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Manual Knife Sharpeners


Using manual knife sharpeners takes a bit of elbow grease but works just as well, if not better than those that run on electricity. Knives eventually dull, regardless of their quality, and this makes knife sharpeners an essential kitchen cutlery tool. Choose from Williams-Sonoma’s manual knife sharpeners: slotted sharpeners, whetstones and honing steels.


Slotted sharpeners are among the most common knife sharpening tools, and they are relatively easy to use. They usually come with two to three slots for sharpening various knife types including Asian knives and those with serrated edges that are quite tricky to work with. With abrasive components such as diamond or tungsten carbide on spinning wheels, slotted sharpeners eat away at the knife’s edge as it moves in and out of the slots.


Honing steels are even easier to use and are intended for quick touch ups to the knife’s edge. Honing steels are often included in knife sets and are made with tough carbon steel material or ceramic. Honing steels are not meant to technically sharpen knives but to keep them performing well between sharpenings. It is very healthy for your blades to be honed regularly – once a week or even daily depending on how often you use your knives. Whereas sharpening actually takes some metal away from your blades to make the edge sharper, honing simply refines the edge. If you hone your knives regularly, you should need to sharpen them only once or twice a year, which vastly preserves the lifetime of your knives.


For those who are handy, whetstones are a good option, as they give users more control of the blade angle while sharpening. Whetstones likewise give knives a good polish and sheen with higher grit sharpening surfaces. Grits determine the abrasiveness of the surface of the whetstones, with lower grits from 120 to 240-grit being coarse and 4,000 and up being finer. Whetstones usually have two surfaces with different grits. The lower grit is used to prepare the blade for sharpening by grinding out nicks and getting an edge back to a very dull knife. The finer grit is then used to sharpen the blade and polish the steel.


You will achieve a razor sharp edge on your knives with manual slotted sharpeners and whetstones, and you will keep that edge by regularly using a honing steel. For serrated blades, choose a slotted sharpener as whetstones and honing stones are meant for straight-edge knives. And when choosing a honing steel, make sure it is at least as long as the knives you intend to sharpen.

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