A question that we get a lot is ‘How often do kitchen knives need sharpening?’ unfortunately, there is no universal answer… It depends on a few factors:
1. How frequently you use your chef knives:
If you’re a chef, using your kitchen knives all day every day, you should use a honing rod / steel every day – some like to use one every time they use their knives. After a while, a honing rod won’t revive the edge and you’ll need to use a whetstone. As a minimum, chefs will want to use a whetstone every four to six months, but some chefs use a whetstone daily to keep their knives super-sharp.
For home users, using a honing rod once a week is fine. Again, once the honing rod becomes ineffective, you should use a whetstone to grind a new edge. If you’re relatively careful with your knives, you should be able to use the rod for at least a year before needing a whetstone.
Alternatively, rather than letting your edge degrade and having to re-grind, you can maintain your chef knife by using a moderate to high grit whetstone (1000 or above) regularly. Regular use of a coarse whetstone is unnecessary and will grind down your blade quickly.
2. How sharp you want your knives to be:
If you don’t need your knife to be able to cut through space and time, or to slice things down to molecules, then you won’t need to sharpen it as regularly. That being said, you shouldn’t be using blunt chef knives and there are a few ways to determine when a kitchen knife isn’t really ‘cutting it’ (sorry) –
• ‘Thumbnail’ Test:
(Carefully!) run the edge of the knife’s blade down your thumb nail – if it doesn’t ‘dig in’ and skates over the surface freely, your chef knife definitely needs sharpening.
• ‘Tomato’ Test:
If you’re struggling to cleanly cut a tomato, you need to sharpen your kitchen knife. It should cut straight away (not after squashing the tomato first).
• ‘Push Cut’ Test:
If your knife will cut paper by pushing straight down (no slicing action) then it’s definitely sharp enough.
3. The hardness and quality of the blade material:
This is why it’s worth investing in elite knives – they keep their edge much longer. Japanese knives tend to be made with harder, higher-grade steels, meaning that they hold their edge exceptionally well.
4. How well you treat your knives:
If you cut into bone or down onto hard surfaces, such as ceramic plates or glass boards, you’ll blunt your knives quickly and they will need sharpening more often. Also, if you put them in the dishwasher, they will get blunt from being bashed against other utensils – we really, really recommend that you don’t do this as it’s also bad for the handle.
To find out more about looking after your knives, please visit Knife Care.
To become a Sharpening Ninja, visit Become a Sharpening Ninja