How to Sharpen Your Straight Edge Kitchen Knives




About: In a valiant attempt to keep myself from dying of boredom, I create.

There is nothing, more stressful (at least for me) nor more dangerous than a dull kitchen knife.  The times that I have cut myself with a knife was when I had a dull knife in my hand and instead of cutting through the food, the knife would slide off, and got me!  Of all the nerve!  So in many ways, a sharp kitchen knife is a lot safer than a dull one.  You really don’t need NEW knives.  You need the ones you own to be sharpened.  So here we go on "How to Sharpen Your Straight Edge Kitchen Knives".

Step 1:

Your dull kitchen knives
Varying types of knife sharpeners (telling you what kind is what this Instructable is about)
Something to cut

Step 2:

I have learned that there are 3 types of sharpening apparatus; course, medium and then fine (like a steel).  I have used one or the other on my knives over the years, but it wasn’t until I ran my knife through all three, starting with a course, then the medium then the fine, that I had a truly wonderful sharp knife.

Step 3:

Let’s talk about each kind of sharpener and where they can be found (they all can be found on line, just google “knife sharpeners”) and about what they will cost.

If your knives are really dull you will first need to a get course sharpener with sharpening blades forming a 45° angle.  Mine looks like this.  I just walked into a store one day, there it was, and I bought it.  Couldn’t have been more than $5, but don’t ask me where, because it was more years ago than I care to think about and my mind being the sieve it is, I just don’t remember.  

I found this one at   This is a nice, course and fine, sharpener at a cheap price of under $5.00.  Run your dull knife through the course side 5 times. This course sharpener will take off any burrs and smooth out some of the knicks.

Step 4:

This is my medium course sharpener.  I got it at IKEA for around $7.  It has two rotary wheels that meet at a 45° angle and it takes the sharpening one step further.  The sharpening blades will roll as you roll your knife through it, and the blade will become even sharper.  Run your knife through a medium sharpener, 5 times.

Step 5:

Next is the fine sharpener.  I have both a steel and a little handle ceramic one.  My mood will dictate which one I use.  I have a degree in foods and I have cooked in hospitals, restaurants, etc. so I have had a lot of practice with the steel.  If you don’t want to worry about the steel, get one like this.  I picked it up at Harbor Freight for less than $7.00.  If you bought one with the fine on the opposite end of the course, just turn it over and run your knife through it 5 times.

Step 6:

Now take the something you have to cut and cut it.  I see that smile, isn’t a sharp knife amazing?  See, sharp means less stress or pressure to cut your food.  Last time I was in Colorado, I got a sharpener with a course and fine ends and sharpened my daughter-in -laws knives, teaching her how as I went.  She was amazed at how easy it was to cut the carrots she served for supper, that evening.

Step 7:

One of the quickest ways to dull your knives is to run them through the dish washer.  Always hand wash and dry you knives to keep them sharper longer.  Store them in a knife block so that they are handy and out of reach of little hands.  Enjoy your sharp knives and be safe, also, ENJOY!

PS:  The only serrated knife I have it my bread knife.  I just prefer straight edge knives.  So I don’t have a lot of serrated knives to keep sharp.  You can find serrated knife sharpeners on line.



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    6 Discussions


    My only problem with this design is the fact that it doesn't sharpen the blade exactly. These will 'scrape' metal from the blade, making it ready to use equipment designed to actually sharpen the blade.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I was told that very dull knives should be taken to a pro for sharpening. Once they have it up to spec, you can maintain your blade for a year or so (depending on use). So, my question is: should you hire a pro for dull knives or can you sharpen them at home?

    2 replies

    If you have a local pro to sharpen your knives - by all means, do it! NO such luck in our small community. So just do my best with what I have. Thanks for commenting.


    Thank you for the note. My late father did all of his own sharpening. But people with years of experience make things look easy. He always "knew" what angle he wanted and made everything look simple... Me, I'm terrible... I guest it comes back to practice practice practice.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry, but as a professional edgesmith, this kind of thing infuriates me. NEVER use these kinds of drag-through "sharpeners". the edge will ALWAYS be uneven, usually the knife will "chatter" across the surface of the tool, and you'll only end up ruining your knives in the long run. Either find a good old-fashioned whetstone and learn how to use it properly, or hire a professional. Your knives will thank you.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I have the same Harbor Freight sharpener pictured. It works great! The one with the red handle you sow in step 3 is my least favorite because its use goes against everything I've ever learned about knives. You're drawing it across the sharpener JUST above your hand. The one from HF is offset so there's no chance of cutting yourself. "Safety by design" is a principle I can get behind!

    Let's be careful out there!