Learn How to Sharpen a Knife

Take some tips from a professional butcher and learn how to sharpen a knife properly.

| May 2014

Holding up a Three Sided Oilstone

This is a three-sided oilstone. And yes, that is duct tape holding the base together. It's old but it won't quit.

Photo by Karen Coshof

In The Gourmet Butcher’s Guide to Meat, (Chelsea Green, 2014), Vermont-based master butcher Cole Ward provides a comprehensive guide to artisanal butchery that goes well beyond conventional “do-it-yourself” books. Cole aims to change the conversation and revive a traditional art that, once in jeopardy, is being seen as an increasingly important part of the local-food movement. Use the instructions in the following excerpt to learn how to sharpen a knife like a professional.

Buy this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Gourmet Butcher’s Guide to Meat.

How to Sharpen a Knife

You’ll need two tools: an oilstone and a steel. Oh, oops, and your knife.

I use a three-sided oilstone with a reservoir incorporated into the bottom for mineral oil. It’s actually a multi-tool, with three stones mounted on it. You simply grasp the handles on each end, then lift the tool and turn it to expose the stone you want to use for sharpening. The three stones are graded coarse, medium, and fine. You will need all three surfaces as you work to sharpen a knife.

The bevel is the very narrow edge on the angled cutting surface of a knife. Before you can begin sharpening, it’s essential to locate the bevel on your blade.

Step 1: Coarse stone
Begin sharpening on the coarse stone, keeping in mind that laying the knife flat against the stone will not sharpen it. You must angle the knife so that the stone contacts the very sharpest part of the knife from its edge to the end of the bevel.

8/2/2014 10:40:51 AM

this article gives incomplete information. This will not allow inexperienced readers to sharpen correctly, save knife metal and safely test edge.

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