There will be a drawer that extends into the mechanism under the abrasives. Any detritus from the sharpening process drops into this drawer. Exactly where the drawer is located will differ from sharpener to sharpener but it shouldn’t be hard to find. Remove the drawer flick any material into the wastebasket and then wipe out the drawer with a damp cloth or tissue. You may want to use work gloves and goggles to protect your hands and eyes from any loose metal shavings. Once the drawer is clean and dry replace it. The exact means by which the sharpening mechanism itself is cleaned will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Consult your owners guide for specific details. Make sure you don’t introduce any grease or other lubricants into the sharpener unless specifically directed to do so by the owner’s manual. Also, the outside of the sharpener should come perfectly clean with just a damp cloth. Avoid using commercial cleaners or abrasives of any kind.
If you follow Joe’s instructions and still can’t get a good edge, chances are your knives have been abused to the point that they need a pro’s touch to restore the edge. You can do it yourself, but it takes expensive electric tools or a lot of tricky manual grinding on a stone. But for well under $10 per knife, a sharpening shop can bring your edges to better-than-new condition. Then you’ll be able to keep them that way using Joe’s techniques. Search online for “knife sharpening” followed by your city and you’ll surely find a local sharpener. And don’t give up on high-quality knives that have a chip or notch in the blade. A pro can grind out any imperfections and reshape the edge. Yes, you’ll have a slightly narrower blade, but you won’t even notice.
This is a great sharpener for budget conscious cooks. You can use it with equal facility whether you’re right or left handed, it has a convenient finger guard to cut down on accidents and most important, it only takes a few swipes on a regular basis to keep your knives in tip-top condition. It’s not glamorous. It won’t add anything substantive to your kitchen decor. But it will ensure your knives are always ready for whatever dish you have in mind.
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The most important aspect of a sharpening stone is the grit. If you have knives that have taken a beating and are either nicked up or really dull, you’ll need a courser stone to get it back into shape. And in order to put an exceptionally sharp edge on an already sharp knife, you’ll need a finer grit stone. If your knives are already in pretty good shape and just need a touch up, buying just a finer grit stone might be enough, but don’t think you can get away without a courser stone for knives that need more TLC. It is possible to buy a combination, or two-sided sharpening stone.
With our sharpeners in hand, we went about putting them to work—meaning we needed a lot of dull knives. Those are in short supply in the Wirecutter test kitchen (Lesley keeps ’em sharp), so we borrowed some from coworkers and sacrificed a few of the test kitchen’s blades. To ensure truly, appallingly dull blades, we ground their edges repeatedly against a piece of concrete curbstone.
TO USE: Soak stone in water for no more than 5-10 minutes. Place stone on a damp cloth with the courser 400 grit side (dark green) facing up. Hold the knife so that it’s flat and perpendicular to the block, with the blade facing left. Holding the knife at a 20-degree angle, slowly sweep the edge of the blade from left to right down the length of the stone and continue until sharp. If stone starts to feel too dry, add more water. Be patient and take your time. Flip knife over and repeat on the other side (now moving from right to left). Be sure to sharpen both sides evenly. To polish the blade further, flip stone over to the fine 1000 grit side (light green) and repeat the process. When blade is honed to desired sharpness, wash and dry your knife. To clean your stone, simply rinse with water, wipe away any remaining metal residue with a rag, rinse again, then dry.