IVGID Tip Of The Week: Knife sharpening 101 | SierraSun.com

IVGID Tip Of The Week: Knife sharpening 101

William Vandenberg
Special to the Bonanza

Courtesy illustration / IVGID

EDITOR'S NOTE: "Tip of the week" is a periodic feature running in the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, in partnership with the Incline Village General Improvement District, providing locals with various tips pertaining to the recreation opportunities and other services the district provides.

One of the most annoying things to encounter when cooking is a dull knife, and this becomes very evident when you try to slice a tomato or dice an onion.

A sharp knife is a chef's best friend and therefore it's helpful if you know how to sharpen kitchen knives.

Home sharpening methods include using a sharpening steel, drawing knives across a flat sharpening stone, or using a commercial knife sharpener.

Below are five tips to effectively sharpen a knife:

Step 1: Hold the steel – a metal rod designed for sharpening knives – in one hand.

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Step 2: With the other hand, hold the knife by its handle.

Step 3: Place the knife just under the handle of the steel, with the knife handle touching the bottom of the steel handle.

Step 4: With the knife at a 10- to 25-degree angle to the steel, hold the steel rod steady and draw the knife blade down the steel.

Step 5: Repeat several times until the entire cutting surface of the knife has been drawn across the steel on both sides of the blade.

Knife Anatomy 101

Did you know there are 13 parts of a knife? Here's a key to each (check out the image with this tip for reference):

A. Point: The very end of the knife, which is used for piercing.

B. Tip: The first third of the blade (approximately), which is used for small or delicate work.

C. Edge: The cutting surface of the knife, which extends from the point to the heel.

D. Heel: The rear part of the blade, used for cutting activities that require more force.

E. Spine: The top, thicker portion of the blade, which adds weight and strength.

F. Bolster: The thick metal portion joining the handle and the blade, which adds weight and balance and keeps the cook's hand from slipping.

G. Finger Guard: The portion of the bolster that keeps the cook's hand from slipping onto the blade.

H. Return: The point where the heel meets the bolster.

J. Tang: The portion of the metal blade that extends into the handle, giving the knife stability and extra weight.

K. Scales: The two portions of handle material (wood, plastic, composite, etc) that are attached to either side of the tang.

L. Rivets: The metal pins (usually 3) that hold the scales to the tang.

M. Handle Guard: The lip below the butt of the handle, which gives the knife a better grip and prevents slipping.

N. Butt: The terminal end of the handle.

William Vandenberg is a chef with the Incline Village General Improvement District.