How Often Should Kitchen Knives Be Sharpened?

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey
Credit: Shutterstock / Nor Gal

A good chef’s knife is an essential tool for anyone who likes to cook. Even if you aren’t a culinary genius, it is important to have some quality knives to cut tough vegetables like potatoes and delicate ones like tomatoes. Most knives, regardless of quality, are very sharp at first. Over time, however, even the best knives grow dull. This begs the question — how often do you need to sharpen your kitchen knives?

In general, you should sharpen any frequently used kitchen knife once every two to three months. Some factors that impact how often you should sharpen a knife include what you use to sharpen it, the quality of the knife, how well you care for the knife, and how often you use it. Consider getting your knives professionally sharpened every year or two.

Regardless of how amazing or basic your knives are, they will need sharpening if they get used. You also shouldn’t wait until it is impossible to cut a tomato, or you find yourself sawing through a piece of meat. Instead, keep reading to learn how often you should hone the blades of your knives, and what variables impact how long you should wait between sharpenings.

How Frequently Should You Sharpen A Kitchen Knife?

In general, you should aim to sharpen your kitchen knives every two to three months or so. If you cook multiple meals a day using your favorite knife, you may want to sharpen it monthly. If, on the other hand, you rarely cook, then you can go much longer. But having a routine schedule of sharpening is important, as it prevents you from using dull knives. So, when in doubt, stick to a once every two or three-month sharpening schedule.

Factors Impacting How Often You Should Sharpen Your Knives

1. The Type Of Knives And The Metal

It should come as no surprise that the quality of your knives has an impact on how frequently you need to sharpen them. Hard and high-quality steel is stronger and takes longer to lose its sharpness. Cheap knives are usually made of a blend of metals and tend to dull quicker than hard steel.

2. What You Use To Sharpen Your Knives

The method you use to sharpen your knives also matters. Whetstone is the preferred method of most home chefs, and quality sharpening from a whetstone can last upwards of six months. But if you use a basic sharpening tool, a sharp edge may last a fraction of that time.

3. How Often You Cook

Naturally, the more you use a knife, the quicker it becomes dull. If you cook three meals a day and use a knife for each meal, stick to a strict sharpening schedule. If you eat out more than you cook, your blades will stay sharp longer.

4. How Well You Treat The Blade

How you cut with your knife and how you treat it will also make a difference. If you use a glass cutting board, or no cutting board at all, then you are going to dull a blade much quicker than if you use a pliable wooden board.

Proper storage and cleaning are also important. Make sure you protect the blade when it is not in use, and use sharpening methods that help rather than hurt the metal. The more TLC you show your knives, the longer they will stay sharp.

5. How Sharp You Want The Blade

You should also consider how sharp you want your knife blade to be. A butcher or sushi chef may want the sharpest edge possible, but home chefs may find such a blade intimidating and downright dangerous.

Therefore, your needs will dictate how frequently you should sharpen your kitchen knives as. If you want the sharpest of blades, then you will need to sharpen it more frequently than if you want a sharp but safe edge.

6. What You Use The Knife For

Knives are used to cut all sorts of materials. If you cut through potatoes and tough meats all day, a blade will dull much faster than if you chop tomatoes and delicately slice bananas. Remember that what you are cutting with your knife affects its sharpness.

Butchers who cut through meat and bone sharpen their knives constantly because it takes such a toll on the blade. Consider what you use your knife for and how much strain you are putting on the blade. This will help you determine how long it takes for your knives to grow dull.

Is It Possible To Sharpen A Knife Too Frequently?

You might wonder if it is a good idea to sharpen your knives as often as possible, or if there is such a thing as sharpening a knife too often. It is, in fact, entirely possible to sharpen a blade too frequently. Sharpening a blade too often can damage or even ruin a blade over time.

Each time you thoroughly sharpen a knife, you are creating a new edge and removing some of the metal. Over-sharpening a knife can damage the edge that you are trying hard to make perfect. It can, in turn, make your knife duller, achieving the opposite of your desired result. Therefore only sharpen a knife when it needs it.

Four Tips To Keeping Your Kitchen Knives Sharp

1. Use The Right Cutting Board

One of the biggest mistakes new cooks make when cutting with a knife is using the wrong cutting board. Certain types of cutting boards, like very hard plastic, glass, and others can damage and quickly dull your blade. Wooden cutting boards are durable and easy on the blade. This is good for the blade and keeps it sharp.

2. Learn How To Use A Whetstone

Sharpening stones like whetstones are a superior option for sharpening your knives. They give you a much sharper blade than electric and other common and easy-to-use options. They also shave off the least amount of metal. This means when you use a whetstone, you are sharpening your knife and prolonging its lifespan (compared to other sharpeners anyway).

3. Buy Quality Kitchen Knives

If you want sharp knives that easily cut into anything, then it is best to invest in quality kitchen knives. A top-notch Japanese kitchen knife can cost hundreds of dollars, which is why so many people opt for cheap and inferior knives. But do some research and shop on sale and you will find a great knife for $50 or less that will last you many years.

4. Occasionally Have Knives Professionally Sharpened

Just as is the case with maintaining any other home accessory or appliance, when in doubt, call a professional. Every once in a while it is wise to have your knives professionally sharpened. They can provide the ideal blade angle that you can follow moving forward and ensure you don’t allow your knife's edges to stray too far from perfection.

Final Thoughts On How Often To Sharpen Your Knives

A sharp knife is a kitchen essential. When your knife is sharp, preparing meals is seamless. Tomatoes and onions slice perfectly, and cutting through meat and cheese is as easy as cutting butter. But this all changes when your knives are dull. Cooking feels more like a chore, and you might even find your wrist is in pain from the strain of cutting. This is why keeping your knives sharp is so essential.

Plan to sharpen your knives every two months or so if you use your knife daily. If you cook less frequently, you can go upwards of six months or longer before you have to sharpen a knife. Use a whetstone or have a professional sharpen your knives for best results, and remember to sharpen your knives when they are dull, but not when they are still sharp.

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Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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