Knife sharpening tools and their use

All knives, and many tools other than knives, eventually become dull. They become less efficient and harder to use. It is time to use knives and sharpeners to trim the working edge back into shape.

Manufacturers produce their knives with a sharp edge. The edge has a factory produced angle. Twenty- degree angles are the most common. The angle of the edge of a knife may be the same in the front and in the back. Modern electric knives sharpeners account for that. Some knives use different angles for front and back.

Sharpening a knife means restoring the original factory angle and removing any nicks and curls from the edge.

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Steel rods are tried and true knife sharpeners. Hardly any kitchen is without a sharpening rod among knives and sharpeners. These rods are excellent at removing the curl on a knife’s edge that has not lost its original factory angle yet. Sharpening rods are made from extremely hard steel, some incorporate diamond dust into the cutting surface.

Sharpening stones restore lost angles to the edge. When a knife has lost the angle of its edge, the original angle must be restored before the knife can be sharpened properly. Flat sharpening stones are the tool of choice for this task.

Western knives with symmetrical edge frequently use a 20-degree edge angle. Since both sides of a blade are angled, the total angel is 40 degrees. It is called the included angle.

To restore the original angle, the knife must be held at the edge angle when drawn over the sharpening stone. This process is repeated on both  sides of the blade.

Natural and man-made materials serve as sharpening stones. Corundum, oil stones, water stones, various whetstones, combinations of natural materials and diamond dust, and diamond plates are examples. Electric sharpeners also use them.