How to Sharpen Ceramic Knives | Easy Step-By-Step Guide

Jeremy Dodd
March 26, 2021
how to sharpen ceramic knives

For an ordinary cook or a professional chef, a sharp ceramic knife is an important tool for most of the cutting jobs in the kitchen. A sharp ceramic knife cuts better and safer. It needs less brute force to slice delicate food items like herbs, which is great because it helps food look fresher for longer.

Learning to sharpen ceramic knives is a process, which needs you to have the perfect tools and skill set for the job. The sharpening process may come easy to some people, while others may need more guidance. Chef Giovanni has simplified the process with his expert step-by-step guide on how to sharpen ceramic knives.

What You Will Need

One of the following tools:

  • Diamond file
  • Sharpmaker
  • Handheld Pull-Through Knife Sharpener
  • Electronic diamond knife sharpener

These would also be useful:

  • A Work Table
  • A Pair of Kevlar Gloves

How To Sharpen Ceramic Knives — Step-by-Step Breakdown

There are several methods for sharpening ceramic knives, which include the following:

How to Sharpen a Ceramic Knife Using a Diamond File

A diamond file has a versatile, double-sided design with a sturdy ergonomic handle. And with a 300 grit surface on one side and 600 grit on the other side, creating a super sharp edge on your ceramic knife is easy, fast, and convenient.

Step 1: Position the Knife on a Rest

knife on a rest

Start by placing the knife on a raised object, which will help keep it in an elevated position. This will give you enough room to work on between the work table and the blade. The elevated position makes it easier for you to acquire a specific sharpening angle that will guarantee the best results.

Step 2: Sharpen from Heel to Tip

sharpening the knife

Sharpen the edge from the heel to the tip. If the knife is unusually shaped, you will have to move it a little bit. Flip the knife and sharpen the other edge from heel to the tip and remember to adjust the position of the knife for the best results.

Using a Sharpmaker

This tool provides you with a great and easy way to put a good edge on all your ceramic blades. Spyderco’s Sharpmaker will come with two fine triangular stones, two brown medium stones, and two brass rods (which work as a safety measure when you are using the Sharpmaker).

Step 1: Mark the Edge

mark the edge

If you are not sure of the exact edge angle on your ceramic knife, you can use a sharpie or a black marker and color in the edge. You will know that you are at the right angle when the marker is removed on the edge. If it isn’t, then you will have to adjust your angle.

Step 2: Set Up the Medium Rods

setting up the medium rods

The first thing you will want to do when setting up your Sharpmaker is to install the medium rods. You should start with the forty degrees inclusive edge. Start with the edges of the triangle pointing inwards. This specific set-up is ideal for the aggressive removal of material from your ceramic blade.

Step 3: Set Up the Brass Rods

setting up the brass rods

Once the medium rods are in place, you should go ahead and insert the brass rods into the holes located behind the stones. The brass rods improve safety when sharpening your blade. If and when the blade slips, the brass rods will prevent the blade from catching your hand. Brass is a soft material that will not mess up the sharpened edge of your ceramic knife.

Step 4: Set Up the Lid

setting up the lid

After setting up the medium and brass rods, you should go ahead and place the lid into position on the left-hand side of the sharp maker. This will help improve the stability of the sharp maker while you are sharpening your ceramic blade.

Step 5: Start Sharpening the Blade

sharpening the blade

Start at the heel of your ceramic blade from the top of the stone. Then use a smooth, slow stroke to move the blade from the top to the bottom of the stone without applying too much pressure. Make sure you move the ceramic blade outwards towards the tip of the knife. Do the same to the other edge from the opposite stone. Do about twenty strokes for each side of the blade.

Rotate the medium stones to have the flat sides facing inwards. This will increase the surface area that comes in contact with the blade. The flat sides provide gentle material removal. Always start from the heel. With a slow, smooth stroke, move the blade from the top to the bottom. Do about twenty strokes for each side of the blade. After this step, the ceramic knife should be able to cut through a piece of paper with ease.

Step 6: Set Up the White Fine Stones

setting up the white fine stones

Leave the brass rods in place but remove the medium stone. Insert the white fine stones and reposition the lid to improve stability. These particular stones have a fine grit that is intended to provide the best honing results. The stones are uniquely designed, allowing for superior control, speed, and pressure.

Step 7: Resharpen the Blade

resharpening the blade

Start from the heel of your ceramic blade, moving it from the top to the bottom of the white fine stones. Repeat about twenty strokes for each side of the blade. Don’t forget to move towards the tip of the knife as you slide the blade downwards on the white fine stones.

Pull out the white stones and reposition them to ensure that the flat sides are facing inwards. The flat sides provide a large surface area for fine-tuning the edges of the ceramic blade. Move the blade from top to bottom using smooth and slow strokes. Do about twenty strokes for each side. By now the edge of the ceramic knife should be sharper. You can even try shaving the hair on your hands to confirm the sharpness.

Step 8: Set Up Extra Fine Rods

This step is optional. But you can consider it if you want to get an extremely sharp edge on your ceramic blade.

