaint the edge and try it again. Once you discover what the right angle looks like then just maintain that.
The goal in sharpening a serration is to maintain the ramp of the serration right to the edge. You do not want to create an edge bevel. Therefore we once again recommend the trusty felt pen trick. Paint the serration to be sharpened and follow your process. Evaluate if you are removing all the black. It should not take more than 5-8 strokes to resharpen if your angle was correct. Rotate or spin the sharpener as you go for the most even, consistent sharpening.
Removing the burr is fairly simple. You'll need a leather strop or block (this sort of thing), which is designed to catch the metal fibres from the knife. You could do it with a fibrous tea towel or some newspaper if you like, but I'd suggest going with leather to begin with. The motion is fairly similar to sharpening. Draw the knife over the leather, going away from the edge at roughly the same angle as when you sharpened.
Put the pointed, narrow end of the sharpener up against the open end of the gut hook. The narrow, pointed end of the sharpener should face in toward the thickness of the blade, away from the edge of the gut hook. Match the angle of the sharpener to the original edge angle. This will maintain the correct sharpening angle and prevent you from getting cut by the blade tip. Hold the same angle when sharpening each side of the gut hook.
One more thing to consider before you proceed is if you would like to sharpen your knife freehand or use a guide such as the DMT Sharpening Guide. Your skill and experience in sharpening will help you decide on the method that's best for you. If you are experienced and comfortable with freehand sharpening, a knife guide may be unnecessary. On the other hand, a knife sharpening guide is an inexpensive and easy way to keep the angle consistent. If you have tried to sharpen before but never achieved the proper edge, we recommend using the sharpening guide. The guide can solve common mistakes in the sharpening process. If you choose to use a guide, please read our how-to for using the knife sharpening guide.
A: Another issue that comes up with electric knife sharpeners is how to clean them. Or if, in fact, they actually need cleaning at all. The answer to the second question is that yes, they do need to be cleaned occasionally. And by occasionally we mean once a year or so if you use them with any frequency. Obviously if you’ve only used the sharpener a few times then there’s no compelling reason to clean it, other than just wanting to keep things tidy (and there’s nothing wrong with that). So, having established that sharpeners do need to be cleaned occasionally you need to know how to do so in a safe and effective manner. It’s not complicated.