How to Use a Knife Sharpener: A Step-by-Step Guide
how to use a knife sharpener

Cooking is fun for knife enthusiasts, but if your knife smashes through your vegetables instead of slicing them effortlessly, you have a problem. 

Nonetheless, the good news is you can easily remedy the issue by sharpening your knife using either manual or electric sharpeners, among other alternative methods. This article will cover how to use a manual and electric knife sharpener on a dull knife. 

So do you have a knife sharpener that you don’t use or don’t know how to use? Try our manual on how to use a knife sharpener and keep all your knife blades sharp.

How to Use a Knife Sharpener – Why Sharpen Your Knife?

Man Sharpening a Knife

You already know that a sharp knife saves you from the frustration of struggling to cut through your vegetables and meat, but that is not all. Be it a chef knife, pocket knife, or paring knife, sharp blades ensure you won’t cut your fingers. A dull kitchen knife will slip from time to time but a kitchen knife sharpener will do the trick.

Furthermore, a sharp knife ensures you cut your vegetables evenly, ensuring your food cooks through evenly.

How to Check Knife Sharpness

The first step of knife sharpening is to ensure that the knife is blunt in the first place. There are three ways of checking if your knife is sharp.

The first way is a paper test. Get a single sheet of printing paper, then hold it up and cut through it using your knife. A finer edge should slice through the paper effortlessly.

The other way is the tomato test. A ripe tomato has a tougher exterior, unlike its interior, which is soft. Take your knife and try to slice through a clean tomato skin. A dull knife blade will squish the tomato before cutting through the exterior.

The last test is the onion test. The drill is the same, and you will attempt to cut through the outermost bulb of your onion. A dull blade won’t cut through it.

Using a Manual Knife Sharpener

A manual knife sharpener is the cheapest and simplest method of ensuring your knives have and maintain sharp edges. It consists of a course slot for sharpening and a fine slot for polishing your knives.

Use the Course Slot

After checking if your knife is blunt or sharp, the second step is to sharpen or polish it. You will use the course slot first for a blunt knife that needs to be reshaped. This step removes steel from the knife edges and re-sharpens them.

Insert the blade in the slot at the correct angle and pull it from the base to the tip towards your body. Repeat the process as many times till your knife is sharp enough. You should feel the knife’s resistance and grinding noise if you are doing things right.

Use the Fine Slot

Once satisfied with your course slot results, proceed to run your knife through the fine slot at least once or twice to refine its edges. The function of the fine slot is to fine-tune your knife.

The step is milder than using the course slot, and you will use light pressure. You won’t also hear much grinding noise. If your sharpener has more slots, go through them as required for at least a couple of minutes for complete sharpening.

Clean Your Knife

Your knife will be relatively dirty from polishing and sharpening steel, and you will need to clean it before use. Use warm water, a sponge, and soap to wash away the steel remnants. Scrub the knife, run clean water over it, and completely dry it off using a clean towel before storing it to prevent rusting.

Please note that knives are not dishwasher safe because they can easily get damaged.

Knife Maintenance

You can maintain any kind of knife by passing them through the fine slot daily. Depending on how often you use your knives, you may need to repeat the process more times a day. You could do quick sharpenings after every use. It will help keep the knives sharp and prevent them from going blunt faster.

Using an Electric Knife Sharpener

Man Sharpening Knife with Electrical Tool at White Table

Electric knife sharpeners are generally more expensive than manual sharpeners. They are also a more effective, faster, and effortless way of achieving razor edge, thus a perfect investment. They have course and fine slots like the manual counterpart, but their abrasives spin on the blades of motorized sharpening wheels.

Turn On the Appliance

The first step is to power your electric knife sharpener before using it. Once it is on, insert the entire blade to begin the sharpening process.

Use the Course Slot

Begin the process by inserting the knife into the course slot from a perfect angle. Pull it through slowly at least 3-5 times to sharpen both edges. Repeat the process depending on how much your blade is dull till satisfied. Be sure to check using a paper towel before repeating the process.

Use your dominant hand for this section for safety, and wear kitchen gloves for extra protection.

Use the Fine Slot

Repeat the previous process in the fine slot section to polish your blade. Again, pull your knife through the slot till you are satisfied with the burr.

If your appliance has additional slots, repeat the process on each slot with moderate pressure depending on your blade edge needs.

Clean Your Knife

After sharpening and polishing your knives, the next step is to clean them before the next use. This step ensures that your knives are steel-free and ready for use.

Use warm and soapy water with a gentle sponge to clean. Rinse with plenty of water and towel dry before storing your blades to prevent rusting.

Knife Maintenance

The last step is to maintain your edges from time to time. It reduces the workload of having to reshape and re-sharpen your cooking knife often. Pass your knife through the fine slot for polishing after every use to maintain a consistent edge.

Can You Sharpen A Serrated Knife Using a Knife Sharpener?

You can sharpen serrated knives like bread knives using a kitchen sharpener. However, you will only use the fine slot section since its abrasive material conforms to the shape of your serrated knife.


Now that you know how to use a knife sharpener, let’s check on your kitchen knives before your next grilling or cooking. Also, if you don’t have a knife sharpener, this is your cue to invest in a decent sharpener. Let us know in the comments section below which types of knife sharpeners you own.  

Be sure to check out our page for more kitchen and cooking tips and hacks.

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