Sharp knives are important tools to have handy, while dull knives are dangerous hazards. Keeping your knives sharp, useful and safe is relatively simple once you have a good process in place. Most knives have an ideal edge angle of 20 degrees, so if a flat piece of steel were zero degrees you would have a bevel of 20 degrees to make a good knife blade. Too great an angle results in a wedgelike blade that's difficult to use for slicing. Too shallow an angle, and the blade will be brittle and easily chipped.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Bulldog clips
- Sharpening stone (diamond stones work best)
- Cup magnets (5 small magnets)
- Steel plate (approximately 10 inches long and 3 inches wide)
- Blocks of wood (approximately 4 inches square)
- Screws (7 to 9)
Attach a binder clip (available at any office supply store) to the back edge of your knife. For longer knives you may need multiple clips. Find a clip that's large enough so your blade sits at a 20'degree angle to the sharpening stone.
Wet the stone with a small amount of water. Place the stone flat on the counter and the blade on the stone so the binder clip and the edge are the two things touching the stone. Move the blade across the stone as if you were slicing off thin pieces of the stone.
Flip the blade and repeat the motion on the other side of the edge after about 10 strokes.
Cut two blocks of wood so they sit flat on the table and have a 20-degree downward slope on the top face. Make sure the pieces are identical and sit perfectly level on the table.
Place the steel plate between the blocks of wood on the 20-degree face. Drill holes through the steel into the wood blocks. Clamp the steel to the wood if necessary to keep everything lined up. Screw the steel plate to the blocks of wood. Depending on your set-up you may need two or four screws to achieve a stable platform.
Drill holes evenly across the outside edge of the steel plate for the five cup magnets. Screw the magnets to the steel plate with the magnets facing out.
Line up a knife on the magnets so the blade edge extends just beyond the edge of the steel plate. Hold your stone horizontal to the table top and stroke it across the length of the blade's edge 10 times. Flip the blade to sharpen the other edge.
Tips and warnings
- You know the blade is sharp when you look at the edge straight on in bright light and you see only a black line. You also can test the edge by slicing a piece of newsprint. If the edge cuts without any tearing, it's sharp.
- Always be careful when sharpening blades. Go as slowly as necessary to be safe.
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