11/04/2011 10:46 am ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Sharpen A Knife

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Watch this video to learn how to sharpen a knife with a water stone, achieving a clean, beveled edge.

Video Transcript

I'm Chef Eve Felder from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to sharpen knives.

As a home cook, you know your knife is an essential tool - so you want to know how to sharpen it, and how to take care of it.

What you're looking for when you sharpen is that you have a beveled edge, so each side of the knife comes to a point.

This is a water stone. The stone is actually used for sharpening, for removing metal from the knife. What you want to do is maintain the angle or the bevel of the knife, where the two sides of the knife come to form an edge. You look at two things: you look at the tip - how it is rounded - and what does a straight edge look like. You start with the tip of the knife and you gently push it up your stone. You take about five strokes on one side. Then you're going to flip it over, maintaining the exact same angle, and do five strokes on the other side. While you're doing your strokes, you are not pushing hard - you're only using your other hand to steady it.

Once you've done that, wipe it, wipe the excess water and metal, and you want to look at your edge. Is my angle equal on both sides? If it's not, it's not going to keep a very good edge.

The steel hones the bevel. What honing means is that each time you take a cut, the metal splays out a bit. About every ten to twelve cuts, you want to bring back your bevel by honing it.

When you sharpen, you want to use the stone - about once a month; it depends basically on how much you're cooking. If you're cooking every day or every weekend, once a month is about right for sharpening on the stone. For the steel, for honing, this is always by your side, and you hone after every twelve strokes.