How a Butcher Sharpens Knives?


There is an art to carving meat, and watching a time-served butcher use knives is something to marvel at. Experience counts a lot, as does knowing your way around the meat you are cutting, but most of all it’s the quality and sharpness of the knives that plays the biggest part. Do you use knives in the kitchen? If so, have you noticed how they become less effective over time? That’s because, by its very nature, a knife blade will become blunter with use. So, how does a butcher sharpen knives? The most popular methods are actually ones that has been used for a very long time!

Using a Steel

There are a number of ways to sharpen knives, but the traditional method is to use an item known as a ‘steel’. A steel will often come with a set of knives, but you can buy one separately. What is it? It is a long piece of hardened steel, shaped in a tubular fashion, along which you run the blade repeatedly at a certain angle. This has the effect of honing the blade back to sharpness. 

There is a technique to using a steel, and it can be seen to good effect in many videos online, that helps get it right. Once you have the technique, you will be able to sharpen your knives regularly. Serious users will always run a blade up and down a steel a few times before every use, in order to ensure the blade is uniform and straight, which enables the best cutting action.

Using a Stone

Of course, one of the keys to having sharp knives is to buy a good set of knives in the first place. This need not be as expensive as you might think. If you go to the Sharpen Up website you’ll find a great review of butchers knives that covers all budgets, and there are some great sets that you really can afford. But, once you have your knives, you will need to sharpen them, and an alternative to using a steel is to use a ‘stone’. What is a stone?

This is not the easiest way of sharpening knives but it is among the most effective. A stone is exactly that: it’s usually an oblong block of hard stone – sometimes they are diamond edge sometimes ceramic – that has a certain coarseness to it. What you do is add oil or water to the stone to give a little lubricant, then using the technique you will see on videos, run the knife back and forth across the stone a few times. There is a knack to it, but it’s worth getting used to as it will sharpen your knives effectively.

Using a Sharpening Machine

There are many types of electric knife sharpening machine on the market. The best ones are those into which you simply insert your knives, and when you switch it on it automatically replicates using a stone. For the home user, this is perhaps the most convenient way, but wouldn’t you like to learn to use a steel or a stone, and sharpen your knives as has been done for thousands of years? We like the authenticity of the manual method, but of course not everybody will be happy doing things that way!

Knives are an essential in any kitchen, especially if you like to cook food the proper way, and it pays to keep them sharp. Check out machines for sharpening, but why not also invest in a steel or a stone, even if it’s just for occasional use! It’s a very satisfactory method of sharpening knives!