So why do we want to use a Wusthof knife sharpener?
Before we go into why you should use knife sharpeners at all let’s look at some basic knife care pointers.
High end kitchen knives, chef’s knives or whatever you want to call them, are expensive pieces of equipment that need looking after if you don’t want to replace them anytime soon.
They will last a lifetime if you take care of them, and many manufacturers do indeed offer a lifetime guarantee.
So what does it take to look after your knife.
Most damage to a knife’s edge does not come from incorrect use but bad washing and storage practices.
How can we avoid this damage?
This means washing them carefully. Yes I know the manufacturer says they’re dishwasher proof but don’t let that fool you. A fine edge can easily be damaged by banging against other objects in there. Also the intense heat in these appliances is not doing the handles of your knives any good.
Wash them by hand with soapy water, rinse and ensure they’re dry before you put them away. The steel they’re made from these days does not rust easily but a quick wipe with a dry cloth takes seconds.
Do not keep your chef’s knives, in a drawer with the rest of your everday cutlery. They’re going to get items dropped onto them and into them over time. Also having an extremely sharp knife in an enclosed space where you frequently rush to get other objects out is a major safety issue.
The best solution is a knife block. Failing this use a hanger or a magnetic strip.
I’ve seen loads of pictures of magnetic strips where the knives are stored with the blades at the top and the handles at the bottom. DO NOT do this. The handle should always be at the top.. why?
Imagine this, if the handle was at the bottom and you reach for a knife. Then instead of grabbing it cleanly, you manage to just dislodge it. The handle falls through your grasp and the next thing through your hand which you try to catch is the blade. Ouch.
If the handle was at the top and you dislodge it, the knife simply falls; blade first, away from your hand.
Do not use
There is a tradeoff between the steel that will make the best knives and the steel that is easier to maintain.
The best steel to use for knife manfacture will be hard and therefore will keep its edge longer. However for most of the population this type of steel will be much more difficult to resharpen at home when the edge finally becomes dull.
Sharpening the blade involves removing some material from the blade edge. If the steel is harder then this will requie more work.
In a compromise, the run of the mill manufacturers, make their knives out of softer steel. The job of sharpening them is much easier for the average indivdual to achieve.
So the more expensive knifes tend to be made of much harder steel and therefore much harder to sharpen. This has given rise to a number of sharpening solutions often provided by the manufacturers themselves.
Which Sharpener to Use
Let’s clear up the confusion between a steel which is used for honing the edge, and a sharpener.
A steel should be used every few days to hone your knives. Honing simply realigns the blade’s edge and keeps it dead straight. It lifts any area of the edge that has become slightly turned or curled over (rolled). These areas are usually too small to be seen with the eye. A few (6-8) strokes of the steel, on both sides of the blade is enough to keep the edge maintained. To add a little confusion some diamond dust or ceramic steels can in fact sharpen your knife, most however only hone.
Over time the edge that you are maintaining by honing will become duller with use. At this time sharpening of the knife is needed. Sharpening involves removing material from the blade to reconstitute the correct angle of the edge.
To put it simply sharpening your knife wears it away and so should be done sparingly. Top quality knives either need to be sent away to professional sharpeners to get this done or can be done at home when using a dedicated tool for the job.
Because different manufacturers recommend different angles for their knife’s edge it is important to match the correct knife to the correct sharpener. Only use a Wusthof Sharpener with a Wusthof knife.
Wusthof make incredibly popular ranges of kitchen knives. It was only a matter of time before they started to manufacture devices to help owners keep their knives in top condition.
In later posts we delve into their models and review their good points and their bad.