It is said that a blunt knife is more dangerous than a really sharp one, and this is true of kitchen knives as well as any other type. When using a sharp knife, less pressure is needed to achieve the cut required, this reduces the risk of the knife slipping off whatever is being prepared and possibly causing injury. Keeping knives sharp is sensible not only to diminish the risk of inflicting serious harm, but taking care of an expensive knife will significantly extend its useful life, making it prudent from an economic point of view as well as from the health and safety perspective.
About Knife Sharpeners
Since the time that flint, bone, and antler were first used to create cutting instruments, there has been a need to initially create and then maintain their sharpness. Early man developed techniques to achieve this to quite a high level of efficiency, and his arrow heads, axes, and knives were kept in pristine condition. This was mainly achieved through rubbing the blade against a stone of some kind. With the development of metal tools, the use of a stone to hone a knife edge continued, and still continues to this day; whetstones are still a traditional way of bringing a knife edge to the required sharpness. Leather was also used to create a keen edge, which is often still seen being used today with the leather strop used to sharpen razors in a barber’s shop. Sharpening methods have moved on a lot since the early days, but the basic principle remains the same. All sharpening methods work in a similar way, by smoothing out the flaws and imperfections in the blade edge. Our modern-day knife sharpeners can also be used to bring a sharp edge to the blades of scissors and shears, which can increase the useful life of these items. Most knife sharpeners are suitable for use with steel, carbon or alloy blades, and many will take serrated edges, such as with some types of bread knife.
Types of Knife Sharpener
There are three basic types of knife sharpener in use today. All three are relatively easy to source and need not be expensive.
The sharpening stone is a simple rectangular block of stone over which the knife blade is repeatedly drawn. The stone is often lubricated with a light oil to reduce the friction to stop the stone being ground away too much. The word stone is a little misleading, as these items are made from a number of different materials; ceramic and metal being two examples. All sharpening stones have a coating of abrasive material, usually diamond dust. Some stones are covered in a single grade of abrasive material, whereas others may be double-sided. A coarse side will remove serious damage from a blade, and a finer grade of material will bring a blade to a high degree of keenness. Easy to use, these stones are small and will store away without difficulty; they require nothing more than a little lubrication to use them effectively, and will maintain an edge on a favourite chef’s knife with ease.
A sharpening steel is similar to a sharpening stone, but is more accurately described as a honing tool. These steels are usually about 10 inches in length and have a wooden handle. The steel itself is a rounded shaft of serrated metal against which the knife blade is rubbed. It is an essential tool for anyone that is working as a professional butcher where knives have to be regularly honed to keep their edge. These steels are also often used by chefs and home cooks, and they are as easy to use as a stone, however, the function of a steel is to straighten the existing edge of a blade, rather than to actually sharpen it. The exception to this is the diamond-coated sharpening steel, which will, in fact, sharpen a blade in much the same way as does a stone. Many professional chefs use a steel as they are quick and easy to use; the steel is held upright, with the tip placed on the worktop or other flat surface, and the knife blade is drawn down the length of the steel’s shaft. By moving the knife over the steel, the small imperfections are removed by pushing the metal back into shape, making the knife a more effective cutting tool.
A modern take on the traditional sharpening tools, the pull-through sharpener can be either manually or electrically powered. The blade of the knife is placed edge-down into the cutting wheels that rotate as the knife is drawn through. These very useful devices can sharpen and hone a knife-edge very quickly. The device itself dictates the correct angle for efficient sharpening of the knife’s edge. The manual type works when the knife is drawn across the wheels by hand; the electric versions do an equally efficient job, but much more quickly. The more expensive manual models have spring-loaded grinding wheels that are set at the appropriate angle for efficient sharpening. The wheels can be of hardened metal or a combination of metal and ceramic. The manual versions of these sharpeners often do as good a job of sharpening knives as do the electric ones. There is also the advantage that the manual versions are cheaper to buy and are less likely to go wrong. If properly cared for they should go on sharpening knives for years in a domestic kitchen. Most of these products claim to sharpen carbon, stainless steel, and alloy knives with equal efficiency. Some also work equally well with serrated blades as they do with plain.
Find a Knife Sharpener on eBay
Knife sharpeners are located in the Food Preparation and Tools area of the eBay site; this can be found by using the dynamic menus that are provided; navigating from the Home & Garden link, through Kitchens, bidders will find the link to Food Preparation & Tools, which will list knife sharpeners that are specifically designed for culinary use. Simply typing knife sharpener into the search box on the homepage will bring up a selection of listings that will include other categories as well as food preparation; this search can be narrowed by using the panel at the left of the screen to choose the correct category for the searcher’s required product. Completing some prior research about the product is the best way to prepare for searching for the item. This knowledge reduces the time spent in looking at unsuitable products. The use of the correct keywords when searching will also facilitate the process and suitable items should be quickly found. Having some idea of the type and range of products that are available on the market, and being aware of the current market value of those products, enables bidders on eBay to make fully informed choices about whether or not to bid for specific items. To find a knife sharpener on eBay at the right price, it is worth establishing the rough market value of an item beforehand. This will help any prospective bidder to gauge whether or not items offered for auction are realistically priced; remember that the overall cost of an item will rise if there are delivery charges to be added – look for these on the listings page before entering into the auction so the final price will remain manageable. Setting a budget for an auction is also sensible.
On eBay it is certain to find a good deal on many different types and designs of knife sharpeners, thanks to the wide range of items that are available on the site; from the simple and traditional sharpening stone to the more technologically advanced electric versions, there is a knife sharpener suitable for every blade. Please remember that handling knives of any kind can be dangerous. When using a knife sharpener of any kind, take great care. If sharp knives are used a lot, it is a very good idea to purchase a protective glove to reduce the risk of injury.