A sharp knife is a useful knife. Many chefs, home and professional alike, ignore or put off this task in shy reluctance to its perceived danger or tediousness. But knife sharpening isn’t that dangerous and if done correctly, it’s not all that tedious either. Prolong the life of your sharp investment and keep your most important kitchen tool in fine working order. First, test the sharpness of your knife to see if it needs sharpening – there are a few ways to do this.
You will need one or as many as you like (it’s fun!) of the following:
A Piece of Notebook Paper
A Piece of Magazine Paper
Tomato Test: Hold the tomato down on a cutting board and position your knife to slice from the top. Without adding a lot of pressure, slice through the tomato. If your knife can do this, it’s sharp. If you have to push with force into the tomato, your knife isn’t sharp.
Onion Test: Hold the onion down on a cutting board and position your knife to slice from the top. The knife should be able to slice right through the papery surface of the onion without sliding. If it does, it’s sharp – if not, then it needs some sharpening.
Notebook Paper Test: Hold a piece of regular notebook paper in one hand and raise it out in front of you. With the knife in your dominant hand slice through the paper from top to bottom. If the knife is sharp it will split the paper easily and evenly. If the knife is not sharp it will have difficulty moving through the paper in a swift movement.
Magazine Paper Test: Take a piece of magazine paper and fold it over loosely. Hold the folded piece of magazine paper in front of you and slice the knife through the top in a horizontal motion – this will be like skimming off the top of the loosely folded section. If the knife passes through easily, it’s sharp. If not, then your knife needs sharpening.
If you find your knife to fail any of these tests then follow the instructions in these articles to get your knife chopping, dicing, and slicing like new again.