Lifehacker’s decidedly old fashioned advice on sharpening knives

Lifehacker's decidedly old fashioned advice on sharpening knives

We’re pleased to see that Lifehacker Australia is advising their readers to look after their favourite kitchen tools in this recent article…


but, given that the site is read by quite a few techno geeks, we’re surprised to see that they are still recommending you keep your knives sharp using a whetstone.

We think that’s a little like insisting on starting a car with a crank handle – quite a lot of work when more modern technology (just turning the key in the ignition) will get the job done in a fraction of the time.

Don’t get us wrong – we love whetstones and we stock a range of them. They are great for enthusiasts who like the process of sharpening their knives the traditional way (it’s a bit like meditation in that respect), and maybe more importantly, have the time available to do it!

But the truth is that we have the technology these days, and it’s pretty good. The problem with using a whetstone is that it really is an art. You must keep the knife at a constant angle, and it is unfortunately quite easy if you’re new to it, to mess it up and mess your knife up.

You can use a mechanical pull through sharpener to do the same job, but if you have a set of professional knives we’d strongly recommend that you do not use an inexpensive mechanical pull through sharpener. Latest technology electric knife sharpeners – like the Nirey range that we stock – is really the best of both worlds. The sharpener is designed so that you cannot angle the knife incorrectly, and you can control how much or how little of the steel is removed to make your knives sharp again.

Many people think that knife sharpeners remove great chunks of the blade and so shorten the life of the knife, but this is not quite right. After using a Nirey sharpener all you’ll see in the tray underneath is a little bit of fine powder – that’s the steel that the sharpener has removed from the knife to make it sharp again – no more or less than a skilled user of a whetstone would remove. And with the electric sharpener you’ll be spot on and get the job done in a quarter of the time.

As Lifehacker points out, if it’s all too hard you can take your knives to your local butcher and they’ll often be happy to sharpen them for you for a small fee. If you do take this option, you may well find they are sharpening your knives on a Nirey – a huge number of butchers in Australia have swapped to Nireys over the years (including one of the major supermarket chains) for all the reasons outlined above.

You can see what one butcher had to say about the stone/electric sharpener debate in one of our previous articles: Ballarat butcher looks back on over 50 years in the business.

Remember, wherever your loyalties lie in the knife sharpening debate, we’ll have the tool for you!

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