How to Sharpen a Ceramic Knife Using a Pull-Through Handheld Knife Sharpener

A handheld sharpener has two parts, the handle, and the sharpener. The sharpener can have two to four slots, depending on the brand. It sharpens with one hundred percent fine diamond abrasives.

It does a great job of reshaping the angle and the edge. It polishes as well as hones the blade. The fine slot is for maintaining your blade, keeping a sharp edge. It functions as honing steel.

Step 1: Test the Blade of the Ceramic Knife

testing the blade of a ceramic knife

It is always advisable to test a ceramic knife before using a two-stage knife sharpener. Fold a piece of paper and try to slice it with the knife. If the ceramic blade fails to slice through, then it needs sharpening. The blade should cut continuously without stopping at any point.

Step 2: Use the Diamond Slot to Sharpen

using diamond slot to sharpen

You should use the slot with diamond rods if the ceramic knife has a blunt edge. The diamond rods will reshape and resharpen the edge. Pull the ceramic blade through the slot from the heel to the tip three to six times. Use smooth and slow strokes without applying too much pressure. The diamond rods will not only reset the ceramic blade but also restore its original sharpness.

Use soapy, warm water to rinse away any material before using the ceramic knife. You can use a dish towel or a sponge to quickly and conveniently wipe down the blade. Make sure the knife is completely dry before you store it in your knife block.

Using a Diamond Sharpening Stone

Diamond sharpening stones are easy to maintain and they do the job quickly. Unlike traditional whetstones, a diamond plate doesn’t dish out. This means you don’t have to flatten it between uses. And since diamond is the hardest material on earth, it cuts ceramic fast.

Diamond sharpening plates are covered with man-made micro diamonds and there are several processes involved. Diamonds are grown on a substrate in a special chamber, then they are sieved to separate them by grit size. They are then attached to a plate to make a sharpening stone or plate. It matters what type of diamonds are used on a sharpening stone.

Some diamond stones use what are called poly-crystalline diamonds, while others use mono-crystalline diamonds. The surface of poly-crystalline diamonds is very rough because they are covered with tiny points and sharp edges. The edges fracture during use, which exposes new edges.

Superior quality diamond stones are made with monocrystalline diamonds, which is great because they maintain their shape and size during use for a very long time.

Some diamonds may break off a little bit in the initial use, which may not produce the best sharpening results on your ceramic blades. So, you have to reduce the risk of loose diamonds. With the help of a plain blade chisel and a lubricant, scrab the entire surface of that 600-grit stone for around forty seconds. This helps to tame the diamond surface for superior sharpening results without excess loose diamonds.

Step 1: Use a 15 to 20-Degree Angle to Sharpen the Ceramic Blade

sharpening from 15 to 20 degree angle

Use a fifteen-degree angle to reshape the ceramic blade. If you are not sure that you are using the right angle, you can use a black sharpie to coat the edge of the knife with the ink. Sharpen the blade a few strokes and look at the wear pattern. If you do it right, you will observe that the black ink has been removed.

Step 2: Sharpen the Other Side

sharpening the other side

It is important to do the same number of strokes on each side of the blade. Hold the knife in a diagonal position against the stone at fifteen degrees. Then move the blade from heel to tip without putting too much pressure. Do around five strokes on one side and repeat the same number of strokes on the other side.

Using an Electric Diamond Knife Sharpener

This uniquely and innovatively made sharpener uses a diamond stone that can sharpen knives of various materials, including ceramic and stainless steel.

It is an electronically operated tool that turns grindstone at high speeds, allowing you to quickly repair damaged ceramic knives with diamond and electrical power. This type of sharpener usually comes with a universal guide slot that helps keep your ceramic knife in a traditional V-angle. The guide slots have a raised design that makes tip-to-handle ceramic knife sharpening incredibly easy.

The slots will keep your ceramic blades in a fixed position for more precise and consistent sharpening. In addition to sharpening the ceramic blade, this tool also hones the ceramic blade to a fine edge.

Step 1: Set Up the Sharpener

setting up the sharpener

Place the tool in a stable position on the kitchen table. The handle of the sharpener should be on your strongest hand for stability. Also, make sure the switch is within your thumb’s reach for easy and convenient operation.

Step 2: Start with the Coarse Slot

start with the coarse slot

You need to use the coarse setting for a ceramic blade that has visible nicks or rough edges. All you have to do is insert the knife into the slot and gently pull it towards you. The knife will be moving from the heel to the tip. Do a few strokes for the best results.

Conclusion

A sharp ceramic blade allows more controlled and deliberate cuts. Unlike steel knives, ceramic knives have a super hard edge that is not easy to sharpen with regular knife sharpeners.

Any sharpening tool that you use must be made of a tougher material, in this case, diamonds. It can be a diamond file, diamond stone, or handheld manual or electronic diamond sharpener. The most popular tool recommended by most chefs is a diamond file. With the right tool, you can easily learn how to sharpen ceramic knives.

About The Author
Jeremy Dodd is a columnist for KnifeUp Magazine covering outdoor, tactical, hunting, and fishing topics. He served eight years in the United States Navy and attended Vincennes University for Conservation Law Enforcement. Jeremy lives in Washington, Indiana.

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