BURRFECTION

5 Biggest Lies of Knife Sharpening

I can act like many knife expert trolls online and tell you only the best will do. I can make outrageous claims about being able to push cut toilet paper. I can tell you I am the best knife sharpener, but I am not. I am giving you the same advice I would give a family member, and I hope you can appreciate that. 

 

Lie #1: Needing expensive equipment.

While it is true that you get what you pay for – it does not mean that you must spend a lot of money to get quality products. There is a wide selection of products in all price ranges, and there is something for everyone. I sharpened a knife on a brick to prove this point, and the blade was reasonably sharp. So while I recommend everyone curious about knife sharpening to go out and try sharpening on a brick – I do not believe it should be a replacement for quality sharpening whetstones. 

Here are my favorite options:

King Deluxe 1k – The Best Budget Option

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Suehiro Cerax 1k – The Best value

Screen Shot 2022 03 22 at 11.35.31 AM

 

Naniwa Pro 800 – The Best performing 

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Lie #2: Only Professionals sharpen on whetstones.

While this is an easy myth to fall for and possibly an assumption most people have – nothing is further from the truth. I have met and spoken to countless working chefs who have told me they never received any knife sharpening training during their studies. One chef said that he received one lesson in knife maintenance in two years of culinary training, which lasted about 5 minutes. 

The truth is that most professional chefs never sharpen their knives with whetstones or electric sharpeners. Instead, most chefs will use honing rods to touch up their blades daily. I have tested many honing rods and favor ceramic honing rods, and this one by Shenzhen is a great option. It is the most affordable option but is identical to more expensive offerings. If you did not know, 99% of the ceramic honing rods on the market are from China, and it does not matter if you are buying from a large or small brand. 

 

Lies #3: You need to thin your knife at every sharpening session

Knife trolls on different forums will tell you that thinning at every sharpening session is needed for optimal cutting performance. Sure it is, but changing your car’s oil after every drive. If you are a sharp-knife addict, do not care about the practical aspects of daily knife usage, and don’t have a life outside of knife sharpening, go ahead and thin all you want. I have spoken to professional chefs and reputable knifemakers at length on this topic, and I usually get one of two responses. Working chefs have never heard of such a thing as “knife thinning .”The knife makers I have spoken to will admit from a technical standpoint that may be true, but you can also ruin your knife if done incorrectly. And, they point out that a well-made knife, unless chipped, should not need to be thinned for at least a decade of everyday use. “Knife experts” and trolls will fight you to the end on this issue. Do not fall for such nonsense. 

 

Lie #4: You need to flatten your whetstones before or after every sharpening session

Frequently, the “knife experts” make this blanket statement and fail to differentiate when a flat whetstone is required vs. when one is preferred. I have mentioned in many videos when sharpening single-beveled knives, such as yanagibas/sushi knives, you will need to flatten your whetstones. But, when sharpening double-beveled knives such as gyutos/chefs knives, santoku knives, etc., whetstone flatten is not required to get them sharp. One may prefer to have a flat whetstone to work on, but these “knife experts” want everyone to believe you must always flatten a whetstone.

 

Lie #5: There is only one way to sharpen a knife

I can use many descriptive words when discussing the so-called “knife experts” on forums. I have shown in many sharpening tutorials sharpening a knife with different techniques, and the result is the same – I have a sharp knife. I explain the difference between other sharpening profiles and why one may want to use a particular stroke vs. another. My sharpening skills are self-taught, and I have picked up lots of advice during my travels in Japan, visiting master knife makers like Hinoura Hamono. I am not classically trained, and I have never claimed to be a knife sharpening expert. But the edges I can achieve on a whetstone are comparable to any reputable Japanese knife maker.

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