How to sharpen knives and tools

July 28, 2015

Keeping sharp knives and tools in your arsenal is an essential requirement to making work around your home easier. Whether it's a kitchen knife or your favourite wood chisel, keeping your tools sharp makes working on projects effortless and helps prevent accidents. Here are some tips on sharpening your knives and tools.

How to sharpen knives and tools

Sharpening knives

The extra chromium in a stainless steel knife keeps it sharp for longer than ordinary steel, but all knives become blunt with use and should be sharpened regularly.

Sharpening with a purpose-made wheel sharpener

  • Simply draw the blade through the V formed by the two sets of hardened blades.

Sharpening on a steel

  • Hold the steel at a slight angle, point down. Place the widest part of the knife blade at the top of the steel, at an angle of about 20 degrees.
  • Draw the knife down the steel, keeping it at the same angle but gradually pulling the blade towards you so that, when you complete the stroke, only the tip of the knife is touching the end of the steel.
  • To sharpen the other side of the knife blade, place it at the same angle against the underside of the steel and then draw it down in the same way. Alternate these diagonal strokes until both sides of the knife blade are sharp.

Sharpening tools

A blunt tool is less effective than a sharp one, but also more dangerous. It's likely to slip during use and cause injury or damage. Keeping chisels and plane blades sharp is simple, but worthwhile.

You will need:

  • Oilstone
  • Honing guide
  • Some light machine oil
  1. Prepare the stone by smearing a teaspoon of oil over it. Let it soak in, and then repeat the process.
  2. Clamp the blade in the honing guide so that it projects the correct distance. Pour a little more oil on the stone to coat the surface.
  3. Now move the guide up and down the oilstone, pressing down so that the tip of the blade to be sharpened is flat against the stone.
  4. Then take the blade out, and rub its flat edge against the stone to remove the "burr" — the little curl of metal that will have formed on the cutting edge.
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