A kitchen knife won’t work well if it’s not kept sharp. A dull knife is also dangerous! Here’s how to keep your paring knife sharp, so it’s always ready to tackle any paring task you can throw at it.
Sharpening steel vs. honing stone
Honing stones bring out an edge in your paring knife. Most sharpening steels just maintain an existing edge. Most of the time, you’ll want to maintain the edge on a paring knife rather than go for intensive sharpening.
To understand how a sharpening steel works, it’s important to understand how a paring knife works. A paring knife cuts with many tiny teeth. Over time and constant use, some of those little teeth get knocked out of alignment, so the knife doesn’t cut as well as it used to. The teeth aren’t really duller, but many of them don’t face the cutting edge anymore.
A basic sharpening steel made of hardened steel can’t actually sharpen a paring knife. It just aligns all of those little teeth on its edge so that they’re all facing the cutting edge again the way they’re supposed to. It’s a good idea to do this about every fifty cuts or so.
However, some honing steels are made from a ceramic or diamond-steel instead of basic hardened steel. These kinds of honing steels really can sharpen a knife. Like all real sharpening, they’ll wear away at the knife to bring out its edge.
How to use a sharpening steel
It’s easy to use a sharpening steel. All you have to do is to hold the sharpening steel securely against a cutting board. Place the edge of the knife against the sharpening steel so that it’s at about a 20 degree angle. You’re keeping the edge of the knife away from you, so you’ll be pulling the knife towards you. At the same time, you’ll be running the edge along the sharpening steel lengthwise from handle to tip.
Do this about five times on each side of the knife. Then repeat it four times, then three, the two, then just once, and you’re done. Remember, you’re realigning tiny teeth, and correcting any misalignments along the way.
How to use a honing stone
Honing stones are pretty straightforward too. All you have to do is to hold the stone securely on a solid surface, coarse side up. Place the edge of the knife against the stone so that it’s at about a 20 degree angle. Now run the knife edge lengthwise across the stone, from handle to tip. Do this ten times, then flip the knife over and sharpen its other side the same way.
Now flip the stone over to the finer grit and secure it again. Repeat for another ten times on each side of the knife.
That’s all there is to it! No water, no oil, no mess.