How to Sharpen a Stainless Steel Knife – Use the Effective Methods

This may come as a surprise but every knife needs to be sharpened. It doesn’t matter how expensive the knife is. They may be high quality but they’ll still get blunted like any other knife. It’s true that expensive knives are easier to sharpen than cheap ones.

Not only do they need regular sharpening but they need to be sharpened correctly. Learning the right technique is very important. It takes time so be patient when learning how to sharpen a stainless steel knife.

If the process doesn’t take more than 10 minutes then it’s likely you’re doing it wrong. A bad technique can damage a steel blade very easily. The use of the wrong materials will also hinder your sharpening abilities. We’re going to go through the best methods of sharpening. We’ll also discuss the right materials and stones to use on each different type of knife. Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

Choosing The Right Stones

The easiest thing to get wrong is the surface on which you’re sharpening. Most people don’t regard choosing the right sharpening stones as the key to success. This is where we’ll start. Getting this wrong will make the process tedious and probably unsuccessful. You can sharpen a knife with any type of stone. The problem is whether the knife will get damaged in the process.

Any high carbon blade will need careful sharpening. So try to avoid these types of knives because they are fragile. You have to identify what type of steel your knife is made of. Then you can proceed to choose which sharpening stone you want. Sharpening modern stainless steel is harder than older carbon steel. So if you have a modern knife then avoid using Japanese water stones or Arkansas stones.

Newer knives are made with different alloys that make the blades stronger. An alloy with high Vanadium content is more difficult to work with. So if your knife contains this then you want to go for a more abrasive surface. It’ll make the sharpening process ten times easier. There are two good options: Diamond-based stones and whetstones.

How To Sharpen A Stainless Steel Knife At Home

This is where your sandpaper comes into play. That paper is easily accessible at any hardware store. Head over to your nearest hardware store and grab some sandpaper ranging from 60 to 1000 grit. You’ll need a large range to effectively sharpen a stainless steel blade. Place the sandpaper on a flat surface and bring the knife towards it. By doing this you have a lot more control when angling the blade.

Start with a low grit and work your way up to the higher ones. A low grit will give your blade a very rough edge, so don’t stop there. Test the knife to see that it is sharp enough, if not continue to grind on the finer sandpaper grit.

You should expect to work for 10 minutes on a stainless steel knife at home. If you’re done much sooner than this, then the likelihood is that you’ve used rough grit for too long. Sandpaper can damage the blade in some instances. So take a little bit of olive oil or cooking oil and place it on the sandpaper. This might limit a little bit of the scratching on the blade.

How To Sharpen A Stainless Steel Knife With A Stone

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You probably have a whetstone or a honing steel rod at home. These are great for the price you’ll pay and either one of these is fine, but we’ll talk only about the stones in this case. Whetstone or Diamond bench stones are ideal for stainless steel.

You need something that is abrasive and strong enough to sharpen modern steel. We’re going to use a pull-through technique. Place the stone on a flat surface, on top of a damp cloth. This will keep the stone from sliding around the counter.

You want to start from the base of the blade and pull the knife blade down against the stone. The blade should be angled as you do so. A 45-degree angle between the knife blade and the stone is a good starting point. You can apply quite a bit of pressure without damaging the blade. But don’t get carried away. Stroke down on each side an equal amount of times. If you don’t do this the blade will sharpen unevenly.

Uneven blades are weak and chip easily. Some people like to push up on the stone instead of down and this is okay too. Most people cut items in a downward motion and so sharpen their knives that way. It’s up to you which is better. Test the different techniques on a few knives and see which one is best.


Remember that technique is important but the materials used for sharpening are more important. A bad technique will not produce a sharp blade and the wrong materials will ruin the knife. You have to make sure you know what your knife is made out of. If you don’t then you’re going to grab the wrong sharpener.

If you don’t know what steel your knife is made of then consult an expert or search online. After some time you’ll get used to the right amount of pressure to apply while sharpening. This varies between knives. For example, a chef’s knife will need more applied force than a more flimsy pocket knife.

If your knife still isn’t getting sharp then you have a harder type of steel than you thought. Try a new type of stone or sharpen your knife for longer if this is the case. Learning how to sharpen a stainless steel knife is not rocket science, so you should get it nice and quick.

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