How to Sharpen a Lever Style Guillotine Cutter at Home

Updated April 17, 2017

A dull blade, whether on a knife or another type of cutting instrument, reduces the fun and effectiveness of cooking. It can also present a safety hazard since greater force is required to get the job done. It is not difficult to sharpen knives and cutters at home. Sharpening a lever-style guillotine cutter is similar to sharpening a knife, with one important difference: although most knives are bevelled on two edges, guillotine cutters tend to be bevelled on just one edge.

Disassemble your guillotine cutter. Loosen the nut fastening the blade arm to the body of the cutter, and remove the blade from the cutter. If it is unclear how the cutter comes apart, consult the manufacturer's instructions for disassembly.

Identify the bevelled edge. One edge of your blade is probably straight, while the bevelled edge is cut at a sharp angle. Sharpen only the bevelled edge.

Determine your sharpening angle. Hold the blade vertically over the sharpening stone, with the cutting edge toward the stone. Rotate the blade to half of that angle (45 degrees). Finally, rotate the blade half of the remaining distance to obtain the desired angle (about 20 degrees).

Lubricate the stone. Most sharpening stones are oil stones, requiring sharpening oil or light machine oil to prevent the pores of the stone from clogging with metal filings. Add fresh oil whenever metal filings begin to visibly accumulate on the stone.

Hold the blade at the correct angle against the stone, with the cutting edge towards you. Make sure that the bevelled edge is downwards, against the stone. Maintain even pressure on the blade with the fingers of your non-dominant hand.

Swing the blade in an arc against the stone. Try to keep the entire cutting edge against the stone throughout your arc. Sharpen the blade 10 times on the stone. If you have a fine stone, sharpen an additional 10 times on that stone.

Hone the blade by holding the sharpening steel (point down) against a towel or place mat. Hold the blade against the steel at the same angle used for sharpening (about 20 degrees). Glide the blade downwards along the steel, pulling the blade toward you as it falls to hone the entire edge.


Some sharpening stones are designed to be used without oil, or with water instead. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for your stone.

Things You'll Need

  • Guillotine cutter
  • Sharpening stone
  • Fine sharpening stone (optional)
  • Sharpening oil or light machine oil
  • Sharpening steel
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About the Author

Fred Samsa has been writing articles related to the arts, entertainment and home improvement since 2003. His work has appeared in numerous museum publications, including program content for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and he was awarded a Presidential Fellowship in 2005. He holds a Master of Arts in art from Temple University and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Brown University.