You take out your kitchen knife and instead of finely slicing through the tomatoes, it decides to smash through them. No matter how expensive or how fancy your kitchen knives are, there will come a time when it needs sharpening. For this very day, you have invested in a knife sharpener too!
Wondering if you should run your knife through the fine or the coarse sharpening slot? You better read through this article first because using knife sharpeners without any prior knowledge might actually cause your knife more harm than good. Keep reading to clear all confusion regarding fine and coarse sharpening.
Coarse vs Fine Knife Sharpener Sides
Coarse knife sharpening involves removing steel from the blade of the knife in order to sharpen it. Fine sharpening, on the other hand, is used to polish and refine the knife edge.
What is Coarse Sharpening?
You are coarse sharpening your knife when you use the slot labelled “coarse” on your knife sharpener. You are also coarse sharpening your knife when you use a lower grit whetstone for knife sharpening.
I would recommend that you use this mode of sharpening for blunt knives. This process involves removing steel from the knife edge to produce a razor-sharp blade.
Since the material is removed from the blade, coarse sharpening will go a long way and you will not have to sharpen your knife every now and then. Additionally, coarse sharpening takes relatively longer as compared to fine sharpening.
What is Fine Sharpening?
You are fine sharpening your knife whenever you pass it through the slot labelled as “fine” on your knife sharpener. When using a whetstone, you will be fine sharpening your knife whenever you use higher grit whetstones.
A fine knife sharpener is responsible for bringing out the ultimate polished look to your knife blade. If your knife blade is sharp and you want to improve its sharpness just a bit, you can omit coarse sharpening and start with a fine knife sharpener straightaway.
Fine sharpening takes lesser time compared to the time taken by a coarse knife sharpener. Furthermore, you can fine sharpen your knife more frequently without damaging the knife blade. Once you’ve finely sharpened your knife, don’t forget to admire your reflection on the polished edge!
Fine Knife vs Coarse Knife
In regard to knives, you must have come across the terms “coarse and fine”. Perhaps you’ve been wondering what is a coarse knife, after all? It simply means a knife which has been sharpened coarsely. Similarly, a fine knife means one that has undergone fine sharpening.
A coarse knife has more irregularities on the knife blade. Hence, whenever you run it across a surface, it has a tendency to catch and separate materials. This quality makes a coarse knife excellent for ripping, sawing and tear-cutting activities.
On the other hand, a fine knife has a smooth finish. Due to the refined edge of the blade, it is excellent for chopping and carving activities. Furthermore, finely sharpened knives have shinier blades.
How to Use Knife Sharpeners?
In order to understand the nitty-gritty of fine knife vs coarse knife sharpening, you must first be able to identify the different types of knife sharpeners which are available to you. As I go through all the various knife-sharpening options, I will also specify the times when your knife requires coarse or fine sharpening.
Electric Knife Sharpeners
These are powerful tools which don’t require putting in your personal elbow grease. All you need to do is develop a basic understanding of the tool and let electricity do the job for you. All electric sharpeners come with a specific set of instructions which you must read carefully before operating the tool.
Here, I will go through some guidelines which are applicable to the usage of electric knife sharpeners in general.
- Whenever you are working with sharp-edged instruments, ensure a safe working place to minimize the risk of harming yourself. Therefore, place the knife sharpener on a stable surface like your kitchen counter. Make sure that you have plenty of space available and then plug the gadget into the power supply.
- Every knife sharpener has individual variations. You can choose between different types of blades. (ceramic, serrated, thin, medium, or thick blades).
- If you haven’t sharpened your knife in a long time, you will have to start with coarse sharpening. If you have a serrated knife or one which you sharpen regularly just touch it up with a few strokes at the fine sharpening slot.
- Switch on the knife sharpener. Place the knife into the appropriate slot (coarse or fine) and run it through the slot from the base to the tip. If you are sharpening your knife coarsely, continue the strokes till you can feel a burr on the knife edge.
- Switch over to the fine sharpening slot. You will have to run your knife through this slot a couple of times only.
- Some electric knife sharpeners have another slot reserved for honing or polishing the knife edge further. Use this slot for bringing a quick shine to the blade.
- When you are done, switch off your knife sharpener. Lastly, remove your knife from the sharpener. Wash and dry it for later use.
You may want to read about: Problems With Electric Knife Sharpeners – 5 Hidden Truths
Manual Knife Sharpeners
Manual knife sharpeners work in almost the same manner as electric ones. In order to attain a good sharp edge, proceed as follows:
- Almost all manual knife sharpeners have two different slots for coarse and fine knife sharpening. If you are confused about how to use coarse and fine knife sharpeners, you can begin by testing the sharpness of your knife by using the paper test.
- Hold a piece of paper in the air and pass your knife through it, from top to bottom. If your knife stops mid-way, you need to sharpen it coarsely.
- Place your knife in the slot labelled “coarse” on the sharpener. Start from the base of the knife and move towards the knife tip. Keep in mind that you will need to put considerable pressure on the knife. As long as you can hear a loud grinding noise with the movement, you’re on the right track.
- After 5 to 6 strokes, switch to the “fine” slot and use it a couple of times to refine the edge. You will not have to apply as much pressure during fine sharpening and the grinding sound being emitted from the sharpener will also be less intense.
- Finally, rinse your knife with water to remove any metallic shavings from the blade and pat it dry with a kitchen towel.
Using a whetstone for sharpening knives requires some expertise. However, a little practice will go a long way. Worldwide, professional chefs prefer using whetstones for sharpening knives and Australian kitchen experts are no different.
Lower grit whetstones provide coarse sharpening, whereas higher grit whetstones give a finely sharpened edge. You can either use a single stone which is dual-sided or you can work with stones of varying grits.
- Begin the process by assessing the sharpness of your knife and choosing the whetstone grit accordingly. If you have chosen a coarse grit whetstone, soak it in water for 15 minutes. A 5-minute soak is enough for fine grit whetstones.
- Place the whetstone on a kitchen towel so it doesn’t move around while sharpening knives. Position your knife diagonally with the tip at the top left corner of the whetstone.
- Place two fingertips at the knife tip and create a 20° angle with the stone surface. Subsequently, pull the tip back towards you with firm and even pressure. Once you have pulled it all the way down, release pressure and reposition the knife tip at the top left corner.
- Keep repeating the strokes bearing in mind that you might have to make multiple attempts till you can feel a burr on the knife edge.
- Keep wetting the stone at regular intervals. Once you have sharpened one side of the blade, flip sides and repeat the same procedure on the other side. For best results use the same number of strokes on both sides of the blade.
- After sharpening your knife coarsely, use a higher grit whetstone for fine sharpening.
FAQ – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Dull knives don’t belong in the trash can. Their sharpness can easily be restored with the help of knife sharpeners. If you haven’t sharpened your knives in a very long time, you will have to use a coarse sharpener initially. This process works by removing metal particles from the knife blade, thus creating a new sharp edge.
Fine sharpening is performed on knives which have not lost their sharpness entirely. Apart from being a quicker process, it also polishes the knife blade and restores its original shine.
Electric and manual knife sharpeners have different slots for fine and coarse sharpening. Whetstones possess varying grits. The higher the grit, the finer sharpening the stone provides.