A Sharp Knife

January 10, 2013

Hello and welcome back to the Lansky Sharpeners Blog.  I’m going to start with the basics; A Sharp Knife.  In basketball they say, “It’s all about the fundamentals “, and that saying is true to knife sharpening as well.  The basics of the process are what matters the most.  When it comes down to learning how to sharpen, most people start with a simple knife.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a kitchen, pocket or hunting knife.  It’s getting that edge sharp that matters.   The goal remains the same; for all the techniques, stones and systems in the sharpening world; A Sharp Knife.  There are 101 (and probably a lot more) different ways to get your knife sharp.   Many of you probably have some predetermined opinions and questions about sharpening.  I know over the years I’ve had to disillusion myself from a lot of concepts and opinions I had about sharpening.  Some of the questions you might be asking yourself are:

  • Why does my knife need to be sharp?
  • Isn’t sharpening difficult?
  • What is the secret to sharpening?

Why does my knife need to be sharp?

There are two basic reasons a knife needs to be sharp; the first of which is safety.  That’s right safety.  A dull knife is far more dangerous to use than one that is sharp and properly maintained.  A dull knife doesn’t do its job properly.  Your knife can slip without a proper edge to bite into the material you’re cutting.  Just because it can’t cut that piece of rope or wood you’re trying to cut does not mean that it can’t cut you or those around you.  Using more force than necessary is a very common way for people to get injured when people are using sharp tools.  If a knife is dull then you use that extra force.   This brings me to my second reason.  Have the right tool for the right job.   A knife isn’t a proper tool unless it has a good edge.  A good analogy is that a knife without an edge is like a hammer without a head.  That knife won’t cut and that hammer won’t hammer!  Have you ever watched someone totally avoid their straight edge blades in the kitchen?  Instead of chopping up an onion, they saw through one with a serrated bread knife!  A dull knife is a knife that doesn’t get used anymore.  Instead of using the proper tool for the job we find a lesser alternative.  And when does that work out well?

Isn’t sharpening difficult?

Well yes, and no.  Sharpening is both an art and a science.  Using freehand methods often take practice, experience and knowledge.  Like any other skill it needs to be honed (pun totally intended).  Luckily, today we have different methods and systems to help people sharpen their knives and tools.  It all started when Arthur Lansky invented the Controlled Angle Sharpening System and made his dream a reality in 1979.  Arthur’s easy to use system demystified the art of sharpening and honing, letting inexperienced people sharpen their blades at home and learn more about the process of sharpening.  Using a Controlled Angle system helps create the ground work for people to understand different grinds, bevels and angles.  Once the ground work is set, a deeper understanding of the process grows and you find that you can transfer some of the skills you learn with the Controlled Angle System to other methods like using Crock Sticks and free hand sharpening.

What’s the secret of sharpening?

The secret is to stay tuned to the Lansky Sharpener’s Blog to learn more about the sharpening process, blade types and techniques.  Okay, I had to get a shameless marketing plug in there somewhere.  But the real secret is less exciting and I’m sure you’re already aware of it.  Knowledge and experience my friends.  Knowledge and experience (and a good collection of Lansky stones). 

Okay folks, that is it! I hope you enjoyed the first topic on the Lansky Sharpeners blog.  Make sure to bookmark this blog, email it to a friend or add our RSS feed.  Stay tuned for next week’s topic “The Difference Between Honing and Sharpening”.



Category: General


Patty Kasiewicz
Jan 14th, 2013
My hubby does the sharpening in our house with the Lansky system. I 'll see him some times spending a long time sharpening a knife . He said some knives are hard to sharp because of the type of steel. Is this true??
Jan 21st, 2013
Hi Patty, your husband is correct! Different knives have different qualities in their steel. Stainless steel is often much softer than carbon steel. Stainless is easier to sharpen but doesn't retain it's edge as well carbon steel, meaning more sharpening more often. Also the temper on a blade will define how brittle or flexible a blade is, a hard, brittle edge will take much more effort to sharpen that a soft flexible edge.

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