From kitchen knives to axes, tool sharpening is a skill that falls somewhere between science and dark art. Sharpening gizmos have often disappointed me, but the Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener really does make cottage tool maintenance much easier.
Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener
Essentially a mini belt grinder, the Work Sharp ($80 at Busy Bee Tools) comes with removable guides that position your edges at the correct angle. Two interchangeable guides let you sharpen kitchen knives, small utility blades, and scissors; removing the guides works for larger, non-standard edges. I was able to put an edge on an old knife that I had previously given up on: Just a couple of passes along each side with the coarse belt, then a switch to the medium for a few more, and I had a very sharp edge, ready to work. One more belt change—to the ultra-fine belt—gave me an edge that is literally shaving sharp.
Or Steal the China
It never fails. At a cottage dinner party, or Mom’s house, someone hands me a tomato and a dull knife. Luckily, there’s always a sharpener nearby: the unglazed base of porcelain or stoneware china. Hold the blade at about 20 degrees to the base and give it four or five sweeping strokes, from heel to tip, on each side of the blade. Hone the sharpened edge lightly on a cutting board, then wipe to remove any filings. Just don’t use your mother’s priceless Spode; the knife will leave dark metal streaks.