Thorough Guide to Caring for Your Knife Kit

1. Hone regularly
The first step in properly caring for your kitchen knives is honing regularly. Much like your teeth should be cared for daily, your knives require the same attention. Luckily, it takes less time than brushing your teeth to hone your knives. Honing is the method used each time you use your knives. This can be done with a steel rod that came with your knife block or you can use a handheld knife sharpener like this 4-stage handheld knife sharpener by Wusthof.

To hone your knife with a steel rod, place the sharpening steel vertically on a slip-resistant base and hold with your non-dominant hand. With your knife in your dominant hand, hold the blade at a 15-degree angle to the steel and slide down toward your body from the knife’s heel to tip. Repeat this action between four and five times on each side.

For further explanation and a helpful demonstration, check out the video below.

To sharpen your knife with a handheld sharpener, simply slide the blade through the pre-angled slots in your sharpener. For honing, use the “fine” or ceramic slot. The “coarse” or carbide slot should not be used regularly.

2. Cut properly on the right surface
Once honed, it’s time to use your knife. When cutting, it’s best to utilize a sliding or rocking method opposed to a jarring, chopping method. The gentler motion keeps knives from developing irregularities or chips along the blade.

Epicurean Cutting Board - KaTom Blog

Image by

Just as important in the process of cutting is the surface used for cutting. Stick to materials your knife can penetrate like wood, plastic, or recycled fibers. Avoid surfaces like glass, stone, and acrylic. Not only are these materials hard on your knife’s edge, they can be very dangerous and lead to accidents from blade slippage while cutting.

Check out John Boos for a wide variety of wooden cutting boards and chopping blocks and Epicurean for both composite and recycled plastic options.

3. Wash by hand
When it comes to the tools you rely on for nearly every meal, it’s worth the few extra minutes to wash by hand. The heat and intense water pressure in dishwashers can damage the handles of your knives and dull even the best cared for blades. Additionally, the harsh detergents in dishwashers can discolor or dull the blades.

When hand-washing knives, use warm, soapy water with the blade pointed away from your body. Hand dry immediately to avoid any rusting or discoloration.

4. Store separately
If you are storing your knives in an area that could easily be mistaken for the proverbial kitchen junk drawer, stop now. Having multiple utensils sliding around inside a drawer can nick and dull knives. There are three ideal options for storing your knives:

Knife Storage by Shun - KaTom Blog

Image by Shun Knives

1. Store flat in a drawer, side-by-side
2. Store on a knife magnet
3. Store in a knife block.

If you choose the knife block option, it’s best to opt for a block with vertical slots. If you already own one with horizontal slots, store your knives upside down to avoid dulling the blade when sliding in and out of the block.

5. Sharpen annually

If it’s been a while since you have sharpened your knives or you don’t hone regularly, chances are it’s time for a sharpening. There are two options to manage restoring your knives to prime sharpness:

1. Utilize a “coarse” or carbide surface for restoration. This should be done in the same manner as using the “fine” or ceramic honing surface on your knife sharpener. If your knife is beyond repair, consider the next option.

2. Find a professional sharpening service. These services are there when you have either neglected your knives or chipped the blade. Here are a few of the services suggested by The Wall Street Journal.

Interested in learning more about caring for your kitchen knives? Have a trick for keeping them in the very best condition? Comment below with your questions or advice and we will touch base with our specialists to get your questions answered and pass along your expertise.

Chelsea B. Sanz
Chelsea B. Sanz

Chelsea Sanz has lived in East Tennessee since her family moved here from South Florida just before she started high school. While she initially begrudged her new home state, she eventually realized she had come to not only love it, but to “bleed orange” as University of Tennessee Volunteers fans here like to say. She and her boyfriend Hunter, a trail worker for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, enjoy exploring the nation’s most visited national park and coming up with their own farm-to-table recipes.

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