Knowing how to sharpen your knife is almost as important as owning a knife. When the blade is not sharp enough or its edge is not sharpened at the right angle, you are often not able to cut the way you would like to. This is why it is extremely important to know at which angle to sharpen your knives, regardless if you use a manual or electric sharpener.
If you take a good look at a knife’s details, you will be able to see that every blade has a bevel on one or both sides. Those thinner sides that can easily be differentiated from the rest of the blade’s surface are the focus point. When you say that you want to sharpen your knife, you actually refer to that specific part.
So how do you determine what the right angle for your knife is?
Deciding on the right angle
Once you have determined whether your knife’s blade has one or two bevels, you can decide what the right angle is. If it is a two-bevel blade, you can simply multiply the desired angle by two. For example, if you want it to have 20 degrees on one side and 20 on the other, you want to sharpen it at 40 degrees.
If it has a single bevel, then you will only sharpen it on one side, which means that the angle will be lower. Usually, such knives are sharpened at about 17-degree angles.
When deciding about the angle, you should think about the activity that you want to perform with it. When cutting food, not all blades are suitable. Sometimes you need thicker and less sharp blades, while other times you might need thinner and extremely sharp ones.
Here’s a guide that might prove to be helpful for you:
- More than 30 degrees – machetes, cleavers or axes usually need to be sharpened at more than 30-degree angles on one side, as they must have durable blades and can resist to more force.
- Between 23 and 30 degrees – recommended for pocket knives or hunting knifes that must also be durable and must be able to cut into thick layers.
- Between 17 and 22 degrees – recommended for kitchen knives that are required to cut impeccably and must also be durable. However, such a blade will be less durable than the previous ones.
- Between 10 and 17 degrees – recommended for chefs who need a fine edge that is suitable for slicing or cutting very soft layers. They are mostly used for meat slicing or food decorations.
As you can see, the thicker the blade, the rougher the material into which it cuts. On the opposite side, thin blades can cut into very soft foods, such as fish. Giving the fact that you surely have at least one kitchen knife in your collection, the 40-degree angle is probably the best choice for you. For all the other knives, refer to the guide above and enjoy the advantages of a sharp knife while preparing the ingredients.