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How to Use an Electric Knife Sharpener Appropriately

how to use an electric knife sharpener
Written by Erik Himmel

Knives are a necessity in our daily food preparations, from buttering toasts to slicing through delicious roasts, and also in sports such as the throwing knives. As with any instrument with continuous use, they will start getting a little blunt. The best way to sharpen a knife is to use an electric sharper. This article outlines how to use an electric knife sharpener safely and to get the utmost performance of your knife.

How to Use an Electric Knife Sharpener?

A blunt knife is potentially more dangerous than a sharp one! You have to apply more pressure to cut through some fibrous, soft items like meat. While doing so, chances are that the knife slips. Blunt knives can be the cause of many accidents. Most of us have all been a victim of these at least once in our lives.

A few easy initiatives would allow for using an electric knife sharpener regardless of the brand name or mechanical differences. To get your knives sharpened correctly and safely, follow these outlined steps:

1. Getting Familiar with the Machine

getting familiar with the machine

  • Take a good look at the machine and find the user manual.
  • Find the page containing the diagram listing (where the parts and buttons are illustrated). Be aware of different color lights that may mean something is not quite right and so on.
  • The on/off button should always be on the side that faces the user. The sharpening regiment starts from the left side and works through to the right.
  • Identify the various sharpening degrees on the sharpening wheel. There should be coarse slots, fine and sometimes extra fine. Or it is labeled as stage 1, 2 and 3. Each level will have two sharpening slots to it.
  • This is because the sharpener only sharpens one side of the knife at a time, so you have to pass the knife through first the left side then the right of each stage an equal number of times.
  • Some sharpeners have cross wheels for the Stage 3 or Extra Fine stage that sharpen both sides at once. It all depends on the make and model of the electric knife sharpener.

2. Understanding How the Sharping Slots Work

You might have a very reliable electric knife sharpener. But, this step is critical to your learning how to use electric knife sharpener. I’ll ease the technical part, so you can get it real fast.

Stage 1 / Coarse Level

The actual job of sharpening starts with this stage. Knives that are really blunt or need to be a little edgier can be sharpened using this level. Don’t overdo the action on the blade because by doing so, you’ll be hurting the edge quite a bit. If the knife has been used repeatedly for more than 2 to 3 weeks and is quite blunt, it’s the stage you want to start with.

Stage 2

Now, you need to hone the blade. Sharpen the blade lightly and smoothen it out. It will give the knife a sharper edge and tone it up a bit. If you have used the knife for more than a week without sharpening it, this is where you can start.

Stage 3

This stage involves polishing of the knife blade so the micro-burrs on the blade can be cleaned up to make the blade “razor sharp”. To keep your knives with precise edges even with frequent uses, you need to use this stage every 3 to 4 days. Stage 3 may be great for quick use. If you still find the knife a bit dull, try stage 2 before putting it through stage 1.

2. Turning the Sharpener On

  • Identify the ‘On’ button (probably located on the side of the device that faces towards you).
  • Get the knife/knives ready for the job. Always check the manufacturer’s recommendation for sharpening instructions as different types come with different requirements. This is usually dependent on the grind of the blade (the shape of the blade’s edge).
  • Making sure the wall socket is set to off, with dry hands plug the device in and switch the wall socket on.
  • With the on/off button facing towards the user turn the electric knife sharpener on.
  • There should be a low whirr or humming noise coming from the machine and it should be gently vibrating.

3. Pulling the Knife’s Blade Through the Slot (The Coarsest One)

Before using electric knife sharpener, you must have one goal; that’s to get your knives sharpened correctly. So, follow these steps.

4. Sliding the Blade Through

In order to see how to sharpen a knife with an electric sharpener correctly first determine the bluntness of the blade.

Once you have determined the bluntness of the blade lower it onto the center of the Coarse/Stage 1 grinder to the hilt of the base with the tip sticking out the other end. There with be a grinding noise when the blade is positioned correctly for use.

Then smoothly, without rushing or forcing it just let it move, pull the knife back towards you tilting it upwards to the shape of the blade to ensure you get it sharpened to the utensils grind.

Understanding How the Sharping Slots Work

Depending on the bluntness of the knife it should be repeated twice on both sides of the Coarse/Stage 1 sharpener. It is important that the knife is pulled through an equal amount of times on both the left and right side of the Coarse/Stage one sharpening wheel to ensure a sharp blade.

5. Running a Test

You should always test the sharpness of your knife after having it sharpened. Dull knives are more dangerous in the kitchen. So, sharpen them regularly.  When the knife gets sharpened, the metal is actually being removed from the blade but it is also being pulled out and over the edge to the side of the blade not currently being sharpened. When the knife is removed from the first side being sharpened you can actually feel them.

They are called “the burr”. If you run your fingers gently up and over the bottom side edge the side not yet sharpened, you will feel them. Just take caution and do not run your finger near or too close to the cutting edge.

6. Passing the Knife’s Blade Through Two Times on Each Side

Once you have run the blade through to sharpen the left side you must run it through to sharpen the right side of the Coarse/Stage one grinder.

Repeat this process at least twice on this grinding stage.

7. Using the Remaining Slot(s)

Since you’re still in the process of making out electric knife sharpener how to use, you should try the other slots.

Fine Grinding Sharpening/Stage 2 Grinding

Once you have run the knife through the first stage/coarse grinding stage you need to then run the knife on to the second/fine grinding stage. This should also be repeated twice on each side of the blade.

Stage 3/Ultra Fine/Polishing/Smoothing Phase

Once you have run the blade through stages 1 – 2 for an even better precision cutting and shaper blade run it through the extra/ultra-fine grinding wheel sometimes known as stage 3.

8. Testing Again

You may wonder, “Are electric knife sharpeners good?” well, why don’t you double check the performance? Feel for the burs, most if not all of them should have smoothed out.

To test how sharp the knife is cut through something. A sure way to see its cutting ability is to get a piece of paper and slice the knife through it. This will demonstrate the sharpness of the blade.

Cleaning the Knife’s Blade

Once the knife has been sharpened it is imperative to remove any leftover filings as you do not want them transferred into your cooking.

Rinse the knife from tip to hilt in warm soapy water, rinse off with clean water and then thoroughly dry it before use.

Cautions to Remember

When using the machine and sharpening knives

  • Never switch the device on or work it with wet hands
  • Always ensure the devices on/off button is turned towards the device user
  • Hold the knife pointed away from the body at all times
  • Use fluid smooth movements when pulling the knife through the machine
  • Follow all instructions, safety precautions and manuals for use carefully
  • Keep the electric knife sharpener away from children
  • Keep sharp knives away from children

Now that ‘how to use an electric knife sharpener’ is a known topic to you, you have to be attentive to the user manual and make sure you follow the instructions to avoid unnecessary accidents. Remember you aren’t working with a whetstone or a manual sharpener that significantly differs from an electric one. So, understanding how the machine works optimize the usefulness of the device.

About the author

Erik Himmel

A Part-Time Firearm Instructor

Hi, this is Erik. We all know firearms are dangerous, but only when one doesn’t know how to use and care for them. I have 15+ years of experience with different types of guns and for the last 10 years, I have taught numerous people how to hold and shoot a gun while staying safe and keeping the surroundings unharmed. My neighbors are some of my biggest admirers who enjoy talking to me about their guns, firearms safety and maintenance.

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