How to Sharpen Kitchen Knives

Keep your knives sharp from the comfort of your kitchen.

By Sasha Weilbaker
May 31, 2023
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Once you purchase a quality kitchen knife, you’ll be amazed at the ease with which it slices through fruits, veggies, meats, and more. However, to continue to enjoy those perfect cuts, you must properly maintain your blade. This includes sharpening and honing the blade at appropriate intervals, washing it by hand, and storing it away from other utensils.

Our team compiled tips and tricks that will prolong the quality and lifespan of your favorite kitchen knives.

Do My Knives Need Sharpening?

cabbage chef knife

Using a dull knife is, without a doubt, frustrating. Not only do dull blades make your task more time-consuming and tedious, but it can be straight up dangerous. A dull knife with burrs cuts unevenly and requires more pressure to use, increasing the chance that your grip will slip and you’ll hurt yourself.

If you notice that your blade is crushing food instead of slicing it, or that it takes more pressure to get the job done, it’s likely time to sharpen your blade.

How to Sharpen Kitchen Knives at Home

knives in knife block

Sharpening your knives at home may seem like a daunting task at first. But once you get the hang of it, it’s actually quite simple. We’ve laid out some helpful tips so that you can be successful—no matter how daunting it seems.

That said, if you don’t want to risk ruining the blade while you perfect your technique, you can always find a local professional to sharpen your knives for you. Most experts charge between one to two dollars per inch, so you can often get the job done for less than $10.

To sharpen straight-sided blades at home, you’ll need an electric knife sharpener or a whetstone. For serrated knives, check out How to Sharpen a Serrated Knife for a detailed guide to the subject.

Knife Sharpener

An electric knife sharpener is fast and easy to use. Generally, these compact machines have several slots that feature different levels of abrasiveness. You’ll want to move your knife evenly through the sharpener, or risk creating a hole in your blade.

While the steps to use an electric knife sharpener may vary depending on your specific model, here are some general tips to follow:

  • Follow the sharpener’s blade guide to rest the right side of the blade at the appropriate angle.
  • When the blade is in place, turn the machine on.
  • Slide the knife through the sharpener from the handle end of the blade to the tip.
  • Once the knife is in the center of the belt, you can turn the machine off.
  • Use 5 to 10 strokes to sharpen the right side of the knife.
  • A rough edge forming on the left side of the knife lets you know the right side is done.
  • Place the left side of the blade against the sharpener and repeat these steps. Your knife should now be evenly sharp.


A preferred method of sharpening by many, Whetstones, or sharpening stones, are another tool that gets the job done. A whetstone is generally a block of stone, such as quartz, with rough and fine-grit sides.

Most chefs prefer whetstones to electric knife sharpeners because they offer more control than an electric blade sharpener. For step-by-step instructions on how to sharpen your knife using a whetstone, check out our guide.

How to Strop and Hone a Kitchen Knife

knife roll

Once your blade is sharp, you can strop and hone the blade to give the edge a perfect, smooth finish. Check out the following tips for stropping and honing your kitchen knives at home.


A strop is a tool you can use to remove imperfections and polish the edge of a blade after you sharpen your knife. A strop is usually a leather strap, balsam wood, cloth, or another material attached to a wooden block.

Here are some tips for using a strop to polish your knife:

  • Apply a polishing compound to the surface of the strop.
  • Take your sharp knife and start at the bottom of the strop with the blade pointing downwards.
  • Slowly move the blade upwards across the polishing surface and end at the tip of the knife.
  • Turn the blade upside down and run it down the strop so both sides are polished.
  • When you finish stropping your knife, you should have a mirror finish and an extra-sharp blade.


While sharpening a knife removes small pieces of dull metal to restore your blade, honing corrects the edge of a knife by straightening and aligning it.

A honing rod (also called sharpening steel) is usually a steel, diamond-coated steel, or ceramic rod with a handle.

  • To hone your knife, place the rod pointing down on a non-slip surface.
  • Using only a downward motion, run the blade of your knife against the rod at a 15 or 20-degree angle from heel to tip.
  • Hone each side of the blade about five times.
  • This process pushes burrs and uneven edges back into place for a straight, sharp edge.
  • For a pristine edge, hone your knife once or twice a week.

Additional Knife Care Tips

full knife organizer

While sharpening and honing your knife is important for keeping your blade in shape, there are a few more tips to keep in mind. Cleaning your knife properly, maintaining the blade as necessary, and storing it appropriately also play a part in the lifespan of your knife.

Hand Wash Only

A dishwasher may seem like the easiest way to clean your knife. However, the wash cycle can cause the blades to scratch or chip as they collide with other utensils.

Handwashing your knives only takes a few minutes, and can greatly extend the life of your knife. Use warm water and mild soap to wash the knife, and never soak your blades as this may cause corrosion.

Know How Often to Sharpen and Hone

Sharpening and honing your knives at the proper intervals ensure that they’re always in tip-top shape and ready to use.

You should sharpen your knives at least once a year to prevent the blade from becoming dull. Sharpening removes a small amount of metal from the knife, so you don’t want to sharpen more often than necessary. On the other hand, you may need to hone your knives weekly.

Store Correctly

Storing your knives properly is critical to keeping them in good shape. When you toss a knife in a silverware drawer, contact with metal utensils can dull the blade over time. In our opinion, the best way to store a knife blade is on a Knife Block, using drawer storage, or by using a blade cover.

Ready to Shop?

A high-quality collection of well-maintained kitchen knives can transform your experience in the kitchen. By sharpening, stropping, and honing your knife’s blade at regular intervals, you can keep your knife in pristine shape. Cleaning and storing your blade appropriately can also prolong its life span. With proper care and maintenance, your favorite kitchen knife can last for generations.

In need of a new knife? Be sure to check out Made In’s collection of full tang and fully forged kitchen knives, created by 5th-generation artisans in Thiers, France.