Properly sharpening a knife is the most essential part of knife care. It ensures the knife will last for a long time without dulling or chipping. However, sharpening it incorrectly can cause more harm than good to the knife.
Sharpening a single bevel knife is no different. A single bevel means that there’s a gritty surface ground into one side of the blade. It’s more important to sharpen this side of the blade since the bevel allows for more precise and detailed cutting. The following article is a detailed guide on how to properly sharpen a single bevel knife. It also includes a few tips to make the sharpening process more effective.
Sharpening With a Whetstone
A whetstone is a gritty stone that’s used to sharpen knives. You should have a coarse one that’s used for sharpening and a finer one to finish the job. The steps to sharpening with a whetstone include laying the knife down and running the bevel across the stone multiple times.
The right coarseness for a sharpening whetstone is around 1,000 to 3,000 grit. The higher the number, the finer the grit on the stone is. For finishing sharpening a knife, the whetstone should be around 4,000 to 8,000 grit. It’s recommended to have both of these whetstones since it will give you the best results.
Once you have your whetstones, place them on a cutting board or countertop where you plan to sharpen the knife. It should be somewhere sturdy to prevent the knife from slipping and possibly causing injury. You should also place a wet paper towel or dish rag underneath the stones for extra support.
You only have to sharpen the bevel side of a single bevel knife, since it will be the one doing most of the cutting. When your stones are prepped, place the knife bevel-side down on the stone at a thirty-degree angle, with the point facing away from you.
Apply moderate pressure and slide the entire blade across the stone at a thirty-degree angle. Continue this motion until you see a gritty edge develop along the full length of the blade. Use your finishing whetstone in the same manner to remove any grit or scratches left by the coarse stone. You should sharpen both the bevel side and the other side of the blade with the finishing stone.
Once you are finished, clean the knife with a little bit of soap and warm water. If the knife is still dull the next time you use it, then it either needs to be sharpened again for longer or thrown out and replaced.
Sharpening With a Sharpening Rod
A sharpening rod is also a valuable tool for keeping a single bevel knife sharp. While it should not be used to sharpen a knife by itself, it can help keep the edges honed and increase the knife's durability.
A sharpening rod is a pole of metal that’s used to quickly sharpen knives and keep the edges touched up. It’s recommended to use both a whetstone and a sharpening rod to keep knives in peak condition. The whetstone is more useful for the full blade, but a sharpening rod is better for the knife’s edges.
To sharpen a single bevel knife with a rod, place the rod point down on a wood cutting board. Hold it far enough from you to keep yourself safe, but not too far that it’s hard to control. About arm’s length is the ideal standard. Hold the rod's handle firmly so that it's straight and won't slip while you're sharpening.
Angle the bevel side of the knife on the rod at about a fifteen-degree angle. Slide the knife down and towards you at this angle, repeating the action on the opposite side. Repeat this action about four to five times for both sides and rinse the knife off before use.
Tips for Sharpening a Single Bevel Knife
A few tips for sharpening a single bevel are:
- Practice your technique
- Take your time
- Keep your stones flat
These tips will help ensure that you get a high-quality knife sharpening each time.
Getting your sharpening technique down isn’t something you can do in a day. Practicing your technique on old knives is a great way to practice the angle and pressure you need to get a nice, sharp blade. Practicing sharpening skills on old knives will also prevent you from damaging a knife you want sharpened, while still practicing the technique.
In addition to practice, getting a nicely sharpened knife takes time and patience. If your knife is especially dull after using it frequently, you won't be able to get it back to its original condition quickly. Using a rod is good for fast touch-ups, but if you want a thorough sharpening, you're going to need to take your time.
Lastly, the most important tip for sharpening a single bevel knife is to keep your whetstones flat. A flat whetstone means that the stone should not have any protruding edges or sunken dips in the stone. Fortunately, flattening a whetstone is a quick job. Rubbing it with a little water before a sharpening session will do the trick and keep your knives from getting dented or scratched too bad.
How Often Should I Sharpen a Single Bevel Knife?
You should sharpen a single bevel knife once every few months, or whenever you start noticing it going dull. It's recommended to sharpen the knife sooner rather than later so that you don't have to worry about the knife blade being too far gone.
You can tell that a knife is starting to dull based on how well or poorly it chops. If you have to put in a little too much effort to slice through something, that's a good indicator that the knife needs sharpening.
Keeping Single Bevel Knives Sharp
Sharpening a single bevel knife is an essential part of caring for it. Keeping it sharp will help the knife last longer and increase its durability. However, the proper sharpening technique is vital to ensuring the knife isn't damaged during the process. As long as you follow the steps explained above, your knives will stay sharp and precise.