In culinary school and in the industry a sharp knife is your greatest tool in the kitchen. One of the first things taught to us at Escoffier is that a dull knife is much more dangerous than a sharp one and it’s important to care for your knives and make sure they are performing. The first step in sharpening your knife is to decide whether or not you need to hone or to stone your knife. After repeated use, the burrs that run along the blade of your knife begin to fray causing dullness. Depending on the level of dullness, you may only need to hone your knife to realign those burrs. The technique for honing and stoning is relatively similar, with the exception of using a steel instead of a stone to hone your knife. If you find that your knife only needs to be honed, run your knife blade along the steel at a 15 degree angle starting with the hilt or butt of the knife and ending with the tip. Repeat this step 4 to 5 times on either side and then test the knife to see it’s level of sharpness.
If honing your knife doesn’t seem to improve it’s sharpness, you may need to stone your knife. There are two kinds of stones available, a wet stone and an oil stone. Both stones are multisided with different levels of coarseness, the only difference is the lubrication used on each stone. To sharpen your knife, find the coarsest side of the stone, apply a small amount of lubrication and just like with the steel, run your knife along the stone at a 15 degree angle starting with the hilt. Continue this step 5 to 6 times on each side of the blade, then turn your stone to the next finest side and repeat. Once you have sharpened your knife, run it along the steel a few times to align any frayed burrs and test it to see if it meets your liking.