You know that you are not supposed to have dull kitchen knives to help avoid injury and make kitchen prep easier. However, have you ever considered if your kitchen knives can be too sharp?
A kitchen knife that is sharpened to the edge angle less than 10 degrees can be rendered unusable. Additionally, knives that have specific uses can be over-sharpened for their intended use.
In this article, we will give you a complete guide on how to ensure that your knife is sharpened to the correct point. We will cover what angle to sharpen a blade to, how to know if a knife is too dull and how to keep your knives from getting dull.
What Angle Should I Sharpen My Kitchen Knife Too?
In order to understand how sharp your knife should be, it is essential to understand what an edge is. The edge of the knife is the intersection of the two knife surfaces. This intersection is what forms the cutting surface of the knife.
The sharpness of the edge is measured by its angle. No kitchen knife should be sharpened to lower than a 10-degree angle. However, different types of knives have ideal ranges for the sharpness of their angles.
Single Bevel Knives Should be Kept the Sharpest
A single bevel knife has only been sharpened on one side of the knife, leaving the other side flat. This allows for finer and sharper angles.
Single bevel knives are often used in Japanese cooking. They include:
On average, the edge of a single bevel knife should be sharpened between a 15 and 17-degree angle.
Double Bevel Knives are Less Sharp
As the name suggests, a double bevel knife has been sharpened on both edges. As a result, the angle of the edge is usually higher than that of a single bevel knife. Double bevel knives are commonly found in the American kitchen and include:
- Chef’s knife
- Pairing knife
- Serrated blade
- Filleting knife
You can sharpen these blades to somewhere between a 20 to 30-degree angle. However, the lowest angle that you can sharpen your knife to depends on a multitude of factors.
Material and Shape Impact the Ideal Sharpness of a Knife
The quality and intended use of each knife also impact how sharp a kitchen knife should be. For example, cheap steel won’t be able to hold the same sharpness as a knife with high-quality steel. Price doesn’t always indicate the quality of the steel, so make sure to research a knife or knife set before purchasing it.
The functionality of a knife often determines how sharp it should be. A chef’s knife shouldn’t be kept as sharp as a sashimi knife simply because they aren’t intended for the same use.
Additionally, the weight and flexibility of a knife don't necessarily indicate sharpness. A filleting knife is effective because of its shape, not its sharpness. It's not any sharper than a common kitchen knife.
How to Know When it is Time to Sharpen My Knife
Most people don’t go around measuring the angles of the edges of their kitchen knives. Therefore, most people rely on how well their knife is cutting to determine if it needs to be sharpened.
The common kitchen knife should be able to slice through vegetables without needing to apply too much downward pressure. Likewise, a filleting should be able to slice through meat without you needing to saw.
Use the Paper Method to Confirm Dullness
If you suspect that your kitchen knife is dull, then you can use the paper method to confirm your suspicions. Holding a piece of paper vertically, take your knife and try to slice through it. If the knife cuts cleanly through the paper, then the knife is okay. However, if the paper crumples upon impact with the knife, it needs to be sharpened.
Use a Sharpness Tester for More Technical Results
If you are concerned that you will over sharpen your knife or want to keep it at a precise angle, then you can purchase an electric sharpness tester for your kitchen. This will give you the exact angle of the edge of your knife. However, these instruments can be quite pricey and are therefore not typically found in the common household.
Can You Sharpen Your Knife Too Often?
It is possible to sharpen your knife too frequently. There is only a finite amount of steel that each knife has. Every time that you sharpen it, you shave a little bit of the steel off and the knife becomes thinner. Sharpen it too much and the blade can become too thin to be useful.
As a general rule, most at-home chefs should only need to sharpen their knives once or twice a year.
Instead of frequently sharpening your knives, you can use a honing blade. Before a knife dulls, it will curve, making it seem like it's dull. A honing blade helps keep the blade in alignment and can be used before every cooking session.
How Do I Keep My Kitchen Knives from Dulling?
The best way to avoid over-sharpening a kitchen knife is by keeping it from getting dull in the first place. While every knife will dull eventually, there are some precautions that you can take to keep your knife sharp.
- Use a honing knife at least weekly
- Keep your knives clean and dry
- Avoid cutting on metal surfaces
- Keep your knives in a dedicated block to protect their edges
If you practice good knife maintenance, your knives should stay sharp for at least a year.
Personal Preference Matters for Knife Sharpness
While it’s important to not over sharpen your knives, the frequency and the angle at which you sharpen your knives really comes down to personal preference.
If you are a casual at-home chef, then chances are you don’t mind if you have the sharpest knife in the world. In contrast, professional chefs may want to keep their blades at pristine sharpness at all times. As long as you keep your knives from getting overly dull for safety reasons, the precision of the angle is really up to you.