What kitchen tool is used the most in your commercial kitchen? We would argue that knives are at the top of that list! Professional knives create a safer, more productive working environment. However, it is essential that knives are kept sharp to uphold this coveted working environment.  

As discussed in Central’s Tips for Professional Knife Care article, there are several reasons to keep a sharp edge to your knives: 

  • Prevent injury from using a dull blade 
  • Get consistent cuts in produce and meat 
  • Increase productivity in food prep tasks by cutting more easily/with less hesitation 
  • Prevent product waste resulting from a bad cut 
  • Improve the life of the blade 

One way to keep your knife sharp is by using a sharpening stone. So, what is a sharpening stone and how do I use it? Let’s review. 

What is a Sharpening Stone? 

Sharpening stones, or water stones, are blocks of abrasive material where knives are moved back and forth at appropriate angles to break away the old abrasive material to reveal fresh, sharp material. 

 

How Often Should I Sharpen My Knives? 

In a professional kitchen, knives should be honed after every use to maintain your sharp blade. Honing is done to center and realign the blade, and is accomplished by performing quick passes on a honing steel. Meanwhile, sharpening removes metal from the knife’s edge to create an entirely new, sharp edge. It is recommended to use a sharpening stone for your knives every four to six months in a commercial kitchen. 

Note: If your knife is struggling to slice a tomato without squishing it, it’s time to use the sharpening stone! 

How To Use a Sharpening Stone 

First, you need to do a little bit of prep work. This prep work includes the following steps: 

  • On a flat surface, put the stone on a damp cloth or towel with the coarse side on top. 
  • Lubricate the stone with water or honing oils approved for sharpening stones 
    • Reference the documents included with the stone 
    • NEVER use food oils on your sharpening stone! 
  • Put a small line of water or oil down the middle of the stone 
    • Gently spread the water or oil evenly across the sharpening 

 

Next, it is important to properly hold the knife at the right angle (about a 20-degrees angle from the block) to give the blade the correct shape.  

  • Hold the knife with the blade down perpendicular to the block. 
  • Halve the distance to the block to create a 45-degree angle  
  • Halve the distance to the block again to be close to the 20-degree angle suggested.

With the correct angle achieved, perform the following steps to properly utilize the sharpening stone on your knives. During this process, remember that consistency is key! 

  • At the previously achieved 20-degree angle, slowly move the knife across the stone in a smooth motion, moving from the heel of the knife to the tip. 
  • Repeat this action five times – more times if the knife if very dull 
  • Flip the knife to sharpen the opposite side utilizing the same angle and motion. Sharpen this side the same amount of times as the first side to keep each side consistent. 
  • Flip the knife back to the original side and move the knife from the tip to the heel and repeat 5 times. 
  • Flip to the opposite side and sharpening from the tip to the heel the same amount of times as the original side. 
  • Flip over the stone and repeat these steps on the fine side. 

Watch the video below to see the process of using a sharpening stone step by step.

Once you are finished sharpening your knife, it is recommended to clean the sharpening stone. Simply use a damp towel and wipe away metal shavings and any excess oil. It is not recommended to rinse or wash the stone after use. Store in its box in a dry place.  

Final Thoughts 

Follow these simple steps to keep your knives in great condition with a sharp blade. For more information about kitchen knives, check out these recent articles: