Sharpening is more than just one thing;
There are a myriad of different tools for knife sharpening. Many knives are manufactured with different blade angles. These angles depend on the projected use of the knife and the hardness of the steel use to make the knife. Some companies create a razor edge; Shun and Global are two examples. These knives are great for carving; the steel is very hard but somewhat brittle. They should be treated like the delicate instruments that they are. With these knives care must be taken when using a sharpening steel, too hard a touch to the steel can create a chip in the blade.
For most other uses, like cutting vegetables, a razor sharp edge is not advisable. It is too thin and the edge will bend over and become dull when it comes in contact with anything hard, like your cutting board, or a bone, even your fork. For most uses a multi beveled, Gothic Arch edge is much stronger. These edges can be made with micro teeth that power through a ripe tomato and lots of other stuff.
I will make a proper knife edge, considering the steel and the intended use of the knife. This is not rocket science, but it takes craftsmanship combined with precision equipment to consistently achieve a quality edge on your knives. I will also show you how to properly use a sharpening steel to extend the life of the knife edge. Below there is a description of how to steel a knife.
Knives should be washed by hand and put in a wooden knife block or drawer with knife slots. A dishwasher will knock the knives into other clutery or dishes, damaging the cutting edge. You should “steel” the knife on a sharpening steel after a few light uses or one heavy use. You may also use the bottom of a porcelain plate.
Which is the best knife? The one that is most comfortable in your hand and suited for the cutting job. In my house we have 3 cleavers. My wife likes the small thin light weight one and she uses it even for jobs I would certainly pull out the heavy one. She will use this cleaver for almost everything, even slicing bread. I will confess, I also am beginning to use that knife a lot. It isn’t among the best steels, so I have to sharpen it a bit more often than my other knives, but it really didn’t cost much to begin with. To get back to my answer. the knife you like to use is the BEST knife.
The cutting board you use can make a big difference to the longevity of the knife edge.The kindest (to the knife edge) is a wooden butcher block type where the end of the wood is standing up. Other good ones are made of teak or bamboo , again where the end of the wood is standing up. There are many cutting boards where the wood is in horizontal pieces. This is harder on the knife. The hardest cutting boards on your knife edge are the ones made of a hard plastic. They really shorten the life of the sharpened edge. They do have one redeeming feature, They are the easiest to clean and remove any contaminants.
How to “steel” your knife.A knife “steel” is a round tapered steel blade about 12 inches long with a 6 inch handle. The easiest way for a novice to use it is to put the point straight down on a towel or cutting board and holding the knife with the blade almost vertical and take 3 or 4 strokes on one side and repeat the same number on the other side: then alternating 2 strokes on either side, and finally 1 stroke on each side. The cutting edge of a knife bends over when used and “steeling” stands the edge backup. There are other types of edge dressers, ceramic and diamond coated. These can be used in much the same manner, but these can sharpen and remove metal. You must learn to use them properly or you can damage your knife blade. You can also use sharpening stones, be sure to follow the instructions carefully. With sharpening stones you can really do a lot of damage to the knife edge.