The thumbnail test (not recommended for novices) - With this test you take your newly sharpened blade and run it oh-so-delicately over your thumbnail. If you feel it digging in even a tiny bit, it’s likely sharp enough. If on the other hand it just slips and slides across the surface of your nail it’s not sharp yet. Again, this test is only recommended for people with lots of experience handling knives and even then they’d probably be better off just grabbing a tomato or a piece of paper.
Whether you're a home cook or a professional chef, you already know that kitchen knives are important for food preparation. You don't want the blade to get dull. Not only does using a dull blade defeat the purpose of buying that expensive, high-quality knife in the first place, it also slips more easily while cutting, which isn't safe. Take a look at the knife sharpeners at HSN. Various styles are available, including whetstones, sharpening steels, hand-held sharpeners, and electric knife sharpeners. Manual knife sharpeners are usually (but not always) more affordable than their electric cousins. The sharpening steel gets the job done and doesn't take up much room in the cupboard. Whetstones are more gentle on metal. Just keep in mind that a smaller grit value means the grit is more coarse. A hand-held sharpener has a fixed angle for the blade, which makes the task easier for beginners. Electric knife sharpeners make the task even more straightforward. A knife sharpener is essential for any kitchen. Pick one up for yourself or for the cooking enthusiast in your life. For more gift ideas, take a look at the knife sets and other kitchen items at HSN.
Method 2: Send it out to a professional. This is a good option, provided you have a good knife sharpener living nearby, and are willing to pay to have the services performed. If you plan to sharpen your blades a dozen or so times a year, as I do, this can get quite expensive. All but the best professionals also use a grinding stone that, again, will take away much more material than is necessary from your blade, reducing its lifespan. Want to forge a stronger relationship with your blade? Then you'll want to...
If no metal is being removed from the edge of the blade, it’s considered honing. Whereas if metal is being removed from the blade edge this is considered sharpening. Certainly, even honing will result in some microscopic amounts of metal being removed from the blade edge but not enough to be visible to the human eye, so the above definition is basically a solid one.
For this guide, we limited our focus to manual and electric sharpeners. Such models are by far the most popular choices for sharpening knives, and for good reason. When well-designed, manual and electric sharpeners are effective, extremely quick and easy to use, and durable. (By the same token, when poorly designed they’re cumbersome, flimsy, and ruinous to blades.)
Different knives are sharpened differently according to grind (edge geometry) and application. For example, surgical scalpels are extremely sharp but fragile, and are generally disposed of, rather than sharpened, after use. Straight razors used for shaving must cut with minimal pressure, and thus must be very sharp with a small angle and often a hollow grind. Typically these are stropped daily or more often. Kitchen knives are less sharp, and generally cut by slicing rather than just pressing, and are steeled daily. At the other extreme, an axe for chopping wood will be less sharp still, and is primarily used to split wood by chopping, not by slicing, and may be reground but will not be sharpened daily. In general, but not always, the harder the material to be cut, the higher (duller) the angle of the edge.
The answer to the question of how to choose a single whetstone from among the many is actually one of both purpose and expense. Indeed, as the old adage says: “You get what you pay for” – This is certainly the case with sharpening stones. In fact, as a general rule, a high quality, natural, whetstone is significantly more expensive than a man-made whetstone but, they also tend to produce a noticeably finer edge than man-made stones do. On the other hand, man-made whetstones (with the exception of diamond hones) are very affordable and, just like natural whetstones, they too are available in different grits for different stages in the sharpening process from cutting the initial edge bevel to polishing a finely honed edge.
Whetstones may be natural or artificial stones. Artificial stones usually come in the form of a bonded abrasive composed of a ceramic such as silicon carbide (carborundum) or of aluminium oxide (corundum). Bonded abrasives provide a faster cutting action than natural stones. They are commonly available as a double-sided block with a coarse grit on one side and a fine grit on the other enabling one stone to satisfy the basic requirements of sharpening. Some shapes are designed for specific purposes such as sharpening scythes, drills or serrations.