How to keep your knives sharp

6 easy ways to keep your knives sharp for longer

Sharp knives are great. There's something really enjoyable about smooth, effortless slicing, right? The problem is they don't stay that way and if you don't look after your edges you'll wind up spending more money on knife sharpening than you need to one way or another.

While having you spend more money on sharpening would be great for us, it's not ideal for your knives (or you for that matter) and we want to make sure we're providing value as well as awesome products. So, here are 6 easy ways to look after your edges and keep your knives sharp for longer.

1. Use the right knife for the right job

While many kitchen knives are made to do more than one cutting task in the kitchen, you can easily damage them by grabbing the wrong knife for the wrong job. Keep in mind that the knife's cutting edge is very thin, so although it sounds contradictory, a sharp knife is actually quite delicate at the edge where the steel is sharpened. That means if you hack at bones or frozen meat with your chef knife you're going to make it blunt, roll the edge or take chips out of it. A cleaver is the better choice in that situation because they are usually sharpened at a different angle to make the edge more robust.

Time for an upgrade? Check out our range of kitchen knives.

2. Use a strop or steel... or both

Again, sharp knives are delicate at their edges. Even with careful, appropriate cutting choices that thin edge can roll over; creating a burr. With a burr on your edge, you are effectively trying to cut with a rounded over piece of steel.

Knives with rounded edges don't need sharpening necessarily; they need the edge to be straightened out so you're cutting with the pointy part again. The process for doing this is called honing.

A leather strop can do a good job honing finer burrs, and is the easiest option provided you are willing to use it often. People also use things like cardboard, the bottom of ceramic cups and the edges of plates to hone their knives but those options wouldn't be our first choice.

For the best all round option to hone your knives, we recommend learning to use a steel. It isn't too difficult and once you've got it, you'll feel like you're getting your knives sharpened again, without actually getting them sharpened.

Using a steel involves sliding the small bevel where the knife has been sharpened (have a look, you'll see it) along the steel to make the edge straight again. You don't need to slash away like the local butcher does; just take your time and focus on getting that small bevel on the right angle to slide along the steel on both sides of the knife. Alternate for an even number of strokes. After honing both sides of the edge with 3-5 passes, finish with light strokes to even it all out.

Look for a steel made of, well, steel. Diamond and ceramic rods remove material and are made for sharpening.

You can find our steels and rods here.

3. Don't wait to sharpen your knives

You'll know when the edge isn't just rolled when you hone your knives and the sharp edges don't come back. That means the knives are blunt and need to be sharpened. When you know its time, sharpen them right away (or get a professional sharpener to do it for you). Continuing to hack away with a blunt knife means no more nice slicey feeling, an increased risk of you hurting yourself and the possibility of doing serious damage to your knife.

Nirey sharpening machines

4. Hand wash your knives right after you use them

Not washing your knives isn't going to blunt them, but if you don't clean them and put them away safely that delicate edge that makes them nice and sharp is going to be left on the benchtop or in the sink; at risk being knocked around while you're busy finishing your culinary masterpiece. Sinks full of plates and utensils, or benchtops covered in pans, bowls and food jars are the enemy of razor sharp knives.

5. Choose a good place to store your knives

Sharp knives don't belong loose in drawers. Not only are you risking your finger meeting razor's edge when you reach in looking for the whisk, you're also subjecting those delicate knife edges to hard things in the drawer that will ruin the sharpness quicker than you can say 'this knife won't cut a tomato'.

Did your knives come with a block to store them in? Tick!
On a magnetic strip? Yep!

If you don't have either of those things, consider either a knife roll or blade guards (which allow you to keep your knives covered while they are in the drawer) for the sake of your edges and your fingers.

Find magnetic knife bars here.
Find knife rolls here.
Find blade guards here.

6. Choose the right cutting board

While a marble or glass cutting board might seem cleaner (they're actually not necessarily), they are too hard on your knives. The harsh surface wears away at the knives as you cut on them; dulling your edges much more quickly. The best option is wood - ideally an end-grain board, or failing that the HDPE (or similar plastic) cutting boards that have softer surfaces.

Find cutting and serving boards here.

There's our six tips. Hopefully they'll help you to keep that nice slicey feeling in your knives as long as possible.

by Mat Holbrook