What a Proper Knife Sharpening Technique Actually Looks Like

One of the most intimidating issues (it was for me) that keeps some from buying a good-quality (and sometimes very pricey) knife is the maintenance.  Specifically, the sharpening part.  I mean, what good is a great knife if and when it eventually dulls?  Surely you won’t be able to restore a sharp edge to the same level as when it was new right?  Well, there are ways around that!  In the short term, you can rely on a sharpener, but as you become a veteran of knife ownership, you’ll want to finesse your sharpening and maintenance of your investments.  Sharpening a knife means using any one or a couple of techniques for the purpose of keeping the sharpest edge that is dent or ding free. The most basic of knife sharpening techniques is grinding the edge against a hard and rough surface. This is usually a whetstone or sharpening stone.

However, most experts will tell you that there is more to knife sharpening than just grinding away! You can also use the best electric knife sharpener instead. You need to know the type of steel you are using. This determines the type of grinding surface you use. In fact, some of the best knife sharpening techniques use several stones and or surfaces from rough to fine.

The Why

The simple answer is knife sharpening techniques are meant to give you a fine edge at all times. Remember, a knife does not just get dull. It also acquires a few dents and dings on the cutting surface. This will greatly reduce the cutting ability of the unit. There are several disadvantages to the same. To name a few:

  • A knife is meant to cut. You do this by applying your own force and letting the knife do its work. The sharper the knife, the less strain you put on yourself. The duller the knife, the more effort you need to exert in order to perform the same task. This means you get tired easily. And in the kitchen, the outdoors, the jungle, or any situation, you want to exert as little effort as possible.
  • A sharp knife cuts clean. The strokes are beautiful. The meat, the right size. A dull knife creates a jagged edge. It will also require you to exert more force. This will result in uneven cuts that are not pleasing to the eyes. This is especially true for fine or thin cuts.
  • A sharp knife requires you to use more force. This is not the proper way to use a knife. As a result, you will be more prone to injury.
  • In the most extreme of circumstances, a sharp knife can mean the difference between life and death. Every extreme outdoorsman knows this.

The How

Let’s get to the meat of things (pardon the pun). First, you need to assess your knife. Are there chips, dents, dings, or do you only need to sharpen the edge? What type of blade is it? How extensive is the damage?  Let’s assume the worst case scenario, which means you do not have the luxury of buying another knife.

Dents and Dings.

This requires less side force. You will need to use a grinding stone. Concentrate on removing the ding and then minimize or totally grind off the chipped area by going thru the entire length of the blade. This way, the chip is made less visible. For the smallest of chips, it is possible to remove it completely by grinding off the entirety of the cutting edge. But you do not do this often because it will eventually result in a thinner blade.


This requires you to use more side force. As a rule of thumb, you want to have the smallest or tightest angle between the blade and the stone. You make a sliding motion form base to tip. Most experts tell you to use only one uniform motion. But some prefer to use a forward and backward motion.


To finish things off, you want to maximize the cutting edge and minimize the visible scratches on the surface. This is usually known as a stropping. The same is commonly used for razors; but there is nothing wrong with using a stropping leather for knives, even swords for that matter.

In Closing

Central to proper sharpening is the right tools. In this regard, the author believes in using high quality stones in different grits. By the way, if you have a ceramic blade, you can sharpen it yourself, BUT it is recommended you send it to the manufacturer or a professional. This is because ceramics break easily when you apply too much sideways force. Not to mention they are expensive. Read KnifeUp’s guide to machetes, balisongs, balisong trainers, and pocket knives.

Save up to 50% on your new knife at BladeHQ

We have partnered with BladeHQ to offer the best deals on high-quality knives for our readers. The deals are always changing so click the button below to shop today.

Recent Posts

MKM Normar Review

MKM Normar Review

Introduction The MKM Normar is a fantastic bushcraft knife that truly shines in outdoor tasks as well as having utility indoors. The full-tang blade made from CPM 3V steel gives the knife excellent strength and durability, and the scandi grind is perfect for slicing through various materials with ease. The blade’s belly is ample and ... Read more

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Hawkbill Blade Knife.

There are different tools and equipment that we typically require to use in various situations in our lives. Knives are one such type of tool that is essential for multiple purposes. Whether for general kitchen usage or survival purposes, you need to select a knife that is ideal for the given situation in which it ... Read more
what is the best knife to cut meat

Best Knife to Cut Meat of 2022: Complete Reviews With Comparisons

Some of the sharpest kitchen knives in existence are meat cutting knives. That said, you can’t expect them to give their best cutting performance throughout the course of their service. If you’ve ever owned a kitchen knife for cutting meat before (and you likely have), you know they’re not built to last. Make sure to ... Read more
best ceramic knives for your kitchen

Best Ceramic Knives of 2022: Complete Reviews With Comparisons

While they aren’t a replacement for tough steel knives, ceramic knives are versatile and ideal for any kitchen. They are razor-sharp, rust-proof, and featherweight and are relatively inexpensive. If you’re shopping around for the best ceramic knives, then you have come to the right place. We reviewed 5 of the leading ceramic knife sets on ... Read more
what is a boning knife used for

What Is a Boning Knife Used For: Getting to Know This Handy Tool

Having a tool in your kitchen is essential, but the same tool becomes worthless if you don’t know how to use it effectively. Knives are the same; different types make your tasks easier only if you know what each type is best for. That’s why it’s vital to find out what is a boning knife ... Read more
best boning knife of 2022

Best Boning Knife of 2022: Complete Reviews With Comparisons

With a quality curved boning knife, you can break down fish and meat efficiently on your own and save money. In some knives, you even get the bonus of a filleting function where you can separate the meat fish from bone with relative ease. On that note, here are five of the best boning knife ... Read more

Looking for something specific?

3 thoughts on “What a Proper Knife Sharpening Technique Actually Looks Like”

  1. This is Anne from RETON RING MESH CO.LTD , we are a manufacturer of stainless steel cut resistant glove.

    It can be used in security, kitchen, meat processing, slaughterhouses,as well as fish and oyster industry and other fileds.

    If you are interested in our products ,please be free to contact me.


Leave a Comment