A blade with a sharp edge is much safer than a blade with a dull edge. The reason is simple: a blade with a keen edge will cut with less effort, which means a decreased likelihood of the blade slipping and accidentally cutting yourself. There are a lot of ways to sharpen a blade, but it is important to use sharpening tools correctly.
The improper use of a sharpener can actually make a blade duller. Some sharpeners are designed to put a quick edge on inexpensive knives, scissors, and other cutting instruments. Others are specifically designed for professionals to use on quality steel.
Yesterday, we used a quick and dirty way to get some gardening shears sharpened. Today, we will take a FirstLook at a few sharpening systems from Gatco which can enable anyone to put a hair-shaving edge on a knife.
Gatco’s Ultimate Diamond Knife Sharpening System consists of:
- GATCO exclusive six-angle knife clamp/angle guide
- Coarse monocrystalline diamond hone
- Medium monocrystalline diamond hone
- Fine monocrystalline diamond hone
- 1200 grit ceramic finishing hone
- Special serrated knife hone
- 2 ounces of honing oil (safe for contact with food)
- Custom case
The hones are coated with a layer of industrial diamond crystals. Diamond crystals are the best abrasive for sharpening purposes because they cut quickly. Unlike stone hones, diamond hones may be used with or without oil. Best of all, unlike stones, the flatness of the diamond-coated honing surface will stay true over time.
The most important and difficult part of sharpening a knife is to match the hone with the angle of the blade’s edge. Heavy-duty cutting edges will usually have a 25-degree or 30-degree bevel while standard kitchen cutlery usually has a 22-degree bevel. Fine boning knives usually have a taper of 15- or 19-degrees. If the contact of the hone with the knife is not flat on, you are either not sharpening the blade or actually making it duller. Different methods have been devised to properly set the angle, but the difficult part for many users is keeping that angle constant during the sharpening process.
Gatco has created a clamp which both holds the knife steady and keeps the honing stone at the desired angle. The clamp/slot setup ensures the hone’s contact with the bevel of the blade does not vary as the the hone moves across the edge. This system is simple, repeatable, and will work with a wide variety of knives, including serrated ones.
For the traditionalist, Gatco also offers the sharpening system fitted with stones instead of diamond-coated steel. The advantage to stones is that they remove smaller amounts of metal from the blade, giving the knife a longer life.
To sharpen a large knife, having a little help holding the clamp is really useful. Gatco has an accessory called the Easy-Grip which is designed specifically for that purpose. It might be a worthwhile investment if you plan to use the kit with kitchen knives and large blades. For portability, Gatco also has a smaller version of the Diamond Sharpening Kit to take along on camping trips and other outings.
We’ll use both the Gatco Diamond Sharpener and Stone Sharpener on some kitchen knives to see how they perform. Look for a detailed FirstUse write-up in the Summer.