Decoding Knife Sharpening Myths and Misconceptions
by James Lupton
There is a lot of misinformation online about pretty much everything, and knife sharpening and related activities have not been spared. One of the biggest misconceptions that have come to be believed as the truth is that you can use a honing rod to sharpen your knife. The reality is that honing will never give you a sharper knife. That’s because, by its nature, the act of sharpening entails making a new edge on the blade by grinding off pieces of metal. You cannot achieve this with a honing rod.
To better understand why honing can never give you the same results as sharpening, you need to grasp how knives work. If you were to zoom in on the edge of a knife blade, you would realize it is quite rough. When you hone the blade, you can straighten out some of these bumps. However, it cannot eliminate all of them and get your knife back to the state when you first bought it. That’s where sharpening comes into the picture.
Sharpening entails the removal of a part of the blade to create a new edge. There are special tools designed for this task, and professional sharpeners leverage their knowledge of knife geometry to give you just the right edge. That’s not to say that you cannot do it at home. With practice, you can sharpen knives quite well.
However, people fail a lot when sharpening knives at home, mainly due to the wrong tools. The commonly used pull-through sharpener does not create smooth new edges and, in extreme cases, ends up destroying your blade.
To get it right when sharpening a knife at home, try and use whetstones. Whetstones have the edge over other sharpeners because you get to repeatedly pass your knife over several stones for a perfect edge. The stones are usually arranged in a series, from rough to smooth, which serves to create continuity until the right edge sharpness is achieved.
However, like everything else, whetstones have their downsides. One of them is that you need to take some time to learn. If you don’t have lots of time in your hands, this can be a challenge. Besides, not everyone ends up loving the whole process even after learning it. Some people have gone through this process and have not ended up loving sharpening knives with whetstones.