“You’re better off with one good knife than 25 bad ones.” Truer words may never have been spoken. But for years, my problem wasn’t whether or not I owned a good knife, but rather my inability to resharpen my knife. I could take a blade so sharp it would cut your eyeball just looking at it and turn it in to a butter knife when I tried to resharpen it. My only solution was to pay the pros—by the inch—to resharpen my knives. Then, a buddy gave me a Lansky. Not being much brighter than a 40 watt myself, I threw it in the back of the safe and forgot about it. After all, I had a well-proven record of dulling knives, not sharpening them.
It took a few years, a long winter, and boredom to sufficiently set in before I gave the Lansky a second thought. I had handful of dull knives that were junk and I could easily replace the lot for the money I would spend getting just one of them sharpened. I dug out the Lansky with a mission: learn to sharpen a knife or throw the Lanksy in the trash with a handful of rounded blades.
I started by doing a bit of research on Lansky’s website. If you have the right kit and follow a few simple directions… Well, after all, it’s not rocket science.
One mistake common to novice sharpeners is using too much pressure. This causes the edge to roll back-and-forth and keeps the blade from getting sharp. Be sure to use light pressure and you’ll be on the right track.
Blades 7” or Less in Length
- Position the clamp in the middle of the blade.
- After sharpening, flip the clamp (and blade) over and repeat the sharpening process on the unsharpened side.
Blades 7” or Greater in Length
- Pick the end of the blade where you would like to start sharpening and place the clamp two finger-widths away from that end of the blade. For example, if you choose the tip, place the clamp two finger-widths away from the tip.
- When you have the blade secured in the clamp, place your two fingers along both sides of the knife clamp. The area covered by your fingers (on both sides of the clamp) is your target sharpening zone. Try not to sharpen outside this zone, as this will change the angle of the hone and result in a poorly sharpened blade.
- Sharpen your target zone, and with the knife still secured in the clamp, flip the clamp (and knife) over and repeat this process on the other side of the blade.
- When you are finished with the first zone on both sides of the blade, measure another two-finger width starting at the edge of your freshly-sharpened area, and place the clamp next to your fingers.
- Sharpen this new target zone as you did the first, roughly using the same number of sharpening strokes.
- Your use of this method will minimize gaps and overlaps between your target zones, helping to ensure a continuous sharp edge when you are finished.
- Always progress through the hones in order of decreasing coarseness—that is, start with a coarser hone and work your way down to the finest.
- The hone you begin with will vary depending on what type of sharpening you want to do.
- For aggressive sharpening tasks, such as changing the angle of a blade or sharpening a very dull edge, begin with the coarsest hone in your kit (coarse or extra-coarse), and then progress through medium, fine and so on.
- For lighter-duty sharpening jobs, such as angle maintenance or general “touch-up” work, begin with the medium hone and work your way down to the least coarse.
For best results, your strokes should move diagonally forward (towards the guide hole in the clamp) and along a small section of the blade, using the full length of the hone with each stroke.
- Always sharpen into the blade! (DO NOT sharpen along the length of the blade, or away from the blade, as these could damage both the blade and your hone).
- It is important that you use approximately the same number of strokes for each target sharpening zone, as this will help ensure a uniformly sharpened blade.
- Arkansas hones: When using these, apply a few drops of the honing oil provided to the surface of the stone before sharpening. Keep Arkansas stones oiled as you work.
- Standard hones (alumina oxide): Do not require oiling however you will note as you sharpen, that the stones will begin to move more smoothly. This indicates pores of the stones may be clogging with filings, which reduces the effectiveness of the stone. Clean by putting a few drops of oil on the hone. The oil will lift the metal shavings off the stone’s surface where it can be wiped away with a rag.
- Diamond hones: DO NOT apply oil to the Lansky Diamond hones: clean diamond hones instead with water and wipe shavings away with a rag. Diamond hones should be completely dry before next usage.
When using the coarse hone, apply a generous amount of pressure. As you move to the medium and fine hones, use less and less pressure.
- If—when you have finished—the edge is still not as sharp as you would like, continue polishing the blade with your fine hone.
- If you have a single-sided or serrated blade, drag your fine hone down the length of the non-sharpened side a few times to clean off any stray metallic burrs that may have accumulated during sharpening.