How to sharpen a hunting knife

Sharpen knives correctly in 4 steps

From myHOMEBOOK | October 13, 2020, 5:22 p.m.

A sharp knife is irreplaceable in the kitchen. Since blades become dull over time, they have to be sharpened from time to time. It all comes down to the right approach. myHOMEBOOK explains how blunt knives can be made sharp again.

Even the best knife loses its sharpness at some point - at least with regular use. Working with a dull blade is not only a tedious business but also a dangerous one. "With blunt knives you can slip, the risk of injury is too great," warns Mareike Hermann from the DIY Academy in Cologne. It is easy to slip if you use too much force to compensate for the lack of heat. It is therefore worthwhile to get a whetstone or sharpening steel so that you can sharpen the blunt knives if necessary.

Whetstone, sharpening steel or grinding machine?

Sharpening steel

There are different abrasives for different blades. The most common one is the sharpening steel with a wooden handle to sharpen kitchen knives. It is made of steel or ceramic. Some are even coated with diamond particles. If you come across a blunt knife while cooking, you can quickly help with the sharpening stick.


An alternative to a good abrasive is a whetstone, ideally in a set with different grain sizes. The higher the number, the finer the grain. Some stones also have different grain sizes on the top and bottom. Brackets prevent the stones from slipping while grinding. When used correctly, whetstones give a razor-sharp result, but are also kept busy the longest.

Note: When it comes to whetstones, a distinction is made between water and oil stones. As the name suggests, they are lubricated with either water or oil. The liquid forms a film on the surface and prevents the particles from settling in it.

Grinding machine

Grinding machines are more expensive to buy and are more suitable for professionals who also regularly grind their tools. They're not really worth it for home use. Because of their high speed, they are of course much faster than manual sanding.

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The right angle when sharpening a knife

Compared to scissors or chisels, knife blades must have a particularly small angle at which the bevel is ground. The angle for knives is usually less than 25 degrees, which should be maintained when sharpening. The smaller the angle, the better the blade cuts meat or tomatoes, for example.

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Sharpen knives correctly with the whetstone

When sharpening with a whetstone, you gradually work your way from coarse grain (small number) to fine grain (high number). Important: the whetstone must always be wet during the sharpening process. When grinding, some grains break out and, together with the water and metal particles, form a fine grinding sludge that should be rinsed off again and again to reveal the next layer. So it pays to sharpen the knives near the tap, preferably on the kitchen worktop.

  1. preparation: Put the whetstone in water for a quarter of an hour. In addition, have a sturdy surface ready so as not to damage the table or worktop when sanding.
  2. Pre-sanding: Use a coarse grindstone (smaller than 500) to remove coarse nicks, if any. Place the blade diagonally and move it back and forth
  3. Main cut: Now a finer grain size (1000) is used.
  4. Fine-tuning and deburring: Since a fine burr is created during the main cut, this is removed in a few strokes with an even finer grain (polishing stone, from 2000).

tip: If you mark the burr with a waterproof felt pen before sanding, you will not miss any spots while sanding. The marking is sanded off at the same time.

Can you really sharpen a knife with a plate or a cup?

If you don't have any of the aforementioned abrasives on hand, you can make do with the rough spot on the underside of a ceramic plate or cup. If you pull the knife off with it, it won't be as sharp as with the whetstone, but you can at least continue to cook with it.

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Have knives sharpened

Alternatively, you can have the kitchen knives sharpened by a professional. In the meantime, however, these grinding services are becoming increasingly rare. You can also hand in scissors, tools and garden tools or lawnmower blades there and pick them up again after sharpening. This method can be worthwhile if you have a lot of blunt utensils at once.

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