The mastery of hand-knife sharpening is an awesome thing to get right. Although you may not realize it at first, it offers much more than sharp blades.
We all know a Kitchen's worst and deadly sin is the use of a dull knife. Frankly. The only time you've ever been seriously injured in the kitchen was when you chopped a carrot with a dull knife.
Freehand sharpening is like learning to play the piano. Some people are gifted and get it fast, while others must add extra time, effort, and devotion. This is true if you want to deliver a sharp blade with freehand whetting on a consistent basis. There also exist "performer pianists" of the sharpening world, like the Controlled Angle Sharpening Systems. In this case, no ability or mastery is needed; set it up, and it works.
Let's look at the common knife edging problems and specifically hand sharpening on whetstones.
Stop getting your fingers too close or near the cutting edge while sharpening
First, establish the position of the blade to the stone. Determine the blade's sharpening slope by holding the knife, with the index finger placed on the spine of the knife. Position your thumb on the flat part of the knife, and your other fingers hold the handle.
Most importantly, acquaint your fingers to stay in a comfortable spot but off the edge of the blade. It prevents injury or bruising of your fingertips from the whetstone.
Do not try to sharpen by grasping the handle in a cutting grip. Use a safer grip.
Maintain a firm hold on the knife, with the shoulders square to the stone and upper body unmoved. With your arm and elbow in a relaxed position, place the face of the blade on the stone. Note the slope of the knife to the whetstone for sharpening. A 60-70-degree inclination of the blade to stone is commonly applied. A wider or slighter angle is still applicable, but keeping this angle constant every time you whet, is critical to your sharpening success.
The angle at which you hold the knife's edge to the stone will influence the edge shape. It's the key to a good sharpening technique.
Relax your hands and avoid applying unnecessary pressure on the knife's blade
The number one problem with folks beginning to learn how to sharpen is using excessive force. Relaxed hands yield consistent outcomes during the sharpening time. If you’re putting too much stamina into sharpening and not attaining excellent results, then this is your wrongdoing.
It may seem illogical, but applying too much strength will not result in a sharper blade. But may have a different outcome – a blunter blade.
The majority of professionals can find out by mere touch whether they are applying the right pressure, but the rest of us need a little further guidance.
Although there are many suggestions on the best reasonable pressure for knife sharpening, we can agree that a lighter but firm grip, and acceptable weight on the knife is necessary for effective sharpening.
Once you scramble, you hardly accomplish meaningful results. Rushing during sharpening isn't good. Folks making a start have a tendency to rush and fail to appreciate how their blades react on the stone. Furthermore, acting in a rush makes you not realize when you alter your angles. Become skilled by slowing down the sharpening exercise, even if it takes more time to create an edge.
After a set of attempts at getting a good sharp knife, what used to take a long time now takes only a few minutes, and you are at ease throughout.
Two hands Sharpening/Switching hands
This entails sharpening each side of the knife with the corresponding hand holding it. It is more associated with aesthetics than knife performance.
It is for better control and speed that people only use their dominant hand. Not only that, but it's faster to flip the knife in your hand than to give it to the opposite side. People who are used to switching their hands notice "a weaker left" but can observe the angle better when evaluating the height of the spine above the stone.
Lifting the knife off the stone when polishing
Some people prefer lifting between every single stroke when polishing a knife, which is great if your handling is excellent and have been doing it for a long time. But, if you are new to knife sharpening, you may find yourself shifting the angle every moment you raise the blade off the whetstone.
Once you've determined which kind of sharpener is best for you, don't overdo it. Avoid over-sharpening and applying too much pressure to the tool. Alternate sides and keep track of your progress.