Kitchen knives

Get sharp!

There's nothing worse in the kitchen than a dull knife. And besides being frustrating, they're actually a safety risk — people are far less likely to cut themselves on properly sharpened knives than on dull ones. Learn how to turn your knives from dull to sharp with a few easy tips.

Don't be scared of sharpening your knives. Taking care of knives will make them last longer and make your time in the kitchen safer and more efficient. There are lots of ways to deal with dull knives, so just pick the most convenient for you! Depending on how much you use your knives, you should probably sharpen them at least a few times a year for the best results.

Electric knife sharpener

The easiest way to sharpen a knife is with an electric knife sharpener. These come in all shapes and sizes and in all price ranges. If you have invested in expensive, good-quality knives, then it pays to also splurge for a good-quality knife sharpener. Although this is the most user-friendly method, professionals tend to avoid electric knife sharpeners because they achieve their goal by shaving off a tiny bit of the edge. After continued use this could start to add up.

Get Guy Fieri's tips on knife skills >>

Sharpening steel

Also called a sharpening rod, this is a great tool to have around and often comes standard with knife sets. Professionals tend to use steels more for maintenance, but they can do wonders to get a sharp edge back on your knife. To use, hold the knife in the hand you are most comfortable with and the steel in the other. Hold them slightly away from your body at a downward angle and move one side of the blade of the knife down the steel (away from you, not toward you). Repeat with the other side of the blade. Do this about 10 times per side. It's good practice to "hone" your knife like this after each use (it only takes about a minute once you get in the groove).


This is the method preferred by professionals, but it takes a little practice to get the hang of. Also called a sharpening stone or water stone, these come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges. Look for one with medium "grit," which is best for getting really dull knives sharp and making sharp knives sharper. Take good care of the stone, making sure that it's fully dry and carefully stored after each use.

To use, soak the stone in water for about 45 minutes to an hour. Put it on a towel and keep a bowl of water nearby, since you'll need to keep the whetstone, well, wet. Hold the heel of the knife at a 20 degree angle on the end of the stone furthest from you. Slowly pull the knife over the stone toward you with firm pressure. Repeat with the other side of the blade. If possible, have someone demonstrate how to properly use and care for a whetstone.

Watch a video demonstration of how to use a whetstone >>

Go to a pro

OK, maybe this is the easiest way to sharpen your knives. If there is a professional knife sharpener in your area, you may want to consider bringing your knives in to be sharpened by a pro. It will cost money, but will save you time and will ensure that each knife is sharpened properly depending on what type it is and how dull it is. Just be sure to pack up your knives carefully when you bring them in! If you don't know where to find a professional knife sharpener, ask in your local kitchenware store or anywhere that sells quality knives. They will probably know of someone or may even have a person on-site.

In another pickle? Find more solutions to common kitchen problems >>

Watch: How to sharpen knives with a stone

Sharp knives can cut your prep time in half, and, believe it or not, they're actually safer than dull knives — they're less likely to slip.

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Tags: kitchen tools

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Comments on "In a pickle: What to do with dull knives"

cooper cook January 11, 2013 | 10:44 AM

Thanks for the article, last Christmas my wife got me a really expensive knife set. And I love them, I use them everyday, so when it came time to finally sharpening them I was very weary. So my wife said to just take them to a professional knife store to have them sharpened. And I think it's worth it to pay to have it done, so you don't end up losing the tip of a finger if you do it yourself.

Rosemary Mullally June 19, 2012 | 10:57 AM

Good post. Thank you.

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